Blue Springs football coach David White looking for bigger things in year two

By Bill Althaus
The Examiner
Blue Springs High School football head coach David White, right, watches as players run through drills at a summer workout Thursday at Peve Stadium. White is optimistic about his second season in charge of the Wildcats after going 5-6 and reaching the district semifinals in his first season.

Few coaches or high school football teams in the metro area faced more intense scrutiny than David White’s Blue Springs Wildcats. 

White came to Blue Springs from Ridgeland (Mississippi) High School to replace Kelly Donohoe, who had won 191 games over a career that spanned two decades and four state championships before leaving to replace Tony Severino at Rockhurst 

Not only did White face the scrutiny that goes along with replacing a highly successful coach, he had to deal with COVID-19 protocols and the high expectations that are associated with Wildcats football. 

His team made a great deal of progress throughout the season and finished 5-6 overall and 3-4 in the Suburban Big Eight Conference, taking a 10-2 Liberty team to overtime before losing 31-28 in the district semifinals. 

Now, in his second season as head coach, White is feeling more comfortable and more confident. 

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Early Thursday morning, as the Wildcats were wrapping up a spirited session of drills, a bolt of lightning slashed across the sky with the accompanying boom of thunder. 

Soon, trainer Steve Morrow came out of the school to tell White and his staff that everyone has to move inside. 

No problem – the Wildcats were just wrapping up the kind of session that left a smile on the face of the man who seems to be standing in the eye of the hurricane. 

There are shirts to deliver to standouts from the drill, an upcoming staff meeting, a minor fender bender in the parking lot between two players and a young daughter who wanted some special Daddy time. 

“I know it must seem crazy around here,” a grinning White said, “but everything’s under control. I love this team, and we’re going to have some success this year. 

A look at this year's Blue Springs football lineup 

“We have the big guy (defensive end Ike Ezeogu, who has verbally committed to Iowa State) anchoring out defense and I like our linebackers and D-backs. We don’t have a ton of big names, but people are going to know them once the season starts and they watch us play.” 

The Wildcats lost all-state offensive lineman Beau Stephens, who signed with Iowa, to graduation, along with 1,000-yard rusher De’Andre Thomas and Kansas State preferred walk-on receiver Xavier Loyd. 

But White says there are several good position battles, especially at quarterback. 

New Blue Springs defensive coordinator Keeston Terry works with players on an agility drill in Thursday's summer workout at Peve Stadium. Terry, an all-state player at Blue Springs, joins the Wildcats after serving as a graduate assistant at the University of Iowa the past three seasons.

“We have a good battle going on now between two sophomores – Sal Caldarella and Haden Hayes – and they both bring a lot to the table,” White said of his battle to be the starting signal caller. “They’re tough and want to win. They’re hungry, and I like that in a player. 

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“And we’re going to have the three-headed monster in the backfield with Calvin Griffin, Kyle Bruce and Mana Tapusoa. Now, we need to find some studs to block for them, and we will. We’re going to have some new faces on our line, but all the guys are working hard – and right now, that’s what a coach wants to see.” 

When asked about the difference between a first season and a second, White had a ready answer. 

“There is a comfort level with my staff and our players,” he said. “They know what to expect from Coach White and I know what I want to see from them. 

“We’re going to set some goals, and we’re going to work hard to meet them. And we’re in one of the toughest conferences in the state, and that’s going to be a challenge, but I like a good challenge.” 

Former Wildcat standout Keeston Terry joins as defensive coordinator

There is one key addition to White’s staff this year in former Wildcat standout Keeston Terry, a former All-MIAA safety from Pittsburg State who has been a graduate assistant at the University of Iowa the past three years after serving as an assistant coach at Pittsburg State. 

“Keeston is our new defensive coordinator, and he brings so much to our program,” White said of Terry, an all-state receiver for Blue Springs who started his college career at Kansas. “He’s a Wildcat, and the kids and everyone on our staff are responding to him being here.”