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Glendale Foes Get Earful of White Noise : Running Back Lets Teammates Shout After His Spirited Play Inspires Routs

September 22, 1988|SAM FARMER

Corey White sat in a corner of the visitor's locker room and pulled off his freshly scuffed black cleats. As players around him exchanged cheers and high-fives, White, true to form, remained quiet.

"Who needs Russell White?" a teammate shouted, "We've got Corey."

The group, giddy from victory, boisterously agreed.

However, serious comparisons between Crespi's all-time leading rusher and the Glendale tailback are, at best, hastily drawn. Corey, 16, has run for 266 yards in his first two games at tailback, while Russell has gained nearly 4,400 more in his career.

Unlike Russell, Corey bears little resemblance to a football phenom. His long, wiry arms and narrow shoulders make him look more like a cross-country runner. His legs, too, are thin yet lithe.

But the likeness does extend beyond a common last name: both players have explosive quickness and field savvy.

And it was only a matter of time before a Glendale player vocalized the similarity.

It wasn't going to be Corey White. In fact, the most effective way to make the junior more bashful is to ask him to talk about himself.

But sometimes, he slips. He reveals a bit of the emotion he so often suppresses. White's painfully shy demeanor periodically gives way to chest-thumping exhilaration. Coach Don Shoemaker relishes those rare moments.

Like the tailback's display after his 67-yard kick return on the opening play against Alhambra. After being tackled at Alhambra's 10-yard line, White stood and gleefully thrust his fist in the air.

"I didn't notice it in the game," Shoemaker said. "But when I saw it on film I thought it was great."

Though that type of reaction is uncharacteristic, White is no shrinking violet on the field.

"He's quiet and shy but he's confident," said Shoemaker, who switched him from receiver to tailback this season. "He knows what he can do."

In addition to playing in the offensive backfield, White starts at cornerback. And, Shoemaker says, White is even more proficient at batting down passes and sticking to receivers than juking safeties and outrunning linebackers.

"If he wants to play college football, he can play defense," Shoemaker said. "I can see him playing corner or free safety for a team because he hits."

Last season, however, White's abilities were known to few. He spent a good part of the Dynamiter's 2-8 season watching from the sidelines--a situation which caused tension between the coaches and White's father, Frank.

"I hated it," Frank White said. "My son was on the bench and he's a game-breaker."

It's premature to give White "game-breaker" status. He has only played in two games--both won by Glendale--and the Dynamiters have yet to meet a formidable Pacific League opponent such as Muir or Pasadena.

Judging by White's performance in youth football, however, his father's statement might not be far off the mark. In 1985, White lived in San Diego and finished a prolific Pop Warner season by scoring 4 touchdowns in the league's championship game.

"That had to be the most fun I've ever had," he said.

Once, while he had turned around in the stands to discuss his son's prowess with a group of parents, Frank White missed a touchdown catch by Corey.

"I was talking and being a proud dad," White lamented. "He caught a bomb one-handed behind his back." Or so he was told by other parents.

Corey had specific plans for high school career in San Diego. He would attend Lincoln, Marcus Allen's alma mater. He would start at receiver. He would dominate.

Instead, in the summer before White's ninth grade year, his mother accepted a position in Los Angeles. He pleaded to stay in San Diego, live with his grandmother and play at Lincoln. But the situation would not allow it.

"I didn't have any friends," said White, adding that he cried for hours after the decision to move was made. And when he came to Glendale, he spent his days watching television. "I was a couch potato every day of the summer."

But now, the Glendale football program has provided a healthier outlet and White no longer yearns for San Diego. "Things are going too good for me right now," he said.

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