PINEVILLE – Caleb White has an injury that’s painful to even describe.
It’s also a little graphic, so we’ll skip the details, though White didn’t in explaining his prognosis.
The senior linebacker injured himself, oddly enough, bending over to pick up a football at practice prior to the Rebels’ game against Walker in Week 3. The injury caused swelling and pain, and the side effects of the injury have caused White to deal with a sports hernia.
It’s an unfortunate situation that would leave most teenage boys feeling blue, but White has kept fighting through the pain to see the field for the Rebels each Friday night.
When asked to describe the level of pain he’s dealing with, White didn’t hesitate.
“It’s above a 10,” he said, adding the doctor told him as long as he could tolerate the pain he could keep playing.
White isn’t the only Rebel to play injured. Senior defensive end Hunter Bonial plays with a bulky knee brace to limit damage to his injured left knee. Senior offensive tackle Cody Ford wears knee and shoulder braces, and tapes up his broken left ring finger.
That White keeps plugging away, determined to help lead the Rebels to the first winning season in the state’s largest classification and their first playoff berth since 2007, is no surprise to his coach or teammates.
“Those guys, I just assume they’re gonna be there every Friday,” Pineville coach Robbie Martin said. “They’re really tough kids. They’ve been in the program for four years. They’ve started for three.”
“I know he’s in a lot of pain,” senior linebacker Taylor Bates said, “but I see he keeps on playing and doesn’t back down.”
White was second-team all-district last season as an outside linebacker, but with the graduation of standout safeties DeEldrick Taylor and Christian Aldecoa, Martin moved White to safety at the start of the season. Bates said White is a “smart football player” and it showed when he seamlessly moved from linebacker to safety.
White, however, admitted he wasn’t as comfortable playing “on an island” at safety as opposed to being closer to the ball and the action at linebacker.
“It was different,” he said. “I was never used to not being in the trenches.”
As the season wore on, the Rebels began playing more of a three-man front with four linebackers, so White moved back to his more natural outside linebacker role (though he will at times still line up at safety).
“I just told him (Martin) whatever he needed me to do for the team,” White said. “Since the move to outside linebacker, I’m more comfortable. I’m not thinking as much.”
White has 40 tackles, including two for loss and a sack, on the season. He made a season-high nine tackles in a win over Marksville and has gotten at least five tackles in all but two games this season.
Martin praised White’s “football savvy” and desire “to be physical,” and White is hoping to end his career on a high note as the Rebels host Ruston Friday night in a must-win game to clinch a playoff berth. He said the season hasn’t gone exactly as he and his fellow seniors had hoped, but they can still do something that hasn’t been done before.
“It’s do or die — it all comes down to this,” White said. “Either we want it or they do. Honestly, with this team, I think we want this win and we’re gonna take this win.”
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