JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Marlon White is still learning his way around town, but he’s already gotten his most important set of directions.
The new head football coach at Ribault was introduced to the team on Thursday night, complete with cheerleaders, players and former Ribault players and coaches looking on.
“I know about the Northwest Classic. I read about it,” White said of the annual clash with the Vikings. “But not about the area. I’m still learning.”
White is a newcomer to the area, a South Carolina native who spent time in the Air Force before retiring and segueing into coaching full-time. Most of White’s time since leaving the service has come as a coordinator at a handful of schools in North Carolina.
In the last six years, White has been the co-offensive coordinator at Eastern Wayne High School in Goldsboro, NC, the defensive coordinator at Northeast Guilford in McLeansville, NC and Bishop McGuinness in Kernersville, NC. Most recently, White was coaching at Atkins High School in Winston-Salem, NC.
Stability is something that White said that he hopes to bring to the program, something that he mentioned when asked by former girls basketball coach Al Austin, about his long term vision for Ribault.
It starts with building trust and smoothing over turbulence from 2018-19 that dinged the program.
In 2018, its helmets were delayed being shipped prior to the season opener due to an unpaid bill of more than $14,000. The issue was eventually resolved.
Last year, Ribault head coach Kelvin Smith was abruptly removed from that position in early August to an internal Duval County Public Schools Investigation that remains open.
Lin Shell was named the interim coach and led Ribault to a 4-5 record, although the Trojans missed the postseason for the first time in four years.
White said that he’s heard about the ups and downs the past two seasons and wants to be the leader to build trust, and a foundation, for the program.
“I empathize with the kids simply because of what happened. They’ve had a transition two years in a row,” White said. “It’s kind of hard for kids to build that trust back up. I want to come here, stabilize the program and get the kids back on track, get the program right back where it needs to be.”