White won't back down

The No. 13 isn't an unlucky number to Aaron White. He wears the number proudly.

No one wanted the jersey number when he joined the Corona del Mar High football team as a sophomore. There was a reason why White chose No. 13 two years ago.

"I wear it because the best linebacker that CdM's ever had was No. 13, Erik Rask," said White, referring to the former linebacker, who earned many honors during his time with the Sea Kings.

White never got to play with Rask, whose final season with the Sea Kings was four years ago.

When a decorated player like Rask graduates, it's hard for anyone to try and emulate him on the field, let alone ask for his number.

Rask went off to play football at an Ivy League school, Penn.

One year passed at CdM without Rask and no one sought No. 13, until White made varsity as a sophomore. White wanted No. 13.

He wanted to play like the last No. 13 at CdM.

As a senior, White is performing at a level similar to that of Rask. White has an area-best 16 sacks and his 88 tackles tie him for first on his team.

Coach Scott Meyer wasn't around when Rask led the Sea Kings' defense, but he best describes the current linebacker with the No. 13 jersey.

"He just plays with so much passion and emotion," Meyer said of White, a 6-foot-1, 203-pound outside linebacker. "His motor is always going. He's always flying around.

"He's really the spark for the rest of the defense. He gets everybody else going."

White has pushed the defensive unit in his final season at CdM. And because of his relentless play, the program has reached a round in the playoffs it last did 22 years ago, the CIF Southern Section title game.

Rask, whose goal is to play in the NFL after just completing his senior year at Penn, never got to play for a Southern Division crown. White and the rest of the Sea Kings earned the right to compete for one Friday.

When second-seeded CdM (11-2) and top-seeded Beckman (11-2) meet in the finale at Orange Coast College at 7:30 p.m., White is more than looking forward to the contest.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," White said. "It's never going to happen again [for me], just want to live it to its fullest."

There is added motivation for White and CdM. Beckman is the team that ended White's season in the semifinals as a junior.

He hasn't forgotten.

Since the 24-3 loss to Beckman last year, he expected CdM to bounce back.

"The moment we stepped off the field [in the] semifinals last year," White said, "we knew we were going to come back and be in this position."

Finally, the Sea Kings made it to the big stage after losing in the semifinals in two of the past three years.

The trip to the final is Beckman's second straight. White and the defense have the task of trying to stop a physical team from winning a section title for the first time.

No one has been able to slow down the Patriots' ground attack during their 10-game winning streak. The Sea Kings' failed in their shot on Nov. 11, costing them a second straight unbeaten Pacific Coast League title.

"We just didn't really expect them to come out in the double wing [offense] in the second half. That sort of affected us," said White, whose team lost to the Patriots, 42-37, in the regular-season finale. "They came out in the second half and ran something they never ran before against us. We weren't really ready for it."

White believes the defense can now match Beckman's physical play.

The Sea Kings are smaller than the Patriots, who boast 280-pounders on the offensive line, even a 275-pound fullback.

White said Beckman's size and its top tailback, Jeff Kim, don't intimidate CdM.

"Big trees fall hard," said White, knowing other standouts on CdM's defense have to raise their level of play.

White praised the play of senior linebackers Grant Garrett and David Moore, junior lineman Tim Reinhardt, and senior defensive backs Cole Cottrell and Kyle Sherburne.

"I don't think he's anything that as a defense we can't shut down," said White, referring to Kim, who has rushed for 1,361 yards and 23 touchdowns as a senior. "They just set up a wall of freaking over 1,000 pounds worth of kids. We need to use our speed and agility, and our toughness just to hit them and win the physicality battle.

"We're going to come out and hit them hard. After the first half, they're not going to want to be playing football anymore."

Another No. 13 for CdM plans to leave a mark.


Twitter: @DCPenaloza


CIF Final

Who: Corona del Mar (11-2) vs. Beckman (11-2)

What: CIF Southern Section Southern Division final

Where: Orange Coast College, LeBard Stadium

When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Tickets: General, $9; student/child, $5

On the web: The game will be streamed live at foxsportswest.com/prepzone


Aaron White

Born: May 12, 1993

Hometown: Newport Beach

Height: 6-foot-1

Weight: 203 pounds

Sport: Football

Position: Outside linebacker

Coach: Scott Meyer

Favorite food: Tacos

Favorite movie: "The Lion King"

Favorite athletic moment: "Getting to the [CIF Southern Section Southern Division] championship game."

Week in review: White sacked the quarterback three times, helping the Sea Kings win at Laguna Beach, 41-14, in the semifinals of the CIF Southern Section Southern Division playoffs.

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