legacy of love
The region’s 2022 high school football season saw several champions in Duncanville, DeSoto and South Oak Cliffs, each with its own history. The rest of the program was a memorable season in its own right, including the Midlothian Panthers winning his 12 games for the second time in the past, the first in almost 40 years.
But one champion stands above all. Sadly, Cliff his white didn’t make an appearance at the end of the season.
It was his wife, legendary softball pitcher Megan Denny White, who moved him most, long before he got sick. She shared memories of Cliff with Focus Her Daily Her News as she braved an emotional first season as the widowed mother of two small children, Maverick and Riggins.
By now, most people who follow high school football in North Texas, and even many who don’t, know his story. He died of illness just hours after celebrating his 37th birthday.
Cinderella season with a bittersweet ending
In a movie, the Panthers would have finished 16-0 and won the first state championship in show history. However, the season actually ended when the eventual state champions Aledo Bearcats pulled off a 27-21 win in the final quarter.
Despite the loss, the match was important in White’s legacy. It was a necessary step to another state championship for the Bearcats, but there must have been a certain bitterness to the conquest.
“Oh my god, so many Aredo coaches and so many others have reached out,” Megan said. I was.
“I always knew how great this man was. But now, even those who have never met him know how strong a Christian he was.”
White was a shining symbol of power. When he could decide that he didn’t have the strength to continue coaching, he did the opposite. He battled all the bad emotions, physical and mental exhaustion and exhaustion that come with cancer.
panthers put up a fight
Panthers manager Doug Wendell said, “He definitely inspired everyone on our program, and he continues to do so.” I did.”
The Panthers played what must have been their toughest game of the season on Oct. 21 and knew they would rest their beloved coach the next day. But if there’s one game you can’t afford to lose, it’s the upset Lake, who held Belton down 39-37.
Call it a cliché, but of course Cliff watched, and there’s no doubt he was proud of his performance and every game the Panthers played all season.
“Those kids had just lost their coach. They were the epitome of what it was like to fight like Coach White,” Megan said. I did.”
The Panthers finished 12–1, the best record for a team in 1984 and team history.
Not only did he inspire the players, he inspired the entire community. They rallied around Coach White like Bedford Falls and George Bailey, but in the end they couldn’t help him.
“Everything the Bible says about community is perfectly embodied,” Megan said of Midlothian. “Wow! With a capital W!
This was nine-year-old Maverick’s first year on the field with his dad. Even after his father passed away, Maverick was a regular visitor to his room in the Panthers’ locker.
“We would be very honored if they let him continue with it,” Megan said. “It was Cliff’s dream to coach his son.”
While the season didn’t end as magical as the state championship, Megan said there’s still a lot of magic and inspiration in Cliff’s story.
“Let me tell you, this is perfect for the movie,” she said. “No one will forget what the Midlothian Panthers and Cliff White did.”
Area Soccer Playoffs Recap
Twelve area teams have advanced to the 2022 postseason. 11 of those have won at least one playoff game for him.
The results for each are summarized below.
Class 6A Division I
Duncanville (15-0) – The Panthers defeated arch-nemesis Galena Park North Shore, 28-21, at AT&T Stadium to win their first state championship since 1998. The North Shore had beaten the Panthers in the state finals three times in the previous four seasons. With the win, the Panthers and Eagles became just the third pair to win a state in the same division in the same season, following DeSoto’s title in Division II earlier in the day. The Panthers also finished the season ranked 7th in the nation.
Waxahachie (10-3) – The Indians advanced to the third round of the playoffs and posted their best season since 2009, when they went 12-1.
South Grand Prairie (6-6) – In the most interesting season, the Warriors overcame a 0-5 start to win six in a row to reach the second round of the playoffs, where they lost to state semi-finalists Prosper.
Class 6A Division II
DeSoto (14-2) – The Eagles made history twice. The first was with district mate Duncanville, as previously mentioned, and Claude, who made Mattis the first black coach to win his 6A state championship. They closed out the season with a 42–17 win over Austin Vandegrift at his AT&T Stadium. The Eagles finished the season ranked 21st in the nation with only losses to Duncanville and 8th-ranked Baltimore St. Francis.
Mansfield (7-4) – The Tigers made the playoffs for the first time since 2017.
Class 5A Division I
Mansfield Timberview (13-1) – The Wolves have the most wins in team history and reached the state quarterfinals in the second-longest playoff in history. They spent most of the season ranked No. 2 in the state, eventually falling to No. 1 Longview and Aledo in the state semi-finals.
Midlothian (12-1) – The Panthers equaled the best record in program history, advancing to the third round before losing 27-21 to eventual state champions Aledo.
Red Oak (9-3) – The Hawks have rebounded from a 2-8 record in 2021 and advanced to the second round of the playoffs. This is his fourth postseason appearance in five his seasons.
Lancaster (9-3) – The Tigers’ three losses were to 6A Division II semifinalist Denton Guyer (14-1), 5A Division I semifinalist Longview (14-1) and 5A Division I regional semifinalist Frisco Reedy (12-1) . Among his wins towards a second-round playoff spot was a 21-3 victory over 5A Division II repeat-state his champion Dallas South Oak Cliffs.
Class 5A Division II
Midlothian Heritage (11-2) – Despite a lot of attention paid to their crosstown opponents, the Jaguars have put together one of their best seasons since they began playing in 2015. South Oak Cliffs 33-27 in overtime in the third round of the playoffs after losing to Stephenville in the season opener.
Ennis (6-6) – The Lions went 2-5 after seven games, but won four in a row to advance to the second round of the playoffs, where the season ended by state quarterfinalist Melissa.
Mansfield Summit (5-6) – The only playoff team not to win a postseason contest, the Jaguars went all out to South Oak Cliffs before the Bears escaped with a 12-7 win. It was also his fourth consecutive playoff berth at Summit.