By Tommy Keeler Jr.
Rakwon White has always loved the weight room, but after tearing his meniscus in the offseason last year, he learned to love it even more.
The Strasburg senior running back spent a lot of time rehabbing the injury and working on getting bigger, stronger and faster -- and the results showed this season.
"He put the time in here after school. And in the summer he was still working out," Strasburg football coach Mark Roller said. "He probably came in this year bigger and faster than I've seen him all three years. Coming back from an injury, sometimes kids don't get back to their normal self, but he exceeded that and was a lot better than he was."
White, who said his max bench press is 295, continued lifting hard even after the season started.
"I didn't stop. I gained more muscle throughout the season," White said. "I became stronger, faster. Most every day, I was in the weight room. I love the weight room. It's a good feeling to pick up the weights."
Roller said he was happy with the way White handled and rehabbed the injury.
"You encourage them to rehab, and rehab the way the therapist wants you to rehab," Roller said. "And I think he understood that. Too many times they can always take off and say, 'I'm going to get by with what I'm doing. And I'm not going to get into the weight room any more than I need to.' Certainly he was one who lived in the weight room after that injury, and did the things he needed to do to get back to be better than he was before the injury."
White, The Northern Virginia Daily's 2012 Offensive Football Player of the Year, was already really good before the injury, but he came into this season bigger, stronger and faster than ever.
White finished with 2,467 rushing yards and 27 touchdowns for the Rams. He averaged 9.5 yards per carry.
Roller said the biggest improvement he saw in White was his willingness to take a hit and get those extra yards.
Roller said one play in particular came to mind when thinking about White's toughness.
"The first Central game, there was a play where [Central's] Kolton Poston came over to make a tackle and there was a collision," Roller said. "And he kind of bounced off of him, and took it in for a score. That's kind of one of those things that shows you how tough he is."
His toughness and conditioning helped White play more on defense this year, where he was a starter at linebacker for the Rams.
White had 52 tackles, including 30 solo, and helped lead a solid defense. White said he didn't mind playing both ways.
"It wasn't difficult at all," White said. "You just have to have a strong mind to not be weak on the field, and show other opponents you're not tired. It feels good to go both ways."
White helped lead the Rams to a 10-2 record, including a 9-0 start to the year. The Rams also had a share of the district title with Central and Manassas Park.
He said the most memorable game was against Manassas Park, where the Rams rallied and pulled out a 35-34 win in the final minute.
"We played as a team," White said. "Everybody dug deep, and showed everybody what we [were] made of."
White was also a captain this season, and he said he enjoyed being one of the leaders on the team in his senior year.
He said he is undecided where he will attend college, but he is still looking at different schools where he hopes to play football.
Even though the Rams lost in the second round of the playoffs to Central, White said it was a great season for the team.
"I was really proud of my teammates and myself," White said. "I was proud of what we did and how we did it. I couldn't ask for anything better."
Roller said White has meant a lot to the program and he will be missed.
"He's been a vital part of Strasburg football success," Roller said. "It takes a whole team to be successful, but certainly he was a key factor in all of it. Then this year, to be able to go 10-2 and have a lot of success, he's been a great asset to our program."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or firstname.lastname@example.org