A Raider Homecoming: Friday night lights is a family affair for the White and Dickey families

The Whites (from left to right Holly, Kaden, Dawson, and Coach Kris White) say they are grateful to be back home in Moore County where football comes with family and a sense of community. (Photo courtesy of the Moore County Sports Network)

Homecoming in Moore County is one part Friday night lights and one part family reunion. Parade floats stuffed with colored tissue paper sit parked in the end zone as the queen and her court sit perched atop borrowed convertibles waiting for their royal loop around the field. It’s a night when the former star quarterback and his buddy lean against the home side fence reminiscing about the good ole days and old fames lock eyes from across the bleachers.

This year’s game will be another kind of homecoming as Raider Coach Kris White, flanked by his sons, Kaden and Dawson, will take the field on Friday for his first ever homecoming game as a head coach.

Community, family, and football

Coach White served as the Raider defense coordinator during the 2007 season under then coach Thomas McDaniel. After one year, he left to take an assistants position at Oakland High School before moving on to Knoxville Catholic High School. But he says Raider Stadium and this community were never far from his mind.

“When I left, we continued to keep up with the team and the players,” he says. “We also had lots of former players and their parents come cheer us on at Oakland.”

Kris and his wife, Holly (Dickey) White knew they always wanted to come back home to southern, middle Tennessee. They also knew that Kris longed for the challenge of a head coaching position but when the idea first popped up, Holly says there was a pause.

“At first, we though not yet,” says Holly. “Our boys (Kaden and Dawson) had already managed several moves during their school careers and we knew they wouldn’t be excited about another one … especially for Kaden senior year.”

But then the phone calls started pouring in … first one and then several from Lynchburg friends, and those involved with the program to voice their support and encouragement. Coach White says after he and Holly discussed it, it was family and a sense of community that finally moved the needle for them.

“My mom didn’t get to come see the boys play last year and neither did Holly’s dad,” Coach White says. “During this pandemic, family’s just started to mean more to everybody.”

In addition to their parents, both Holly and Kris have siblings who live in the area. Friday nights are now a family affair for the White and Dickey families as a sea of aunts, uncles, and cousins line the Moore County bleachers to cheer on Kaden and Dawson. Kaden, a senior, is the leading Raider receivers with 322 yards and Dawson, a freshman, has added 289 of his own all purpose yards. The “Smash Brothers” as the Moore County Sports Network announcers have nicknamed them also combine for an impressive 122 tackles as the Raider’s safeties.

Coach White says family and the love of football in the community made the MCHS job very tempting.

Director of Schools Chad Moorehead says when he spotted Kris White’s application in the stack coming in for the Raider football head coach opening, he immediately knew he was the best candidate.

“About a week later, the MCHS administration presented him to me as their choice, and I agreed with the decision,” Director Moorehead says.

Both Coach White and his wife say that no matter how far away they moved that Moore County always felt like home and it didn’t take long for it to become the new normal.

“Moore County treated me great when I coached here before,” Coach White says. “You can feel the love of football and this team in this community. I’ve never forgotten that feeling.”

“Kaden and Dawson stayed connected to lots of their friend from before,” says Holly. “So we knew this transition was going to be much easier than they realized.”

The Whites also had another deep connection to Moore County, Lynchburg native Janice (Keller) Morey and her husband, Randy. The two also coached at Oakland High School during Kris’s tenure there as an assistant.

“I did her girl’s weight program during the day and got to know her well. Of course, Holly already knew her well from growing up together. Randy also coached there. Ryder and Kaden were the same age and played middle school baseball together. Dawson and Keller were also the same age. We all became really good friends.”

Those familiar faces helped smooth the tradition for everyone.

Coaching players to become young men

It’s a combination that seem to be clicking for this year’s Raider team. White inherited a senior-heavy roster from outgoing Raider Coach Jason Dobbs, whom White considers a good friend. He’s added to it rock star athletes from other sports like basketball and baseball to create a bench that’s both athletic and deep.

Beyond athletics, Coach White says he trying to teach his Raider team to become young men with respect and discipline. It’s a coaching style the players respond to as evidenced by their 5-1 record. Coach White credits that winning record not only to his players but also to the skill and devotion of his assistants: Morey, TJ Christian, Wes Black, Schuvaud Whitaker, and Manny Buchanan.

“I’m only as good as my assistants and how hard they work for this team,” says Coach White.

Moore County will take on Jo Bryns tonight at Raider Stadium. Homecoming ceremonies begin at 6 p.m. and the game will kick off at 7 p.m. If you can’t attend the game, it will be broadcast live on Raider Country 105.1 and 95.5 FM with Joe Abraham and the Moore County Sports Network, on the NFHS Network, or The Lynchburg Times will post live score updates on our Facebook page. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg, Tennessee. We cover Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

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