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Jon Svec photo
Jon Svec photo
Members of the St. Paul Lions pose with Eskimos running back John White. The Lions accepted a donation of Eskimos tickets from the St. Paul Co-op and Molson.
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Eskimos running back visits St. Paul

Sep 02, 2014 12:00 pm | Jon Svec

The Co-op Mall was adorned with Edmonton Eskimos gear on Aug. 28, as a large display was set up by the main entrance in order to welcome Eskimos running back John White for a special visit to St. Paul.

White was on hand to sign autographs for a large number of football fans who came out for the event, and he took a minute to chat with each visitor as he signed their jerseys and footballs.

Now in his second year with team, White has racked up 334 yards on 51 carries so far this season. He feels, however, that the team’s off-the-field relationship with the fans is important as well.

“Just to show the fans that we’re more than the people on the field,” he said in an interview with the Journal. “It definitely should be a big relationship, because of how the organization is built around the community. It’s always great to give back and show your face in the community.”

He also stated that this relationship does pay off on game day. “When it’s third and one and you need that offensive line to jump offside, it works out great for the defence,” he said of their lively home crowd.

The team is tied for first place in the dominant Western Division with a 7-1 record, a drastic turnaround from their abysmal 2013 campaign. One of the big reasons for the shift is new head coach Chris Jones, whose impact, according to White, has been significant.

“The record shows for itself,” White said. “He came in and he did what he did, nothing more than that. He’s just a great coach, and he expects a lot from us, and we expect a lot from him as a coach.”

Many are surprised at how quickly the team has been able to turn things around, but White is not. “It usually takes time, but with the athletes that we have, and the coaching staff we have, and the community that we have, we were able to bounce back quickly,” he said.

Another reason for their success is the play, and the leadership, of quarterback Mike Reilly. “He talks, but not as much as he leads by example, and that’s where it counts the most, because it’s what you do on the field, it’s not what you say,” White said.

A great start does not always mean a successful season, and White says that the team is focused on continuing their winning ways. “Just keep doing what we’re doing. We can’t break stride,” he said. “We can’t put any game above any other game, so we’ve got to take it one at a time.”

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