McDaniels stressing importance of accountability
This year’s Canton McKinley High School varsity football players have long been used to the on-field performance expected of anyone who has ever represented the Bulldogs on the gridiron.
Producing wins – and lots of them – has been a longstanding requirement of the proud program that boasts more than 800 victories in its storied history.
That isn’t going to change this fall, but when Thom McDaniels agreed in March to become the team’s head coach for the second time in his career, he made it clear that anyone who plays for the Bulldogs under his watch will be expected to strive for excellence on and off the field.
McDaniels, who also led McKinley from 1982-1997, has continued to preach accountability to the Bulldogs throughout the preseason.
The veteran coach has selected the motto “B.A.M – Be A Man” as the team’s mantra and has challenged his players to embrace the ideals symbolized by the acronym.
“Stand on your own two feet, always, accept responsibility for the things you are supposed to do, always, and accept the consequences for the things you do, always,” McDaniels said while describing the pillars of the motto.
McDaniels has encouraged his players to focus only on themselves and what they must do collectively each week to improve, to play unselfishly and to play great team football.
The Bulldogs posted a 9-2 overall record and a 6-0 mark in Federal League play in 2013 en route to qualifying for the playoffs for the sixth consecutive season.
McDaniels believes McKinley, which returns 18 varsity letterwinners from last year’s squad, can achieve similar success this fall, but said he has set no results-oriented goals.
“Focus on ourselves, compete every play every day, play team football, be a good teammate, demonstrate great discipline in all we do and represent this program and community in the right way,” McDaniels said of his goals.
The Bulldogs will employ multiple offensive formations – using one and two-back sets – and a 4-3 defensive scheme.
McDaniels singled out seniors Nick Faulkner, Antonio Gillems, Andrew Reo and Bryce Short as team leaders.
“All are genuine student-athletes and all work very hard in every phase of the program,” he said. “All compete on both sides of the ball, all are very good players and all represent this program and this community the right way.”
McKinley opens its season at home on Friday against McDowell from Erie, Pennsylvania.
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