Q&A with Oak Hall coach Scott McDaniel
Published: Saturday, August 17, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, August 16, 2013 at 12:58 p.m.
1. What are your expectations for the season?
" My expectations are we want to win more than we lose. As a coach, I want to see guys prepare to win and every week fight to win regardless of the circumstances. We want to play for our conference title … that has to be our number one goal at the end, that conference title. We would like to play for that conference title again. Our record should show that at the end we have won more than we lost if we are in the conference title game for the third year in a row."
2. Tell us about some players you expect big things from this year.
"On offense, we start with Jackson Armstrong, our fourth year center. He's a leader in practice, and we expect him to be a dominant performer in games. At receiver, Brad Pita averaged 20 yards a reception last year. He's a guy who is about 140 pounds and is fearless on the field. You need guys like that who stick their nose in the hole and play all out with toughness despite their size. Jake Kirschner will move full time to receiver this year. Trey Carr was a reserve running back and defensive back and ran for 379 yards last year. He played in a rotation last year and will be the number one running back this season. I expect him to have a shot at a 1,000-yard season if he stays healthy. With our youth at quarterback we are really going to rely on Trey and our offensive line. Defensively, Jackson will anchor the defensive line at defensive tackle. Matt Davis, our 195-pound sophomore defensive end, returns as well. The big question is finding someone at middle linebacker. We will play a 4-2-5 so most of our athletic guys will be in the secondary. Jackson Carey will be a safety we will count on as well as Trey Carr. Also Brad Pita and Jake Kirschner in the defensive backfield. Those guys are seniors and will be counted on to lead the defense. They are sure tacklers and outstanding at defending the pass. Some new guys we are looking at to perform are Phillip Yonge. He will play receiver, defensive back, and maybe some quarterback. We will put Yonge where he will help the most. We need to decide in early fall practice who our quarterback will be. The spring was interesting at the quarterback position. Both Chase Trunnell and Michael Fortner worked out in the summer at quarterback. It's definitely a close competition there. Trunnell is bigger and stronger than Fortner but has less experience. I think either quarterback would be successful."
3. In what areas do you expect your team to improve most from last year?
"I don't know if we can talk about improving from last year, we have turned over so much. We have so much youth on our team, I think it's going to be improvement from day 1 to day 71. We have so much growing to do, last year the group we put out there was pretty good for what we had. We will see where we are in November as compared to today. We have to find a new quarterback, linebackers, etc., so there are plenty of positions up for grabs. We feel like we got as much out of last year's group as we could, so there's so many questions for this year's group. We are just looking for maturity and growth."
4. Are the Eagles pretty much in a rebuilding mode after the last two years?
"I would say yes we are in a rebuilding mode. We are so young in so many spots you could say that. But I don't think that's an excuse for not winning football games. Some of the schools we play, St. Francis, St. Johns Country Day, St. Joseph have also graduated a lot of talent. We are rebuilding but we feel like we can be competitive in basically every game on our schedule. There's not a team on our schedule that we can't compete with. We expect the players to get better despite their youth and help out our five seniors. It would be unfair to our seniors to say we are just going to come out and play out the string. We think our five seniors are good enough to keep us competitive while the young guys learn."
5. Because you are an independent, Oak Hall will not be eligible for the state playoffs. Does that make it difficult to motivate the players?
"Nope, not at all. We are playing for a conference title. We have answered the FHSAA and their splitting up of schools. They have done a nice job of getting the rural schools in one class, especially the rural schools in our area. They haven't done the same with the private schools in our area. But our guys want to be the second football team in school history to put a banner on the wall in the gym, joining only the 1979 team as conference champs. But winning a conference title would mean just as much if not more than a district title. As kids, they want a chance to win. I don't know if that was the case when they played against the University Christians of the world. I think our conference gives our kids a feeling they can compete every Friday night."