MCDONALD, Ohio (WKBN) – The McDonald football team has been a mainstay in the postseason over the last 15 years. During that span, the Blue Devils have made the playoffs 10 times, including in three straight seasons.
“They sort of pride themselves on getting into the postseason,” said Head Coach Dan Williams.
But McDonald graduated eight starters last year on both sides of the ball, including Big 22 winner Dom Schadl, leaving the Blue Devils short on experience.
“It has probably been maybe seven or eight years ago since I have had this lean of a senior class with only six kids and this inexperienced with returning starters,” Williams said.
McDonald will lean heavy on senior running back Nate Gilligan and new quarterback Logan Hawk. Gilligan picked up 476 yards on 61 carries and eight touchdowns last season while Hawk was used in several different positions.
“I think we have been working hard, getting in, young team you know,” Hawk said. “Trying to get everyone where they need to be for the season.”
“It is definitely new, because we have never been in this leadership role before,” Gilligan said. “But it is working out well so far. We have to learn to be more vocal and we have been doing that, so we are pushing these guys along.”
Gilligan was a state track qualifier for the Blue Devils in 2020. He says he is trying to share his experience to the underclassmen, something he has been enjoying.
“It is fun honestly,” said the senior. “It is like being a dad and teaching your kids something new. It is fun to just have these guys learn the experience of football and what it means to be on a varsity field.”
That teaching seems to be rubbing off on the youthful Blue Devils.
“A lot of competition and sometimes competition breeds success,” Williams said. “Kids are battling for starting spots, and I think that will be real beneficial to us.”
“You can see some kids really pushing for that starting spot,” Hawk said. “We have plenty of them, I think it is a big deal here.”
McDonald is on a run of nine straight winning seasons, and even though it will be a young team, they plan on continuing the Blue Devils tradition.
“I think everyone here knows what McDonald football is,” Hawk said. “We know the expectation that we come into it with. And I think we are going to live up to that.”
“A lot of people think we are going to have a down year,” Gilligan said. “So that driving factor makes us very hungry and we want to eat. We are going to show them this year.”