By SONYA ROBERTS-WOODS/Publisher
Marc McDaniel has a busy weekend ahead of him.
The former Mount Pleasant head football coach will be inducted as one of four honorees into the Black and Gold Tigers’ Athletic Hall of Fame during the Sept. 7 pre-game ceremony set for 7 p.m.
McDaniel, who coached at Mount Pleasant from 1993-2003, took the Tigers to the playoffs an impressive 10 straight years and posted 11 playoff victories. For two of those years, the teams advanced five games deep into the playoffs to the semifinals.
The following day, Sept. 8, McDaniel will be honored again–this time by the Blue and White Tigers as part of Daingerfield’s first state championship team. The record-setting players and coaches will be recognized at home during halftime at the Daingerfield vs. Tatum matchup. The Game of the Week showdown starts at 7 p.m. McDaniel, whose coaching career spanned 30 years, knows exactly what it means to win as both a coach and a player.
The year was 1968.
While the nation was dealing with racial unrest at the height of the civil rights movement as well as a war worlds away in Vietnam, the Morris County towns of Daingerfield and Lone Star were just trying to survive a major strike at the Lone Star Steel plant.
“They were in the midst of a serious strike,” McDaniel explained. “It was the union vs. the company and so the community was very divided. But nothing else mattered on Friday nights. Everybody came together and got behind the Tigers. It was a unified front at every kickoff.”
That support is undoubtedly what helped to sustain the Tigers throughout that stellar season. It was a very different story two years prior, in 1965, when Daingerfield, under then new head coach Bill Lane, finished with a 1-9 record. The following year the Tigers turned things completely around and ended with a 11-3 season. The year before the state championship, in 1967, the Tigers went 12-1.
“We had been building up to the 1968 season for the last two years,” McDaniel said. “We were going deep into the playoffs and so we knew we had it in us to win a state title. As a team, we started setting our expectations high. The more we won the more we felt we could win.”
And win they did. During that 1968 season, the Tigers, with McDaniel as quarterback, suffered their only loss of the season against the other county team—the Paul Pewitt Brahmas. The Tigers lost 29-14.
“That was devastating for us because we’ve always had such a big rival with Paul Pewitt,” McDaniel said. “It was a heartbreaker, but I think it helped us to work even harder after that.”
The Tigers continued to work hard and beat rival Atlanta that following week 21-9.
“That really was the turning point that season,” McDaniel said. “We decided, as a team, that we would take one game at a time and not try to get ahead of ourselves.”
The Tigers sailed through district and then four playoff wins against DeKalb, Kaufman, San Saba and Iowa Park before meeting Dunbar in the Class 2A state finals matchup in December 1968. The Tigers even had the opportunity to travel to the state competition, held in Nacogdoches, in a chartered bus.