Dennie McDaniel wore the Stratford High football uniform as a player. He also served two different stints as an assistant coach for his alma mater.
Now, the 40-year old McDaniel will lead the program as its head coach.
McDaniel was named the fourth head coach in school history on Friday, completing the full circle in football and achieving his ultimate goal.
“It’s a dream come true,” McDaniel said Friday. “I have waited for this opportunity since I got into coaching. I will work as hard as I can to help bring this program back to the level it was when I was a player. I am a product of this system and I have learned over the years what it takes to have a successful program. I am ready to get started.”
McDaniel replaces Joe Marion, another former Stratford assistant, who stepped down after the 2017 season. The Knights managed just 16 wins in Marion’s four seasons as the replacement to Hall of Fame coach Ray Stackley.
McDaniel graduated from Stratford in 1995 and continued his playing career at Charleston Southern before getting into the coaching business. He worked at Wando High for head coach Bob Hayes for seven seasons before returning to Stratford as the offensive coordinator in 2007. He coached Jacob Park, the 2013 Mr. Football honoree in South Carolina.
McDaniel’s only experience as a head coach came at St. John’s High for two years (2015-16), where he compiled a 12-10 record.
He returned to Stratford last fall as an assistant to Marion. McDaniel interviewed for the head coaching position after Stackley’s retirement.
“I think the biggest difference from the first time I interviewed here and this time around is that I have been a head coach and I have matured as a coach,” McDaniel said. “Being a head coach at St. John’s helped me grow as a leader and a coach. I have a new and different perspective of what it takes to lead a program.”
McDaniel will seek to turn around a program that has three wins in the last two seasons. The coach anticipates changes within his coaching staff and will work to energize the program.
“We have to go back to our roots and we have to raise our level of expectations for our players and coaches,” the coach said. “It will be important to develop our junior varsity and B-team programs and to show our players that we are here as their coaches, but also as mentors. We want to develop great young men, on and off the field.”
The Berkeley County school board is expected to approve McDaniel’s hiring on Tuesday.