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Canton school board approves former coach’s return to sidelines; Thom McDaniels says he’s ‘duty-bound’ to succeed at McKinley

By Nancy Molnar
Special to the Beacon Journal

CANTON: Thom McDaniels’ return as varsity football coach at McKinley High School comes with high expectations.

Board of Education members told him that when they officially hired him at their meeting Monday.

Board Member Richard Milligan said he expects McDaniels to help team members become adults and good citizens.

“We have student-athletes,” board President Lisa Gissendaner said. “We don’t have athletes that are students.”

Board Member John Rinaldi said that parents and coaches have an important role to play in the lives of young people, and it isn’t to be their friend.

McDaniels let the board know he heard its message.

“I learned early on to be duty-bound,” he said, “and I see it as my duty to the young men in my charge to show them how to succeed on the playing field, in the classroom and in this community.

“If we achieve in any two of those areas, but not the third, then I will have failed. I do not intend to fail.”

Board member Ida Ross-Freeman cast the sole dissenting vote against McDaniels, who was the USA Today National Coach of the Year when he led the Bulldogs to a mythical national title in 1997, taking over the Bulldogs football program. She cited concerns about rehiring a retired educator, as well as questioning who would supervise him.

Member Ryan Brahler said Superintendent Adrian Allison hit a “grand-slam home run” in recruiting McDaniels to replace Todd Filtz, who resigned after two seasons despite a 17-5 record and two playoff appearances.

Brahler said that, in retrospect, hiring Filtz had been a mistake.

The board set McDaniels’ coaching salary at $8,068. It did not discuss any other position for him with the district. McDaniels compiled 134 wins as coach at McKinley from 1982-97. The 1997 team finished 14-0 and won the Division I state championship.

Nancy Molnar can be reached at


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