Demarcus White’s first game as McDaniel College’s head coach is set for Saturday, when the Green Terror host Misericordia in the 2019 opener. The Terror’s 125th football season begins with a new coach, a dose of optimism, and plenty of excitement on the Hill. But White said he’s trying to take a calm approach into kickoff at Kenneth R. Gill Stadium.
“I want to be the best leader that I can be for these guys on Saturday,” White said Thursday morning, a few hours before the team’s final practice of the week. “So does that give you a little bit of anxiety ... absolutely. But, I think that as a competitor, you always have those emotions because you want to put a good show out there. You want the team to know that you have their back and you’re leading them in the right direction. I try to remind myself it’s another day at the office.”
White said the Green Terror are ready to face an opponent for the first time after weeks of training camp practices and a scrimmage last week against Stevenson. He has 12 starters back from 2018, seven on defense and five on offense.
McDaniel’s defense is led by senior linebacker Jarius Ransom, who earned first-team all-Centennial Conference honors last fall and led the Terror with 92 tackles. Nah’Shon Godfrey, a senior defensive back, was a second-team all-conference pick in 2018. Godfrey had eight pass break-ups and an interception.
White served as McDaniel’s defensive coordinator from 2016-18 before taking over for Mike Dailey as head coach when Dailey stepped down because of health reasons. White’s defenses finished in the Centennial’s top six for total defense, pass defense, and sacks.
He’ll still keep an eye on that side of the ball, but White has other areas on which to focus. Offense likely comes first — Tyler Palermiti, a junior, looks to be the starting quarterback. Palermiti played in seven games last season and threw for 783 yards and four touchdowns.
McDaniel lost all but 28 yards from last year’s rushing attack, but Perry Stefanelli is back as a graduate student for a fifth season.
Stefanelli, listed as a starter on White’s depth chart for Misericordia, suffered an injury early in the 2017 season and didn’t play last year. He’s also one of this year’s team captains, along with Godfrey, senior Jake Scott, junior lineman Tracey Easton, and senior lineman Kofi Siga.
“I think the guys have done a really good job,” White said. “One of the things that we’ve preached as a staff is to stay steady. Continue doing what you have been doing.”
McDaniel hosts a Misericordia team that went 8-3 last season (7-1 in the Middle Atlantic Conference) and is picked to finish fifth in the MAC this fall. The Cougars feature standout quarterback Brady Williams, the reigning MAC Offensive Player of the Year. Williams passed for 1,986 yards and 18 touchdowns, and had five games of 200 or more yards through the air.
“I think it’s going to be a very tough contest on Saturday,” said White, who is impressed with Misericordia’s stout line of scrimmage.
McDaniel is set for a walk-through Friday in preparation for its opener, and White said he’ll be trying to make sure the Terror don’t get so hyped to compete in their first game they flame out before it’s over.
Centennial play begins next week with a road game against Moravian. Getting off to a good start is important to McDaniel’s new coach, and White seems eager to see how his team reacts to a quality opponent in Week 1.
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“It’s going to be a real test to see where we are defensively,” White said. “But it seems like the guys are really excited and looking forward to the opportunity.”