Class at McDaniel College doesn’t officially begin until Aug. 27, but Saturday marked the official return for the Green Terror football program back on The Hill.

New and returning players recently filed their way into Gill Center to check in with coaches, find their dorm assignments, and begin settling in for the upcoming year.


It’s all part of the administrative process, but for those who’ve spent the summer training and working up to this point, there’s likely no better feeling than getting back out on the turf.

Under the lights at Kenneth R. Gill Stadium, McDaniel held its first football practice of the season Saturday night, a holiday in the eyes of coach Mike Dailey.

“It’s a little bit like Christmas Eve,” Dailey said earlier in the week. “You’ve got that anticipation of, ‘Hey, how are we going to be?’”

Dailey enters his third season at the helm of the Green Terror after previously spending time on the coaching staff as an assistant.

Taking over after a 0-10 season in 2015, McDaniel finished with a 3-7 record (3-6 in the Centennial Conference) in their first year under Dailey. The Terror went 3-7 (2-7) last fall, but ended the year on a six-game losing streak after winning three of their first four games.

The hour-long evening practice is something Dailey said he started last season after the NCAA eliminated two-a-days.

Dailey wasn’t originally sure how the practice would play out but after a positive reception from the team, he decided to continue it this year.

“It’s a way to get them jump-started,” he said. “It was a good, fun evening. We just shook it out, got to run around a little bit — probably made us a little more tired where we could go to bed and sleep and get up the next day as players ready to go.”

Dailey was set to use Saturday’s “modified” practice as an introduction for new players. He said the focus was to show how typical practices are run — where and how to stretch, where to line up for offensive and defensive drills, and so on.

While new players ventured into their first official college practice experience, veterans like Perry Stefanelli offered guidance.

The standout fifth-year running back returns to McDaniel for his final season. He missed six games last season after suffering a torn ACL in the Green Terror’s 27-20 win over Gettysburg on Sept. 23.

It’s a different environment, but Stefanelli said he understands the role he encompasses as one of the most experienced players on the roster.

“Coming back as a fifth-year [senior], you don’t have the guys that you came in with as a freshman,” he said. “You know exactly what the expectations are. At that point, it’s my role and any other fifth year that’s come back … to lead the way and help everyone.”

Stefanelli said he has always strived to be a leader — something Dailey has continually encouraged.


“One thing that Coach Dailey always talks about is, ‘It’s always about making somebody else better every day,’” he said. “As an upperclassman, that’s the role I want to be in.”

Due to the NCAA’s five-day heat acclimatization period, players are only permitted to wear helmets the first two days of practice. Teams transition to helmets and shoulder pads on Days 3 and 4 before putting on full pads Day 5.

On paper, the records may be the same for McDaniel the past two seasons but Dailey believes improvements have been made and they’ll show going forward.

“I do feel like we have gotten better, so I am anxious to see where we are this year,” he said.