Lee-Scott Academy announced Buster Daniel as the Warriors’ new head football coach on Tuesday. Daniel replaces Robert Johnson, who resigned in March to take over at Montgomery Academy, his alma mater.
“I've known for a long time about Lee-Scott and their program and the kind of people around the program,” Daniel said. “I've been coaching public school ball for about 26 years, and I had a chance to retire. There's a lot of good people out there (at Lee-Scott), and I'm just ready to get to work.”
Daniel arrives in Auburn after serving as Valley’s head football coach for the past three seasons. Daniel took over a Rams program that was fresh off a 1-9 season and quickly got the team back into contention by winning two games in his first season before winning five games in 2018. The 2018 squad also broke a four-year playoff drought for the program.
Daniel’s last season at his alma mater proved to be his most successful. Valley posted a 7-5 record — marking its highest win total since 2011 — and won the region championship for the first time in eight years. The Rams then one-upped themselves by winning their first game of the Class 5A state playoffs before ultimately falling to Ramsay on the road.
Daniel leaves Valley with a record of 14-19 and two trips to the postseason in three seasons.
Prior to taking over at Valley, Daniel spent 22 years as an assistant coach at Opelika and served in several different capacities during that time, including tight ends coach, offensive line coach, special teams coordinator and assistant head coach.
During Daniel’s time in Opelika, the Bulldogs won 199 games, captured 10 region championships and made the postseason 19 times.
Daniel’s success throughout his coaching career was hard to ignore once the decision-makers at Lee-Scott began narrowing down their candidates for the position.
"He did a great job with the interview process. We started talking to people throughout the community, and they all said the same thing about what a hard worker he was. They said he was one of the best guys they've ever been around," Lee-Scott athletic director William Johnson said. "He's been a part of all the success they had at Opelika, and then taking that success and going to a Valley program and within a couple of years they win a region championship. That's a lot of work. That's not something that just happens. There's no magic dust — it takes elbow grease to do something like that at a program. It became apparent there that Buster was our guy.
"We're really excited. I think we have a winner in Buster Daniel, and we're excited to get this new chapter at Lee-Scott going. We're really excited for Buster and his family to join our family."
Daniel takes over a Warriors' program that is fresh off a bounceback 2019 campaign. After going winless in the 2018 season, Lee-Scott snapped a 13-game losing streak with a 42-24 victory over Fort Dale Academy in Week 2 then put together a five-win regular season to take AISA Region 1-AAA’s fourth and final playoff seed.
Lee-Scott’s season ended in the first round of the Class AAA playoffs with a 45-27 loss to Monroe Academy.
Daniel’s replacement at Valley, meanwhile, will step into a challenging situation with the Rams moving up to Class 6A and joining the same region as Opelika, Carver-Montgomery, Eufaula, Sidney Lanier, Lee-Montgomery, Park Crossing and Russell County. That coach, however, will have plenty of young talent to work with, including rising junior quarterback KD Hutchinson and rising junior running back BJ Baker.
Daniel explained it was hard leaving Valley given the relationships he built with the players, but he remains excited about the future ahead at the helm of the Warriors’ program.
“I'm a guy that's going to work hard and try to continue to build the program,” Daniel said. “Coach Johnson had some success out there last year and won a few more games than they had the last few years. I'm a guy who's just going to try and continue to bring success out there. We're going to go to work and work hard, but we're going to build relationships with the kids to be successful.
“I'm really excited about it. I can't wait to know all of those guys and go to work.”