Through his friendship with Richard White and his vast experience coaching in East Alabama, Roger McDonald learned all about the potential within the Dadeville football program.
Now, McDonald has the chance to help the Tigers fulfill that potential.
McDonald was officially hired as the Tigers’ head football coach and athletic director on Monday to replace White, who retired in October after 21 years at the helm. McDonald arrives in Dadeville after a seven-year run at Carroll and will only be the Tigers’ third different head coach in the last 33 years.
“It’s a great opportunity. I spent my entire life and career except for the past seven years in East Alabama. It’s home for me in this area. My parents are in Chambers County, and my wife’s parents are in Randolph County. My oldest daughter (Casey) is at Auburn, so it’s turned out well,” McDonald said. “(Coach White) gave everything with 21 years as the head coach I think and 31 years there altogether. We’re close friends, but I’m going to do things differently. I know what coach White wanted. He wanted somebody not to be him and do it the way he did it, but that (his replacement) was somebody who was going to do it right.
“I think (Dadeville) has lots of pride and tradition. They’ve always had tough, hard-nosed, physical kids, which is a good fit for what I do.”
McDonald bring with him 16 years of head-coaching experience through his stops at Carroll, Greenville (Ga.), Valley and Beauregard. In total, McDonald has gone 102-70 in 16 years with nine winning seasons and nine playoff appearances in that time.
McDonald has achieved that success behind playing tough, grind-it-out football, and he doesn’t plan on changing that strategy as Tigers head coach. he said he envisions an offense that pounds the football through the run game then builds off the run courtesy play-action passes and quarterback bootlegs.
He acknowledged that many teams run spread offenses now, saying that the fact not as many teams line up under center can play to Dadeville’s advantage.
Given his background coaching players around the area, he believes his coaching philosophy can lead to tangible success.
“I’ve always said East Alabama offers a tough, physical brand of football. It’s a blue collar part of the state for the most part, and there’s always been tough, physical kids,” McDonald said. “I think most of the schools in East Alabama are that way. It’s not just Dadeville. I think a lot of them are that way. They’re good, physical, hard-nosed, tough kids.”
McDonald finds himself in an odd time to take over a program given he won’t be able to meet with his players right away, but he’s already thought about alternate options.
Along with putting his youngest daughter, ninth-grader Jamey, to work sharing information on social media, McDonald said he plans on calling every Dadeville player and having a conversation so they get to know their new coach. He stressed the importance of building a relationship with his new team and explained that will go a long way in creating a trust in what he is trying to accomplish.
McDonald said he’s taken over more than one total rebuild in his career, but he felt Dadeville is not in that situation due to White and others around the program. He explained smaller schools are more susceptible to having cycles of talent, and through his friendship with White he’s kept up with the up-and-coming talent and is pleased with what he feels the future holds in store.
It took a while to finally make it official, but McDonald is now leading a Dadeville program that will find itself in a competitive Region 4-3A this coming season. He knows there’s plenty of work ahead, but as far as he’s concerned, he’s ready for the long haul as his family: wife Vicky, daughters Jamey and Casey, and son Will.
“I want (the Dadeville community) to know I wanted to be here. I chose to apply for this job, and this is where we want to be. This is where my family wants to be. This is where I want my son to play football. My daughter is going to cheer. We’re going to be a part of Dadeville,” McDonald said. “The things you can count on is we’re going to be well-conditioned. We’re going to be physical. We’re going to put good kids out on that field, and they’re going to represent the school at all times in a positive way. We’re going to get after you on Friday nights. That’s our goal.
“Here’s who I am. I’m coming, and I’m going to be here. This is where I plan on retiring. I don’t plan on making any more stops.”