Athlete of the Year: QB Daly puts Panthers on right path

Carolina Forest graduate Danny Daly is a classic case of a player making the most of his senior year. As a result, it won’t be his last.

After growing up watching the Panthers struggle to be competitive on the football field and after spending most his quarterback career handing off to star running back Harold Atkinson, Daly transformed himself into an impressive passer in his final season to lead Carolina Forest to a 7-4 record.

Daly, who completed 120 of his 214 pass attempts for 2,102 yards, 26 touchdowns and only four interceptions, also earned the Mammy’s Kitchen Football Athlete of the Year. But more importantly, he got an opportunity to play quarterback at the next level at Methodist College in North Carolina.

“With Harold back there all the defenses had their eyes on him, so I knew it would really help the team if I could learn to be a better passer,” Daly said. “I more than doubled all my stats from my junior year so it really paid off for us, and for more me.

The Panthers unveiled their new-look offense in a 34-7 blowout of county rival Socastee with Daly throwing for a pair of touchdowns and running for another. Following a shutout loss to Myrtle Beach, the offense found another gear with wins of 49-22, 48-0, 68-0, 34-7 and 47-7 and so on.

“I had a lot of help from my teammates,” Daly said. “Harold really made it easier for us to run and throw and my offensive line did great. Our defense had a bunch of shutouts, and with Aaron (Williams) and Jamal (White), I also had the two best wide receivers in the county.”

A loss to rival Conway in the regular-season finale kept Carolina Forest out of the playoffs due to a quirky points system in Class AAAA, but Daly and the Panthers were able to finish the season with pride. A 7-4 record was a sign of serious progress for a program that struggled to win any games just a few years ago.

“Our senior class had been playing together since middle school and we were really tight,” Daly said. “We wanted to be the ones who sort of left our mark and helped turn things around here. Hopefully the young guys there will see what we did and pik up where we left off.”

And thanks to a successful senior season, Daly also will be able to continue his career in college as a quarterback. Although he received offers from larger schools wanting for him to change positions, Daly finally got the offer he was looking for from Methodist.

“A lot of schools were recruiting me as an athlete but I really wanted to play quarterback,” Daly said. “Methodist gave me that opportunity to compete for the job and that’s all I can ask for. Hopefully I can keep improving and win the starting job.”

If the leaps and bounds he took between his junior and senior seasons are any indication, don;t be surprised to see Daly back behind center again in the near future.

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