Gilbert Christian Following Faith, Finding Success

Coaching football isn’t a job to Gilbert Christian first-year head coach Scott McDaniel, it’s a journey.

After taking over the Knights’ program this past off-season, McDaniel’s quest for his student-athletes reached far beyond wins and losses on Friday nights in the fall.

“I did not look at this as a football program,” McDaniel said to “For me, it’s been a mission. It’s amazing how the kids have bought into that. Taking football as a mission first and bringing out character. Being a light on the field.”

That light has been a been bright one as the 7-3 Knights open the 2A playoffs hosting Tempe Prep Friday night in the far southeast Valley. Gilbert Christian, for the most part, has been at the top their game offensively while trying to establish a more consistent identity on defense.

The result has been one more win than all of last season with, hopefully, a deep post-season run ahead.

Gilbert Christian action 2McDaniel has created a week-to-week “mission statement” to help keep his team living in the present, not getting caught up in the past or looking too far ahead to the future. A couple of past ones include, “I am a champion,” “United” and “One Blood,” the latter being a constant throughout the season.

“He’ll say it at the beginning of the week and he’ll keep reminding us,” senior quarterback Nick Hershey explained to “We’ve grown a lot closer together and with our coaches. Having that bond really helps.”

Gilbert Christian has found success through McDaniel’s message, as well as his ability to recruit, or re-recruit you may say, around campus. He was looking for a commitment from the current group and a re-commitment from two others, specifically two-way star and track standout Blake Kelly, as well as former GCHS second-team all-state quarterback Brayden Finkbeiner.

— Blake Kelly (@Blake_Kelly2) October 14, 2017

“They were desired, we wanted them to be part of it,” McDaniel explained. “We wanted them to be part of the mission.”

So far, mission accomplished.