WR? QB? McDaniels can do it all for Baumholder
Despite pressure from a Sigonella defender, Baumholder quarterback Ben McDaniels looks for a receiver in the Buccaneers' win over the Jaguars earlier this season.
BAUMHOLDER, Germany – In the ever-fluid environment of DODDS-Europe sports, nothing comes in handier than having an athlete who possesses the skills and attitude of Baumholder senior Ben McDaniels, an All-Europe wide receiver who’s quarterbacking the Bucs this time around.
The move wasn’t exactly unexpected, despite the excellence McDaniels displayed as a wide receiver – 35 receptions for 725 yards with nine TDs and 11 rushes netting 124 yards and a touchdown.
“Last year, (former) Coach (Carter) Hollenbeck told me I might have to play quarterback unless one PCS’d in,” McDaniels said prior to a recent practice session.
There was plenty of movement over the summer, but none involved a quarterback’s checking into the shrinking Baumholder community. Instead, Hollenbeck accepted a position at Ramstein, Baumholder dropped from Division II to the nine-man world of Division III, and McDaniels found himself under center for new head coach B.J. Walker, a former assistant under Hollenbeck.
Although McDaniels admitted he’d rather be playing wide receiver again, he said the needs of the team came first.
“I really liked receiver,” said McDaniels, “but I do what I have to do. Our mindset is team first, instead of the individual.”
Not that McDaniels was a complete stranger to his new position. He played quarterback as a freshman backup, and can line up almost anywhere the Bucs need him.
“What I like most about him is his versatility,” Baumholder quarterbacks and wide receivers coach Erik Majorwitz assessed in an email about the 6-foot-2, 170-pound All-European he and Walker have coached for four years. “Since he has been at Baumholder, he has lined up at quarterback, running back, wide receiver, tight end, defensive end, linebacker, defensive back, placekicker, punter, kick returner and punt returner. He’d go play offensive line if we asked him to.”
Someone else, however, will have to play tackle for the Bucs this year. McDaniels has his plate full at quarterback.
“As quarterback, you’re more of a leader,” he said. “You’re getting the ball on every play. You’ve got to know mentally what to do and then physically execute.”
So far this season, McDaniels’ execution has resulted in two touchdown passes, nearly 10 yards per rush, a 50-yard punt return TD, and five-of-six extra points as Baumholder opened its initial nine-man season 3-0.
“There are lots more places to run,” said McDaniels, who perfectly fits the game, according to his coach.
“The object is to get outside,” Walker said. “Speed wins in nine-man.”
The new league also is a breath of fresh air for Baumholder, McDaniels said. The Bucs travel to Rota for a showdown with the D-III champs Friday night.
“Every game’s a surprise,” said McDaniels, the honor student who hopes to study kinesiology in college and become a physical therapist, about his team’s fresh set of foes. “We prepare for every game as though it’s the championship game.”
This year’s official championship game will be played, once again, at Baumholder. After looking at staging the three divisional title games on Wiesbaden’s new artificial surface this year, the school system instead returned the Nov. 3 games to Baumholder.
Typically, McDaniels welcomes the move not as potential home-field advantage, but for the boost the game brings to the community.
“The whole community benefits from hosting the games,” he said.
Spoken like the man McDaniels is, according to Majorwitz.
“Like a true leader, he takes responsibility and never complains,” Majorwitz concluded. “Soft-spoken off the field, he is fiery and competitive on it.”