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WL-Salem tabs one of its own to replace Smith



Dan McGill hoping to continue Tigers’ success

Dan McGill knows the ins and outs of the West Liberty-Salem football program, having played for and been an assistant coach for the Tigers.

With his background, McGill was a natural fit to take over the Tigers’ football squad after Toby Smith recently stepped down to take the head position at Bellefontaine.

The WL-Salem Board of Education hired McGill on Tuesday to be the school’s new football coach.

“I am excited about the opportunity,” said McGill. “Over the last few days there have been times that I’ve taken a step back and have thought back to when I played here. It is a bit of a surreal feeling to know that I am going to be the head coach at the school I played at.”

According to WL-Salem athletic director Jake Vitt, there were 28 applicants for the position and seven interviews were conducted among the top candidates.

“We had a lot of qualified candidates, but Dan certainly stood out,” said Vitt. “He knows the system and he knows the boys. Dan has the passion and drive to help boys become young men, and that is something that jumped out to me.”

A 1994 WL-Salem graduate, McGill initially went to Liberty University in Virginia. After playing one year of football there, he moved on and played three seasons at Campbellsville University in Kentucky.

Following his college career, McGill returned to the local area and served one year as an assistant coach at Bellefontaine. He then served eight seasons under Smith at WL-Salem.

McGill then took a break from coaching to help at home with his young children.

“I never lost my desire to coach,” said McGill. “A few years ago I just felt it was in the best interest of my family to step away for a little bit. As my children have gotten older, I have had an eye on getting back into coaching although I certainly wasn’t expecting an opportunity like this to arise.”

In addition to his playing and coaching experience at WL-Salem, McGill teaches at the school. He believes his strong roots with the Tigers will ease the transition process.

“I am a familiar face to the kids,” said McGill. “I’ve had them in class and there are some players that have older brothers I coached. I definitely think that familiarity will help.”

McGill inherits a Tigers’ team that has won 26 straight regular-season games and two consecutive Ohio Heritage Conference championships.

In the 14 seasons under Smith, WL-Salem won 111 games and went to the playoffs seven times.

“Toby has built a tremendous foundation and I am excited to take that on,” said McGill.

Vitt said he was impressed by McGill’s approach to building on the success the Tigers have enjoyed over the last decade.

“Dan knows the expectations are high,” said Vitt. “He is already looking for ways to get the program to the next level in the postseason, and that is enticing.”

“It would be a disservice to the kids and the school to simply come in and just try to maintain the current levels of success,” said McGill. “I don’t want to diminish what has been accomplished in the past, but we have to constantly be looking for ways to improve and take that next step.”


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