CLARKSVILLE — Daniel McDonald is leaving one tradition-rich program for another.
McDonald, who has spent the past four seasons as an assistant coach at Louisville Male, was officially announced as the new head coach at Providence on Friday.
“I am absolutely honored to be a part of the Providence football tradition and to have the opportunity to grow that tradition,” the 31-year-old McDonald said in a press release. “We’re going to bring a new energy, enthusiasm and relentless effort to Providence football.”
McDonald served as the Bulldogs’ defensive coordinator for the past three seasons, including 2018 when Male won its eighth state title. He comes to a Pioneers program, which has two championship-game appearances to its credit, that was built on the principles of “faith, family and football” under Hall of Famer Gene Sartini and continued under Larry Denison.
“I’m Catholic, first of all, so I place a lot of value in a Catholic education,” McDonald said. “So, an opportunity to coach and teach at a Catholic high school with the history and tradition of Providence is one I couldn’t pass up.”
McDonald replaces Denison, who resigned after going 53-48 in nine seasons since succeeding Sartini. Denison guided the Pioneers to a sectional title in 2017 and to their third straight sectional-final appearance this past season in spite of a roster that hovered around 30 players.
“I know there’s a nucleus of pretty talented guys coming back,” McDonald said. “I do know numbers and depth are an issue right now. My staff and I are going to recruit the building and make football exciting again at Providence.”
McDonald has some Southern Indiana ties. He has a bachelor’s degree in secondary education from IU Southeast, where he was a member of the school’s baseball team. For the Grenadiers he was a four-year player and first baseman. On the diamond, he was a Gold Glove winner. Off the field, he was an NAIA Academic All-American. McDonald is a member of the IUS Athletics Hall of Fame.
McDonald was hired as the head coach at Louisville Waggener, his alma mater, when he was 22 years old. He had just gotten married and was still doing his student teaching at the time. He guided the Wildcats to a 2-9 record in his only season there.
“I had way too much on my plate,” McDonald said. “I had to take a step back and let some grass grow under my feet.”
After that, McDonald spent three years as the offensive coordinator at Louisville Seneca before being hired by Male head coach Chris Wolfe, whom he had played for as a freshman and sophomore at Waggener. Wolfe asked McDonald to coach the defensive line despite the fact that the latter had no experience on that side of the ball.
“Coach Wolfe said, ‘You hire the best coaches you can find, then you plug them in,’” McDonald recalled. “It was a great experience, I couldn’t ask for better.”
In 2018, McDonald headed a unit that ranked second in Class 6A (Kentucky’s largest classification) in scoring defense, third in rushing D, fourth in sacks, fifth in passing D and 10th in fumbles recovered.
This past season the Bulldogs, who won their first 14 games before falling 28-6 to Trinity in the 6A final, finished third in scoring defense and rushing D, as well as eighth in interceptions, ninth in sacks and 10th in passing D.
“We are very excited to have Coach McDonald as our new head football coach,” Providence athletic director Mickey Golembeski said. “He brings to us a very strong knowledge of the game and the enthusiasm and experience to build on the storied success of Providence football. We’re looking forward to him getting started.”
“It’s a heck of an opportunity, I’m very excited,” said McDonald, who added that he is excited to work with the Catalyst Catholic youth football staff in the New Albany Deanery, and to assist in building that program as well.
McDonald and his wife, Courtney, who is from Madison, have two sons, Landon, 6, and Cruz, 4. The family attends St. Athanasius Parish in Louisville.
When asked what he’d tell the returning Pioneer players, as well as future ones, McDonald responded: “Exciting times are ahead for Providence football, as long as they buy-in 100 percent, they commit themselves and they work hard. Football’s going to be fun again. Football’s going to be exciting again.”