The Bulldogs kicked off their season the first weekend in June and lining up next to his son to play — Taylor plays center and McDaniel right guard — stirred up mixed emotions for Taylor.
“I felt a little protective the first few minutes,” admitted Taylor, who, when he isn’t on the grid iron is the Director of EMS for Gordon Hospital. “But he did more than hold his own, so I relaxed.”
McDaniel, who played right tackle for Sonoraville High School before graduating this year, said he always kidded Taylor about playing with him.
“It started out as a joke. I told him I had to play with him at least one year,” said McDaniel.
But it was only half in jest, he admits. Taylor said it was motivating to him for his kids to encourage him to keep playing.
“I didn’t think I’d make it to the fourth season,” said Taylor, who has been plagued by knee and back injuries. “I never thought I’d be playing at 37 to begin with.”
“This year, it was really exciting to know I might actually be able to play with him,” said McDaniel.
For Taylor, who has always enjoyed the sport, tossing the pigskin around was a way to bond with McDaniel, after he married his mother. But Taylor makes no distinction, proudly calling McDaniel his son, instead of his stepson.
“I’d just invite him outside to toss the ball around,” said Taylor, who has played for the Bulldogs since they started four years ago.
Soon McDaniel wanted to play on a team.
“I wanted to make sure he was serious, so we borrowed some pads and went outside to hit each other,” said Taylor.
“I really enjoyed that,” said McDaniel, who ended up playing right tackle for Sonoraville. In honor of Taylor, he asked if he could have the number seven jersey, which is the number Taylor wears for the Bulldogs.
Playing together on the Bulldogs was another matter.
Taylor said it was different than playing high school sports. On one hand, there isn’t the stress of impressing scouts or getting scholarships, but on the flip-side, the semi-pro players can be a lot tougher.
They’ll play today in Clarksville, Tenn., but will return to Phil Reeve stadium on June 26 to play the Tennessee Crush, their nemesis.
“They are our biggest rivalry,” said Taylor. “Everyone should come for it.”
The chance to play football next to his son is special, said Taylor.
“We’ve made memories that can never be replaced. It’s awesome,” he said.