Falcons’ father, son share Final 4 experience


Minford High School baseball head coach Eli Daniels

Courtesy of Erica Fike

AKRON — Although the outcome was not what was hoped for, in the end, the bond between father and son grew stronger than ever.

Minford High School baseball head coach Eli Daniels saw his Falcons fall to the Lake Flyers 4-0 in the Division III state semifinals on Saturday at Akron’s Canal Park.

But, his father and assistant head coach Brent Daniels saw something else.

He saw the future.

Minford (22-7) ran the tournament table, and knocked off North Adams 8-4 to win the sectional crown.

The Falcons then defeated Westfall 12-2 (6 innings) and Wheelersburg 3-1 to advance to the Division III regional tournament, where they came from behind to beat Barnesville 11-4 and Portsmouth 6-5 to advance to the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s Final Four.

“It’s an exciting time for Minford baseball,” Brent Daniels said. “(Eli) brought me out of retirement to help and it’s been a fun ride. He told me when he took the job at Minford that he wanted me to help so I did and I’m glad I did. The excitement of Minford baseball is back.”

Minford High School baseball assistant coach Brent Daniels

Courtesy of Erica Fike

Brent Daniels has been with his son Eli his entire athletic career.

He coached Eli in football and baseball in high school, and watched him blossom into a player at the University of Rio Grande.

“It’s kind of neat right now because we’re both going through this together,” Brent said, referring to the loss of his father a few months ago and the birth of Eli’s son — his grandson — Beau a couple of weeks ago.

“It’s just been a crazy time for all of us,” Brent added. “There have been a lot of emotions — both highs and lows — and so baseball’s been a good release and these kids have been a treat to coach. They make coaching easy and fun.”

Eli Daniels took his Falcons to the Final Four in only his second year as head coach.

His overall record at Minford is 40-15.

He appreciates what his father did as a head coach, and said he learned a great deal from him last year.

“(Dad) knows the situations and he knows the stress of everything that comes with being a head coach,” Eli said “He’s helped me through that. I learned a lot on him last year and implemented some things he told me into this year. I learned how to run practice better and plan better and the administrative stuff that comes with the territory. There is a lot to it and he really helped me there.”

Both admitted to tense conversations about baseball, but both also agree that they have the same goal — to help the players improve and to win.

They talk about situations and what to do and how to handle tough moments.

“Ultimately, it’s (Eli’s) call because he’s the one who will have parents on his back,” Brent said. “I’m honest with him and I think he appreciates that. He did a great job with some obstacles we faced as a team early on in this season. He took a team and some assistant coaches and got us all the way to the Final Four. We put kids in different positions they normally didn’t play — but it worked out. He deserves the credit for this.”

Eli Daniels said the two have fun together, but also have serious discussions about the game — and about players and each other.

“It’s a blast having him on staff,” he said about his dad. “It’s something different for sure. He helps me to see coaching from a different perspective.”

Although the Falcons lost to the Flyers in the state semifinals, there is excitement around Minford baseball.

“Hey, nobody really expected us to go this far,” Brent Daniels said. “We had some tough losses early and came back. Eli took control of this team and got the boys ready to play. I think this is just the start of something special at Minford when it comes to baseball.”

And, Eli Daniels said it was special to share this Final Four experience with his father.

“He’s taught me how to coach,” he said. “With me being a new dad myself, I would have loved to have kept going in this tournament. But to make it here is special and we definitely want to get back here as soon as possible.”

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