After the Yellow Jackets finished the 2012 season with an 11-12 record, McDonald started conditioning workouts in November, rather than the standard protocol of beginning in January. The plan was for the Yellow Jackets to build a better bond.
“We had the skill, but we didn’t have the endurance,” said McDonald, The Anniston Star's Calhoun County boys soccer coach of the year. “Plus, we were more individuals last year than we were this year.”
As Oxford found out months later, this made for a successful plan. Not only did Oxford make the state playoffs for the first time in 13 years, the Yellow Jackets won the Class 6A, Area 12 title and posted a 13-5-2 record.
They did it behind the play of Filiberto Ruedas, Luis Gomex, Andrew Sheltzer, Matthew Lin and Bryant Luis.
“The highlight of the season was our area game against Gadsden City. It was the game that put us in first place in the area,” McDonald said. “Our goalkeeper, Andrew Seltzer, stopped a penalty kick with four minutes left that could have tied the game. It came down to us winning the area and coming in second.”
Although McDonald lost six starters to graduation, he is confident his system will help the program continue to succeed.
“The great thing about this season was I was able to play a lot of young players. I have some eighth-graders that had game-time experience that was really good,” McDonald said. “I look at it like Alabama football in that you never start over, you just reload. I think that’s what we’ll do next year.”
Brandon Miller covers prep sports for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3575 or follow him on Twitter @bmiller_star