BLANCHARD — Brian Daniel crossed the goal line and wasn’t quite sure what to make to make of it.

“I didn’t know what to think,” he said. “I wasn’t sure what to do. I kind of couldn’t believe I scored.”

Daniel, Blanchard’s starting free safety, scooped up a first quarter fumble and raced 21 yards for a touchdown in the Lions’ 52-30 first-round-of-the-playoffs victory over Dickson last week.

A veteran of almost three Blanchard football seasons, it was his first touchdown … but it wasn’t his last.

He also caught four passes, two for touchdowns in the Lions’ first round playoff win. The first TD went for 29 yards and the second covered 52. Both were from quarterback Caleb Cole.

So amazed that he’d scored, Daniel gave all the credit to his teammates — Cole’s pass on the first score, Tanner Wilson’s hit on the fumble recovery, Daniel Morrell’s two blocks on the second touchdown pass.

“Everyone contributed,” he said.

It was the best night of football for the senior, who was making his first start at wide receiver.

“I definitely had more phone calls after that game than I normally do,” Daniel said. “I had some old friends that came to watch that game and they were like, ‘Where’s that been all through high school?’ ”

On the sidelines, mostly. For the first two years of his high school career, Daniel has been a role player. Kind of like the sixth man off the bench in basketball, Daniel would come in on defense to spell a starter, or maybe to run an offensive play or two.

Not that he’s bitter. He’s knows why other players were starting in front of him.

“I knew I’d get to play eventually,” Daniel said. “It takes time. The coaches have done a great job with the talent on this team.”

And the record shows. Blanchard is 7-4 and will take a seven-game winning streak to fourth-ranked Eufaula tonight in the second round of the Class 3A playoffs.

“He’s just been kind of patiently waiting for his chance,” Blanchard coach Billy Langford said.

At No. 9, the Lions ended the regular season finally ranked after beginning the season 0-4. They boast one of the best passers in any class in Cole, who has thrown for 2,359 yards and 27 touchdowns, and one of the best receivers in Morrell, who has 65 catches for 975 yard.

They also have running back, John Rodriguez, who is nearing the 1,000-yard mark.

And with the help of unsung heroes like Daniel, the Lions have become a force not to be ignored.

“He’s not the most athletic kid around, but he always seems to be in the right place at the right time,” Langford said. “He has a knack for the ball. He doesn’t have great speed, but he runs good routes and has good hands.

“On defense, he’s a great tackler. He’s really helped shore up our secondary.”

Finally getting to show what he can do, Daniel is third on the team with 80 tackles and leads the team with five interceptions. On offense, he has six catches for 142 yards.

He got his first start at wide receiver last week, filling in for injured starter Carrigan McKenzie.

“(Carrigan) is one of my best friends,” Daniel said. “He just told me to just pretend I was playing catch and to just have a good time.”

He had a very good time.

“I just got an opportunity and tried to make things happen,” Daniel said. “This is my chance this year and I’m just trying not to screw it up.”


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