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FD’S DANIEL A BALL HAWK

Dodger senior record-holder leads entire state in interceptions

Messenger photo by Britt Kudla Sam Daniel of Fort Dodge dives into the end zone against Ames at Dodger Stadium earlier this season.

Sam Daniel earned second team all-district honors as a junior last season and led the Fort Dodge football team with four interceptions. The Dodgers won six games and reached the state playoffs.

By all accounts, it was a successful year.

“I was nervous, though,” Daniel admitted. “I wanted to prove to the seniors that I belonged. That I could play at this level. So I never really felt like I reached my full potential and could be myself.”

Now that Daniel is a senior, the co-captain has let loose.

And he’s seemingly everywhere.

The ubiquitous Daniel has already intercepted seven passes as a safety for Fort Dodge (3-2 overall). That total leads the entire state, and is a new Dodger program record before the calendar has even turned to October.

“I just think the style we play fits me well,” said Daniel, also FDSH’s career interception leader with 11. “We’re aggressive defensively, and we’ve played some teams who really like to pass the ball.

“Being on the field so much (a year ago) really prepared me well for (2020). It gave me a crash course in different formations, being able to identify offensive plays and formations better, and learning how to read a quarterback’s eyes. Most high school (signal callers) won’t look off the safety.”

Daniel’s penchant for being around the ball isn’t limited to defense. He’s also racked up 249 yards on just six kickoff returns — including an 89-yarder for a touchdown against Ames — and has caught three passes for 101 yards and a score.

Daniel’s 45-yard TD on a Hail Mary pass from Connor Carver to end the first half sparked the Dodgers in their comeback win at Marshalltown on Sept. 18.

“I just relax and get into a rhythm,” said Daniel, who starts on defense with his twin brothers — James and Thomas. “Play fast, but also show patience and let the game come to you. That’s the goal. And I’m trying to be a leader as much as I can, especially if teammates come to me with questions. That’s what being a senior is all about: taking your (prior experiences) and helping (less experienced athletes).”

Daniel, who is also out for basketball, track and rugby, is keeping his recruiting options open at the moment. He’s been contacted by a number of Div. II, III and NAIA football programs.

Fort Dodge takes on Sioux City East (4-1) for its Homecoming contest on Friday. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. inside Dodger Stadium.

TIMEOUT WITH SAM DANIEL

Vacation destination: The Bahamas.

People I would like to have dinner with: God and Christian McCaffrey.

It would surprise people that I: like country music.

My sports role model: Christian McCaffrey.

My everyday role model: my parents.

I can’t go a day without: being with my brothers.

Superstition: wearing the same socks for every home game.

Most heated rivalry: Mason City.

Favorite road trip: Southeast Polk.

What are you listening to right now: Morgan Wallen.

Favorites…

Team: Iowa Hawkeyes.

Class: physical education.

Movie: A Perfect World.

Magazine: Sports Illustrated.

Phone app: Twitter.

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