Sports Person of the Week
McDonald Feels Honored to Lead the Hornets
David McDonald is leading the Branford football team as a senior captain while playing tight end, outside linebacker, and defensive end for the Hornets this fall. (Photo courtesy of David McDonald)
As a freshman in the Branford football program, David McDonald looked up to the upperclassmen and dreamed of having a chance to lead the team one day. David got his opportunity as a senior when he became both a captain and a varsity starter for the Hornets in the 2021 season.
David started playing football in Branford’s town league in the 4th grade. He played in the league through his 7th-grade season before taking a year off in 8th grade. David’s brother Ian also played football for the Hornets and was a senior during David’s sophomore year. Ian helped David get involved in football, and David quickly realized how much of a family atmosphere the sport provided.
“My brother played, and that had a big impact on me,” says David. “Football is a great sport. It’s a family sport. It’s great being a part of a team.”
David played for Branford’s JV team as a freshman and a sophomore, although he did see some varsity time on special teams during his sophomore season. Branford finished with record of 6-4 in each of those campaigns. David says that watching the team succeed motivated him, as well as his fellow Hornets who were waiting for their varsity opportunity.
David saw how Branford’s upperclassmen competed and led the team both on and off the field. In addition to his brother, David admired the seniors who were captains for the Hornets during his freshman year. As he progressed through the program, David wanted to follow in their footsteps.
“Freshman year, I just wanted to be like the seniors, like Jack Seward and Chris Bouton. Those were the guys on the team. I looked up to them,” David says. “When I became a senior, those were the guys I wanted to be like.”
In his senior year, David became a full-time varsity starter on both sides of the ball. He currently plays tight end on offense and both defensive end and outside linebacker on defense for the Hornets, who have a record of 3-1. David says that Assistant Coach Ron LeCointe was a crucial figure in his development and helping him get better at every position.
After waiting for his turn to start on the varsity gridiron, David felt a little nervous about making the jump. However, following Branford’s first play in the team’s season opener, David knew that he was up for the challenge.
“Once you get the first play done, everything just kind of goes along. After the first game, everything changed,” says David. “I was really nervous up until that moment, then everything became pretty normal.”
David made one of his biggest plays thus far this season when Branford claimed a 15-12 home win over Notre Dame-West Haven on Sept. 24. Midway through the fourth quarter, David caught a 57-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Zachary Turbert that ended up being the game-winning score in the victory. After seeing Notre Dame’s formation and locking in with his quarterback, David knew that he was about to make a big play.
“They brought everybody in the box and were blitzing everybody. I knew right before that play that I was probably going to get the ball. The middle was wide open,” David says. “The ball was snapped. I made eye contact with Zach, and he just threw it. I was gone.”
David was named one of Branford captain’s alongside fellow senior Cam Paleski this season. After looking up to the senior captains who preceded him, David says it was an honor to earn the role himself.
“It was really awesome,” says David. “From watching my brother and his class, all those guys motivated me. They made me show up to everything. Watching them show up to everything made me want to show up as a junior and senior. I didn’t want to miss anything.”
David also joined the Branford boys’ basketball team as a freshman and is still a member of the squad. David likes that he gets to let his competitive nature shine on both the court and gridiron.
David waited patiently for his opportunity to contribute at the varsity level for the Branford football team. Now, whenever he suits up for the Hornets, David feels honored to represent his town, his teammates, and the players that came before him.
“It means everything to me,” David says. “Representing the town of Branford, representing all the guys, all the alumni, and all the coaches—it’s huge.”