Leading the way has been McDaniels, a Malverne native and Kellenberg graduate. The 5-foot-11, 190-pound LIer has 633 yards – 58 yards better than anyone else in D-III – and seven touchdowns on 106 carries.
The Mariners lost to Hobart Saturday, but USMMA is on track to surpass last season's 4-5 record. Its 3-0 start was the program's best in 15 seasons.
It's McDaniels, who played special teams as a freshman, who has the Merchant Marine on the fast track. He's a two-time conference offensive player of the week running the option offense.
And he's not just getting it done with his legs. McDaniels threw a 25-yard TD pass in a 7-6 win over Maritime two weeks ago.
He also set a new Academy record by rushing for 199 yards in the second half of a win over Susquehanna.
It's nothing new. McDaniels led Kellenberg to the CHSFL Class AA finals appearance as a senior in 2011, running roughshod over the Catholic league. He had nearly 900 yards rushing in three playoff games, including 345 in a 22-21 loss to Fordham Prep.
A 24-8 loss to nationally-ranked Hobart brought USMMA back to earth. But another stiff test awaits. RPI, off to a 3-1 start, hosts USMMA Saturday in Troy.
Win or lose, there's no doubt whose hands the ball will be in.