by Tom Pedulla –
In an age when self-aggrandizement and selfies are celebrated, Irvington senior Aidan Daly offers a refreshing alternative. He is a selfless team player, a humble young man.
Daly had two quarterbacks ahead of him as a freshman, Liam Toolan and Joey Clewell, so he listened and learned. He continued to learn everything he could behind Toolan as a sophomore and then through the first half of his junior year before opportunity finally knocked.
He impresses teammates and coaches with his willingness to do whatever it takes to help the team. No task is too menial.
“For three years, he helped put the water station away. He’s willing to help out any way he can,” said Coach Steve Yurek. “He’ll collect the balls, not all of the time, but he will help out. A lot of seniors don’t want to do it because they did it when they were younger. He’s a humble guy like that.”
Standout running back Michael Brennen, also a senior, was among those who admired Daly’s patience while he served as backup quarterback.
“He knew his role. He did all the little things,” Brennen said. “He just tried to be a real team player. And when it was his time, he knew what to do, and he stepped up.”
The 6-1, 205-pound Daly filled needs as long snapper, outside linebacker and wide receiver while studying the intricacies of the offense in anticipation of the opportunity to call signals. He admits there were times when he wondered if his shot would ever come. He also said his role as an understudy “probably made me better in the long run.”
With Irvington struggling through a difficult season last year, Daly was given invaluable experience when Yurek handed him the keys to the offense with three games left. If he did not realize it before, he quickly learned how complex it is to play quarterback.
“Last year, during my first starts, it was crazy, it was madness trying to find my reads and everything,” he said. “This year, by the second game everything slowed down, and I was able to see the full field finally. That starts to come with more experience and getting a feel for the position.”
Daly added: “Getting the chance was amazing, and it was great to get that last year so that this year, I didn’t just walk in with no experience. I knew what I was doing.”
Daly credits his parents, Susan and Patrick, with instilling in him the need to take responsibility for his actions and to be a leader by example. Whatever the source, he is giving Irvington what it needs at a critical position. Although the Bulldogs have had a difficult time stopping opponents, their offense has typically been prolific, with Brennen and junior Trevor Annicharico spearheading an effective ground game.
“He’s been a tremendous leader on and off the field,” Yurek said of Daly. “He’s the first one here. He plays through bumps and bruises.”
Daly is communicating with coaches at Division 2 and 3 schools as his high school career winds down. He has attributes coaches at the next level seek – size, arm strength and work ethic, among others.
“I think he can play at the next level and play well at the next level. He’ll make a lot of plays,” Yurek said. “He’s not really a running quarterback, but he can break a lot of tackles and get first downs and break tackles to give receivers time to get open. Those are things colleges like and we like.”