Prep Football: Danville getting familiar with first-round foe Betsy Layne
Danville wide receiver Ace Ray (12) is tackled by a Lexington Christian defender during a game last month. The Admirals host Betsy Layne in a Class AA first-round playoff game Friday. (Clay Jackson / November 1, 2012)
The team Danville will face in the first round of the Class AA playoffs isn’t a familiar name or even one the Admirals have faced before, but their coach said that shouldn’t make any difference in the way they prepare.
Harp said he doesn’t want that lack of familiarity to translate to a lack of respect for the team that will visit Admiral Stadium on Friday.
“Our kids don’t hear much about Betsy Layne, and I hope that doesn’t reflect on us and that we don’t take them lightly. If we do that, we’re in trouble,” Harp said.
Here’s a quick primer on the Floyd County school, which is facing Danville for the first time: Betsy Layne has won seven games for the third consecutive season after winning three each year from 2008-09 and a total of three from 2005-07, but the Bobcats are 0-3 in the playoffs in their previous five seasons under coach Jonathan Parsons.
This year they have the same 7-3 record as the Admirals, though not against the same level of competition. They have played only one team from a higher classification, 2-8 Knott County Central, and only one with a winning record, 7-3 Prestonsburg, which won their district.
Danville faces Betsy Layne at close to full strength for the first time in some time with the return of quarterback Devonta Alcorn and lineman J.K. Howard from injuries.
“We’re about as close as we’ve been in a while,” Harp said.
Howard has missed the last five weeks with a hand injury, but Harp said he has been cleared by his doctor to play. Alcorn sat out the Admirals’ regular-season finale against Frankfort after suffering a concussion a week earlier, but he is expected to play Friday as well. Harp said had only one more post-concussion protocol to clear in practice Wednesday, saying he would be cleared if he had no headaches after a contact practice.
It isn’t all good news, however. A stomach virus has plagued some of the players — and coaches as well — this week. For example, tight end-linebacker Jacobie Harris hasn’t practiced at all this week because of the illness.
The Admirals will try to stop a Betsy Layne team that is averaging 36.2 points and allowing 20.2 points per game.
“They don’t do anything fancy, but what they do, I think they do it well,” Harp said. “They’ve got good approach to the game on both sides of the ball.”
The Bobcats’ offense relies heavily on the run but has also had success with the pass. They are scoring 36.2 points per game — they have scored 48 or more four times — and they average 256 rushing yards and 155 passing yards.
Rushing leaders Josh Salisbury (921 yards, seven touchdowns) and Houston Hall (850 yards, three TDs) each have at least 100 carries, but the Bobcats run the ball only 59 percent of the time. Quarterback Dylan Hamilton has thrown for 1,608 yards and 19 touchdowns with only three interceptions in 191 attempts, and his top targets are Peyton Case (31 receptions, 527 yards, six TDs), Blake Spencer (22 receptions, 339 yards, four TDs) and Dustin Rogers (17 receptions, 377 yards, six TDs).
On defense, Spencer and Hall are the top tacklers with 119 and 106, respectively, and Rogers has eight interceptions.
Danville’s offense is averaging is averaging 27.4 points, 193 rushing yards and 81 passing yards per game. The Admirals were held to a season-low 66 yards last week in a 28-14 loss to Frankfort.
Alcorn has thrown for 803 yards and nine touchdowns and has rushed for 464 yards and eight TDs. Jawan Grey became the Admirals’ leading rusher last week when he rushed for 60 yards; he now has 513 yards and five touchdowns.
Harp said he believes the Admirals have regrouped and are focused on the game ahead, just as he believes they have been all year.
“I feel good at this point. I think our preparation, our focus has been there,” he said. “I’ve felt that way, honestly, just about every week that we’ve gone into play. We’ve just got to get to where we’re mentally right all through the week. How you play on Friday is a result of how you prepare on Monday and Tuesday, and I feel like we’ve prepared well to this point.”