Prep Football: Danville looks to bounce back at Middlesboro
Danville defensive lineman Elliott Porter tries to tackle a Somerset ball-carrier during the Admirals' loss last week. The Admirals play Middlesboro on Friday. (Clay Jackson / October 11, 2012)
Their untimely loss to Somerset last week might well cost them a district title, but coach Sam Harp said it shouldn’t derail a season in which there is much that can still be accomplished. And Harp said it’s time to put last week’s game in the past and focus on the three remaining regular-season games, including the first of two critical district games Friday at Middlesboro.
“Sometimes it’s best to burn the daggone film and move on, and that’s kind of what we’ve done this week,” Harp said.
Before that film went up in figurative flames, however, Harp and his staff took note of some of the things that went badly last week, and he said the single biggest problem appeared to be that the Danville defense was in the wrong place at the wrong time all too often.
He noted that Somerset had 191 rushing yards on 23 attempts in the first half, but had only 21 yards on 19 carries in the second half before a 36-yard touchdown run in the closing minutes.
“The main thing for our defensive alignment is to just get properly aligned,” Harp said. “At halftime we made adjustments and we finally started getting our lineup correct ... up until that very last run, and again we did not get lined up correctly and they got the edge on us and picked up that touchdowns.
“We played hard, and we played good when we got aligned properly. When we didn’t, Somerset took full advantage of it and made us pay for it.”
Middlesboro presents a more balanced offensive attack than last year, when the Yellow Jackets went 4-7 with a pass-first approach.
“They started off at the beginning of the year in a little wing-T, and they’ve evolved to the spread as well as getting in the I(-formation),” Harp said. “They’re a lot more balanced than they were last year. It’s working in their favor, honestly.”
Two of their top backs, sophomores Jake Brock and Parker Uhl, stand just 5-foot-6. There are two other sophomores in the backfield, quarterback Major Edwards and running back Seth Barton, and the offensive line consists primarily of juniors.
That’s indicative of a team that is even younger than it was a year ago. There are only four seniors, including wide receiver Zach Riddle and guard Dakota Partin.
“They’re juniors and sophomores, and they’re athletic. They’re going to be a good football team to be reckoned with in the near future,” Harp said. “And that’s not to say that you can’t be concerned about them now. You need to be, because they’re good enough to beat you.”
Harp said the Middlesboro defense stunted linebackers frequently last week in the Yellow Jackets’ 42-14 loss to Lexington Christian.
“Their linebacker play is good,” he said.
That defense is allowing 28.6 points per game, while the offense is averaging 23.7 points after scoring more than 50 points in two of its three wins and being held to six or less in three of its four losses.
Danville’s defense is allowing 16.9 points per game, while the Admirals are scoring 27.7 points per game. Quarterback Devonta Alcorn has thrown for 660 yards and rushed for a team-high 414 yards, and wide receiver Ace Ray has 16 catches for 282 yards.
The Admirals’ ground game was held to 25 rushing yards last week, with no individual netting more than 7 yards, and Harp said the Admirals lost the battle at the line of scrimmage.
“Part of that’s mental, and also part of it’s physical,” he said.
But Harp said the Admirals are looking ahead, not behind, to their two remaining district games and the chance to earn a postseason rematch with Somerset.
He noted that past Danville teams won rematches with district foes that got the better of them in the regular season, such as Harrodsburg and Lexington Catholic.
“It’s very possible to do that, so you’ve got to put this behind you,” he said.
And he said the Admirals appear to be doing exactly that this week in practice.
“Our focus has been very good. We’ve had good practices,” Harp said. “Our guys are ready to put it behind us and take a step forward.”