Prep Football: Danville preparing for return to pass-happy Prestonsburg in Class AA playoffs
Danville wide receiver Ace Ray (12) tries to elude a Betsy Layne defender during the Admirals¿ win last week. Ray, Danville¿s leading receiver, and the Admirals will play a second-round Class AA playoff game Friday at Prestonsburg. (Clay Jackson / November 8, 2012)
The Admirals had an easy time of it in their first-round game in the Class AA playoffs last week, but they’ll face a tough road trip and a more complex opponent in their second-round game Friday at Prestonsburg.
It’s the second straight year that Danville will play a postseason game at Prestonsburg, and coach Sam Harp said the Admirals (8-3) will have to be ready for anything on defense.
The Blackcats (8-3) are a pass-happy team, and they present more offensive looks in one night than some defenses face over the course of half a season.
“They come out in every kind of formation that you’ve ever seen,” Harp said.
He said that means everything from the spread formation and a double-tight end look to single-back sets and a shotgun formation with three backs.
“They really mix it up a lot. You’ve got to be able to adjust. It just means that you’ve got to be sound in your alignments defensively, and after that it all becomes fundamental football. That sounds simple, but so many times it’s not,” he said.
Prestonsburg graduated a successful quarterback last year but has replaced him with another talented player in sophomore Jarredd Jarrell, who has thrown for 2,966 yards and 30 touchdowns with a 61.5 percent completion rate.
“He does a great job scrambling,” Harp said. “He’s the most dangerous when he scrambles. And he scrambles to throw, he doesn’t scramble to run, which means our defensive backs have got to stay in coverage.”
Jarrell’s top two targets have combined for more than 2,000 yards. Junior Grant Anderson has 66 receptions for 1,142 yards and 11 touchdowns, and senior Bryson Williams has 52 catches for 939 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Jarrell is also the Blackcats’ leading rusher with 614 yards and nine touchdowns, and freshman Dalton Frasure has 581 yards and eight touchdowns.
Prestonsburg is averaging 38.3 points and 430 yards — including 273 passing yards — per game, but the Blackcats are giving up almost as much as they’re getting. Their defense is allowing 31.8 points and 392 yards per game.
“On defense they look a lot like they did last year, and they’ve got the majority of their kids back from last year,” Harp said. “They play an even front, but they mix that up as well, too. Their answer to a lot of things is to blitz. When they don’t know what else to do, they blitz.”
Senior defensive lineman Adam Griffith leads Prestonsburg’s defense with 79 tackles, junior linebacker Kyle Wallace has a team-high 5 1/2 sacks, and defensive backs Jarrell and Anderson have four interceptions each.
Danville is averaging 31.0 points and 280 yards per game, and its defense is allowing 17.0 points per game.
The Admirals rolled up 374 yards last week in their 67-12 first-round win over Betsy Layne. They got 244 yards on the ground, but no single back had as many as 50 yards.
Jawan Grey leads the Danville ground game with 516 yards and seven touchdowns, and quarterback Devonta Alcorn has 509 yards and 11 touchdowns. Alcorn has also thrown for 934 yards and nine touchdowns.
“It was good that we came out and took care of business when we were supposed to,” Harp said.
Prestonsburg, the District 8 champion, had a tougher time in its first-round game, as the Blackcats had to rally to defeat Middlesboro, the fourth-place team in Danville’s district, 36-33.
Jarrell threw for 262 yards and three touchdowns and Frasure ran fo 137 yards for the Blackcats, who had 443 yards but also allowed 388 yards.
A year ago, Danville rallied from a 16-13 deficit in the fourth quarter to defeat Prestonsburg 32-16 in a first-round game. The Admirals outgained the Blackcats 444 yards to 285 in that road win.
Harp said one of his chief concerns this week is keeping his team healthy. Danville is fine on the injury front, but a stomach bug is plaguing the Admirals for the second straight week.
Leading receiver Ace Ray was ill during the first half of the week, and Harp himself was struck down as well. He said he spent 14 hours in bed Tuesday night and Wednesday morning to try to get the bug out of his system.
“It seems like we can’t get ahead from sickness or injuries,” Harp said.