Prep Football: Harp will learn how good Danville can be in opener vs. Simon Kenton
Jadarius Brown of Danville carries the ball during a game against Frankfort last season. Brown is one of the Admirals¿ most experienced running backs entering their season opener Friday against Simon Kenton. (Clay Jackson / August 16, 2012)
The first hand will be played Friday night, when Harp’s 27th Danville team takes the field for its season opener against Simon Kenton in Lincoln County’s Death Valley Bowl.
The Danville coach is among those who believe the Admirals could be among the best teams in Class AA this season.
“I do feel like we’ve got a chance to be a good football team on down the road. Hopefully we’ll start playing like one on Friday,” Harp said.
Harp said the Admirals looked like a good team at times last week in their preseason scrimmage victory over Anderson County, but not all the time.
“I liked our aggressiveness. I liked (quarterback) Devonta Alcorn’s leadership, the way he threw the ball, the way he ran the ball. He showed a lot of toughness,” he said. “And we played hard. I really liked how hard we played.”
He also said, however, that there are mistakes to be corrected, including in pass coverage, where he said Anderson’s receivers got behind the Admirals’ secondary too many times.
It’s a good bet that Simon Kenton will test Danville’s pass defense, though it’s unclear whether the Pioneers have the weapons to be effective on offense.
They nose-dived last year after three straight seasons of double-digit wins, scoring only 67 points in the final 10 games of a 2-9 campaign after putting up 34 in a Death Valley Bowl win over Casey County.
But Harp said the Pioneers have some things going for them, including junior quarterback Brennan Kuntz. He threw for 1,065 yards and four touchdowns last season.
“They like to throw it around a lot. They will also get under center in the I and operate out of that, but their forte is they spread you out and throw it,” Harp said.
Kuntz will work behind a line that features three seniors in tackles Ben Racke and Ben Walling and center Nick Fredericks and averages about 267 pounds per position, and several backs and receivers also return.
The Pioneers return many players who got experience on last year’s young team. Unlike Danville, they will use most of them on only one side of the ball, though they are a little less experienced on defense than on offense.
Danville’s greatest strength might be in its offensive and defensive lines, and those lines will likely be bolstered by the return of senior center-defensive tackle J.K. Howard, who is recovering from a broken left hand.
Howard suffered the injury in june at a camp in North Carolina but didn’t know it. He complained after a couple of weeks of practices that the soreness in his hand wasn’t going away, and an X-ray revealed the break. He underwent surgery Aug. 2 in which a screw was inserted to hold the broken bone in place, and Harp said earlier this week he expected Howard to be cleared to play in some sort of cast Friday.
While the line play should be solid and Alcorn is established at quarterback, there are questions about who will run the ball for Danville. There may also be plenty of answers, however, as the Admirals have several talented backs from which to choose.
The top returning rushers are sophomore Ray Bradshaw (285 yards) and senior Jadarius Brown (225 yards), and the top returning receiver is tight end Deonte Caldwell (four catches).