Danville, LCA clash for sixth time in three years

Published 10:36 am Thursday, November 16, 2017

Danville and Lexington Christian Academy run Region 4.

Friday’s playoff game between the Admirals and Eagles will be the sixth meeting in three years between the teams, meeting in the state quarterfinals since 2015.

The history between the teams, however, has been all Admirals: Danville has won seven of the last eight meetings between the two teams. But LCA has amped up the pressure recently, with the past three games being decided by two scores or less.

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“Our kids know each other well,” Danville head coach Clay Clevenger said. “We’ve seen each other six times in the past three years. Every game has been a big game, it’s either been for a district championship or a region championship. We’re very familiar with each other and we know that we have to come out and play our best game in order to have a chance to beat them.”

Last year, Danville lost the regular-season game but won the playoff tilt in Lexington.

This year, Clevenger said his team is well aware of just how close this game can be.

“It’s something that you remind your kids, it’s basically the exact opposite of last year at this point,” he said. “You don’t want to let that happen, you want to go out and take care of business and do what you need to do … I feel like the kids understand where we’re at right now, what’s at stake and the fact that we’ve got to come out and play our A-game and execute in order to win a game as important as this.”

LCA will be without starting quarterback Logan Nieves due to an injury. Sophomore Josh McClurg started last week against Prestonsburg, completing 12-of-20 passes for 180 yards and a score. He also had nine runs for 45 yards and a touchdown.

A change at quarterback could be seen as a positive this late in the year, but Clevenger said it’s tougher to gameplan against someone you’ve only seen on film for one week.

“Really, you only have one game where they prepared stuff for him,” Clevenger said. “Last week was really his first week to really be prepped for the starting position. He’s a good athlete, he’s a young man who started for them in the secondary and did a good job for them there.

“It looks like they’re continuing with a lot of the same stuff that they’ve always done. They’ve got a system in place, I think they feel confident in their system, they’ve got a big back in Wheatley and they’ve got capable receivers as well. They do a great job scheming and executing up front. That in and of itself gives them a good chance.”

Clevenger said his team is overall healthy for this time of the year. Running back and linebacker Don Harris has been banged up this year, but had a strong performance last week, carrying the ball 22 times for 88 yards and a score.

“We’ve got some tweaks, some bumps and bruises,” Clevenger said. “I think everybody has that this time of year. But you’ve got to fight through it and play through it.”

It could be a similar game to the first time these two teams played: Danville fell behind early but rallied after an interception from Tanner Ford. D’Mauriae VanCleave ran wild in the second half, finishing the game with eight catches for 206 yards and three scores.

“We need to play our game,” Clevenger said. “In a game where two teams are pretty evenly matched, I think the team that makes the fewest mistakes, turnovers, penalties, whoever wins the field position battle, those are going to be the keys to getting this win.”