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Admirals up the tempo in playoffs

By JOE MATHIS
Contributing Writer
Coming into the playoffs with a 4-6 record and the No. 3 district seed isn’t where Danville wanted to be.

But head coach Clay Clevenger also knew that the Admirals have a chance to make a run in the playoffs if they are mentally focused and play fast, physical, and with more tempo.

“Against LCA offensively we were snapping the ball with only one second left on the game clock and even had to burn a timeout or two just to keep from getting penalties,” Clevenger said. “The biggest thing is just getting lined up, playing fast and being upbeat and up tempo and that’s the way we need to play.”

So, that’s what Danville worked on in practice as they prepared for their first round game at Leslie County.

“When we came into practice we knew it was going to be a tough week,” junior linebacker and defensive end Nick Price-Hancock said. “Coach was really upbeat, bouncing around so we knew that when we came out it was going to be upbeat and fast tempo. That was the whole mindset going into it.”

That mindset stuck.

Danville started off quickly, taking only 1:45 off the clock and five plays to reach the end zone as Zach Thornton found Brennen McGuire for a 36 yard touchdown pass.

“Obviously you want to get off to a good start especially after a long bus ride and a long trip,” Clevenger said. “We came out and did what we needed to do offensively and it was a good start for us.”

Leslie County had trouble keeping pace with the up-tempo Admirals.

After the Danville defense forced a punt to get the ball back the two teams then traded turnovers with Danville’s Darrian Bell recovering a fumble at the Leslie County 37 yard line.

Again, the Ads ended up in the endzone, where six plays later McGuire took it in from one yard out for his second touchdown of the night.

Less than three minutes later, Danville scored again, this time on a Thornton pass to Damon Jackson to give the Ads a 21-0 lead just two minutes into the second quarter.

Leslie County responded with a 64 yard touchdown pass from Zack Parker to Dylan Adams who made a bobbling catch after a Danville defender got his hands on it. By the time Adams gained control of the ball, he was behind the Admirals secondary racing the rest of the way for a touchdown.

Leslie County’s 14 point deficit, however, was quickly extended to 21 points.

One play into the ensuing drive, Thornton found McGuire for 67 yards for his third touchdown. Then on Danville’s next possession, Thornton delivered a pass to Seth Gosser for a 16 yard score to give the Admirals a 34-7 lead to all but putting the game away by halftime.

Two more second half touchdowns — one by freshman Caleb Burns and one, again, from Thornton to McGuire capped the Danville scoring giving the Admirals a 48-13 win.

Now the Admirals’ attention turns to district foe Somerset, who beat Danville 21-10 in a rain soaked affair at Admiral Stadium in the regular season.

And Danville is continuing to focus on one thing: tempo.

“I feel like the last game versus Somerset we knocked ourselves out of it,” said Price-Hancock, who had three sacks last Friday versus Leslie County. “We lost tempo, we didn’t keep up with that. So we need to just keep our minds right and play the next play as coach would say. It’s all about keeping our heads up.”

Somerset will enter Friday’s game with an 8-2 record and boasts one of Class 2A’s best defenses.
The Briar Jumpers have allowed only 88 points through their 11 games this season, the third lowest in Class 2A. They’ve also posted four shutouts and only once this season has a team scored more than 20 points against them.
But don’t tell that to the Admirals, who believe their best football is still yet to come.

“I feel like we still haven’t played our best football yet and we all know that,” said Warren Griffin, who forced a fumble against Leslie County. “I think things are really starting to click now and I think we should be able to start playing our best football.”

Griffin’s teammate Price-Hancock agrees.

“All year long coach has preached about finding our identity. We know that we’re not the same team as we were last year but I think we realized Friday that if we play right and keep our minds right we have the pieces to make a playoff run and to be a really good football team,” Price-Hancock said.

And while the Admirals may be the underdog on Friday, they are also determined to prove to statewide pundits that, despite the regular season record, they’re still one of the teams to beat in Class 2A.

“Going into the game as underdogs is kind of weird but I definitely don’t think it’s out of reach,” Griffin said. “Like I said, I don’t think we’ve played our best football yet. I would love to shock them and let them know the Ads are still rolling.”