Metcalfe will be no easy mark for Danville

Published 3:26 pm Thursday, November 10, 2022


Contributing writer

If you think of Metcalfe County as a postseason patsy, think again.

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There was a time when the Hornets were cannon fodder for teams like Danville in the regular season and the early rounds of the playoffs, but that time is past.

The Metcalfe team that will welcome Danville on Friday for a second-round game in the Class 2A playoffs is a more formidable foe than the Admirals saw a generation ago.

Danville coach Mark Peach said he has heard this week from Danville fans about easy wins over Metcalfe when the teams shared the same Class A district, but he said there’s no chance this game will be like those games.

“This isn’t the team Danville played 25 years ago,” Peach said.

Metcalfe (11-0) is one of only two unbeaten teams in Class 2A. The Hornets have scored more than 35 points in seven of those wins, and their defense has shut out four opponents.

They have a small but powerful team – the 34-man roster includes 10 seniors – led by a good group of linemen.

“They’ve got good size up front, and they’re very technically fundamentally sound on both sides of the ball,” Peach said.

Opponents have found it hard to run on the Metcalfe defense, which has allowed only 595 rushing yards this season.

The Hornets are led by senior defensive lineman Luke Meadows, who has 28 1/2 tackles for losses, and linebacker Michael Bennett, who has 95 tackles.

Their offense averages 348 yards per game behind running backs Bennett (1,141 yards, 12 TDs) and Charles Branstetter (624 yards 11 TDs), quarterbacks Mason Estes (836 yards, 13 TDs) and Joseph Caven (367 yards, 6 TDs) and receiver Wyatt Blythe (862 yards, 15 TDs).

Metcalfe, which walloped Washington County 58-21 in its first-round game last week, haven’t seen a team with the speed of Danville (5-6).

The Admirals’ offense surpassed the 500-yard mark two weeks ago at Whitley County and very nearly reached it again last week in their first-round playoff win over Monroe County.

They rushed for 999 of the 1,039 yards they amassed in those two games, and they have gotten 88 percent of their yardage this season on the ground.

Five different players made significant contributions to the Danville ground game in their win over Monroe, with Demontrae Trumbo, Josh Bixler and Jakeem Ray combining for 200 yards and three touchdowns and making key plays while leading rushers Demauriah Brown and Braidin Baughman were on the sideline with minor injuries.

“We had a lot of guys chip in … and our offensive line is playing really well right now,” Peach said.

Peach said he was also pleased with the improvement the Admirals showed on defense.

“Our tackling was better, we got to the ball as a team better. We got a couple of takeaways and a couple of big stops. Our unit collectively just played better together,” he said.

Danville waxed Metcalfe 69-6, 55-0, 56-0 and 51-14 in four district games from 1999 to 2002, and the Hornets have been up and down in the years since. They reached the regional finals in 2020 and the second round in 2021.

Peach said he expects the Admirals, who are trying to reach their first regional championship game since 2017, to find a lively atmosphere in Edmonton.

“They’ve had huge crowds. Everybody’s really excited there. Last week they had lawn chairs all the way around the track. It should be an electric atmosphere,” Peach said.