Admirals take aim at Highlands

September 25, 2003|LARRY VAUGHT

Normally an open week is one a coach can use to work on his team's weaknesses and let injured players have a chance to get healthy.

For Danville coach Sam Harp, it didn't turn out that way last week.

Defensive tackle Jacob Moore twisted an ankle in practice and is doubtful for Friday's game at Highlands while backup running back-linebacker Chase Overstreet has a hip injury that will sideline him about three weeks.

"Obviously, our health, and depth, is a big concern going into this game," said Harp. "Highlands is a very good team. They have size and speed. They are well-coached. We are going to be hurting, but we'll just put our best foot forward and hope it is good enough."

Comparative scores would indicate otherwise. Highlands lost 22-21 at Boyle County last week. Earlier this season the Rebels routed Danville 45-26.


Highlands (4-1) ran for 150 yards, including 120 in the second half, and threw for another 218 yards, including 184 in the second quarter, against Boyle. Two interceptions and two missed field goals cost the Bluebirds a chance to win the game.

"We've got to stop the run and make them throw," Harp said. "If they can do both, we are going to be in trouble. We've got to hope we can take away the run, but I'm not sure how to do that."

Offensive line anchored by Division I prospect Sester

Jordan Nevels, a junior, ran for 97 yards on 21 carries against Boyle. Sophomore quarterback Chase Cecil ran 11 times for 30 yards while sharing time with Brad Bardo. They all run behind an offensive line anchored by 6-8 Sean Sester, a Division I prospect being recruited by Kentucky and numerous other schools.

"Both of their quarterbacks are big, strong guys who get the job done," Harp said. "They interchange three running backs and they are all good. Nevels is really good and they use him in a lot of ways."

Harp also worries that receivers Mitch McMahon and Nick Sheffield will also cause problems for his smaller cornerbacks. Highlands exposed a weakness in the Boyle secondary early in last week's game that made the Rebels change defenses at halftime.

"They have two quality receivers that really go after the football," Harp said. "We are small at cornerback and they must just go over us to get the ball. We can't let their quarterback have all day to throw. If we do, we're going to be in trouble. We have to pressure the quarterback."

Highlands coach Dale Mueller is just as worried about Danville's offense that is led by running backs Kelvin Turner and Charles Penix.

"We know we've got to be ready for just as tough a game this week as we had last week," Mueller said. "We know how good Danville will be. They've got two great running backs, the kind any team would like to have. (Ronnie) Hawkins also does a good job at quarterback and is getting better every game. They have the speed to really cause us problems."

Danville routed Somerset 63-6 Sept. 12 in its last game. However, Harp knows Highlands' defense will be a much stiffer test for the Admirals.

"They are not that big up front, but they stunt a lot and you never know where they are going to pressure you from," Harp said. "They are real active defensively. They mix up what they do and cause a lot of problems for your blockers."

Penix and Turner have combined for 818 yards

Harp expects Highlands to overload its defense at the line of scrimmage to stop Penix and Turner. The two have combined for 818 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns for the Admirals (3-1) this season.

"I think they will try to stop them and make us beat them another way," Harp said. "But Ronnie threw the ball better against Somerset and eventually people are going to pay for crowding the line of scrimmage on him.

"Still, we do need to control the ball all we can to keep their offense off the field. We just can't keep giving them the ball. Their offense is too strong and good. The best way to stop them is to keep them off the field."

Harp thinks the game will be a learning experience for his team, especially when the Class A playoffs start.

"This is the kind of game that is fun," Harp said. "It's against a Class AAA team and will be a festive environment almost like our game with Boyle. They have the same type of turf on their field that is at Papa John's (Cardinal Stadium). If we get to the state title game, that could help us.

"It's a unique place to play because all the fans, cheerleaders and teams are on one side of the field. It's an interesting environment, but this is the kind of game where your team learns a lot about itself."

Larry Vaught can be reached at

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