Harp hopes defense focuses on district showdown

October 23, 2003|LARRY VAUGHT

Sam Harp knows Frankfort could give Danville, the top-ranked team again in this week's Associated Press Class A poll, problems Friday.

He's just not sure if his team, especially his defensive unit, will take the same approach to the game that will determine the No. 1 seed in the district race.

"We've got to be focused. If we are not, then we are not going very far in the playoffs and I'm tired of pressing the issue," said Harp. "I'm tired of beating my head in, and so is (assistant coach) Jerry (Perry).

"If our defense doesn't get ready to play, then I am going to quit worrying about motivating them. They've got to want to get the job done. Having one or two playing that way does not get the job done. We've all got to want to play.


"You only have so many chances in your life to play a game of football. We've only got seven more, at most, this year. Yet we are still talking about focusing going into the ninth game of the season. We are missing a leader, a street fighter. I want a guy that will go down a dark alley with you at night."

Frankfort has not played the caliber of opponents Danville has. However, the Flyers' only loss was 34-24 to Newport, and they have wins over Franklin County and Harrodsburg.

Comparative scores, though, give a big edge to Danville as Frankfort outscored Owen County and Carroll County 62-35 while Danville had a 108-16 margin over the same two teams.

"Our defense tends to play up or down to the competition, and we better play up this week," Harp said. "We played good defense against Manual, Highlands and Somerset. I don't know what happened against Boyle County (in a 45-26 loss). Against Lincoln County, Trimble County and Owen County, we played sorry defense for a half. Then we played a good Carroll County team and played solid defense. That's what we'd better do this week."

Running backs Immanuel Fields, a 176-pound senior, and Alonzo Tillman, a 160-pound sophomore, lead Frankfort's offense. Harp says Field is a physical, strong runner with good speed while Tillman is more of an outside threat.

"They are two good running backs," Harp said. "Fullback Andrew Carter also runs hard inside."

The Danville coach also says that 130-pound receiver Chris McGowan "can fly" and that he'll get several deep passes and reverses each game.

Quarterback Brenton McNair relies mainly on play-action passes when he does throw.

"It's hard to tell exactly what they will do offensively because they usually have a different look each game," Harp said.

Frankfort's defense also has a multitude of looks. Harp says the Panthers will use four, five or six players in the defensive front. Frankfort, like Danville, also plays most of the same players both ways.

Danville's offense has been more consistent than its defense. The Admirals are averaging 43 points and 374 yards per game.

Running backs Kelvin Turner (1,008 yards, 12 touchdowns) and Charles Penix (718 yards, 10 touchdowns) are the offensive workhorses, but quarterback Ronnie Hawkins has 13 touchdown passes. He's 35-for-69 passing for 746 yards.

"Offensively, we are capable of putting points on the board against anyone," Harp said. "We've run the ball well, and Ronnie continues to get better and better as he gets experience running our offense. We've not thrown a lot, but he's been very effective.

"We played a tough non-district schedule to get ready for a game like this. If we win Friday, then we are assured of at least one home playoff game and that makes it a whole lot easier to keep advancing."

However, Danville's inconsistency on defense has Harp, who has won six state titles at Danville, concerned about Friday's game at Admiral Stadium as well as future games.

"When you get to this point of the season, you've got to be able to play defense to win big games," Harp said. "If we don't play good defense Friday, then we'll be going on the road for the playoffs.

"This team can go as far as it wants. We have talent. We have a lot of good players and some of them get ready to play every week. Others don't.

"They can do as well as they want in the playoffs, or they can keep losing their focus and just get ready to get the basketballs out to play while some other teams finish the playoffs."

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