Versatile Dunn develops into valuable player for Danville

November 19, 2003|LARRY VAUGHT

Sometimes Sam Harp might have to wonder about what senior Phillip Dunn will do, but the Danville coach never has to wonder about what speed he'll be going.

"His motor only goes full speed. Even if he makes a mistake, it comes from going full speed," said Harp.

Dunn says he's had no choice but to go full speed in football and basketball.

"I'm not that big, so I have to go hard," Dunn said. "In basketball, I like to go inside. In football, I've played safety and have had to come up and hit people. I had to do something to compensate for my lack of size and the best thing to do was just always go full speed."

He plays both cornerback and receiver for the Admirals and has become one of Harp's best players this season.

"He's become one of more most valuable players," Harp said. "He's a force on the corner (on defense). He's a good blocker, runs good pass routes and is our deep threat. He's been really good on special teams. We depend on him for a lot."


That's why his ankle injury in last week's win over Carroll County has been a major concern for Harp and his team this week going into Friday's Class A regional title game at unbeaten Louisville Holy Cross.

"It's doing better. I've been walking on it and it feels a lot better than it did when I first got hurt," Dunn, who hoped to practice today, said. "I should be close to 100 percent Friday."

Dunn is Danville's leading receiver with 13 catches for 360 yards and eight scores. That's an average of 28 yards per catch. He has rushed 13 times for 136 yards and one score. That's an average of 10.1 yards per carry. He's also returned one punt and one fumble for touchdowns.

He showcased his skills last week

Last week's game let Dunn showcase all his skills. He had a tackle for loss and forced a receiver to miss a pass on Carroll's first series. He caught a 32-yard scoring pass on Danville's second possession and then made the tackle on the kickoff. Two plays later he made another tackle for loss. If that wasn't enough, he forced a fumble that teammate Charles Penix returned for a touchdown. And that all came in the first quarter.

However, midway through the second quarter he injured his ankle. He was blocking for Kelvin Turner when Turner and a Carroll player both rolled into his ankle.

"It scared me a little bit because I didn't know what was wrong," Dunn said. "They were telling me a lot of different things. My main concern was that I would be out for the rest of the season. I'm just glad it wasn't that bad."

That's because Dunn wants a championship ring. Most of Danville's seniors have two because the Ads won titles in 2000 and 2001. Most juniors have one.

However, Dunn came out late for the team in 2000 when he was a freshman and then dislocated his hip late in the regular season. The next year his father felt it would be best if he didn't risk injuring the hip again.

"I really like our chances to win it all this year," Dunn said. "It would mean a lot to me to win, too. It would be the only championship in high school that I've really helped win. Me and (Lincoln County transfer) Davis (Teater) are the only seniors without a state ring. We both want to play a big part in getting one this year."

Dunn didn't expect to play quite as big a part as he has this year. He thought he would start on defense, but on offense he expected to be a backup running back. However, Harp moved him to receiver to get him on the field more.

"I think I'll be able to make some plays the rest of the way in the playoffs," Dunn said. "Teams are seeing we can pass the ball. (Quarterback) Ronnie Hawkins has improved a lot and is getting the ball to open receivers. I don't think anyone can just overcommit to stopping our run now."

However, Dunn remains convinced that it will be defense that determines whether he gets his state championship ring.

"When we come out defensively and set the tone, it helps our offense," Dunn said. "We know we can be productive on offense, but we've really come together the last few weeks on defense, too.

"I like coming up and hitting. Sometimes I come up too quick and the coaches tell me I'm too aggressive. But I just like to make plays whether it is on defense, offense, kickoffs or punts. We are all that way and hopefully that is going to get us a championship."

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