Danville defense dominates Beechwood

December 07, 2003|MARTY WARREN

LOUISVILLE - Before the season began, Danville coach Sam Harp felt defense would be his team's strong suit.

Harp proved to be a prophet because of the way his defense played in the Class A state championship game here Friday in a 42-7 win over Beechwood.

The Admirals dominated the game by forcing the Tigers into four turnovers, holding them to 22 yards rushing and giving up just 211 yards overall to win their 10th state title.

Danville defensive coordinator Jerry Perry knew that the Admirals needed to keep the Beechwood offense off the field. The Admirals dominated the time of possession 34 minutes to 14, and Perry said it was not hard for his defense to concentrate since the unit was well-rested.


"Our best defense today was our offense," Perry said. "But when we were given the opportunity, they really stepped up. We had struggled with one-back sets throughout the year, but our linebackers played fantastic today.

"At the beginning of the season, we felt like our defense would have to carry us. Then we didn't play well against Boyle County and we made a few adjustments. From that point on, we played about as well as we could play."

Davis Teater's fumble recovery at the Beechwood 41-yard line helped set up the game's first score in the second quarter.

"We wanted to make it a physical game and we were able to do that from the start," Teater said. "We had watched the film of their game with Newport Catholic and we didn't think they were physical with them. We were able to make them uncomfortable and they struggled."

Later in the half, Beechwood punted the ball back to Danville and Ronnie Hawkins picked up a crunching block from Mario Berry and gave the Ads excellent field position at the Tigers' 37.

"We had heard all week that we were an average team and that we would roll over," Berry said. "I think that hit let them know real quick that we were not an average team. I've been getting one of those blocks just about every game. I tell all of our running backs to set me up and I will take care of the rest. I think they got the message."

Perry didn't know what to expect after starters Ryan Harper (broken leg) and Jacob Moore went down with late-season injuries. He received excellent play from their replacements, Kenny Gambrel and Alejandro Gray, while sophomore Spencer Houston and freshman Darren Ross set up scores with fumble recoveries.

"Kenny was outstanding for us late in the year while Alejandro came on at linebacker for us ," Perry said. "There is not a better linebacker in the state than Dexter Grey. If he were 6-1 and around 210 pounds, people would be knocking his door down with (scholarship) offers."

Lineman Masaak Tagarook was just glad to be a title contributor like his brother, Manning, was in 2001.

"We wanted to dominate up front today, and we were able to do that on both sides of the ball," Tagarook said.

Perry also praised Bryan Williams and Deangleo Durham, starting offensive lineman who also played defense Friday because of Moore's injury.

"Our defense was better than a lot of people gave us credit for," Perry said. "Bryan stepped in when Jacob got hurt and did a great job. (Sophomore) DeAngelo (Durham) was the same way. He could have played defense for us all year, but we needed him on the offensive side."

Danville knew Beechwood quarterback Jeff Wera would throw the ball often. The Tigers caught a couple of passes over the middle early in the game, but paid the price with jarring hits by the Danville secondary.

"We didn't want them to ever catch a pass," said Teater. "But if they did, we wanted to make sure they remembered to hit after the catch. I thought they shyed away from a lot of passes that could have been caught as the game went along."

Danville quarterback/defensive back Ronnie Hawkins agreed.

"People said we couldn't cover the pass," Hawkins said. "Then they dropped a couple passes and you could see their heads drop in disappointment. That's when I knew we had them. If they didn't want to catch a pass, they certainly were not going to run the ball against us."

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