Deangleo Durham was the only sophomore starting in Danville's offensive line. He was sitting in the stands two years ago when the Admirals won the state championship.
"This was the most nervous I've been all year," Durham said. "Winning state and starting as a sophomore is unbelievable. The only thing better would be to get back-to-back titles. I know I've got to be more of a leader next year, but I can do that."
Danville will return Kelvin Turner, who scored four touchdowns and rushed for 186 yards Friday, and quarterback Ronnie Hawkins in the backfield.
The line should be anchored by Masaak Tagarook, Durham and Jacob Moore, who injured his knee in the semifinal win and had to watch Friday's game on crutches.
"It hurt not to play, but winning sure helped," Moore said. "There's no doubt we'll be back here next year. We have the heart and talent to do it. If I didn't think we could be back here, it would hurt even more not getting to play this year. But I was confident my teammates would win today and I'm confident we'll be back here next year."
Veteran players noted that Danville has several young players waiting for a chance to play. Freshmen running backs Darren Ross and Chase Overstreet played sparingly this season, but impressed the coaching staff. Two more freshmen backs, Jeffrey Guest and Justin Hill, also figure to play more next year.
"Those four might one day be the best backfield in the state just like Kelvin and Charles (Penix) were this year," Baughman said. "They are that good."
Sophomore lineman Ben Bright started one game this year. Junior lineman Jason Claude did not start a game and played only sparingly. However, Durham seems confident they will fill holes left by graduation.
"We have players that just need a chance to show what they can do," Durham said.
"We have guys that can play," Tagarook said. "Me and Jacob can do more, too. But we have the right pieces in place to have a good team again."
Ross transferred to Danville from Virginia this season when his parents decided to move back home. He's only 5-6 and weighs just 180 pounds, but he played nose guard part of Friday's game against Beechwood's big offensive line.
"My position had always been middle linebacker, but I like it now at nose guard and hope I get to play there next year, too," Ross said. "I see myself really helping our team there next year. I can use my quickness. I have to get stronger, but I have all year now to do that."
Tagarook said the team learned one thing this year, especially when it lost to Boyle County the third week of the season.
"We learned that you can't just rely on talent to win," Tagarook said. "We played with more heart this year and we played more as a team. We had problems with that last year.
"I really enjoyed playing for Danville this year. It meant a lot to me to be on the team with these guys. We played with heart every day and no matter what happened, we stuck together. We hit some bumps, especially early in the season, but we stayed together and it paid off."
One of those players who won't be back, lineman Bryan Williams, expects to see his former teammates end the 2004 season in Louisville.
"We want to be here every year. That's what Danville football is all about. That's what being from Title Town is all about," Williams said. "You know when the season starts that there is only one way to have a successful year and that's to win it all. If these guys listen to coach Harp, they'll be right back here celebrating again next year."