Garrard will test Danville

August 19, 2004|LARRY VAUGHT

The way Garrard County coach Steve Stonebraker sees it, his players have no reason to be worried about Saturday’s season-opening game against host Danville in the Bob Allen Pigskin Classic.

“The biggest mismatch is not on the field. It’s in the coaching. I can’t compare to coach (Sam) Harp. I told my guys not to worry because I was way more overmatched than they ever could be,” said Stonebraker. “Sam Harp has done all the things that right now I can only say I aspire to do.”

Harp has won seven state championships at Danville, including three in the last four years. Stonebraker got Garrard to the Class AA playoffs last year, but is hoping playing Danville will help prepare his team for future playoff success.

“Opening the season with Danville has helped us,” Stonebraker said. “It propelled our weightlifting program in the winter. It propelled our spring practice. Our kids are excited about opening the season in the state’s premier bowl game against one of the best teams in the state.”


Harp doesn’t expect a mismatch, especially with a healthy Spencer Crutchfield back at quarterback. The Danville coach also remembers last year’s Bob Allen Pigskin Classic when Garrard lost 20-6 to Dunbar, a team that eventually made the Class AAAA semifinals.

“I think we are capable of beating them, but they also are capable of beating us,” Harp said. “Opening with us has their kids excited. We know we are in for a difficult game.”

Stonebraker knows how he would like to try and slow down Danville running back Kelvin Turner and quarterback Ronnie Hawkins, the key returning players off last year’s state championship team.

“I can’t find anything in the KHSAA (Kentucky High School Athletic Association) handbook that could help in getting (former Garrard standout and current Lexington Horseman) Gordon Crowe any more eligibility,” Stonebraker said. “But after seeing them on film, I’m not quite sure that would be any sort of remedy. We have to focus on limiting their big plays.”

Harp worries about Crutchfield’s ability to make big plays throwing and running. He expects Garrard to spread the field and let Crutchfield find weaknesses in Danville’s defense.

“Crutchfield is the one that makes them go,” Harp said. “He has a good arm. He also has a go-to guy at receiver in (Dan) Leavell. He’s also a good athlete and makes plays.

“They are at their best when they spread the field. But then they will catch you napping and Crutchfield will take off running.”

Stonebraker is anxious to see who will emerge on his team to help the most on offense.

“We’ve got to have players step up as playmakers,” Stonebraker said. “For us to get to where we want to go, we can’t just have one or two playmakers.”

Scrimmage brought changes to Ads' defense

Pulaski Southwestern exposed several weaknesses in Danville’s defense during a recent scrimmage. That prompted Harp and his staff to make some major changes this week.

“It’s hard to tell how our defense will be,” Harp said. “We are new at most positions. We were trying to do some things we just were not very good at on both sides of the ball. We’ve made some major personnel and philosophy changes this week. We’ll just have to see how they work out.”

Stonebraker thinks the Danville defense will be fine based on what he’s seen and knows about Danville defensive coordinator Jerry Perry.

“Danville is so quick defensively and they have rangy defensive backs that can cover a lot of ground and provide great run support,” the Garrard coach said.

“It will be a challenge just to come up with something to get positive yardage. I just hope to dent Jerry’s defense the best I can.”

Harp did like the progress his offensive line, especially guard Jason Claude, made against Southwestern.

“We basically have seven linemen this year,” Harp said. “(Assistant) Coach (Marty) Jaggers has done a great job with those guys, but we know we have a long way to go.”

Stonebraker hopes so, but also knows about Danville’s winning tradition.

“Danville has as good of a football tradition as anyone in this state, but we aren’t playing against Chester Ford, Kinte Bess, Donnie Redd, Chris Jones or the all-time Danville team,” Stonebraker said.

“We’re playing the 2004 team and they’re going to have a heck of a team. We just have to be competitive enough to savor that type of challenge.”


* Tickets for the Pigskin Classic, which kicks off with Dunbar facing duPont Manual at 5:30 p.m., are $8. No coaching or athletic passes will be honored at the gate.

* Danville leads the all-time series 5-0, including a 17-14 overtime win at Admiral Stadium in 1998.

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