Vaught's Views: Do Ads have a chance?

September 21, 2004|LARRY VAUGHT

The first glance at the results would make it seem that Danville has no chance to beat Highlands Friday.

The Bluebirds are coming off a 21-0 victory over five-time state champion Boyle County that was shocking not only because of the margin of victory, but because Boyle failed to score for the first time in 91 games. Since Boyle beat Danville 37-30 two weeks earlier, it seems only logical that Highlands should beat the Admirals here Friday night.

However, don't write the Admirals off just yet.

"You've got to do a good job of getting their linebackers blocked because they are really athletic," Boyle assistant coach Chris Pardue said. "If you do that and attack the line, you have chance to be successful."

Pardue orchestrates Boyle's offense. Six times he says the Rebels got to the 20-yard line. Normally that's a sure score for Chuck Smith's team. Against Highlands, though, the Rebels turned the ball over four times inside the 20 and two other times were stopped on downs.


"If we had put some points on the scoreboard, especially early, it could have changed the game," Pardue said. "We didn't execute. Once we had a center-quarterback exchange fumble. That hasn't happened all year. But give Highlands credit. They are very quick. They have skilled kids at every position.

"On the interception in the end zone they had a defensive end drop off the line and tip the ball. They make up for a lot of mistakes by being quick and athletic. They are not that big up front, but their linemen and linebackers look the same. They just have athletic kids that get after you."

Boyle was able to throw for 216 yards against Highlands, but rushed for only eight yards. Part of that was because Quinn Givhan, Boyle's top rusher, was knocked out of the game in the first half when he was hit in the stomach trying to catch a pass. He did not break any bones and Pardue says not having a game this week should give Givhan needed time to heal before the Rebels start Class AAA district play Oct. 2 against Pulaski Southwestern.

Can Danville find weaknesses in Highlands' defense?

So can Danville, a team that depends on the run, find weaknesses in Highlands' defense without quarterback Ronnie Hawkins having to put the ball in the air more than coach Sam Harp may prefer? Will star running back Kelvin Turner be able to hurt Highlands with his speed and power?

"You've got to be able to mix up your offense some, but Danville's forte is running the ball," Pardue said. "We went into the game needing to run to set up the pass and they shut down the run. If Danville can put a body on a body up front, they have a good chance to have some big plays against Highlands.

"If Danville goes to its three-back set, Highlands will have all 11 guys within five yards of the line. You are going to have to throw some to loosen them up. Highlands is fast, but so are Turner and Hawkins. I think Danville could hit some big plays on them based on what they did to us."

It might seem natural to expect a letdown from Highlands this week. The Bluebirds had pointed to last week's game since being embarrassed by Boyle in the 2003 state title game. However, Pardue says not to count on that. Instead, he knows that Highlands also remembers losing back-to-back games by one point to Boyle and Danville during the 2003 regular season.

"I think they are excited about playing this town," Pardue said. "They lost both games last year. They didn't like that. I think they are coming to Danville Friday to prove a point.

"If I was coaching at Danville, I would not expect any letdown at all. Highlands plays with a lot of emotion. Danville has to match that emotion to have a chance to win."

Block the linebackers, hit the defensive linemen, play with emotion, mix in a few passes and break a few big plays. Sounds easy, but doing it will be a difficult task for the Admirals.

Any team good enough to blank Boyle's potent offense is special and if the Admirals are going to defend Title Town's honor Friday, they are going to have to play their best game of the season by far to have a chance to win.

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