Harp: Admirals need 'error-free' game

November 18, 2004|LARRY VAUGHT

It's been a year since Danville scored in the final minute to beat Louisville Holy Cross 27-22 in the Class A, Region 2 title game on its way to its third state championship in four years.

Danville coach Sam Harp figures that not long after that game ended, Holy Cross started pointing to a possible rematch with the Admirals this season.

"They are a senior-dominated team this year, and I know they have had us circled on their calendar since we beat them last year," Harp said. "They have been pointing to this game all year."

Holy Cross (11-1) gets its chance for revenge Friday when it plays the Admirals in the regional title game for the fourth straight year.


The Cougars, who have senior starters at 19 of 22 positions, appeared to have Danville beat last year when they led 22-20 late in the fourth quarter. However, Holy Cross gambled on fourth down deep in its own territory, the Admirals held and Ronnie Hawkins threw a game-winning touchdown pass to Davis Teater.

"They are a good football team again," Harp said. "They have seven starters back on offense. They are big on defense. They play a lot of people.

"We can't turn the ball over. We've got to play error-free on offense and not have the penalties that are drive-killers."

Harp said he hopes playing at Admiral Stadium can be a plus for Danville (8-4).

"I think being at home helps this week. I don't like playing down there. I would much rather be here," he said. "Normally, I like road games because of the structure it gives your team, but this week I want to be home. I hope we have a lot of fans come out to support us and become our 12th man, because we need that. They will bring a slew of people because they believe they are going to come here and beat us."

Only loss to Doss

Holy Cross has lost only to Doss 13-12 in the third game of the year. The Cougars beat Shelby County 27-6, and Shelby beat Central 24-21 the next week. Central plays at Boyle County Friday in the Class AAA, Region 2 title game.

The Cougars also beat Bardstown 30-7. Last week Danville beat Bardstown 20-6. However, Holy Cross beat Harrodsburg 28-0 one week after Danville beat the Pioneers 56-6.

Holy Cross' offense is directed by senior quarterback Aaron Troutman, a starting wide receiver last year. He has thrown for 1,194 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Running back Eric Titus has ran for 1,341 yards and 13 scores, and Marell Booker has 1,148 yards and 21 touchdowns. The two have combined for eight touchdown catches.

Harp says Holy Cross will use 235-pound Zach Johnson at fullback in a three-back set and sometimes will move tight end Wes McDermott to blocking back near the goal line.

Seniors anchor line

The offensive line is anchored by three returning senior starters: 283-pound tackle Daniel Skaggs, 270-pound Jake Nail and 236-pound center Brian Neuner.

"They are more of a running team, but they are not afraid to throw it," Harp said. "They use a lot of different formations to confuse you. They'll line up in the wishbone. Then they'll go with two wing backs and two split receivers. They'll get in the shotgun with twins (two receivers) on both sides. I think they will check us out early and then settle into two or three formations.

"They came in last year with an offensive set we had not seen from them all year and confused us. I am sure they will put some new things in this week, too."

Skaggs and Neuner start in the defensive line while Booker and McDermott start at linebackers.

Troutman leads the secondary with five interceptions, and Titus will play some at safety depending on whether Holy Cross uses a 5-3 or 4-3 front.

"They roll guys in and out to try and keep people fresh on defense," Harp said.

Stacking line to stop Turner

Harp expects Holy Cross to stack the line of scrimmage just as Bardstown and Campbellsville did the previous two weeks to try and stop Kelvin Turner. He's rushed for 2,192 yards and 30 touchdowns this season and goes into the game with 110 career touchdowns. He needs two scores to tie Derek Homer of Fort Knox for the all-time top spot in Kentucky.

"They stacked the line last year and we were able to burn them deep a few times," Harp said. "Everybody tries that. It just means we have to be ready to take the opportunities the defense gives us. We don't go into a game saying we will throw a certain number of times."

Harp hopes sophomore quarterback Jeffery Guest, who is 32-for-60 for 616 passing yards and 11 touchdowns in his seven starts, can make Holy Cross pay for crowding the line by getting the ball to Hawkins, who has 13 catches for 337 yards and four scores since moving to receiver at midseason. Darius Baughman also has 17 catches for 286 yards and three scores, and Turner has three touchdown receptions.

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