Mayfield knows it must stop Turner to win

November 24, 2004|LARRY VAUGHT

Figuring out what his team must do to stop Danville has not been a problem for Mayfield coach Joe Morris.

Morris' problem is figuring out how to do it.

"It's just a matter of stopping Kelvin Turner," said Morris. "He is very, very good. He is the best running back I can remember Danville having, and they've had some great ones. He is going to bust two or three big plays every game. There's no doubt about that. You just hope he doesn't bust too many, because we are not real good defensively."

Danville (9-4) will host Mayfield (8-5) in the Class A semifinals at 7 p.m. Friday. It's the fifth straight year the two teams have played in the semifinals, and the last four years the Danville-Mayfield winner has won the state championship.

"The last time they played here (in 2002), they beat us," Danville coach Sam Harp said. "The visiting team has won the last three games in this series. You'll have 17 state championships (10 for Danville, seven for Mayfield) represented out there. They will not be intimidated. Our state titles might intimidate some teams, but not them."


Turner, though, does put fear in Morris' heart. The Danville senior scored three times in last week's 28-23 win over Louisville Holy Cross to raise his career touchdown total to 113, tops in state history. He also had 15 tackles and blocked a punt.

"You have to put that extra guy in the box (at the line of scrimmage) or Turner will just kill you," Morris said. "We have to stack it in there. Sam knows that because it happens every week. But Sam is patient and will play defense and keep field position. He won't beat himself. He'll just hand the ball to Turner, and eventually he'll break a great run. One missed tackle and he's gone, and that worries me because we've missed a lot of tackles this year."

Morris says he won't forget about receiver-running back Ronnie Hawkins, either.

"We know he's a great athlete. He broke the game open last year with a great play at quarterback," Morris said. "Turner is the main focus, but he won't get the ball every play. They are not fancy in what they do, but they are still hard to stop."

Harp hopes Danville will be harder to stop this week than it was in last week's 28-23 win over Holy Cross, when Turner's 220 yards rushing accounted for all of the Admirals' offense. The coach says sophomore quarterback Jeffery Guest did not play well, but he expects improvement this week.

"That might have been his worst game, but he'll learn from that," Harp said. "No one has a great game every night."

Cardinals have won six straight

Morris understands. His team lost five of its first seven games, but has now won six straight. Last week the Cardinals beat Hancock County 47-21 in the Region 1 title game.

"We had several kids hurting, and we only play four seniors," Morris said. "We were playing good teams, too. If you had told me six weeks ago we would be playing Danville, I would have thought you were crazy.

"We still are not as good as we have been. We start a freshman and five sophomores on defense. We are just mediocre on defense. We are slow and kind of small."

Harp says Mayfield has "tremendous size" from what he's seen. Adrian Lawson, a 280-pound tackle, anchors the defensive line, while linebacker Blake Rust and cornerback Tristian Dumas also impressed him.

"They all fly to the football," Harp said.

Mayfield's offense is led by quarterback Adam Shelton, who is 85 for 175 passing for 1,255 yards and 13 scores. He also rushed for 185 yards in a playoff win over Crittenden County. Rust has rushed for 895 yards and 12 touchdowns and caught 25 passes for 360 yards and four scores. Dumas has 85 carries for 760 yards and nine scores.

"We moved Dumas to offense about six weeks ago, and now he is one of our best weapons," Morris said. "We will move him out and throw to him some like we do Rust. Our quarterback also runs the ball well. He's been throwing the ball well and making plays. Our offensive line has also gotten better, which has helped."

"Dumas is elusive and runs hard inside, but he has the speed to go if he gets outside. So does Rust," Harp said. "They use a lot of sets and spread the field."

Harp says his team cannot underestimate Mayfield, which lost to Class AAA powers Hopkinsville and Paducah Tilghman early as well as Evansville North, one of the top teams in Indiana.

"Mayfield has got a lot better, just like we have," Harp said. "All that was wrong with Mayfield early was the schedule they were playing. They are in the state semifinals. They can play.

"We talked all year about how Holy Cross was pointing for us and that if we didn't improve, they would embarrass us. Now our kids have to forget that and think only about Mayfield."

"We are better than we were six weeks ago," Morris said. "We have improved as much as any team I have ever coached. We feel like we've got a shot, and that's more than I would have thought six weeks ago."

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