It seems a little early for Danville to be playing Green County, but it could prove to be a good time to renew what has become a fierce short-term rivalry.
Danville and Green have faced off in the postseason in each of the last two years, but their game Friday at Admiral Stadium falls right in the middle of the regular season.
It’s the Admirals’ first game against an opponent from their own classification after playing larger schools throughout the first half of their schedule. And because they’ll follow it up with three straight games within their Class AA district, Danville coach Sam Harp said it’s time for them to pick on someone their own size.
“This is the first school we’ve played that’s comparable size-wise to us,” Harp said. “It’s good competition, a good game ... and at least you shouldn’t reach the point where ... you might run into a team that’s not necessarily better than you but can wear you down because they’ve got more numbers than you have.”
The roster sizes of these two teams are nearly identical, and the veteran players on those two rosters have come to know each other well over the last three seasons.
The teams have crossed paths in the second round of the playoffs in each of those years. Green eliminated the Admirals with a 28-21 win in 2008, then gave them a 61-22 beating in 2009 that Harp still calls “embarrassing.” Danville avenged that loss last season by beating the Dragons 28-14.
“I’m sure they’d like to get a piece of us after that,” Harp said.
As a result of realignment, the two teams’ only possible postseason meetings through 2015 will be in the state finals, so Harp and Green coach Mike Griffiths decided to move their series to the regular season.
“It’s turned out to be a pretty good series,” Harp said.
Green and Danville bring identical 4-1 records into Friday’s game, and Harp said the Dragons also bring the same qualities that have made them so tough to beat in recent years.
Those include offensive and defensive units that combine multiple looks with good size up front and speed in the back.
The headliner is senior running back-linebacker Chavis McDermott, who rushed for 377 yards and scored two touchdowns in Green’s 2009 win over Danville and threw for 144 yards and two TDs but ran for only 16 yards in the Dragons’ loss to the Admirals last year.
“He runs hard, and he can fly,” Harp said.
McDermott began this season at quarterback but was moved to running back and replaced behind center by younger brother Weston McDermott.
Chavis McDermott ran for 100 yards and one touchdown and kicked five extra points and Weston McDermott threw for 144 yards and three TDs last week in Green’s 35-14 victory over Campbellsville.
The Dragons also returned senior fullback-linebacker Donovan Burton, and their offensive linemen average 253 pounds per man, topped by two tackles north of 270.
“Offensively, we look for them to be doing a lot of the same things that they’ve done in the past. They’ll show you a lot of different looks,” Harp said.
The Dragons also have good size on defense, led by 6-4, 315-pound Cody Bloyd and 6-2, 240-pound Dakota Westmoreland at the tackle positions.
The defense also features the speed of the McDermott brothers and sophomore Evan Jaggers, who is also one of Green’s top receivers, in the secondary.
Danville comes into the game on a high note after its 47-46 comeback win over Southwestern last week. Harp said the Admirals started this week with good practices, but they are hampered for the second straight week by a rash of injuries and illnesses.
Seven players missed practice time last week while fighting a virus that is making its way through the team, and Harp said six other players missed practice Tuesday with what appeared to be the same illness, which he said seems to run its course in about 24 hours.
It will take running back-linebacker Jadarius Brown considerably longer to get back after he suffered a dislocated right shoulder during the Southwestern game. Brown was taken to a hospital during the game to have the shoulder reset, and Harp said he’ll miss three to four weeks.
The status of quarterback Devonta Alcorn (back injury) and running back-defensive back Devin Furlow (thigh bruise) for Friday’s game is less certain. Neither dressed last week, and Harp said both are day to day. He said Furlow practiced Monday but couldn’t go Tuesday, while Alcorn is once again able to run and throw but not yet able to withstand a great deal of contact.
Tryston Ford filled in at quarterback last week, rushing for 98 yards and throwing for another 40. He scored once on defense and once on offense as Danville rallied from a 12-point deficit in the last 6 1/2 minutes.
The Danville defense surrendered 492 yards to Southwestern, including 335 on the ground. Green gained 300 yards — 156 rushing, 144 passing — and allowed 225 yards against Campbellsville.