Sam Harp would like to see what the view from the front is like for a change.
The Danville coach has seen his team fall behind in each of his team’s four games this season, and even though the Admirals have come back most of the time, he said that habit is getting tiresome.
The Admirals have rallied to win three times in four tries, but Harp said he’d like to see them make things easier on themselves by getting to the front first, beginning with their game Friday against Southwestern at Admiral Stadium.
“It’d be nice to do that, and it’d also be nice to see how we play after that happens,” Harp said. “So far this year we’ve spotted everybody we’ve played a touchdown before we started doing anything.”
Danville (3-1) most recently put itself at risk last week against Corbin, trailing 7-0 and 14-7 before scoring three straight touchdowns, then holding on for a 28-21 victory.
“I think our guys hopefully have seen from the way we played against Corbin that we’re not going to sneak up on anybody,” Harp said.
Southwestern (1-2) will certainly be on the lookout for the Admirals, who rallied from a 12-point deficit in the final 6 1/2 minutes to beat the Warriors 47-46 last year in Somerset.
But this is a far different Southwestern team than the one Danville battled a year ago. That was the final game before a coaching change that saw former Casey County coach Andy Stephens finish the year as interim coach, leading the Warriors to the Class AAAAA semifinals, then get the job on a permanent basis. Then the Warriors were hit hard by graduation. They lost both of the two players who shared the quarterback position, as well as their top four receivers, four of their top five running backs and their top six tacklers.
What’s left is a young team that has narrowly defeated two winless teams, Letcher County Central and Marion County, but was crushed by Somerset between those wins.
Harp said Southwestern’s offense under Stephens isn’t vastly different than that used by former coach Dale Anderson, but there are noticeable changes.
“They’re still running a power game with a lot of isolations, but they’re not doing as much sprint-out passing as they did under Dale,’ Harp said.
He said the Warriors will attack with a handful of hard-charging running backs who operate behind a line similar in size to that of Danville.
“There’s not any one particular guy who jumps out, but they play hard and the running backs run hard. They remind me of the way Corbin’s running back (Tanner Powers) ran, and we had our problems with Corbin’s running back,” Harp said. “Our concern is being able to go into the game and trying to stop what they do well.”
Most of the rushing attempts are spread among five backs, but junior Logan Campisano has led Southwestern in two of its three games. He averages about 19 carries per game and has run for 331 yards and four touchdowns, including three of the Warriors’ four touchdowns in their 28-21 win over Marion last week.
Sophomore quarterback Austin Smiddy has rushed for 146 yards, and Jordan Maggard, one of only six seniors on the roster, has 134.
Smiddy has completed nine of 20 passes for 157 yards and two touchdowns, and leading receiver Devon Baker has five catches for 113 yards and two touchdowns.
Smiddy’s 18-yard touchdown pass to Baker with 30 seconds left gave the Warriors their winning margin last week after Marion had tied the game just over a minute earlier.
“They don’t throw the ball a lot, but when they do they’ve been somewhat effective with it,” Harp said. “They’ll run the spread, but that’s not their best game. Their best game is lining up unbalanced and coming right at you.”
Danville’s Devonta Alcorn is 26 for 51 and has thrown for 508 yards and three touchdowns. He’s also the Admirals’ leading rusher with 273 yards and five touchdowns, and Jawan Grey has run for 218 yards and two TDs.
Ace Ray, the Admirals’ leading receiver, has 10 catches for 213 yards and three touchdowns.
Harp said the Danville-Southwestern series will apparently go on hold after this season. The teams have played several close, high-scoring games since resuming annual meetings in 2005. The Admirals have outscored the Warriors by an average score of 31-28 to win five of the seven games in that stretch, with four games being decided by three points or less.
“It seems like most of the games have come down to the wire,” Harp said.