Danville football ready to "line" up
DANVILLE -- B.J. Luke may not have the luxury of establishing a total platoon system when the high school football season starts next week, but he hopes to implement at least a partial platoon system among his linemen.
In a regular platoon format, the offensive linemen only play when their team has the ball and the defensive brigade only plays when the opponent has the ball.
Luke's plan, if it comes to fruition, is to start different players on offense and defense, but as the game progresses, it may seem like there are two-way players. Some of the backups on the defensive front will be offensive starters. Vice versa for the second-team offensive linemen.
Two seniors will headline the offensive line. Center Rod Guthrie (275 pounds) was a second-team all-Big 12 Conference pick in 2007. Left tackle Andre Todd (245) was a part-time starter a year ago.
The right side will be manned by junior tackle Alex Janssen (275), a returning starter, and junior Dan Golden (280).
The Vikings are still unsettled at left guard where the top competitors are two juniors, Mike Bowman (190) and Mike Goins (200). Also in the mix is sophomore Spencer Richardson (230), who can be used at center.
Certain to aid in the blocking will be junior tight end Cameron Ford, a second-team all-Big 12 choice last season. Ford will also play regularly on defense, at end.
"As a group, the offensive line has made big improvements," Luke said.
One bright spot on offense will be the receiving corps, which will include the 225-pound Ford. Ford and junior Derrick Cunningham are regarded by Luke as "major college prospects."
Cunningham was the No. 1 receiver on last year's 5-5 team, averaging 21.9 yards per catch. He had 438 receiving yards. Ford averaged 17.2 yards on his 17 receptions.
The depth at the position will include junior Clowzell Adams, junior Keaton Britt, senior Rob Colunga, junior Myke Tez Forman, junior TeJuan Jackson, last year's Big 12 Conference fresh-soph sprint champion, and senior Ayron Worthington.
"As a group, that's about as good as I've had in 32 years of coaching," Luke said.
Who will throw them the ball is still being determined.
Four candidates have shared snaps in preseason workouts and all have started in the past, but never on varsity.
--Senior Jeff Harris, who didn't play last year. He started for the 2006 sophomore team;
--Junior Malcolm Anderson. He started for the 2006 freshmen team;
--Junior Mario Crosby, who rushed for 467 yards last season on varsuty. He started a few games for the 2007 sophomore team at quarterback;
--Sophomore Edward Clark. He started for the 2007 freshmen team.
"Each one brings something different," Luke said. "Harris has as good of an arm of any kid since I've been here."
Anderson has good athletic ability and Crosby has great quickness and elusiveness. Luke said "he throws well enough to complete the passes we need."
At 5-foot-6, Crosby is the smallest of the contenders. Harris stands 6-2, Anderson is 6-0 and Clark 5-10.
Luke said it's hard to settle on his running backs until the quarterback position is finalized. That's because Crosby could again return to the backfield. Clark is another ballcarrying prospect. Colunga, Forman and sophomore Justin March could also get some carries.
Don't look for many 30-carry performances by any individual this fall.
The Vikings' secondary will feature many of the potential runners or receivers. Clark is expected to start at free safety. Adams is a likely cornerback and either Crosby or Forman will see significant time in the secondary.
"We can rest guys on offense," Luke said. "As long as we can maintain the depth we have, we can pull it off."
Many observers believe the Vikings could be a year away from a potential powerhouse. Back-to-back freshmen teams have gone 9-0 and those groups will be juniors and seniors in 2009.
For now, it's possible only two seniors (Guthrie and Todd) will start on offense with as few as two (tackle T.J. Van Vickle and end Glenn Rowell) playing regularly on defense this season.
"We're still very, very young, but a lot of these kids are battle-tested," Luke said. "We don't want to wait until next year. We're hoping we can compete with anybody."
Junior Keith Mayfield, a converted lineman, will make the transition to defense and start at noseguard.
Danville opens its season at home on Aug. 29 against Bloomington.
Luke's coaching staff includes Brian Anderson, Marcus Forrest, John Fogelman, Mike High, Daniel Hile, R.J. Luke, Steve Luke, Frank Luzenske, John Pendleton and Cedric Williams.
They are working with 120 squad members, up 15 from a year ago. Fifty of those candidates are freshmen.