Football teams from Danville and Bismarck-Henning will continue to see benefits from this year’s playoff experience even after the season ends.
Beyond the games played are the extra weeks of practice. Danville is finishing up its third week in preparation for Saturday’s quarterfinal game at home (3 p.m.) against Lemont.
One Viking worked his way onto the special teams unit for the first time in the postseason. Sophomore Devin Lewis has been in on two tackles each of the past two weeks.
Danville is dressing 46 players during the postseason, including some who were not on the varsity throughout the regular season.
“We have some linemen getting three more weeks of work,” head coach B.J. Luke said. “We feel they’ll be pretty good and ready to play next year.”
Bismarck-Henning advanced to the second round and was able to practice an additional two weeks.
The Blue Devils bowed out after a 49-7 Class 2A loss at home to Maroa-Forsyth.
“When we look back, it was really all positive for us,” coach Mark Dodd said. “We were very, very young, but got to play at a high level. and learn what it takes to be good.
“Obviously, Maroa was good in every phase. We got to dress a lot of freshmen; they ran our scout team during the week, and we like what we see in our younger players.”
B-H was without two players in its finale. Sophomore Reed Collins was unable to play due to an injury sustained two weeks earlier and senior Dan Golden also sat out.
“They would have made a difference, but not enough,” Dodd said. “They dominated us in basically every position. We competed hard, but they were so fast.”
Senior Michael Grant completed a season-high 13 passes (in 22 attempts) and threw for 101 yards.
It could be a sign of what’s to come in the future of the program.
“Krystian Ingram (sophomore) will take the reins at quarterback and he has thrown for over 1,000 yards each of the last two seasons (with the junior varsity),” Dodd said. “He is more of a pure passer and we feel like with (Kyle) Lamm, (Dakota) Patton, and (Adam) Baker, we’ll be a little bit more wide open the next two years.”
Lamm and Patton are juniors. Baker is a sophomore.
Lamm had what Dodd called “an unbelievable game,” against the Trojans. He hauled in eight passes for 86 yards. No other receiver or back gained as many yards for the Blue Devils.
The team’s top rusher vs. M-F was sophomore Tyler Russell (45 yards).
With Collins, junior Matt LeCleir and junior Ross Darby set to return in the backfield, B-H won’t overlook the running aspect next fall.
“We’ll be two-dimensional, but we’ll go where the talent takes us,” Dodd said. “If that’s throwing the ball, that’s what we’ll do, but we want to be prepared to do both.”
Two squad members suffered injuries against Maroa-Forsyth which will sideline them during the early portion of the wrestling season. Sophomore Josh Kessler has a broken jaw and freshman Morgan Supergan may have a broken finger.
They are among the defensive stalwarts who will return next season. That nucleus of returnees also includes junior Alex Hahne and junior Branden Smith, who missed the final nine games this year with an injury.
“We have a lot of promising things,” Dodd said. “They can hold their heads up high. Their hard work paid off and they went out winners (reaching the playoffs after a two-year absence).”
The Vikings rallied from a 20-10 halftime deficit to turn back an Oak Lawn Richards team last Saturday night which was playing at home. Richards was unable to have a player rush for as much as 100 yards, a streak which has covered the entire season.
Danville will have three seniors who are full-time two-way starters for the quarterfinals. Mario Crosby (tailback and outside linebacker) will start on both platoons as will Cameron Ford (tight end and defensive end) and Keith Mayfield (offensive and defensive tackle).
A fourth Viking senior, Clowzell Adams rotates at end on offense with TeJuan Jackson and starts on defense as cornerback.
Others who will start on offense are senior Malcolm Anderson at quarterback, senior Derrick Cunningham and senior Keaton Britt at end, junior Paul Webb at tackle, sophomore Jacob McBride at center and senior Mike Bowman and senior Alex Janssen at guards.
On defense, the other starters are junior Tommy Rose at tackle, senior Shavon Morris at end, sophomore Dennis Hightower at outside linebacker, senior Quintin Brown at inside linebacker, junior Justin March at inside linebacker, senior MykeTez Forman at cornerback and junior Eddie Clark at safety.
Junior Dalton Allison, who has been hobbled by a high ankle sprain, will be in uniform and ready to play.
A capable backup on the offensive line is sophomore James Seyfert, who filled in during the Bloomington and Normal Community games for an injured teammate.
Luke said Lemont’s offense is “all stuff we’ve seen.”
It’s predominantly a run-based offense, but the coach noted, “they throw enough to hurt you if you sell out to the run.”
The Lemont defense will be a formidable one.
“They’re different than about anyone we’ve seen with their size,” he said. “They are similar to the (2006) Normal Community state championship team up front.”
The Indians have three defensive linemen in the 250- to 270-pound range and Luke added, “it will be a real challenge for our kids.”
Lemont comes into the quarterfinal game having gained 2,665 yards on the ground and 682 through the air. The Indians’ defensive line features the defending Class 2A heavyweight state champion, 270-pound Angel Cabral, as well as Division I football prospect Patrick Driscoll, a 270-pound senior defensive tackle.
The 6-foot-4 Driscoll has made a commitment to Western Michigan. He had an offer from the Air Force and interest from Indiana, Northwestern, Minnesota and Purdue.
PREP AWARDS TO BE DISTRIBUTED
The New Life Christian Center, 2105 N. Bowman Ave., will hand out its Ultimate Hitman awards to area high school football players on Sunday.
Doors will open to the public at 6 p.m. and the ceremony will start at 6:30. There is no charge for admission.
Coaches from the eight football-playing programs in Vermilion County, along with one school in Indiana (North Vermillion), submitted nominations for seven categories. Entries were judged by a group of area panelists.
Video clips of the nominees will be shown.
The categories are: ultimate hit, ultimate run, ultimate catch, ultimate kickoff or punt return, ultimate play by a lineman, ultimate big play and the ultimate “you got hit” award.
Youth pastor Luke Smith borrowed the idea from a church in Tulsa, which is in its 12th year of a similar program and annually draws about 2,500 spectators.
The New Life Christian Center can accommodate about 800 persons.