Sluggish start gives Vikings fits
MATTOON – The community was Mattoon and the team nickname was Green Wave, but for all practical purposes, Danville's football team faced The School of Hard Knocks on Friday.
Mattoon's physical play roughed up the Vikings and resulted in a 27-6 Green Wave triumph in a Big 12 Conference game at Gaines Field.
It appeared that Danville's troubles began when Mattoon returned the opening kickoff 24 yards and then drove 64 more yards in eight plays (four running, four passing) to score the only points it would need at 8:02 of the first quarter.
In coach B.J. Luke's analysis, however, the Vikings' problems started before the game.
"We came out flat," Luke said. "I don't think we did a good job of respecting how good they were. We've got to learn respect."
Perhaps the Vikings still were reveling in their first-game shutout.
"Maybe we read a little too much of your guys' columns (in the newspapers)," Luke said. "Maybe we were resting on our laurels.
"When you start reading about yourself, you start believing all that stuff."
Whatever the reason, Luke added, "we didn't prepare very well."
After halftime, Danville was almost as dominant in the final two periods as Mattoon was in the first two.
A Mattoon squad that generated 246 first-half yards was held to three first downs after intermission.
Mattoon coach Gerald Temples credited the Vikings' defense for his team's second-half woes.
"Danville did a heck of a job against our run," Temples said. "Their quickness was a factor. We needed to be able to run the ball the second half, and we were not able to do that."
Though seven different sophomores started on his two platoons, Luke hasn't reduced his expectations.
"We have good kids and we have tough kids, but they're young kids and they're learning," Luke said, "but we expect to throw the youngsters out there and compete."
Danville scored twice in the second half, but a 42-yard scoring strike from Kendall Carter to Clowzell Adams was nullified by illegal procedure. The TD that counted came on a 16-yard pass from Carter to Mikel Brigham, who had to do a quick two-step in the corner of the end zone to keep his feet inbounds.
Brigham caught five of Carter's eight completions and gained 66 yards.
"Mikel made some big plays, and we expect that out of him," Luke said.
As for the touchdown that was nullified, Luke said that play was symbolic of the game.
"We struggled keeping our poise this week," the coach said. "We had drives stopped because of mental errors, and on the TD to Clowzell, 10 guys did a nice job and one guy jumped and it took back a play that was well run."
Adams was the game's top rusher with 86 yards on 22 carries. Carter passed for 112 yards.
The victory enhances Mattoon's postseason chances, but Luke said it doesn't destroy the Vikings' hopes.
"It's a key game, but it's not a pivotal shut-the-door-on-the-season game," Luke said. "We'll get better every week."