Danville celebrates youth movement

Danville celebrates youth movement

By: Dave Fultz

By: Dave Fultz

By: Dave Fultz

By: Dave Fultz

DANVILLE – The coaching staff knew the young team had a lot of work ahead. The summer heat and conditioning wore down the players day after day, but it appears the work was worth it.

Danville's varsity football team became playoff eligible with its most recent win and has made great strides toward developing talent that will last beyond this season.

"This team has a different personality than in past years because it is so young," coach B.J. Luke said. "We came into this season knowing that our young guys are talented, but that also they were raw.

"You never know how a young team will fare in a conference that is the caliber of the Big 12."

The team has fared well enough to get five wins and put itself in contention for the playoffs, and it's due – in large part – because of the young players. On a team that starts as many as eight sophomores, it was important for the team to jell.

"We are such a young team to begin with this season," defensive line coach Darin Chambliss said, "and they've grown as a group as opposed to only individually."

The coaches knew they would need help from the younger players because the number of returning upperclassmen was limited.

"We had talented senior and junior classes," defensive line coach John Fogelman said, "but they were small classes. In Big 12 play, you have to have depth to compete, and they were able to develop and play at that level."

The Vikings are setting themselves up to be successful.

Brian Anderson, the freshman coach, has led his squad to 17 consecutive wins spanning the last two seasons. After finishing 9-0 last season and starting with eight wins this year, the freshmen have become known for their preparation and good work ethic.

"They've set a strong foundation over the summers and done the conditioning and strength training needed to be successful," Luke said. "Coach Anderson has done a great job of nurturing the young kids as they make the jump from junior high to high school, and at the same time he has expected a lot of them and they've been successful."

By building from the ground up, the young players have been better prepared to contribute in a tough conference.

"There are so many guys from our freshman team up there on the varsity squad making an impact this season," Anderson said. "There have been four or five who have been thrust into important positions and are making a difference that most players aren't expected to make as 15-year-olds."

Chambliss said the experience has taught the young kids how to win.

"Once they get a taste of winning regularly they feel like they can pull it out each week," Chambliss said.

Danville isn't getting the job done only with its sophomores. Seniors Ryan Donnelly and Kendall Carter have contributed on both sides of the ball.

"Kendall Carter has made huge strides this season," Chambliss said. "He just has that something that you can't teach a player. He's a leader and doesn't get rattled out there. He always comes up with that big play when we need him to."

Before the season, the coaches weren't sure Carter could take over an offense with so many young players, but he's been solid.

"He has been amazing this year," Fogelman said. "As far as I'm concerned, he should be the Player of the Year in the Big 12 because he's just been that good."

Carter and his teammates face a tough test tonight against Normal Community.

"Normal plays everyone tough. They have a 22-game winning streak, are the defending champions and are No. 1 in the state so far," Luke said. "But we are at a point where we aren't afraid of anyone when we step out on the field."

Sections (3):Prep Sports, Football, Sports
Categories (3):Prep Sports, Football, Sports

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