Top-ranked team teaches Vikings 'lesson'
NORMAL – The good news: Danville had ample opportunity to work on its kickoff returns Friday night.
The bad news: The Vikings had eight chances to return kicks in the opening 12 1/2 minutes of the Big 12 Conference game because their defense was unable to contain the state's top-ranked Class 6A team, Normal Community.
The good news: By game's end, Danville had more first downs than the Ironmen.
The bad news: The Normal Community offense was so efficient, it didn't need to spend much time on the field on homecoming night.
The good news: The game ended.
The bad news: Normal rolled to a 47-14 victory in a game that featured a running clock the final 16:05.
"They buzz-sawed us," said Danville coach B.J. Luke, who saw his team allow four touchdowns after the Ironmen had run seven plays.
As difficult as it might seem to believe, however, coach Hud Venerable's undefeated Ironmen were more impressive on defense than on offense in the first quarter. The home team forced Danville into turnovers two of the first five times it touched the ball. After the Vikings had tried nine plays from scrimmage, they had 1 yard of total offense, that coming from Rob Colunga on the team's first play.
By the time Danville took the field for its 10th play, Normal Community led 27-0.
"We got a lesson," Luke said. "The biggest thing was to see how they play good team defense. They're always in the right spots.
"We're trying to get where Normal Community is (as the defending state champions) and some people will teach us lessons before we get there."
Danville picked up 209 of its 240 total yards on the passing of quarterback Kendall Carter, who hooked up with Derrick Cunningham (36 yards) and Mikel Brigham (5 yards) for touchdowns.
Normal was almost too good for its own good.
"We hoped to take more time off the clock to keep Carter off the field," Venerable said.
Venerable said it might not take much longer for Danville to become a Big 12 powerhouse, thanks to back-to-back 9-0 freshman seasons.
"B.J. has them going in the right direction," Venerable said. "The best for the Vikings will be coming the next several years.
"It's great for the league that he came back to his alma mater. Danville has a storied tradition, and B.J. was a part of that (during his all-state career). His presence and his philosophy make this conference better."
Glenn Rowell (25 yards) led Danville in rushing. Luke left Mario Crosby at home for what he called "a lesson in learning."
Despite the loss, the Vikings expect to have enough playoff points to be selected for the postseason, marking the first time since 1995 and '96 the school has qualified in successive years.