Normal Community 6
NORMAL — A share of the Big 12 title now belongs to Danville, but the Vikings want more. Such as an unbeaten regular season.
"Any time you go 9-0 in any league, it's an outstanding accomplishment," Danville coach B.J. Luke said Friday.
The 8-0 Vikings secured no worse than a share of the league title and can win it outright next Friday against Urbana. To beat the Ironmen, Danville had to overcome an early 6-0 deficit.
"This is a very mature group, very poised kids," Luke said. "Our kids are pretty focused."
And, pretty happy.
"I feel good for our kids and for our community," Luke said. "We had an unbelievable crowd here tonight. Our kids played well."
Danville amassed nearly three times more yards than it allowed and, Luke said, "we just kept hammering until we got it in the end zone."
The team scored the clinching TD with 8:11 left in the fourth quarter on a Malcolm Anderson fourth-down pass to Cameron Ford.
The celebration will be brief. There's another game to prepare for.
"We'll prepare hard for Urbana," Luke said.
ABOUT NEXT WEEK
NORMAL – In another week, Danville football coach B.J. Luke will get the chance to emphasize to an opposing coach how quickly high school programs can become competitive.
Luke's Vikings will try to complete the school's first 9-0 regular season in 14 years when they host Urbana in six days.
Danville is in that position following Friday's 12-6 Big 12 Conference victory against a Normal Community team that has been receiving votes in the weekly Class 6A state polls and this week was rated 11th. The Vikings' triumph snapped a 10-game losing streak to Normal Community that went back to 2000, when Danville prevailed 35-21.
The Vikings' final-game opponent hasn't won a game this season.
Luke can relate.
When he returned to his alma mater, it was following a 2004 season when the Vikings yielded almost 400 points (399) and not only didn't win a game, but also lost 69-28 to what was a one-win Decatur MacArthur team.
"What I told the kids is that we'd be playing for championships and be a force to reckon with in the playoffs," Luke said. "You can get things turned around. It takes hard work."
The current Danville team is ranked third in Class 6A.
It starts with a feeder system that gets the athletes prepared for the rough-and-tumble nature of the game six and seven years before they enter high school, and it continues with an emphasis on weight training and focusing on the fundamentals thereafter.
Luke welcomed the chance to take his team on the road for Week 8.
"They (Ironmen) are every bit as good as some of the other teams we've played, but there wasn't the hoopla like when we played MacArthur (then ranked fifth in Class 5A) for homecoming," Luke said. "Our kids knew what was at stake, but we've been more focused at practice.
"We've made them aware all along that to win the Big 12 outright, we'd probably have to go through Normal to do it."
Danville created a 6-6 tie when Justin March (51 yards rushing) scored on a 4-yard run at 3:12 of the second quarter. The Vikings' go-ahead score came on a fourth-and-1 pass play from the 8 when Malcolm Anderson hit Cameron Ford.
Eddie Clark rushed for 104 yards for the Vikings. Anderson ran for 71 yards and passed for another 78.
The Vikings held the Ironmen to 77 yards of total offense. Normal's score came three plays after the Vikings fumbled a punt on their own 5-yard line less than 3 1/2 minutes into the game.