Daily photo by Brennen Smith|
While Danville works to improve upon last year’s 2-8 record, Hawks quarterback Tyler Beck rolls away from three defenders during practice.
HIGH SCHOOL COUNTDOWN
Pursuing a better record
Danville determined after last year’s slow start, 2-8 mark
By Ashley Hargrove
DANVILLE — Think losing close games is tough? Just ask any Danville coach or player.
Last year, the Hawks lost their first four games by a combined eight points and finished 2-8, something Danville head coach Joey Burch and his Hawks are determined not to let happen again this season.
Danville High at a glance
Last season: 2-8. Did not make the state playoffs.
Head coach: Joey Burch (20-31 in his sixth year as Danville’s head coach).
Noteworthy: After losing the first four games of last season by eight points, Burch and his Hawks are determined not to let that happen again. … Sophomore Tyler Beck is expected to take over at quarterback after Danville lost John Dalton to graduation. … Danville opens its season at home against Falkville in a matchup of Morgan County rivals. Falkville won this contest last season 13-12.
And with the leadership of eight seniors, they’re set on making sure it doesn’t.
“Our goal is to have a winning record this season,” senior tackle Jose Gardner said. “We’re going to go out every week and play the best that we can. We want to fulfill our potential this season after the heartbreaks we had last year.”
Although the Hawks look to be young again this year, that doesn’t seem to bother Burch.
“I feel a little better about it this year,” Burch said. “We’ve got a little more experience, but we’re always going to be pretty young. I feel good about the kids we’ve got coming back from last year.
“We’ve got 37 players this year, including ninth-graders. If we have 10 kids a class, we feel they can help us.”
If summer workouts determine how good a team will be during the regular season, then the Hawks should be in good shape. Burch said he had about 90 percent of his players show up for workouts, including one seven-on-seven competition.
“This bunch is great,” Burch said. “They showed up and worked hard all summer. We hope that all of the hard work they put in will pay off for us during the regular season.”
The Hawks return eight seniors this season, all of whom have seen ample playing time.
Offensively, Jason Kilgore returns at wide receiver, while David Long is back at tight end. Judd James returns at offensive guard for his senior season, and Gardner is back at tackle.
Sophomore Levi George is expected to get playing time at running back, while junior Corey Tyson should make the playing rotation at guard. Junior Holden Blevens will take the reins at center.
The Hawks have a big position to fill after losing Decatur Daily all-area quarterback John Dalton to graduation. Burch said sophomore Tyler Beck is expected to fill the position.
“Levi has the skills to make big plays,” Burch said. “But for that to happen, Tyler has to be solid.”
On the defensive side of the ball, the Hawks return Tyson at defensive tackle, James at linebacker and Long at defensive end. Kilgore is back at cornerback. Gardner will play tackle, and junior Schuyler Forman will be in the secondary.
With Burch returning for his sixth season at head coach, he said the leadership by this year’s seniors is the best it has been in a while.
“They have made it enjoyable coaching,” Burch said. “With the temperatures being as hot as they’ve been lately, they haven’t complained any. They go out and work hard. That’s what leadership is all about.”
Don’t expect much different this year offensively or defensively from what Danville has run in the past. Burch said after winning the last two games against Hanceville and Speake, the team found out what works.
“So we’re not going to change anything,” Burch said.
Danville opens its season at home against Falkville in a matchup between two Morgan county rivals, a game that Burch and his Hawks already are focused upon.
“It’s a good rivalry game that always comes down to the wire,” Burch said. “Whoever wins that one usually ends up having a good season and making it to the playoffs.”
Burch said that overall he is pleased with the way practice has been going.
“We’ve been progressing really well at practice,” Burch said. “The attitudes have been good. We’ve been preaching for them to get better.
“The main thing we have been doing is focusing on the basic fundamentals so that we don’t do the same things we did last year. That’s what hurt us early in the season last year.”
Danville High schedule, results
Save $84.50 a year off our newsstand price:
9-7 at Holly Pond (R)
||vs. Holly Pond
9-14 Sumiton Christian (R)
||at Sumiton Christian
9-21 at Vinemont (R)
9-28 at Priceville
10-5 Madison Academy (R)
||at Madison Academy
10-12 New Hope (R)
||at New Hope
10-19 at Good Hope (R)
||vs. Good Hope
10-26 at Hanceville (R)
(R)-Class 3A, Region 7|
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