Few football games I have covered in recent years have left as much of an impression on me as Danville’s playoff loss at Green County last season. So with all the respect in the world for Danville coach Sam Harp, I have to say that I don’t entirely believe him when he says the Admirals haven’t given that much thought to Green until last week.
Green, you’ll remember, is the team that handed Danville one of its most ignominious defeats, a 61-22 thrashing that was the Admirals’ first and only mercy-rule loss. It was a horrible beating that marked the end to what was a horrible season by Danville standards.
The Admirals used the sting of that 5-7 season as motivation for this year, and the results have been good so far. They’re 8-3 going with a five-game winning streak going into tonight’s game against the Dragons, who have eliminated them in the second round of the playoffs in each of the last two years.
And while the Admirals had other fish to fry during the previous 11 weeks — three district games, the rivalry with Boyle County, et cetera — what happened on that November Friday night in Greensburg surely was never far from their thoughts.
It should be noted that Green did nothing out of hand in that game. There was no running up the score, no more trash-talking than you’d see anywhere else this time of year, nothing untoward. The Dragons did score on a 94-yard run late in the game, but it was a sweep play designed to get them out of the shadow of their own goal line that Danville simply couldn’t stop. No, they were just that much better.
But it was a spanking that still stings, and it was Green that happened to be swinging the paddle. So there’s no reason to expect that the Danville team that takes the field tonight at Admiral Stadium will be anything but very highly motivated.
That’s more than you could say of the Admirals this time a year ago, but is it enough? No. What matters most is that Danville is a far better team than it was a year ago, yet there’s still no way of knowing until tonight whether it has improved enough to close that 39-point gap.
Green doesn’t look much different at all than it did last year, with a high-powered offense that has been putting up big numbers all season. If there’s a question about the Dragons, it’s whether their defense is good enough to keep good teams off the scoreboard. They put up 67 points last week, but they also gave up 42 to a Bardstown team that isn’t very good.
Harp has won exactly 307 more games than I have, so I’m inclined to believe that he has brought this team all the way back in one year’s time to the point where the Admirals can go toe to toe with Green. My mind says this game could go either way, but my gut says it will go to Danville — and my lungs are holding their breath.
* * *
Garrard County was the only area team I guessed wrong on last week, as the Golden Lions fooled me with an impressive first-round win at Estill County. It looks like the end of the road for them tonight at Somerset, however, and for Casey County’s magical season as well. The picks:
- Boyle County over East Jessamine.
- Breathitt County over Casey County.
- Danville over Green County.
- Somerset over Garrard County.
Last week: 5-1; season: 52-10 (.839).