PREP FOOTBALL: Danville survives topsy-turvy contest with Belleville West

Aug. 27—DANVILLE — On almost any playground you will find a see-saw.

It's the piece of equipment that requires two children on opposite sides to operate, and when it's done correctly, the children alternate going up into the air and coming back down to the ground.

Danville football coach Marcus Forrest kind of felt like his football team was riding a see-saw during its season opening game against Belleville West on Friday night at Ned Whitesell Field.

At times, the Vikings were executing well and going up and then at other times, they were making mistake after mistake, and they saw themselves dropping down.

After 48 minutes of ebb and flow, Danville found a way to pull out a 21-12 victory.

"We hoped that it wouldn't happen, but we had some ups and downs," said Forrest. "We moved the ball well and we were physical, at times, but we also had a lot of first game mistakes like bad snaps and fumbles."

The Vikings (1-0) fumbled the ball eight times and they lost three of them with the Maroons turning one of those miscues into a third-quarter touchdown that allowed them to pull within 13-12.

"We were rusty with it being our first game of the year," said Danville junior Phillip Shaw IV, who had a team-high 12 tackles for the Vikings on defense.

Forrest agreed, but it still tested his new heart from an Feb. 2021 transplant surgery.

"They are all fixable things that we can do. It's just a matter of getting the first-game jitters out," he said. "It still stressed the new heart quite a bit."

Two big defensive plays in the fourth quarter sealed the deal for Danville.

Senior linebacker Tommy Harris Jr. made the first one as he tackled Belleville West running back Jahkori Adams in the end zone on an ill-advised screen pass for a safety giving the Vikings a 15-12 advantage with 7 minutes, 26 seconds left.

On the very next possession for the Maroons, Shaw intercepted a pass from Belleville West quarterback Landon McDonald, who was being pressured by Danville defensive tackle DeAngelo Terry.

"We talked to the kids all summer about being in the right place, especially our linebackers," Forrest said. "If you are in the right place on defense, sometimes the ball will come right to you and that's what happened.

"He was rewarded for his hard work and being in the right place."

Shaw admitted it was an easy catch, but he wanted more.

"I saw the ball coming right to me and I knew I was going to catch it," he said. "But, I thought I was going to score. I don't know where No. 5 (Adams) came from to stop me."

And while he did reach the end zone, the Vikings extended its lead to 21-12 two plays later when Tommy Harris Jr. scored on a 7-yard run.

"We needed a big play to secure the win," Shaw said. "I'm just glad that I was able to come up with it."

And both Shaw and Forrest pointed out that Tyler, playing his first varsity game at defensive tackle, was also a big part of that play.

"If we can get that type of pressure from our defensive line than four defensive backs and linebackers can make more plays like that interception," Forrest said.

Tyler finished with seven tackles including a tackle for a loss to go along with the quarterback hurry.

"It was fun. I regret taking the time off. I should have played every year," said Tyler, who is 6-foot-3 and 260 pounds. "I was a little scared in the first half. I don't like being in front of crowds, but with the help of my teammates, I figured it out in the second half."

Tyler's addition to the Danville roster is part of the team's depth that was tested on Friday night.

On multiple occasions, the Vikings had players coming to the sidelines with leg cramps.

"I told them last Saturday that I didn't have any sympathy for cramps, so they had better start hydrating and taking care of their bodies," Forrest said. "So, when I here during the game that they started on Thursday or Wednesday to hydrate, it was too late. They knew beforehand what they needed to do.

"I'm hoping that this, like being in the wrong place or blocking the wrong player, is a mistake that they can learn from for next week's game."

In the first half, the Vikings scored both of their touchdowns on quarterback runs. Bryson Hinton-Perez, who rushed for 46 yards, gave Danville a 7-0 lead with his 17-yard scamper in the first quarter, while Ja'Vaughn Robinson, who ran for a team-high 61 yards, went nearly untouched on a 42-yard run in the final minute of the first half, giving the Vikings a 13-6 advantage at halftime.

Up next for Danville is its Big 12 Conference opener at home against Peoria High, who beat Metamora 34-16 Friday night in a game that was halted and not continued after a fight in the stands at Peoria Stadium in the second quarter.

Kickoff for the contest against the Lions is scheduled for 7 p.m.