PREP FOOTBALL: Redemption for Danville secondary against Manual

·5 min read

Sep. 10—PEORIA — Almost every football coach will tell you that the film don't lie.

When Peoria Manual coach Dennis Bailey watched Danville's game last week with Peoria High, he saw a defensive secondary get burnt for 299 passing yards and two touchdowns.

What a difference a week can make for the Vikings.

Danville held Manual to just four completions for 64 yards and the Vikings turned four interceptions into 28 points as they beat the Rams 49-6 in a Big 12 Conference contest at Peoria Public Schools Stadium.

"What I loved was when the ball was in the air, we went to get get it," said Danville coach Marcus Forrest. "We probably had more interceptions in this game that we had all of last year."

Actually, the four interceptions by Danville equaled last year's season total (4) and it was the most in a game for the Vikings since an IHSA Class 6A playoff game against Collinsville on Oct. 30, 2010.

"Each one of our defensive backs had a good game tonight," Forrest said. "I contribute it to how well they worked over the summer and how hard they worked. They were not only in the right positions, knowing where they had to be, but they were attacking the ball.

"We knew they were going to put ball in the air. We had people put the ball in the air against us last year, and we just waited to make tackles. Seeing them go for the ball, making a break on the ball and actually trying to play aggressive makes me extremely proud and excited."

Senior safety Matthew Thomas had two interceptions, officially, and his first turned into a 35-yard return for a touchdown that gave the Vikings a 14-0 lead.

"This week, the secondary did a phenomenal job of getting on top of things and going after the ball," said Thomas. "We wanted to make a statement tonight. It was a redemption game for us. We came in with something to prove."

Thomas also believes that he should have been credited with three interceptions.

"I caught that one on the sideline," he said.

Right before halftime, it looked like Thomas had another interception but the sideline official ruled him out-of-bounds, stating that he only got one foot in-bounds. Professional football is the only league that requires two feet for a legal catch, so he should have had another pick.

"He told me later that he made a mistake," said Thomas, as Darryl Kelly was the last Viking with two interceptions in game against Kankakee on Aug. 28, 2015. "It is what it is. I'm still putting that on my highlight film."

Ja'Vaughn Robinson and Tevyn Henderson had the other two 'official' interceptions for the Vikings, who improved to 2-1 overall and 1-1 in the Big 12 Conference.

That duo also hooked up on an 80-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter that gave Danville the 49-6 lead and initiated the running clock.

"It was a good pass play," Robinson said. "(Tevyn) made a nice play on it and got it in the end zone."

Those two were also part of nine players to carry the football for Danville as the Vikings rolled up 208 rushing yards on 27 carries. Quite a difference from last week's 41 yards on 39 carries against Peoria High.

"It was a combination of things," said Robinson, who led the Vikings with 63 yards on five carries. "The blockers did a better job of blocking the right people and we did a better job of following our blockers."

Forrest acknowledged that 208 rushing yards was quite a bit better, but he still wants more.

"We are a rushing team, first and foremost," he said. "We have three backs that can run hard. We have two quarterbacks that are capable of running the ball and two slot receivers that we can get involved in the running game. That's quite a few kids that carry the ball for us.

"Having that many options should make us a difficult team to stop, because when we get it into all of their hands, it makes us less predictable."

While Forrest saw many good things, he was quick to admit that it was far from perfect.

"We took care of the ball, which is a great thing, but we still had some mistakes happen," he said, noting that Danville had only one bad snap after 10 mishandled or bad snaps in the first two games. "We also had one lapse on defense. Our back was in the right position but he eased up. That led to their only score."

Manual, which falls to 0-3 overall and in the Big 12, scored on the final play of the first half when David Johnson hauled in a 37-yard pass from London Tolliver.

"That gave us something to complain about at halftime," Forrest said. "We were able to get their attention and they came out strong in the second half.

"I hope we learned tonight that if we compete hard and play hard, we are going to make plays. And when you make plays, you start having fun and you will enjoy this game with each other. I hope they saw the proof of that tonight and it should give us something build on."

Every player that dressed for Danville on Friday night was able to play multiple snaps. The Vikings were still without three linemen (Bodyn Gagnon, Calvin Hempel and Evan Yates) because of injury.

"I felt really good about that," Forrest said. "Everyone has worked to put themselves in a position to get that playing time."

Up next for Danville is home game this Friday night against Bloomington, who improved to 2-1 with an 18-12 victory over Peoria Notre Dame.