DANVILLE – Three weeks ago, the Danville football team learned a valuable lesson in a 58-36 loss to state-ranked Peoria High at Ned Whitesell Field.
For three of the four quarters, the Vikings managed to face the Lions, who were a very physical and talented team, but being outdone 24-0 in the third quarter cost Danville the opportunity to win. surprise.
Now, after back-to-back road wins over Peoria Richwoods (52-35) and Peoria Manual (16-6), the Vikings have the chance to prove what they’ve learned as Peoria Notre Dame, another Big 12 very physical and difficult. The opponent of the conference enters the field Ned Whitesell.
“Being able to play at Peoria High was already a great learning tool,” said Danville coach Marcus Forrest. “We told them Peoria High is not the only physical team in our league.
“We better be prepared to step up like we did for three quarters of this game or be prepared to get run over like we did in the third quarter against Peoria High.”
And this isn’t the first time in this calendar year that the Vikings have tried to match the physical game of the Irish, who are 3-2 overall and 3-1 in the Big 12. Conference.
Returning on April 16, during the 2020-21 spring football season, Peoria Notre Dame rushed for 310 rushing yards en route to a 42-7 victory over Danville at Ned Whitesell Field.
“I think the spring experience will be helpful,” Forrest said. “We got to see how well they lead the ball, how disciplined they are in attack and how well they fly in defense.
“Without this game this could be an extreme red flag.”
Danville senior lineman Semaj Taylor has faced Peoria Notre Dame twice during his career with the Vikings, winning 49-42 in the 2019 season to accompany last spring’s loss.
“Here’s what I know about Peoria Notre Dame. They’re going to come out and punch us in the mouth, ” he said. “They won’t care if we have injured players who aren’t playing, or if we aren’t playing to our full potential.
“We have to go out and play hard, play like we’re supposed to play and we should do well.”
Taylor added, “As long as you’re playing as a team and everyone is doing their job, I’ll be happy with that even if we lose.”
That’s because all season the Vikings (3-2 on aggregate, 3-2 in the Big 12) have slowly improved from week to week, but the only thing that has eluded them is a full team performance. for 48 minutes.
“Like I told them (Wednesday), as long as you play hard for four quarters. Does that mean it will be perfect? No. Does that mean you’ll do all the right things every time? No. But if your efforts are good, good things will happen, ”said Forrest. “And if your effort is good and you play as hard as you can, and we take a loss, we’ll be okay with that. Because you’re not going to be better than everyone else every time you step on the court.
“But if we lose because we don’t put in the effort or play hard, it will be a bummer.”
With four weeks to go in the regular season, the Vikings are two wins away from becoming playoff-eligible with a possible forfeit victory over Urbana waiting for them in Week 9 if Danville doesn’t schedule another opponent.
Is that part of the motivation process this week?
“We’re not rushing,” Taylor said. “We are not going to stress ourselves about the playoffs. We have to take care of ourselves and take each week one by one. ”
So what makes Peoria Notre Dame such a physical football team?
“Part of it is the offense that they are leading,” Forrest said. “They come right at you with the t-wing, which is a physical attack that will require our defense to step up and attack.”
Forrest also stressed that it takes a very disciplined defense.
“You have to read your keys and be careful,” he added. “They will also mix it up and cheat on you. Before you know it, they split your defense down 60 or 70 yards. And if you spend too much time running, they’ll give you a pass as well. ”
Danville expects at least one of his veteran linebackers, Caleb Robinson, to return to the starting lineup on Friday night, but the other two, JaMarrion Clark and Tommy Harris, will be decisions during the game.
The Vikings could also be with two of their top four running backs as junior Bryson Hinton and junior TJ Lee are questionable with injuries.
Friday kicks off at 7 p.m. and the match can be streamed locally on WDAN-AM 1490.