Future bright for Danville football despite semistate loss
By Mark Ambrogi
Through the misty eyes of Danville’s disappointment, one thing was made clear by coach and departing seniors.
“These sophomores and juniors are going to do great things — don’t sleep on Danville football for the next two years,” senior linebacker Tommy West said.
With 21 seconds left in the game, Matthew Brabec stands alone in disappointment. The Warriors lost their 3A semi state game against No. 2 Heritage Hills Friday (Nov. 22), 33-17. (Photo by Rick Myers)
Class 3A No. 2 Heritage Hills put host Danville’s season to rest with a 33-17 victory Friday night (Nov. 22) in a 3A semistate final. Heritage Hills (14-0) will now play 3A No. 1 Bishop Chatard in the state title game Nov. 29 at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The Warriors (8-6) led 10-9 at halftime, but the second half was dominated by the Patriots (14-0).
“We played hard the whole game,” Danville coach K.C. Woods said. “We had some penalties that hurt and, obviously, the turnovers hurt us but our quarterback (Kale Payne) is a sophomore. He’s going to learn and grow. He’s out here on the semistate stage against an unbeaten No. 2 ranked football team. He battled his tail off. Turnovers kind of happen. They grabbed more than we did. In the second half, the run game wore on us a little bit. They hit a couple passes to keep drives alive and we couldn’t rebound from it.”
The Warriors took the lead at 10-9 with 48 seconds left in the second quarter on a 30-yard touchdown pass from Payne to senior Noah Wells.
After a Heritage Hills field goal made it 12-10, the Patriots took a 19-10 lead on quarterback Cole Sigler’s 9-yard TD run. Sigler, who had a team-high 168 rushing yards, delivered the Patriots’ first score on a 70-yard run. Sigler then pushed the lead to 26-10 on a 11-yard scoring pass to Kaden Feldspaugh with 7:14 left in the fourth quarter. Feldspaugh’s interception, the Patriots’ third of the game, helped set up the final TD, a 14-yard TD run by Phoenix Rodgers.
Trailing 33-10, Danville star running back Chandler Schubert scored from 2 yards out with 1:58 left. The Patriots recovered the onside kick to seal it.
The Warriors’ final TD was set up sophomore tight end Tyler Dostin’s catch at the 2-yard line but he went down hard and took several minutes to get up before walking off with help.
“He hit his head on the ground pretty good and was pretty shook by it,” Woods said. “But seeing him walk around after the game is huge.”
The Warriors normally run more but Woods knew his team was going to have to throw against the Patriots defense.
“(Jacob Wetzel and Rodgers) are as good linebackers as we’ve seen, so we knew it was going to be tough sledding (running),” Woods said. “We had some success early on. It’s just takes one time when you misread or the receiver runs the wrong route and you turn the ball over.
Warriors junior Dominick Wynn had five catches for 101 yards.
Afterwards, Woods reminded the team that Payne is 15 and can’t drive yet.
“The future is definitely bright,” Woods said. “There are a lot of good underclassmen. The thing about the seniors is they taught these kids how to play and how we do things here. As long as they continue to maintain that, we’re going to have the talent. We’re going to have the size and strength. We’re going to keep giving ourselves a shot here I think.”
Woods said he can’t say enough good things about what the eight seniors have done in four years.
“They left this us in a place where football is very relevant at Danville again,” said Woods, a 2008 Danville graduate and former all-state receiver.
West was part of group who started as freshmen when Woods took over in 2016. The Warriors rebounded from three losing seasons with four consecutive winning seasons. The Warriors were 13-1 in 2017, losing in the semistate.
This year they they began the postseason with 4-5 mark before catching fire. It was a final run the eight seniors will always cherish.
“I wouldn’t want my final season to be with any other group,” West said. “I love these guys so much, the best time of my life. I wouldn’t want to change anything except for winning. What I’m going to miss the most is playing with my best friends.”