By Mike Beas
Danville’s second-leading tackler from last football season brings a common name to late-summer and autumn Friday nights.
That’s name, not game.
At 6-foot-4, 230 pounds, senior Andrew Smith, his long locks having long ago escaped the confines of the back of his football helmet, is difficult to miss when on the gridiron for the Warriors.
Call it a combination of appearance, energy and productivity.
As a junior, Smith finished the Warriors’ 5-7 season with 90 tackles, second only to the 102 of junior-to-be Steven Webb, also a linebacker. The Warriors look to bounce back from the program’s first sub-.500 season since 2015 when it kicks off its season at Greencastle on August 18.
It will be the first time Danville faces the Tiger Cubs in the regular season since a 49-15 Warriors’ victory in Week 8 of the 1998 season. However, the programs have met six times in the postseason this century (2006, 2007, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2021) with Danville winning all of them.
Fourth-year Danville head coach Jayme Comer knows the importance of Smith’s presence whether in games, practices, the weight room and more.
“Andrew’s leadership is his best attribute,” said Comer, who is 26-10 in his three seasons. “He does everything the right way. He’s a great student, and one of those leaders in the locker room for us.
“Kids follow Andrew because of the way he does things.”
This includes the classroom where Smith carries a 3.8 grade-point average. He’s a member of the National Honor Society at Danville.
Smith is also part of the school’s boys track and field program in the spring, his events being shot put and discus.
He enters his final high school football season with 128 career tackles, including seven behind the line of scrimmage. Smith has already heard from the following college programs – Ashland (Ohio), Carnegie-Melon, Hillsdale (Michigan), Indianapolis, Indiana Wesleyan, Marian, Taylor, and Wabash College.
Smith did a Q&A with ICON:
Q: You’ve been part of Danville’s varsity football program since your freshman year. Now that you’re a senior, do you approach the season any differently?
A: Yeah. Absolutely. This year, I’ve really gotten a sense of urgency. Our strength coach (Stefan Certa) has been helping us out this off-season, and I’ve also been putting in extra work in the weight room and with the playbook.
Q: Have you always played linebacker, and what is it you like about the position?
A: I’ve always basically played linebacker. I like the idea of being the leader of the defense, and one of the guys who makes the plays.
Q: When was the last time you got a haircut?
A: (Laughing) A while ago. My freshman year. I just think it looks cool.
Q: What are your plans after graduating from Danville High School?
A: I’m hoping to play football at the next level, and I would like to do something in architecture or engineering.