By Mark Ambrogi
Danville Community High School senior Luke Wooten has been an integral part of the football team’s run this season.
“Luke is extremely valuable on offense, defense and special teams,” Danville first-year coach Jayme Comer said. “He’s able to make plays in space on offense. He’s become a dynamic wide receiver that we do a lot of different things with. His strength is the shorter routes, getting the ball in space and making people miss.
Wooten has team-highs of 46 catches for 614 yards for the Class 3A No. 5 Warriors (11-0) who will face No. 1 Bishop Chatard (12-1) at 3 p.m. Nov. 28 in the Class 3A state championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium. Chatard is the defending 3A state champion.
Getting stronger was a major factor was the 5-foot-9, 183-pound Wooten.
“As soon as last season ended, I hopped straight into the weight room,” he said. “I’m not the biggest one out there, so I got to put in extra work, route running, catching. Just getting the football in my hands every week. It goes for all the guys. We’re all putting in the extra work. We’re all in the weight room.”
Working with quarterback Kale Payne and other receivers in the offseason helped develop chemistry.
“We’re always with each other, getting in the extra route running,” Wooten said.
Wooten has two receiving touchdowns and two rushing TDs.
“From the defense standpoint, he’s our deep safety,” Comer said. “We trust him to cover the other team’s best receiver in space. We know on 50-50 deep balls, he can make plays for us. He’s able to make tackles, too.”
Wooten, a free safety, has two interceptions and 20 tackles.
“I’ve been in the same position ever since I was a sophomore,” he said. “It’s really going back to the basics of backpedaling, cutting and just being able to read an offense. I’ve just been getting better at reading the different types of offenses, just improving my overall knowledge of what can happen.”
On special teams, Wooten has returned 15 punts for 95 yards.
“We trust him with the ball in his hands and good things happen when he is able to find some space on returns,” Comer said.
Wooten is one of the team’s five captains. Comer said Wooten guides the younger players.
“He’s done a really good job of not just thinking about himself but helping the other guys improve their game and doing everything they can for us to be successful,” Comer said. “I’m really proud of him for taking on more of a leadership role in mentoring young kids.”
Wooten said the team didn’t know what to expect when former coach K.C. Woods, a Danville graduate, left after the 2019 season to take a job at Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy.
“Coach Comer brought in his guys and they’ve put in a ton of work into this program,” Wooten said. “They’ve really prepared us. The transition was really smooth. The first week Coach Comer was with us, he called each one of us individually and got to know us a little bit. I think at that point we realized this coach is legit, he means well and he’s going to put the time and effort into making our program successful.”
Wooten said the assistant coaches, both new and holdovers, have put in the extra hours to help the team.
The Warriors advanced to the title game by beating No. 4 Southridge 30-7 Nov. 20.
Wooten said the seniors are hungry to get the program’s first state championship. Danville was the runner-up in Class 2A in 1999 in its only other championship game appearance. Chatard owns 14 state titles.
“It’s awesome to get there,” Wooten said. “It’s a football player’s dream to make it to state. But we’re not content with where we’re at. We want to go out and win the game.”