DANVILLE — Before their first practice of the week on Sunday, Danville coach Shannon McGregory addressed his team. The Hawks were just two days removed from a 26-25 region win over Priceville that gave them their highest region win total (3) since 2009.
McGregory wrote the name of his next opponent, DAR, on the board and circled it.
A win over the Patriots this Thursday will put Danville in a good position to make its first playoff appearance since that 2009 season.
“We had a big win, but we have to get everybody back down to earth,” McGregory said. “We had to get them back focused and ready for the task at hand. It’s not about what we did but about what we have to do.”
The Hawks are one of three teams with three region wins in Class 4A, Region 7. Priceville and Fairview are the others.
Danville has region games left against DAR (2-4, 1-3), St. John Paul (4-2, 2-2) and Fairview (4-2, 3-1). Two wins would almost guarantee a playoff spot and maybe even a home playoff game.
It would be Danville's third playoff appearance since 2000.
“I challenged them, the coaches and everyone involved, to give us everything they’ve got this week,” McGregory said. “I told them that if they can do that, we can win this game.”
Danville’s run at a possible playoff spot is a surprise to most considering the Hawks went 0-10 last year. After opening the season 0-2, it looked like Danville was headed for another losing season.
The Hawks then beat North Jackson 20-7 just a year after losing to the Chiefs 77-0. That win got Danville rolling.
“People told us that we were going to get killed,” running back Cameron Moore said. “Then, we came out and beat them. That’s what really started it.”
Danville is now 4-1 in its last five games. A balanced offense has been the key. That’s been a product of new quarterback Luke Nail and Moore.
Nail transferred in from Madison Academy before this year. Last year, Danville didn’t have much of a passing game. Nail’s effectiveness running and throwing has taken pressure off of Moore in the running game.
“Luke plus Cameron is a two-headed monster,” McGregory said. “When you have that dynamic and receivers that are capable, that is hard to defend. Offensively, we can spread the defense.”
Moore and Nail were the ones that powered Danville to that win over Priceville. Nail rushed for 128 yards and had touchdown runs of 40 and 15 yards. Moore added 98 yards with runs of 41 and 30 yards that went for scores.
Nail also has had a solid receiving corps this season. The pieces on offense are clicking now with three games left on the schedule.
“I think we can get a lot better on offense,” Nail said. “We’ve been doing pretty well. I think we should be able to score on every drive just with the weapons that we have.”
Danville’s goals are still achievable with those three region games left on its schedule. Step one is making the playoffs. A win on Thursday would be a big step forward. Then, it’s on to the next two games.
If the Hawks win out, they would be the Class 4A, Region 7 champions. That’s been done only four times in the program’s history.
“Since my freshman year, I’ve wanted to go to the playoffs,” Moore said. “I’ve never been. It would be an amazing even to make it to the first round. Everybody would be behind us.”