DANVILLE — Two teams were scheduled to play a Big 12 Conference football game on Friday night at Ned Whitesell Field, but only one of the team showed up.
Champaign Central’s Toby Rivera ran over and past the Danville defense, racking up 308 rushing yards and five touchdowns in the Maroons 39-14 win over the Vikings.
“We just weren’t ready to play,’’ said Danville coach B.J. Luke, whose team had won seven straight against Central. “You have to give a lot of credit to Champaign Central, they came out ready to play, got after us from the get-go. We didn’t respond really well.
“In football, you get what you deserve. And they gave us a whooping tonight.’’
And even the Danville players admitted that Central was the better team on Friday night.
“It was a breakdown from the start to the finish,’’ said Danville senior Chris Coller. “We came out playing like we had already won the game. You can tell that they wanted to win and they got it. They deserved it with how we played.
“ We played like a bunch of punks, to be truthful.’’
Central (3-4 overall, 2-4 in the Big 12) had seven possessions in Friday’s game and the only thing that stopped the Maroons was the clock. After scoring the first six times it had the ball, Central failed to scored on its last possession only because the game clock hit 0:00.
“We tried, we put effort, we just couldn’t complete it,’’ said Danville junior middle linebacker Hoey Watson. “People not paying attention, not ready to go.
“It’s not the fact of how good he was, we weren’t doing what we were capable of doing.’’
Rivera continually exploited a Danville run defense that had allowed just 366 yards in its three previous games. On Friday night, Central ran for 404 yards on 51 carries. The Maroons were average 168 rushing yards per game for the season.
“We felt it was a tough matchup for us and said so all week,’’ Luke said. “We felt it would be a tough football game because of their phyiscalness and the type of play that they do. We just didn’t do a great job of responding to it.
“We weren’t getting to where we needed to be. I thought we had a decent scheme set up. We didn’t get to where we needed to be. They outblocked us, they out ran us, they outhustled us and outplayed us. That’s our job as coaches to get those guys ready to stand up to that stuff. We didn’t get it done this week.’’
Watson admitted that Central didn’t do anything that Danville hadn’t seen in pregame film study.
“We practiced for it and we knew their plays,’’ he said. “They just ran it. We tried, but we couldn’t get him down.
“Sometimes we were in the right spots and sometimes we weren’t in the right spots.’’
Collier said the biggest problem for the Danville defense was a lack of energy.
“From the start, our energy wasn’t up,’’ he said. “We were breaking down on simple assignments, we were getting calls wrong. When you get the call wrong, that puts you in a bad position. From start to finish, it was a bad way to go out.’’
And he admitted that he was just as guilty as the other 10 players on the field.
“There were a few tackles that I needed to bring the guy down and I didn’t,’’ he said. “There were also a few times that lined up wrong. I take my part in that. It’s a team thing.’’
The Maroons and Rivera, who had just 558 rushing yards and four touchdowns entering Friday’s game, took advantage of every Viking misstep.
“We preached it all of the time and we practiced it all of the time,’’ said Luke of wanting his team to be more physical. “But there is a fine line, we struggle a little bit because of our lack of depth. We are afraid to overdo it, because you don’t want to bang your kids up.
“We will have to lick our wounds and come back on Monday to get ready for another physical team in Normal Community.’’
Not only did Central seemingly whip Danville (3-4 overall, 3-3 in the Big 12) in the trenches, the Maroons also took advantage of a Viking miscue on special teams in the first quarter.
After Rivera’s first touchdown gave the Maroons a 7-0 lead, they successfully recovered an onside kick. Six running plays later, Brandon Klein had a 3-yard touchdown run giving Central a 13-0 lead before the Danville offense had even taken a snap.
“You could tell they wanted it more than us,’’ Collier said.
The Vikings did respond with a couple of scoring drives in the first half, including one right before the halftime buzzer. Danville quarterback Trent Sherfield connected with Denzel Smith on a 28-yard touchdown pass on the final play of the first half, pulling the Vikings within 26-14.
Danville had the ball to start the second half, but the first play from scrimmage, Sherfield and Collier were not on the same page as the Viking quarterback had his pass intercepted by Central’s Jelani Porter.
“We had an uncovered player on the outside,’’ Luke said. “But we didn’t get the ball off quick quick enough and the kid fell back into the play.’’
Collier acknowledged he was confused on the play because he thought that Central had two guys covering him.
“It was very important to keep our momentum going,’’ Collier said. “Once we threw that interception, that set us back a ton. We just couldn’t find that click on defense to get us going.’’
Sherfield, who injured his ankle last week against MacArthur, played just offense for the Vikings, running for just 25 yards and completing 9-of-16 passes for 115 yards. In the fourth quarter, he had to be helped off the field, but Luke said he was fine.
“He could have gone back in the game, but it just didn’t seem worth it,’’ said Luke, whose team was already trailing 32-14 at the time.
Collier admitted the loss of Sherfield, a defensive back who has committed to play at Vanderbilt, and linebacker Latrey Reed (grades) didn’t help the Danville defense.
“We were missing our leading tackler (Reed) and our other cornerback,’’ Collier said. “We had new guys in new positions and that was a set back right there.’’
Danville will hit the road next Friday for a 7 p.m. contest in Normal against the Normal Community Ironmen, who beat the Decatur MacArthur Generals 59-32 on Friday night.
Big 12 Conference All times Central Conf. Overall Team W L W L Normal Community 6 0 6 1 Normal West 6 1 6 1 Bloomington 4 2 4 3 Decatur MacArthur 3 3 4 3 Danville 3 3 3 4 Champaign Centennial 2 4 3 4 Champaign Central 2 4 3 4 Urbana 1 5 2 5 Decatur Eisenhower 1 6 1 6 Friday, Oct. 11 games Champaign Central 39, Danville 14. Normal West 35, Bloomington 14 Urbana 42, Decatur Eisenhower 16 Normal Community 59, Decatur MacArthur 32 Champaign Centennial 28, Springfield 13 Friday, Oct. 18 games Danville at Normal Community, 7 p.m. Bloomington at Decatur Eisenhower, 7 p.m. Champaign Central at Champaign Centennial, 7 p.m. Decatur MacArthur at Urbana, 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19 game Normal West at Columbia Battle, Mo., 2 p.m.