Looking at the Purple Raiders, who shared the Big 12 Conference title with the Urbana Tigers in 2012, they not only return Romani at quarterback, but their defense is anchored by all-conference performances Austin Weltha at linebacker and Robert Hooker at defensive end.
Hooker, who is an impressive 6-foot-3 and 306 pounds, is also going to start on the offensive line according to the Bloomington preview in the Pantagraph.
“They have some tough matchups for us,’’ Luke said, “They won the league last year with Urbana and they are favored to win it again this year.
“This is probably the first time where Bloomington is a prohibitive favorite over us in a while.’’
The Vikings had won four straight in the matchup of Big 12 Conference powers before last year’s win for the Purple Raiders.
Additionally, a state-wide panel of voters in the Associated Press Class 6A preseason poll have ranked Danville No. 7 and Bloomington No. 10.
“This is a great way to start the year,’’ Collier said. “We will be ready for any game this year after playing Bloomington in the opener.
“This could be for the Big 12 Championship.’’
Sherfield, who has committed to play defensive back at Vanderbilt next season, believes Bloomington has all the pressure on it.
“They have targets on their back because they are the defending conference champions,’’ he said. “Everyone expects them to win the Big 12 again this year.
“I like being in that position. We’re just a bunch of Danville kids and we know we can match up with them.’’
Sherfield said the key is going to be the Vikings defense, which allowed 33.7 points per game a year ago.
“I know that our offense is going to be able to put points on the board this season,’’ he said. “We need to do a better job of flying around to the ball and making big plays on defense. If we do that, we can be successful again this season.’’