DANVILLE — For three weeks the Danville Vikings have been practicing the signing of the school song.
On Friday night at Ned Whitesell Field, they finally got their chance to perform it in front of a McPack the Place crowd as Danville claimed its first win of the season with a 35-19 victory over the Champaign Centennial Chargers.
“We need to sing a little bit,’’ Danville coach B.J. Luke said of the traditional victory celebration. “We practice it every Thursday and that practice paid off tonight.’’
The biggest reason that Danville (1-2 overall, 1-1 in the Big 12) was able to show of its vocal skills on Friday night was the play of the Vikings defense.
After giving up 19 points and 202 yards of total offense against Centennial in the first half, the Chargers managed just 72 yards in the second half.
“It was mostly pride thing,’’ said Danville junior defensive tackle Darrien Rose. “We know that we are Danville boys and we had to get after them. We knew that our front four had to start it and everyone got on board, we went from there.
“Getting pressure helped a lot in the second half. It gave our secondary guys a chance to get where they needed to be and it put a lot pressure on their quarterback.’’
Centennial junior Jimmy Fitzgerald, who has a offer to play college football at Illinois, was 6-of-8 for 136 yards and two touchdowns in the first half. In the final 24 minutes, he was 9-of-17 for 45 yards and he was sacked twice, once by senior Mike Vascura and once by junior Hoey Watson.
“That was big for our defense and for our confidence,’’ Luke said. “It was really a great night with a huge crowd. It makes us feel a lot better.’’
Luke said the biggest thing that his defense did in the second half was getting pressure on Fitzgerald and tackling “much, much better.”