BY CHAD DARE
DANVILLE — One minute is the difference from the Danville football team being 3-1 this season instead of 1-3.
Twice this year, the Vikings have seen a fourth quarter lead disappear as Bloomington, the first week of the season, and Normal West, last week, scored game-winning touchdowns in the in the final 30 seconds to beat Danville.
"We have to finish hard and finish strong,'' said Danville lineman Tim Pittman. "Basically, we need to win every play.''
And that's been the theme this week as the Vikings prepared to take on the Decatur Eisenhower Panthers, who are also 1-3, in a 7 p.m. Big 12 Conference contest tonight at Stephen Decatur Middle School.
"The big thing is that we have to take care of ourselves,'' Danville coach B.J. Luke said. "We have to make sure we are playing hard, and make sure we are sound on both sides of the ball.
"We want to be finishers. We have been right there at the door and not able to finish a couple of big games against ranked teams. We want to get back to finishing those type of games, and make it become a habit with our program.''
One thing that has been a habit until this year was the Vikings ability to run the football out of spread formation.
During the team's three straight trips to the Class 6A quarterfinals, Danville average 5.9 yards per game in 2009, 7.6 in 2010 and 6.2 in 2011. Even last year's team that went just 4-5 was still able to average 5.7 per game.
This year, the Vikings have just 423 rushing yards in four contests and they are averaging a very meager 3.3 yards a carry. Quarterback Trent Sherfield has 365 of his team's rushing yards on 94 carries, while Chris Collier is next with 98 yards on 29 attempts.
"That's because we are not doing our job up front,'' Pittman said. "I feel like we have made corrections this week and we are going to do a lot better. That's going to change.
"Right now, we just have to come out and fight. We feel like we can win all of our games and it starts with this one against Eisenhower.''
Luke admits his team was in a same position (record-wise) a year ago.
"We need a win,'' he said. "And, I feel really good about the week the kids have had. They have prepared well and bounced back from a tough game. We had a tough film session on Monday, we took a hard look at ourselves.
"Since then, the kids went to work on Tuesday and Wednesday to get ready for this Eisenhower team.''
The Panthers have scored a league-low 35 points and they are coming in off a 58-8 loss to intra-city rival, Decatur MacArthur.
"Eisenhower has some very athletic players and they have some size,'' Luke said. "Those are some issue that we are going to have deal with on Friday night.''
One of those players that is both big and athletic is fullback Braxton Woodland. He is averaging 10.6 yards a carry this season for the Panthers and he scored their only touchdown in last week's loss to MacArthur.
"They have a good fullback that we are going to need to tackle,'' said Tyvon Cooper, the Danville defensive end, who is third on the team with 31 tackles.
"We also need to fly to the ball more often on defense,'' Cooper added. "We need everyone on our defense to get after ball. We can't be worry about what everyone else is doing, we just need to worry about ourselves and make the plays.''
Luke said his defense has gotten better the past two weeks.
"They were fine until those final minutes last week,'' Luke said. "We needed someone to step up and it didn't happen. But the defense gave us the opportunity to win the game.''
Tonight's game is set for 7 p.m. kickoff and the game can be heard locally on WDAN-AM 1490.
Danville Vikings vs. Decatur Eisenhower Panthers
When — 7 p.m. tonight
Where — Stephen Decatur Middle School
Directions — Off of I-72 take exit 144 (Route 48). Turn left, heading southwest toward Decatur. Upon reaching Mound Road, turn right, heading west. Upon reach Educational Park, turn left and the school is right there.
Records — Danville 1-3 overall, 1-2 in the Big 12 Conference; Eisenhower 1-3 overall, 1-3 in the Big 12.
Rankings — neither team is rated.
On the air — WDAN-AM 1490.
Last year’s result — Danville 29, Eisenhower 7
Last week’s results — Normal West 28, Danville 21. Decatur MacArthur 58, Eisenhower 8.
Next week’s games — Danville plays at Decatur MacArthur. Eisenhower plays at Normal Community
Rushing — Danville: Trent Sherfield 94 attempts, 365 yards, 4 touchdowns; Chris Collier 29-96. Eisenhower: Khalil Cook 21-163; Dylan Smith 35-141, 1 TD; Braxton Woodland 10-106, 1 TD.
Passing — Danville: Sherfield 41 completions, 90 attempts, 4 interceptions, 892 yards, 12 touchdowns. Eisenhower: Smith 14-34-1 224 yards.
Receiving — Danville: Collier 28 receptions, 652 yards, 9 touchdowns; Denzel Smith 9-194, 3 TDs; Eisenhower: Sedrick Cunningham 4-89, Cook 3-94, Quashon Adams 3-41.
Tackles — Danville: Latrey Reed 38, Trent Sherfield 32, Tyvon Cooper 31, Deonta Turner 29, Tavion Boyd 28, Darrien Rose 26.