DANVILLE — A year ago, the Danville Vikings didn’t know what was going on after losses to Bloomington and Chicago St. Rita to open the season.
Those two losses nearly turned into three straight, but Danville rallied in the final 18 minutes to beat Champaign Centennial 32-23 at Tommy Stewart Field in Champaign.
The Vikings (0-2) find themselves in the exact same position when it comes to their record, but the mindset of this team is different, according to senior quarterback Trent Sherfield.
“Last year, we got down after the St. Rita loss,’’ Sherfield said. “This year, we know that we have played two of the toughest teams in the state and we are making sure that we are ready for this game against Centennial. We have learned a lot from those first two games and it has made us a better team.’’
Danville coach B.J. Luke, who has seen his team’s win six straight games against Centennial, admitted his team handled the loss at St. Rita in a very positive fashion.
“Our kids understood that St. Rita was a very good football team and we used that experience last week to get better,’’ said Luke as St. Rita is currently rated No. 7 in Class 7A. “Looking at the way we’ve practiced this week, I was really pleased.
“I like where we are a group this year compared to last year.’’
The biggest focus this week for the Vikings has been on defense and finding a way to contain Chargers quarterback Jimmy Fitzgerald.
The 6-foot-3, 220-pound junior, who has already been offered a scholarship by Illinois football coach Tim Beckman, has thrown for 257 yards and two touchdowns, while also leading Centennial with 156 rushing yards and two scores.
“We have to contain them on defense,’’ Danville linebacker Deonta Turner said. “We have to make sure to keep their quarterback under control and cover all of his receivers, especially No. 4 (Steven Lee).