DANVILLE — A year ago, Tim Pittman realized his dream of being a varsity football player.
The senior lineman started in all nine games for the Danville Vikings, both offensively and defensively at the end of the season and he finished seventh on the team in tackles with 44.
But, his biggest highlight came in a week three victory over Champaign Centennial, 32-23, as Pittman sealed the win with an interception and 15-yard return for his only touchdown.
“We’ve been on him all week that we need another interception for a touchdown,’’ Danville coach B.J. Luke said.
And, the team made sure to watch that highlight again this week as the Vikings prepare to face the Centennial Chargers in their home opener tonight at Ned Whitesell Field.
“Yeah, that was a pretty big memory,’’ Pittman said. “I’m so hyped up for this game, it’s crazy. My confidence is big because I know what to expect this year.’’
Admittedly, the first two games (losses to Bloomington and St. Rita) haven’t been very good games for his team or himself. Pittman has just four tackles and he knows he needs to be a bigger factor in the Vikings defense.
“Those first two games weren’t the best, but we are ready to go on a streak,’’ Pittman said.
Playing on the football team has been one of the biggest accomplishments for the 5-foot-7, 252-pound senior.
“My whole high school career has been about football,’’ he said. “There have never been in days off from football for me — whether it’s been lifting weights, practicing, playing in the game or running track. Everything I have done has been geared toward football.’’
According to Luke, that makes Pittman one of those program kids that develop every season.
“Those are the guys that play on your freshman and sophomore teams in their early years,’’ he said. “They work real hard and get a little better to where they make the varsity team. Timmy is one of those guys.
“He has done everything we’ve asked and he’s made himself a good football player. I think he surprised himself with the amount of playing time that he got last year.’’
Not only did his time making himself into a varsity football player pay off as a junior, but Pittman said that it’s a positive influence on his academics.
“Football got my head on straight for everything in school,’’ he said. “I don’t know where I would be without football.’’
Pittman said the values that he has learned on the football team have also carried over into other aspects of his life.
“During my freshman year of high school, I got in trouble for talking,’’ Pittman said. “That didn’t go over well with my parents and my coaches. I knew I had to start making smarter decisions.’’
Nowadays, it’s hard to get Pittman to say very much, unless you are one of his close friends.
“He talks a lot more than that,’’ said Danville senior quarterback Trent Sherfield.
“At lunch, he is always talking to people,’’ said senior wide receiver Chris Collier. “Don’t let him fool you.’’
And while his teammates like giving him a hard time, they also know that he is a very valuable member of the Danville football team.
“He is small, quick and real powerful,’’ Sherfield said. “A lot of people don’t think he can be a good player at his height (5-7), but Tim plays just as well as anyone on our line.’’
Pittman thinks that his height is actually one of his attributes.
“I feel like I’m already under the offensive guy when it comes to leverage and he can’t beat me,’’ said Pittman, who admits that bigger offensive linemen just try to overpower him. “That how it’s been since I started playing. I just do what I’ve been taught to do and that is — punch your hands and replace them. If you do that, you will keep the bigger guys off of you.’’
When asked what he would change about himself? Pittman didn’t even think about his height.
“I would like to be faster,’’ he said.
Obviously to increase his chances of getting another interception and return for a touchdown.
When it comes to his future plans in life, Pittman said he figured that out a year ago.
“Being on the football team opened my eyes to something that I want to do,’’ Pittman said. “I plan on going to college and majoring in physical education, I want to be a teacher and a coach.’’
It’s a career path that his current head coach endorses for Pittman.
“I think it’s neat to hear that from kids,’’ Luke said. “We’ve got some kids in this program that would be good coaches. Timmy is a kid that likes the game, he has spent time trying to learn it and he’s good around kids.
“I really think that’s a good career path for him.’’
It’s another dream that Pittman will try to realize in his life. So far, he’s doing pretty good in that area.