BY CHAD DARE
---- — DANVILLE — Pictures, hugs and a few tears was the theme for Danville season-finale against Urbana at Ned Whitesell Field.
And all three of them came after the Vikings posted a 41-32 victory over the Tigers in a Big 12 Conference contest.
"This is the best feeling ever,'' said Danville senior lineman Kendrick Davis. "I don't want to leave this field. This is my team. This is my home. These are my brothers. I love them all.
"This was the best game. This was the most fun that we had all year. It was a great game all-around. We are so close as a team, we wanted to end the year with a victory.''
Danville secured the season-ending victory with a good old fashion ground attack against Urbana.
Sophomore running back Kaleb McLain ran for a career-best 232 yards on 26 carries and senior quarterback Trent Sherfield, showing no ill-effects from an ankle injury suffered three weeks ago, wound up with 149 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
"This was a good victory,'' Danville coach B.J. Luke said. "The kids played hard and I'm really pleased with the way they finished this season.
"It was a fun game. The kids had fun and it was important game. This is us and Urbana, it's a Big 12 Conference football game. Our kids showed some pride.''
The theme all week for the Vikings was to send their nine seniors out with a win and that fact wasn't lost on McLain.
"We came out with a positive mindset, because of Trent and Butter (Chris Collier),'' McLain said. "We are going to miss those guys. There is no one that can replace those guys. We had a good team and good season, we just have to get ready for next year.
"Trent and Butter got into my head before the game. They told me to keep cranking it. They told me to keep going, so I have to listen to my senior leaders.''
But even with a season-high 379 rushing yards, Danville still needed a couple big plays from its senior combination of Sherfield and Collier in the passing game. That duo connected three times for 58 yards including a pair of scoring strikes of 24 and 10 yards in the second quarter.
"It was a last game and it was good for our seniors to go out with a win,'' said Collier, flashing the big smile that he displayed every Friday night. "It also gives our younger guys something to build on for next year.''
Collier's second touchdown reception on the final play of the first half might have been the biggest play of the contest. With just three seconds left until halftime. Luke decided against a 27-yard field goal and his senior pass-catch combination made him look like a genius.
"We were going back-and-forth and I just knew we had to make play,'' Collier said. "Trent and I talked it over about what the defense was doing and we made a play to get through it.
"Coach asked me what the guy was doing on defense. I let him know and we set that play up perfectly.''
The touchdown right before halftime gave the Vikings a 20-18 lead.
Urbana's Alex Beckman, who was 22-of-57 passing for 264 yards, came back to give the Tigers a 24-20 lead in the third quarter, but the Danville defense turned up the pressure in the final 18 minutes.
Beckman was just 1-of-14 after his final touchdown pass to Jeffrey Trask Jr. with 5:46 left in the third quarter.
"We are not used to seeing someone throw the ball on every play,'' said Luke, as Urbana called 66 passes out of 90 offensive plays. "I thought our kids did a really good job, especially in the second, of getting some heat on him.''
With the victory, Danville ends the year with a 4-5 overall record and a 4-4 mark in the Big 12 Conference. It's the eight consecutive season that the Vikings have ended the year with a .500 or better record in the Big 12 Conference.
"These kids have had some tough ups-and-downs during the year, but I was really glad to see them finish it right tonight,'' Luke said.
The Vikings lost two of its first four games, against Bloomington and Normal West, with touchdowns in the final 30 seconds leaving them with a 1-3 record. Danville fought back to 3-3 with back-to-back wins against Decatur Eisenhower and Decatur MacArthur, the playoff hopes were dashed with losses to Champaign Central and Normal Community.
"Our kids showed they have some pride and they care about wearing the maroon,'' Luke said. "We had some close games that we almost got during the season, and if we had, we would be sitting in a playoff situation.
"Even without the playoffs, this game and this program was still important to our kids. That's good to see.''
It was so good, that Luke joined his team in singing the school song after the victory, and the players honored the program with Viking jumping jacks before joining their fans for pictures, hugs and sharing of some very special memories.
Big 12 Conference All times Central Conf. Overall Team W L W L Normal Community 8 0 8 1 Normal West 7 1 8 1 Bloomington 6 2 6 3 Decatur MacArthur 4 4 5 4 Danville 4 4 4 5 Champaign Centennial 3 5 4 5 Champaign Central 2 6 3 6 Decatur Eisenhower 2 6 2 7 Urbana 1 7 2 7 Friday, Oct. 25 games Danville 41, Urbana 32 Bloomington 13, Decatur MacArthur 0 Normal West 41, Champaign Centennial 32 Normal Community 34, Champaign Central 13 Bloomington Central Catholic 31, Decatur Eisenhower 12