PEORIA — Both Danville and Peoria Richwoods enter Friday’s Big 12 Conference football game with similar goals.
The Vikings (1-2) are trying to snap a two-game losing streak, while the Knights (0-3) are looking for their first win since Oct. 11, 2019.
“We have told them to never be deceived by who we are playing,’’ Danville coach Marcus Forrest said. “They will see 0-3 and they they are not very good, but we have quickly reminded them that we are 1-2. We are just one game from being exactly where Richwoods is right now.
“They might be 0-3, but they are looking at us at 1-2 and think they have a chance. If we were in that situation, we would feel that we had a chance and opportunity.’’
Forrest admits from watching game film that he can see some similarities between the Vikings and the Knights.
“They have moments where they make nice plays and then they have moments where as a coach, you are pulling your hair out, because they are misaligned or in a bad situation,’’ Forrest said. “When they played Peoria High, who has athletic kids as we know from last week, they had a couple of long runs — so they can make big plays.
“Defensively they got them down on the ground and made plays. We know they are going to play physical. If we don’t step up and play physical, it could be a long night.’’
Looking at the first three games for Richwoods, it has lost to state-ranked Peoria High (62-27), Peoria Notre Dame (58-0) and Normal Community (54-13). Those three teams have won 67 percent of their games (50-25) in the past three seasons, while Peoria High and Normal Community have won the last six conference titles.
“They have played three of the top teams in the league to start the season,’’ Forrest said. “That’s a tough way to start the season. I’m sure they are thinking about trying to right the ship this week, focus on the little things and thus giving themselves a chance at a winning record.’’
While Danville sustained a 58-36 loss last Friday against Peoria High, there were moments in that game for the Vikings where Forrest saw some progress.
“Honestly, it wasn’t as good as we wanted it to be, but it wasn’t as bad as we felt like it was after the game,’’ he said. “Looking at the game, effort-wise, we had a good first quarter, a good second quarter and a good fourth quarter. In the third quarter, when things with awry, so did their effort.
“It shows that we still have room to grow and we can still get a lot better. Now, we are trying to put everything together.’’
Danville senior Semaj Taylor admitted the next step for the Vikings is playing hard for a full 48 minutes.
“I know the scoreboard didn’t say it last week, but, as a team, we got better,’’ he said. “The energy just wasn’t there at the start of the second half, but we did a better job of trusting in each other and I think that can carry us through the rest of the season in a positive way.’’
The Vikings haven’t played the Knights since an 27-10 victory on Oct. 18, 2019.
“We don’t know a lot about them, but we know that they like to run the ball,’’ Taylor said.
So, what will be the key to success for Danville?
“We just have to come out and play our game,’’ Taylor said. “I know if may seem like we have to win this game … but as long as we come out and play with energy — the scoreboard will work itself out.’’
Forrest admits the Vikings have spent some time this week healing up from the game with the Lions.
“That was a real Big 12 Conference football game,’’ he said. “If was physical and they are sore, but nothing is broken and we didn’t have to take anyone to the emergency room.
“Of course, there is still some lingering soreness from the hits that we took, but should be healed up enough to do it again this week with Richwoods.’’
Senior quarterback JJ Miles, who rushed for 84 yards and three touchdowns in a little more than a half against Peoria High, is still dealing with an ankle injury that he originally suffered during preseason camp.
Friday’s kickoff at Endres Field at Peoria Richwoods High School is set for 7 p.m.
Because of the Illinois game with Maryland, this week’s game can be heard locally on WRHK-FM 94.9.