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Danville reloads for shot at first regional title since 2000

Class 3A No. 3 Warriors meet old nemesis and No. 7 Chatard Friday night

After 12 season-ending losses to Chatard over 19 years, Danville scored a 40-35 triumph over the Trojans for a sectional championship last season.


Now in Year 2 under coach and 2008 alumnus KC Woods, the Class 3A No. 3 Warriors (12-0) no longer hope they can beat Chatard, they expect to. They’ll get another shot on Friday, when the No. 7 Trojans (7-5) pay a visit, this time with a regional title on the line.


“I think we’ve now made it in the realm of possibility,” said Woods, who is 22-3 at Danville. “It’s still a deal where you have to go out and play as good a game as we did last year, where we were pretty flawless. The big deal is the kids now know that they can do it.”


With an offense that averages 43.5 points per game, and a defense giving up just 10.4 per outing, the Warriors have the perfect mix for a run to Lucas Oil Stadium.


In his first year as a starter, quarterback Toby Hiland has completed 66 percent of his throws for 2,337 yards and 38 touchdowns. Ben Stevens has 45 catches for 1,000 yards and 17 TDs, while Alec Burton has 33 receptions for 476 yards and 12 scores.


An otherworldly stat – Hiland averages 20.1 yards every time he completes a pass.


“We have guys who can go deep, but we’ve done a better job this year of catching the ball, advancing it and blocking for each other,” Woods said. “We’ve had a good number of five-yard completions that have gone the distance.”


Danville can do damage on the ground as well. Behind a talented line led by guard Kaleb Marr, backs Alex Skinner and Chandler Schubert have a combined 1,638 rushing yards and 18 TDs.


Defensively, the Warriors excel at making the opposition uncomfortable. Middle linebacker Tanner Knotts has a team-high 104 tackles with 14 for loss, while end Dylan Plant has 95 stops with an incredible 31 behind the line of scrimmage, including 19 ½ sacks.


In total, eight of the top nine tacklers are seniors, and the unit has 41 sacks, 90 tackles for loss and 24 forced turnovers.


“We put up a lot of points, so it’s hard to say that our defense has carried us, but they set the tone with the pressure they take off of us, to let us be aggressive,” Woods said. “We know we can go for some fourth downs, take some shots, gamble a little bit. We might not be the biggest defense, but we’re extremely fast and get to the football.”


Last year, Danville ended its season with a 37-20 regional loss to eventual 3A runner-up Lawrenceburg, as 220-pound Austin Bowling ran for 242 yards and four TDs. The Warriors have redemption – and the program’s fourth-ever semistate berth – on their minds.


“We didn’t have a very good week of practice after the sectional last year, and that’s on us as a staff, getting lost in the moment a little bit,” Woods said. “The kids know this will take another monumental effort, and that you have to practice that way to play that way. With who’s left in 3A, it’ll take everything you have, every day of the week the rest of the way.”

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