Danville eliminated from playoff contention
Paul Wilson, Enquirer Correspondent
WINFIELD – The Danville Hawks will not be in the 2005 Class 3A playoffs following Friday night's 46-7 loss to the home-standing Winfield Pirates. Danville needed a win to have any chance to advance but the undefeated Pirates of Winfield scored early and often as they won their third consecutive Class 3A Region 7 championship.
"Winfield is a big 3A school and they have a great program" Hawks head coach Joey Burch said. "Coach (Danny) Adams has done a fine job down at Winfield. Our kids played tough and they played hard but it was not enough."
Winfield, undefeated and ranked No. 3 in Class 3A, scored on its first three possessions to take a 22-0 lead midway through the second quarter. Landon Miles got the first touchdown for the Pirates on a 4-yard run. Dayson Westbrooks ran in the two-point conversion and with just 1:50 gone in the opening quarter, Winfield led 8-0.
A 42-yard punt return by Ty Seals set up Winfield's next touchdown as Westbrooks scored two plays later on a 6-yard run. The two-point try failed but the Pirates led 14-0 with 6:35 to play in the first quarter.
Danville then put together its longest drive of the half, going from its 32 to the Winfield 20. Unfortunately the drive stalled there and the Pirate defense stopped Hawk junior fullback Alex Randolph on fourth-and-short to take the ball over on downs to end the first quarter.
Talking about the drive later Coach Burch said, "You have to give the Winfield defense credit. We had moved the ball on that drive but they stopped us when they had to. That's the mark of a championship team."
Winfield then went 80 yards in eight plays with quarterback Caleb Hynds scoring on an 18-yard run. Hynds also ran in the two-point attempt to give the Pirates a 22-0 lead with 8:15 left in the half.
The Hawk offense could not move the ball on its next possession and junior punter John Dalton punted the ball about 40 yards to give Winfield a first-and-10 at its own 29. It was here that the Danville defense gave the Hawk fans something to cheer about.
The Hawks stripped the ball from Westbrooks and Danville recovered the football at the Pirate 34. Runs by Dalton and Randolph moved the Hawks to a first down at the Winfield 11. Two runs by Dalton gained only two yards and a third down Casey Wilson to Danny Pepper pass gave the Hawks a fourth-and-4 at the Pirate 5.
The Hawks sent in their field goal team but instead of kicking, the ball was snapped to Dalton and he rolled to his right and hit Danville senior wide receiver Tyree Murphy for a 5-yard touchdown. Dalton's extra point was good and with just 30.7 seconds left in the half Danville had cut the lead to 22-7.
Just when it looked like Danville was getting back in the game a mistake on the kickoff gave Winfield great field position at midfield. Danville was penalized 15 yards for a late hit as Winfield's Miles called for a fair catch.
The Pirates took full advantage, going 50 yards in just three plays with Hynds scoring on a 6-yard run three seconds before halftime. The two-point try failed but the Pirates headed into the locker room with a commanding 28-7 lead.
The second half was all Winfield as the Pirates scored on all three possessions. Miles got the first touchdown of the half, scoring on a 5-yard run to give Winfield a 34-7 lead. Westbrooks scored on a 6-yard run and Ricks got the final touchdown on a 15-yard run.
Winfield was unable to convert any of its tries making the final score 46-7 in favor of the Pirates.
"I know the final score doesn't show it but our kids really fought tonight. I thought the offensive line, for the most part, played well," Burch said. "Defensively, we could not stop them."
Commenting on some of the younger players Coach Burch said, "Jacob Palmer did a good job at nose guard. Our defensive ends, David Long and Shannon Holt also got after it tonight."
With the loss Danville falls to 3-4 in the region and 4-5 overall. The Hawks will try to finish the year at .500 Thursday as they entertain the Speake Bobcats.
When asked about the game Coach Burch replied, "We really need to finish the year with a win. It would get us to .500 and give us something to build on during the offseason. This team reminds me of our team two years ago. Hopefully we can do like we did then and follow with a really good year next season."
This will be the 13th meeting between the Hawks and the Bobcats. Danville leads the series 9-3 and has won 7 of the last 8 games with the Bobcats. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.