Aug. 25—There might not be a team more ready to start its season than Danville.
The talk surrounding the team — how to replace last year's stars?, the controversy around the summer workouts and the coaching change — can all be finally answered on tonight at Ironmen Stadium when the Ironmen host Bloomsburg for the Judy Price Trophy.
"It's been a crazy couple of months, but I told them on Monday, 'Friday is going be on us, quicker than we realize,'" first-year coach Carl Majer, who had two previous stints at Northwest High School, said. "We have to get our game faces ready."
Bloomsburg coach Mike Kogut, whose team dropped a 58-0 decision to the Ironmen in last year's opener, certainly isn't worried about who Danville lost from last year's squad that went undefeated before falling in the PIAA Class 3A quarterfinals to Wyomissing.
The names are plenty — all-staters Zach Gordon, Ty Brown-Stauffer, Carson Persing, Declan Aikens and Mason Raup all graduated — but Kogut is pretty aware that the returning Ironmen will certainly still cause area teams problems.
"I really don't think they'll miss much of a beat. Those graduation losses are tough, but Aaron Johnson is back, Bo Sheptock from Berwick is really good," Kogut said. "Madden Patrick (junior quarterback) threw for nearly 1,000 yards as a freshman, and from what I've seen of their scrimmage, he hasn't missed a beat.
"They are going to be solid across the board."
Things might look a little different for Danville under Majer. The Ironmen will start four receivers in a spread, but Saturday against the Spartans, they played out of a pro set at times. Majer just wants a chance for Patrick to get the ball to his athletes on the outside in space.
Johnson and Sheptock have the pedigree in that role, but Majer said sophomore Carter Raup, and junior Cole Duffy are both dangerous as well.
"I feel like all of our (skill guys) can produce," Majer said. "And Madden is exactly where I expected him to be at this point in the season."
Bloomsburg has a lot to replace in the skill positions, but sophomore Wyatt Brosious started every game on defense as a freshman and will take over at quarterback.
"We hope that experience helps, but playing QB is a different test, of course," Kogut said. "He's a gamer, when the lights come on, he makes plays."
And Brosious is Majer's biggest concern for the Panthers. The Danville coaching staff watched Bloomsburg's scrimmage with Mifflinburg, and the Ironmen came away impressed with Brosious.
"He did a heck of a job scrambling in the scrimmage," Majer said of Bloomsburg's young quarterback. "We have to play disciplined football against him. We have to take away his scrambling lanes, and not let him move around until he finds a receiver."
After such a big loss to the Ironmen in last year's Judy Price Game, Kogut isn't willing to concede that Danville is the huge favorite, but that his Panthers do need to get off to a good start to develop confidence.
"I think we can win, I don't know any other way," the former Bloomsburg University and Mount Carmel standout said.
"I can sit here and say we want to compete, but I feel like if we minimize mistakes, and execute the game plan, we have a shot."