PREP FOOTBALL: Vikings hope to build from first victory

Sep. 14—BLOOMINGTON — Coach Marcus Forrest has admittedly seen a different Danville football team this week in practice.

Winning will have that effect.

Danville, which beat Peoria Manual 58-12 last Friday, are looking to build upon that success this week when the Vikings travel to Fred Carlton Field in Bloomington to play the Purple Raiders, who are 2-1 on the season.

"Definitely a different week and we were able to build some confidence coming off a good second half," said Forrest, whose team improved to 1-2 with the triumph. "You hope that what we did in the second half will carry over into this week of practice, and so far, it has. We just hope that it continues to Friday."

The Vikings not only scored 35 second-half points last Friday, but they held the Rams to just 77 yards of offense.

"We had a good locker room talk. It got us motivated and we handled everything the right way in the second half," said Danville senior Caleb Robinson, who rushed for 68 of his 106 yards in the second half. "We need that performance to motivate us to do it again this week.

"We need to play with the same energy that we had in that second half."

So, what's the key to duplicating that performance?

"We have to keep working and keep getting better every day in practice," said junior Ja'Vaughn Robinson, who leads the Vikings with 284 receiving yards. "It feels good this week, but we are not satisfied with one win. We want to make the playoffs again this year."

A year ago, Danville defeated Bloomington 28-14 on its way to a 6-3 season and a berth in the IHSA Class 6A Playoffs, while the Purple Raiders went 3-6.

"We had to battle with them last year, so we can't think that this is going to be easy just because we won last year," Ja'Vaughn Robinson said.

What kind of team does Bloomington have this season?

"Bloomington is a good passing team with a solid defense," said Caleb Robinson.

The Purple Raiders are led offensively by quarterback AJ Codron, who has thrown for 361 yards and six touchdowns. His leading receiver is Garrick Dickerson with 12 receptions, but Keyontae Hamilton is their big-play threat with 128 receiving yards and four touchdowns. Cam Smith is Bloomington's leading rusher with 216 yards on the ground.

"Bloomington has a couple of good wins (over Peoria Richwoods and Peoria Notre Dame) and one loss to a very good Normal West," Forrest said. "They have the ability to play physical and they like to get their athletes out into space."

Danville has already seen teams this year with similar traits in Chatham Glenwood and Peoria High.

"This game gives us the opportunity to go against something that we've seen this year," Forrest said. "All of that experience should help us with our confidence, because we should know the speed that we have to play at to be successful."

Forrest also points out that his team is very similar with Bloomington.

"They are similar to what we try to do," he said. "We are comfortable with it, because we see it every day in practice."

One area of success this past Friday came from the Danville ground attack. Both Caleb Robinson and Phillip Shaw IV rushed for over 100 yards in a game, the first time in each of their careers, as the duo combined for 255 yards and four scores.

"That just motivates to run harder," said Caleb Robinson, crediting the offensive line. "That shows us where we can be as a team."

Forrest admits that's the type of identity that he wants from his offense.

"Last week was a chance for us to build some depth in our running back position and build confidence," Forrest said. "Ultimately, we want run the ball and when we throw it, we want to be effective."

Friday's game is set for a 7 p.m. kickoff and the game can be heard locally on WDAN-AM 1490.