Ryan Palencer – WYRZ
This year has been challenging in so many ways to so many folks. However, the Danville Warriors football team provided a ray of hope and added a special run to an otherwise struggle-filled 2020.
Though they fell 42-14 over the weekend to Bishop Chatard, the Warriors entered the game unbeaten and dominated their way to the 3A Indiana State Championship game. It was the first appearance in the game since 1999, when Danville was still in 2A.
Warriors coach Jayme Comer said that the best memories that he will take away from his magical debut season at the helm was the bonding that the team had away from the field. He said that this allowed the team to create bonds that will last long after football is done. However, he did point to the time that they were able to spend at Lucas Oil Stadium as fantastic as well.
“Having the opportunity to practice at Lucas Oil and let our entire team have that chance was amazing,” Comer said. “A number of our guys had never been to Lucas Oil before, so seeing their faces when we walked onto the field was priceless.”
Clearly the season was not without challenges. The Warriors lost two games to COVID-19, in weeks two and three. Comer pointed out how proud that he was of the squad holding to the protocols, despite being high school boys still at the end of the day. He said that the unit took pride in this and completed the requests without hesitation. The downtime also created a hunger due to the void left for the group.
“That time made us truly appreciate the opportunity that we had to play football,” Comer said. “We found out how fragile the game was and that we could have it taken away at any moment. That mindset helped us to appreciate each practice, game, and training session a little bit more than we did before.”
Thought out the season, Danville had an explosive offensive attack, led by quarterback Kale Payne. Comer called Payne “elite,” but also pointed to the five offensive linemen in front of signal caller with a great deal of success as well. He called the offensive line “explosive,” creating holes and pass protecting at a strong level.
“We were able to make big plays when we needed it, but at the same time we tried to be the most physical team on the field at all time,” Comer said. “That physical nature helped us win some big postseason games and to find a way to the State Title game.”
As for the future of the program, Comer pointed to a quote that Payne told the Indianapolis Star, which read “the expectation is that a Danville Football player is playing on Thanksgiving weekend.”
With the players coming back, and two deep playoff runs in consecutive years, the sky is the limit for the Danville football program.