By Harold Raker
The Daily Item
DANVILLE — Three weeks into the season, Danville, most people’s favorite to win the Heartland Athletic Conference Division I and District 4 Class A, was unbeaten as expected, but surprisingly struggling ine one important area.
Danville coach Jim Keiser was not happy with his defense, one which had a lot of returning starters and one that was among the Valley’s best last season.
He was especially discouraged by its performance against Loyalsock in week two. Oh, the Ironmen did win the game, but only because the Lancers missed a field goal in the final seconds.
After last week’s win over Mifflinburg, Keiser felt much better about the defensive side of the ball. The Ironmen held a pretty good offensive team to just 13 points.
“I feel a lot better about it,” Keiser said Wednesday during practice for Friday night’s HAC crossover game with rival Central Columbia.
“We were starting some brand new guys in the secondary and they are starting to get comfortable with it,” Keiser said. “They banded together and did a great job last week.”
The challenge against the Blue Jays is different, but no less formidable.
Coach Jay Hippenstiel’s team is 2-2 and trying to find its way after graduation left the Jays with less than a handful of returning starters.
But the Blue Jays have had a knack over the years for knocking off favored opponents, including Danville (a 21-7 win a year ago).
“They are big up front, just like Mifflinburg was, and that is a concern we have,” Keiser said. “They can power us.”
He said the defense could have its hands full with Central Columbia’s 6-foot-2, 245-pound senior fullback, Cody Bowman.
But Keiser added that the other running back, junior Danny Koch, is also a threat.
“He is pretty quick and if he gets outside, he is going to cause us fits,” Keiser said.
“It’s a typical coach Hippenstiel football team — big, tough and solid, and we are going to have to pick up our intensity a little bit and be ready to play,” Keiser added.