By Harold Raker
The Daily Item
DANVILLE — Going into the season, the last thing a Danville fan would have worried about may have been the Ironmen’s defense, what with one of the Valley’s best linebacking corps returning.
Yet defense is of the utmost concern for Danville coach Jim Keiser, who takes his unbeaten team to Mifflinburg on Friday night for a Heartland Athletic Conference Division I matchup.
“My biggest concern is doing our job on defense,” Keiser said. “We haven’t really done that the last couple of weeks. We haven’t done our assignments correctly, we are getting out of position and not filling our gaps.
“Our biggest concern is us right now. We are not playing the way we should,” Keiser said.
And Mifflinburg poses another tough challenge, he said.
“They looked real good (on the game films). They have good skill people and they are physical. (Senior guard/tackle) Nazar Mironenko is a beast in the middle, but they’ve got weapons on the outside,” he said.
He also said Brett Luhrman is a good receiver and the offense in general, whether quarterbacked by junior Jordan Wagner or senior Devin Hendrix, can be difficult to defend.
Mifflinburg coach Jason Dressler said Tuesday that Hendrix will start for Wagner, who was injured in last week’s come-from-behind win at Milton.
Dressler said he didn’t know if Wagner would be able to play next week.
Dressler said the comeback in the final seconds at Milton, led by Hendrix, “was a huge lift for our team.”
He said, “They showed mental toughness in times of adversity. They never gave up and, when given the chance to win the game, they did. I am proud of how the team played together and they all stepped up to win the game.”
He believes that way the team won gives the Wildcats momentum and motivation coming into Danville.
The Mifflinburg coach said Danville is a solid team, well-disciplined and well-coached.
“Our focus this week is making improvements on our end and continuing to work on doing the little things well,” Dressler said.
“Playing an experienced team like this means you can’t make many mistakes. Our guys are focused and determined. Their confidence has been elevated by last week’s play and we are looking to improve,” the coach added.