By Harold Raker
The Daily Item
DANVILLE — Coach Justin VanFleet’s Loyalsock Lancers have two reasons to be motivated for Friday’s Heartland Athletic Conference crossover game at Danville.
The Lancers lost not once but twice to Danville last season, including a 31-0 affair in the District 4 Class AA quarterfinals.
“Danville is the king of the hill. They are the team to beat in District 4 football. We will prepare to give them our best game,” second-year coach VanFleet said.
“We lost to them in week two last season in a game filled with turnovers, as well as in the opening round of district playoffs. We have been looking toward to this match-up since that playoff loss.”
Loyalsock (1-0) defeated North Penn-Blossburg 41-20 last week, which really pleased VanFleet.
“I was very proud of our boys for competing at such a high level against such a good team as North Penn,” he said. “We have all the respect in the world for those boys and coaches and our boys were able to impose a will onto the game and able to come away with a nice victory.”
Van Fleet added that his team still has a lot of improvements to make and that it will continue to be the team’s focus.
Danville coach Jim Keiser had to be pleased as well after his team pulled way in the second half to rout a quality Milton team 41-0.
“We saw Milton as another very good football team and we just came out in the second half and (our players) decided ‘we are going to take it to them’ and we did,” Keiser said.
He said he thought the reason his team played so well in the second half is that Milton was using a lot of two-way players.
“I think we played somewhere around 27 or 28 different kids, so we had a lot of depth and guys would go in there and give guys breaks.” he said.
Now the Ironmen face another outstanding athlete at quarterback in Loyalsock junior Kyle Datres. The latter played in the first game last season, but was injured and missed the playoff game.
“He is an outstanding athlete. He is very versatile. He can run and throw very well and is a very intelligent football player who makes good reads. He is the key for those guys,” Keiser said.
He said most of his players have played against Datres in the past and know what to expect, but he is so athletic that he is going to make plays here and there.
“We just have to be ready to rebound from that,” he said.
He also said the Lancers are tough up front and experienced at the skill positions in addition to Datres.
He said Loyalsock was a good team last year and looks like it is improved since then.
“They are not making as many mistakes and are more grounded and they play tough hard-nosed football,” Keiser added.
VanFleet said the players who concern him the most are running backs Sam Dressler and Isaiah Croll as well as all-state middle linebacker Eric Haney.
“They are great players who seem to thrive as a game moves forward,” he said.