By Harold Raker
The Daily Item
DANVILLE — After holding on by the skin of their teeth for a win against Loyalsock last week, the Danville Ironmen have no reason to take a winless Shamokin team lightly in Friday night’s Heartland Athletic Conference Division I game.
Danville (2-0 overall, 1-0 HAC-I) hosts Shamokin (0-2, 0-1), a team with a new coach and coming off a loss to a Jersey Shore team that snapped a 13-game losing streak., Danville coach Jim Keiser was not happy after the game last week, when Danville survived a field goal attempt in the waning seconds for a 23-21 victory.
This week, however, Keiser said, ”I felt we did play some good football, I was just not happy with our composure and our discipline.”
He said his staff approaches a game with Shamokin no differently than any other.
“We are not approaching it any different than we did Loyalsock. Shamokin has always been tough for us to begin with, and I see a lot of good things that (first-year ) coach (Yaacov) Yisrael is doing,” he said. “And they still have athletes, they still have size and they are still a physical football team.”
Keiser added, “Shamokin has always had those kind of kids, they always have good football players. Sometimes in the past they’ve made some mistakes at bad times, but I think coach Yisrael is doing a good job of keeping them focused.”
Yisrael has told his players that their first order of business is to learn how to stop beating themselves.
“We are coming to realize that we are pretty much our own worst enemy,” he said. “We haven’t really seen what we are capable of doing because we’ve been wounding ourselves. Our focus is not necessarily who we are playing but more so that we can get our act together and play a complete game.”
Despite Keiser’s concerns last week, Yisrael said Danville looks like a wellcoached, well-disciplined team that doesn’t make many mistakes and likes to run the ball.
“We have to figure out how to stop the run. It just seems like they pretty much have their way when they’re running the ball.”
Yisrael said the Ironmen defense, which is led by a veteran group of linebackers, is solid and fundamentally sound. “They don’t give you a whole lot. Everything is going to be a fight.”
Keiser said that the Indians still have a good leader in third-year starting quarterback junior Tucker Yost.
“He is no rookie back there. He knows what he’s doing.
Keiser said the Indians are still ironing things out with a new system and a new coach, and they are going to miss some things now and then, but if they put it all together,they have a good group of kids who can become successful.
The Danville coach said the key for the Ironmen is to keep up the intensity.
“That was a tough hardfought game (last week) and every week is a battle and we have to get back up again and be focused to give Shamokin all they want.
He said the players have responded well from the that game last week.
“It was a good eye opener and I didn’t see any affects of them being drained,” Keiser added.
Yisrael said he hopes some day to get to the level that Danville has attained under Keiser. “I think they represent the league well. They earned a lot of respect last year, from their playoff run.”