Frederick Douglass traveled to Danville High School on Saturday in hopes of getting a glimpse at the type of program it aspires to become. It got an eyeful.
Danville dominated Douglass, 36-0, in the second game of the Bob Allen Pigskin Classic at Admiral Stadium. The Admirals, perennial title contenders who played in the Class 2A championship last season, defeated a Class 6A school for the first time since 2007. It was the first time they’ve played a Fayette County public school since 2001; they defeated Bryan Station to start that season.
During the Broncos’ opening drive, quarterback Montaveon Bean threw an interception, which was returned for a touchdown by Danville star D’Mauriae VanCleave less than a minute and a half into the contest. That set the tone for a debut in which Douglass never found an offensive rhythm, finishing with just 119 yards and facing a 21-0 deficit after the first quarter.
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Douglass Coach Brian Landis was more concerned about the team’s demeanor than its stats after the game. A brief altercation with a Danville player led to a Douglass player being removed from the contest soon after the Broncos failed to convert on a fourth-down scoring opportunity in the third quarter.
“The thing I was most fearful of was the discipline factor,” Landis said. “We’re so far away from where we’ve gotta be to be successful. I’m embarrassed at the way we conducted ourselves, and that stems from me.”
A lot of preseason hype preceded Douglass’ first contest. Many pundits — this author included — pegged the Broncos as one of the city’s top squads based on sheer roster talent, a young-but-experienced coaching staff and an administration that backs football and wants it to be the school’s calling card. That desire is backed by state-of-the-art facilities which are, understandably, envied and, in some cases, derided by coaches at other Fayette County schools.
The buy-in is there, but the continuity is not. Some of Douglass’ players have played together before at other schools, but many haven’t. The Broncos are an amalgam, and jelling in practice is different than jelling while competing against one of the state’s premier football programs.
“We weren’t starstruck or in awe or anything like that,” Landis said. “I just think we don’t handle adversity very well right now and that’s one of the things that we’ve got to fight through.”
Danville and Douglass agreed to play each other two years ago — well before a staff, school colors or even a name were decided upon. Admirals Coach Clay Clevenger was happy to help the Broncos make history in the 22nd edition of the school’s annual bowl game.
“I thought that added a little bit of storyline to (the bowl), which it did,” Clevenger said. “We had a great crowd here tonight on both sides and I think it was a great night for football.”
Danville knows great football. It has won 10 state titles, the fourth-most by any program in the state. The Admirals are among the favorites to vie for a Class 2A title again this season.
To expect Douglass to compete for a state title in its first year as a program would be asinine. To expect the Broncos to improve and play with more composure as the inaugural season progresses isn’t.
“We’ve just gotta go back, evaluate and get this thing going in the right direction,” Landis said. “Cause right now we’re not doing a whole lot of things right, and that’s where I’m most disappointed. We’ll get it fixed.
“We’ve only got one way to go and that’s up, cause right now we’re at the bottom of the heap. We’ll get there.”