Denmark head coach Mike Palmieri said it best: It’s next-guy-up for the Danes this season.
Denmark won its first game of the season on Friday, 20-14, against the Banneker Trojans on the back of great defensive performance by the Danes.
“We played hard again,” Palmieri said. “We’ve been playing hard. This is just built-in from last year. They earned the win.”
Offensively, the Danes were anchored by junior running back Dee Crayton, who got the start after the coaching staff decided to sit Amon Williams due to a sore ankle.
“We’ve got good replacements, though,” Palmieri joked.
Crayton carried the ball 23 times for the Danes, running for 100 yards, a touchdown and a two-point conversion. Crayton also caught a 31-yard screen pass from sophomore quarterback Jacob Nelson to set up the Danes’ second touchdown.
“It’s next-man-up here,” Palmieri said. “[Crayton] does whatever we need him to do to win the game. We’ve got young quarterbacks and a young offensive line. We have to find ways to win the game and we did that tonight.”
Banneker put points up against the Denmark defense early, scoring two touchdowns within the first 15 minutes of the game, moving the ball with ease.
“Early in the game, they were quick with their better athletes,” Palmieri said. “They caught us early in the game moving around. We settled down, though.”
However, the Danes would shut the Trojans out for the remainder of the game, tallying six sacks along the way. Senior lineman Asher West collected two sacks, with Charley Cronier adding 1 1/2 sacks.
After having his extra point attempt blocked on Crayton’s first touchdown, senior kicker Trey Glymph bounced back with 27-yard and a 23-yard field goals to bring the score to 14-12 going into halftime.
“[Glymph] is a weapon for us,” Palmieri said. “One of the best kickers in the state.”
Kenon Dicks scored the game-winning touchdown on the Danes’ opening possession out of halftime on a 9-yard rushing touchdown.
Dicks was all over the field for the Danes on both sides of the ball, recording half a sack and intercepting Banneker’s final attempt for the end zone at the end of the game to seal the victory for the Danes.
“Every game is important for us,” Palmieri said. “Every rep is important. We’re trying to build a program and a culture here. Nothing is going to come easy.”
After failing to tally 100 yards of offense in their 7-3 loss to Cedartown to open the season, the Danes gained 263 yards of offense on the night.
Nelson completed 10 of 14 passes for 157 yards and one interception. Senior tight end Lane Grayson was Nelson’s favorite target of the night, leading the team in catches with four and receiving yards with 44.
Palmieri commented at the end of the game that his guys needed to get healthy after a tough, physical game, but do not expect him to take it easy on his team moving forward.
When asked what his team needed to work on before their next game, Palmieri simply said “everything.”
“We’ll be back in the weight room tomorrow morning at 8 o’clock if you want to come watch us,” Palmieri said.
Denmark [1-1] will travel to Shiloah next week, with kickoff scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Sept. 3