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Football: Denmark falls to Grayson in Sweet 16
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Denmark running back Amon Williams, right, carries the ball Friday during the Danes' 35-21 loss to Grayson in the second round of the Class 7A playoffs. - photo by David Roberts

Denmark’s historic season ended Friday in the second round of the Class 7A state playoffs.

After winning the region championship and defeating Mountain View in the first round, the Danes fell 35-21 to Grayson, the defending state champions, in the Sweet 16.

Denmark fought back from a 28-7 deficit in the fourth quarter, pulling within one score.

“We had a chance in the fourth quarter,” Denmark head coach Mike Palmieri said. “They’re a good football team. I’m proud of this program, and these kids, and these coaches. They’ve been real resilient all year long. We’ve got a bright future here.”

Down 21-0 heading into the fourth quarter, sophomore quarterback Jacob Nelson found junior Ty Woodruff for a pair of touchdowns to narrow the deficit for the Danes. Nelson finished with 264 passing yards and the two scores.

Will Hodges had a pick-six sandwiched between those touchdowns to get Denmark within seven points. The Danes got the ball back on their own 3-yard line down 28-21 with three minutes left. That’s when Grayson forced a fumble, and Gavin Graham recovered it in the end zone to seal the win for the Rams.

Still, the Danes fought hard and didn’t give up despite the lopsided score heading into the final quarter.

“We just battled,” Palmieri said. “This is the character of the team. We’ve got coaches that don’t quit. Players that don’t quit. This is the second year in a row that we came up short against a good football team in the playoffs, but we’re getting better. We have a long way to go, though.”

Junior Lake Thoman led the Danes in receiving with six catches for 73 yards. Fellow junior Aidan Brozena added two catches for 72 yards. Uncharacteristically, the Danes struggled to run the ball, but junior running back Amon Williams still made an impact in the passing game with seven receptions for 39 yards.

Denmark is in its fourth year as a school, which means this senior class is the first class to go through the school all four years. They’ve made a huge impact on Denmark’s success, both now and in the future.

“They’re the foundation,” Palmieri said. “They won the first region championship. You see how hard they play. They don’t quit. That’s what our program’s about. We care for them, and make sure that we try to get them all into school. Do it the right way for them cause they deserve it.”

The Danes end the 2021 season with an 8-3 record and a region championship under their belt in Palmieri’s second year at the helm.