All season long, it’s been Denmark's defense that has led the Danes to victory. The entered Friday's first-round playoff game averaging only 10.2 points allowed, and the most they had allowed in one game was 17.
However, it was the offense and special teams that allowed them to defeat Mountain View 23-20 and advance to the second round of the state playoffs.
The Danes’ offense scored enough points to win, but it was the way they controlled the tempo of the game that was so important for Denmark.
Jacob Nelson had an efficient night, completing 13 of his 16 pass attempts for 180 yards and a touchdown. The score, and most of his yards, were to Lake Thoman, who finished with five catches for 117 yards. Amon Williams carried the ball 31 times for 121 yards and a touchdown.
Head coach Mike Palmieri loved the way his team executed on both sides of the ball.
“The offense did a great job,” Palmieri said. “Total team win. That’s what it’s about. Guys picking up each other. We have confidence now in these kids. We know we’re a good football team. We’re gonna make mistakes, but we’re gonna bounce back from them, and they showed tonight, and it’s a big playoff win for us.”
Defensively, the Danes made timely plays that made a big difference in the game. Will Hodges and Asher West each came away with two sacks, and Hodges also deflected a screen pass late in the fourth quarter that could’ve turned into a huge gain for the Bears.
The Danes allowed 20 points, which is the most they have allowed all season. But that’s more of an impressive stat than something to be disappointed in. To Palmieri, a win is a win, which is something Denmark has done a lot of this season.
“We knew it would be a tough game,” Palmieri said. “All our games this season have been tough, and we just figured out a way. These kids have been pulling out games all year long, so it’s another great win for the program.”
Mountain View tied the game 20-20 with 42 seconds left on a 23-yard field goal from Carson Vanhorn. But a squib kick from the Bears allowed the Danes to start their drive at the 37.
Nelson quickly got Denmark to the Mountain View 45 with a pair of completions, and then a pass-interference call gave Denmark a first down at the 30 with 20 seconds remaining. Two runs from Williams got the Danes to the 21 before Palmieri called timeout with four seconds left in the game.
One last play was set up for Trey Glymph to be the hero. He had already hit from 34 and 39 yards, and now he just needed one more from 38 yards.
He hit it, sending his team to the next round and cementing his name in Denmark history.
Glymph was calm, cool, and collected when he kicked the game-winner.
“As one of my college coaches says, big-time players make big-time plays in big-time games,” Glymph said. “Just wanted to be like him.”
Special teams coach Eric “EB” Barnes is proud of Glymph for hitting the game-winning field goal, but he knows that Glymph started preparing for this type of success a long time ago.
“What I love about Trey is his desire to succeed is as great as it gets,” Barnes said. “His work ethic, you don’t think of kicker and punters and specialists as people that work hard in the weight room sometimes. This guy works as hard as anybody in this program. He knows that he’s one of the most important parts of what we’re doing here, and tonight was just an example of that. We’ve played special teams games all year long. You go look at our region scores. We win by a field goal just about every night we come to the ballpark, and that guy is a difference-maker. He scores points, and he flips the field. Everyone’s gonna talk about the field. That punt, that’s a 65-yard punt. Flip the field. He does it all, and we’re lucky to have him. I’m lucky to have him.”
Mountain View was led by running back Meiki Williams, who finished with 185 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. Mason Kidd completed 8 of his 16 passes for 95 yards and a touchdown to Justin Wilson, who finished with four catches for 28 yards. Vanhorn hit field goals from 35 and 23 yards out.
Denmark [8-2] advances to the second round of the Class 7A playoffs for the second year in a row. The Danes face Grayson [8-3], which has been in and out of the top 10 throughout the year and defeated East Coweta in the first round of the playoffs, 48-14.