DANVILLE – Two of Knox County’s biggest rivals will square off Friday night in the 59th annual Devil-Dog Game.
Danville (2-7, 2-4 KMAC) will host East Knox (9-0, 6-0) in a game that carries community bragging rights for the next 365 days. The Bulldogs beat the Blue Devils last fall for the first time since 2005, which was also the last year East Knox made the playoffs.
With a playoff bid already locked down this year, East Knox will try to make it two in a row versus its area rival, while Danville will try to defend its home turf and collect its biggest win of the season.
Danville comes into Friday night’s game having lost two straight. After beating Cardington (1-8) and Fredericktown (1-8) in back-to-back games, the Blue Devils fell to Northmor (8-1) and Highland (4-5) by a combined 60 points over the last two weeks.
Danville has struggled on the offensive end this year, scoring just 14 points per game. The bright spots have been senior tailback Alex Holt, who leads the team with 372 rushing yards and six touchdowns; senior quarterback Charlie Cook, who has thrown for 1,013 yards, eight touchdowns and 12 interceptions; and senior wideout Langdon Johnson, who has caught 36 passes for 405 yards and five touchdowns.
The Blue Devils nearly knocked off playoff-bound Worthington Christian (7-2) earlier this year at Municipal Stadium, and they’ll be looking for a similar performance on Friday against playoff-bound East Knox. For the team’s 10 seniors, it will be their final game in a Danville uniform.
A loss Friday would hand Danville its first 2-8 season since 2009.
East Knox, meanwhile, will come into Friday night’s game with a playoff berth and a share of the KMAC title already won. The Bulldogs have locked down a home playoff game in Week 11 and they’ve also clinched a share of the conference title, as they currently have a one-game lead over second-place Northmor. A win Friday would guarantee East Knox the KMAC championship outright.
The Bulldogs are scoring 48 points per game this season and giving up less than 10. They are led by tailback Caleb Gallwitz, who has rushed for 2,049 yards and 36 touchdowns this season. The senior is averaging over 10 yards per carry.
Senior quarterback Kadden Lester has completed 100 of his 146 passes (68 percent) for 1,467 yards, 19 touchdowns and two interceptions. His main target has been senior Gage Steinmetz, who has caught 54 passes for 630 yards and seven touchdowns.
East Knox has yet to be challenged in 2019, having won every game by double digits. Its closest call came against River View in Week 3, when the Bulldogs won by 19 points. East Knox beat playoff-bound Northmor by 41 points on the road in Week 6.
The Bulldogs will look to keep the Devil-Dog Trophy in Howard with a win on Friday night. But it won’t be easy – East Knox won by seven points last year, despite having four more wins than Danville. As the old saying goes, records are thrown out during games like this.
Knox Pages reporter Grant Pepper spoke with seniors from East Knox and Danville in this special Game of the Week episode; from East Knox: Kadden Lester and Dawson David, and from Danville: John Weckesser and Alex Holt. They discussed the 2019 season, this week’s matchup, and what this rivalry has meant to them over their high school careers.
Kickoff will be at 7 p.m. Friday from Municipal Stadium.
» East Knox (9-0, 6-0) at Danville (2-7, 2-5) | Bulldogs, Blue Devils tangle in 59th annual Devil-Dog Game
» Centerburg (6-3, 4-2) at Fredericktown (1-8, 0-6) | Trojans look to keep slim playoff chances alive against county rival
» Highland (4-5, 4-2) at Northmor (8-1, 5-1) | Morrow County rivals go head-to-head in physical regular season finale
» Mount Gilead (3-6, 2-4) at Cardington (1-8, 1-5) | Indians look to finish promising season strong against Pirates
» Wooster (6-3, 5-0) at Ashland (4-5, 4-1) | Arrows could force three-way tie for conference title with win
» Mansfield Senior (8-1, 4-1) vs. Madison Comprehensive (0-9, 0-5) | Tygers aim to finish regular season strong against city rival
» Mount Vernon (5-4, 2-3) at West Holmes (3-6, 1-4) | With win, Yellow Jackets would capture first winning season since 2013
» Lexington (3-6, 2-4) vs. River Valley (6-3) | Minutemen close out 2019 season with competitive non-conference matchup