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Ironmen eye playoff berth as they face Danville Vikings in conference showdown

Mr. Jeff Christopherson
The Iron are 4-0 in the Big 12, the only team undefeated in conference play.

The Ironmen (5-0, 4-0) sit atop the Big 12 Conference standings in sole possession of first place after last week’s 34-0 shutout win over the Raiders of Bloomington.

The Champaign Centennial Chargers fell to 4-1 in conference play, losing to the Danville Vikings last Friday 25-12.

With a road win Friday over Danville (2-3,2-2), the Iron will clinch an IHSA playoff berth.

Junior quarterback Kyle Beaty has been a driving force behind the Iron’s success.

Beaty has tallied 18 touchdowns in five weeks of play, throwing for three scores and 220 yards against the Raiders.

Beaty’s stat line is a testament to his dedication and practice, according to head coach Mr. Jason Drengwitz.

The quarterback finished the contest completing 16 of 24 passes, recording his first interception of the season when an Ironman receiver slipped on his route.

Back in the backfield with Beaty Friday will be tailback Tommy Davis.

Davis, the team’s leading rusher, returns to action after leaving last week’s game in the first quarter with back spasms.

Davis, Drengwitz said, “could have kept playing if we needed him” last week. “We decided to hold him out … [as] a precaution…. He should be good to go on Friday.”

This week, the Ironmen will be without two running backs who filled the void for Davis against Bloomington: junior Calen Taylor and Craig Bennett III.

Taylor is sidelined with a hamstring injury, while Bennett III is dealing with an injured hip.

At tailback this week, Drengwitz said, “it’ll be Tommy, Keyshon Coleman (’24), Jayden Campbell (’25) and a couple other guys in there trying to carry the load.”

The Iron felt the impact of Davis’s injury, Drengwitz said when the senior was sidelined last week.

After Community took a 21-0 first-quarter lead, they struggled to find the endzone again until late in the third quarter.

Davis, Drengwitz said, “is a special back and a special player.”

Tasked with holding the Iron in check for Danville is a roster that boasts experience, Drengwitz said.

The Vikings “bring back a lot of toughness,” the coach said. “A lot of these guys played a lot of football for them last year and were really effective.”

The Vikings, according to the coach, bring size, speed, physicality and relentless aggression to the field, and when they execute, they can be a force to be reckoned with.

All eyes will be on Danville’s 6’2”, 218-pound middle and outside Linebacker, Caleb Robinson, a player Coach Drengwitz hailed as “one of the best defensive players in the conference.”

Dealing with Robinson and other talented players like 5’9”, 205-pound RB Phillip Shaw, will require the Ironmen to execute at a high level and maintain a rapid tempo.

Playing at a high level for Community all season has been Illinois State University commit 6’4”, 225-pound Dexter Neikamp.

Neikamp, Drengwitz said, “has been a dominant force on the defensive side of the football all five games that we’ve played this year.

“So much so that team’s choose to run away from him. He’s impactful in the run game because he’s hard to block. He sheds blockers and makes tackles, and he’s extremely impactful in the passing game because he can pressure the quarterback.”

Last week, Niekamp recorded nine tackles and three sacks for the Iron.

Against Bloomington, Drengwitz said, the Ironmen defense was “lights out.”

“We held them to negative yards and shut them out.”

The Ironmen look to continue that defensive dominance when they face off against the Danville Vikings at 7 p.m.

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About the Contributors
Brantley Dumas II
Brantley Dumas II, Senior Staff Reporter
Brantley Dumas is a senior at Normal Community High School. He is the president Black Student Union and is on the varsity bowling team. He is a second-year Staff Reporter on the Inkspot. If I were to win a million dollars I would definitely pay for college, then buy all the shoes and clothes I could ever want. I enjoy fashion, making and listening to music and anime. So, if you like any of those we can probably be friends. My biggest pet peeve is when people chew too loud. Gross.
Zachary Knox-Doyle
Zachary Knox-Doyle, Senior Staff Reporter
Zachary Knox-Doyle is a junior at Normal Community High School and plays on the school's tennis team. He is a Senior Staff Reporter at the Inkspot. One of my biggest inspirations is Candace Parker because of her insane skills on the basketball court, never back down attitude and the work she's done for ESPN behind the mic. I am most comfortable and content when I'm playing tennis and basketball simply for the love of the sport.
Jeffery Woodard
Jeffery Woodard, Senior Staff Reporter
Jeffery Woodard is a senior at Normal Community High School and is involved in track & field. This is his third year working with the Inkspot, and he is a senior staff reporter. On the weekends, I enjoy hanging out with friends and going to the gym. In my free time, I enjoy watching movies of all sorts. My favorite film is "Black Panther."
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