Landon Danley’s mind has been focused on helping the Dutch Fork High School football team win another state championship. The Silver Foxes go for their sixth Class 5A title in the last seven years on Saturday against Fort Dorchester.
But Danley — a University of Virginia commitment — has also spent time thinking about and praying for the UVA football program and it copes with the Nov. 13 shooting deaths of three players, Lavel Davis, D’Sean Perry and Devin Chandler.
“I know what it’s like losing a teammate and how hard it is,” Danley said this week after practice. “I have really been praying for the staff and the whole UVA community.”
The teammate was Danley referring to was Dutch Fork offensive lineman Jack Alkhatib, who died last year after collapsing during a practice. The Silver Foxes dedicated their season to Alkhatib last year, and he is still on the minds of this year’s group. The team wears a No. 60 helmet sticker to remember his jersey number, and No. 60 appears on the scoreboard during practice every day.
Virginia canceled the final two games of the season against Coastal Carolina and Virginia Tech following the shootings. Funerals for the three players were held over the last few days. New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft loaned the school the use of his team’s private jet so all UVA players and coaches could attend to the funerals.
A fourth player, Michael Hollins, was shot but was released from the hospital a week later. Former Virginia player Christopher Jones was charged in the shootings.
Danley met Davis, a receiver, during his unofficial visit to Virginia for the Louisville game in October. Davis was a South Carolina native and a standout at Woodland High School. His funeral was held Wednesday in Charleston.
Danley hasn’t spoken to head coach Tony Elliott, a former Clemson assistant, since the shooting but has talked to a few Cavaliers assistants.
“The coaches let me know they are all together, staying as a team and really just going through it together,” Danley said.
Danley committed to Virginia in October over offers from Miami (Ohio), Georgia State and Charlotte. 247Sports ranks Danley as a three-star prospect and the No. 27 recruit in the state for the Class of 2023.
He was chosen to play in the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas all-star game later this month. He plans on signing with the Cavaliers during the early period for football that begins Dec. 21.
Danley has been one of Dutch Fork’s top defensive backs the past two seasons. This year, he has 53 tackles and is tied for the team lead in interceptions with four.
“I am really trying to enjoy this week, have fun and have a great time of practice this week,” Danley said, “and get the end goal, which is to win state. It is always good to do that. I got a few runs but it will be great to end it off like that and get prepared for the next journey.”
State championship schedule
All games at Benedict College’s Charlie W. Johnson Stadium in Columbia. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased through GoFan
Thursday, Dec. 1
Powdersville vs. Beaufort, 7 p.m.
Friday, Dec. 2
Abbeville vs. Oceanside Collegiate, 2 p.m.
Christ Church vs. Johnsonville, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 3
Dutch Fork vs. Fort Dorchester, noon
Northwestern vs. South Florence, 7 p.m.
Tickets, directions, how to watch championship games
▪ THE ADDRESS: Benedict College’s Charlie W. Johnson Stadium is at 1920 Two Notch Road in Columbia.
▪ TICKETS: $15, can be purchased at gofan.co or through each of the schools before gameday. No tickets will not be sold on site at championship games. The stadium will be cleared after each game. Fans must have a ticket for each game, and no re-entry is allowed.
▪ PARKING: Parking is $10 per car, cash only. Trailers pulled behind vehicles are an additional $10. Tailgating will be allowed. Parking lots will open one and half hours before the first game of the day.
▪ TV: All five games will be carried on Sinclair Broadcasting stations across South Carolina. Affiliates are WMYA (My40 Asheville-Greenville), WACH (57.2/1250/Columbia), WCIV (MyTV Charleston) and WWMB (CW21, Florence/Myrtle Beach).
▪ INTERNET: All five games will be streamed on www.nfhsnetwork.com. A subscription ($10) is required.
▪ RADIO: The Northwestern-South Florence game will be on Interstate 107.1 FM in Rock Hill, on the state’s mobile app and online at www.wrhi.com It also will be on 96.3 FM in Florence and on the radio station’s Facebook page.
The Abbeville and Oceanside Collegiate game will be on 92.9 FM in Abbeville and on online at wzlaradio.com