After having trouble gaining yards on the ground in the previous few games, the Davis High football team found its footing Friday against Laguna Creek and re-established its running attack that carried it to early-season success.
The Blue Devils ran for 240 yards and three scores in their 28-21 win over the Cardinals. It was the highest rushing total for DHS (5-3, 1-2 Delta Valley Conference) since Week 5 against Rio Americano.
“I said we fixed some problems,” Devil head coach Marc Hicks said after Friday’s victory. “Those problems have been fixed. Now the big question is, can we sustain it? We’ve got Grant next week. We’ve got to get fighting and ready to go. We’ll ice up, heal up (Saturday) morning, (take) Sunday off, and we’re back to work on Monday.”
Running back Winfred Roberson topped 100 yards for the first time since Sept. 27 against Woodland, and change-of-pace back Talek Deary scored his first touchdown (on a 92-yard kickoff return) since Sept. 20 against Rio Americano. With Roberson’s 134-yard, two-touchdown performance, the senior pushed his season totals to 676 yards with seven TDs.
Needs improvement: Even though Davis escaped Laguna Creek with a win — and looked solid most of the night — there was one part of its game that was lacking: kickoff coverage.
Cardinal returner Chris Williams constantly found ways to get into the open field against the Blue Devil kickoff team, though he was unable to get into the end zone.
Local kicker Ian McKallip saved one touchdown, and the DHS coverage unit had to chase Williams down and tackle him on the 12 on another kickoff return.
“We’ll fix that,” Hicks said. “For some reason, our guys weren’t doing what they were supposed to do on kickoffs. You know, we’ll fix it. (Laguna Creek) hurt us on that.
“It bummed me out. It bummed coach (Josh) Reese out, our special teams coach. It bummed (defensive coordinator Ty) Brown out. We won’t be able to fix it until we look at the tape and see what was the problem.”
Problem solved: After two weeks of Devil coaches pulling their hair out because of too many penalties, the locals were much better against Laguna Creek, accruing a mere 12 penalty yards in the first half.
Although the team eventually piled on 58 penalty yards, the absence of flags allowed Davis to have two efficient drives in the second quarter, both leading to touchdowns.
“Again a lot of hard work, a lot of talking, a lot of meetings and we just cleaned up the little things,” Hicks said. “They responded to our practices last week. We’re gonna do the same thing this week, and get them ready to go. And I’m praying that we can knock those penalties (that we had Friday) down.”
Barba under center: Sometimes when things aren’t going right for a football team, a key position change — like at quarterback — can light a fire.
That was Hicks’ rationale when he inserted senior Emilio Barba as the starter for Friday’s game, replacing junior Quinten Jones.
Though Jones had started the first seven outings — and thrown three touchdowns in the past two contests — Barba had gotten some snaps in those games, completing six passes for 58 yards and a score. He threw for 94 yards and no TDs against the Cardinals.
Quite an accomplishment: If there was something Jones was lacking, it wasn’t his ability to lead, as the Blue Devils’ signal-caller completed an elite leadership camp over the summer.
The two-week Future Leader Camp was hosted by Norwich University in Vermont, the nation’s first senior military college.
Jones and the other participants, who came from 30 different states, qualified for the camp by having a minimum GPA of 2.5, submitting a letter of recommendation and demonstrating involvement in leadership-driven organizations outside the classroom.
At the camp, they worked on physical fitness training such as paintball, rappelling and wall-climbing as well as basic first-aid, crisis preparedness, water survival skills, orienteering and leadership classes.
Jones and the other future leaders then practiced what they had learned with a day of rappelling off the 80-foot cliffs of Deer Leap Mountain in Killington, Vt., a 7-mile hike over Mount Ascutney and a three-day overnight camping trip where participants cooked their own meals, learned wilderness survival skills and were put to the test in team and individual competitions.
— Reach Thomas Oide at [email protected]