Enterprise staff writer
ÒWe are the new team to beat.Ó
No cockiness. No chest pounding. HeÕs not trying to rub anybodyÕs face in the fact that Davis High is the defending Sac-Joaquin Section girlsÕ water polo champions.
Blue Devil coach Doug Wright just reviewed his roster, looked out in the pool after MondayÕs first practice of the season É and made a calculated assessment.
So loaded is WrightÕs 2010 team, he had to think of where to begin when asked who will be key players.
ÒThatÕs tough. There are so many,Ó laughs Wright, just back from a successful swim across the English Channel Ñ only the 915th person ever to complete the ordeal. ÒKeelia Houston is our biggest scoring threat and best overall player.
ÒElsie Fullerton has absolutely blown up and is becoming an unstoppable force at two meters. Hailey Wright (niece of the coach) is probably one of the best overall defenders and outside shooters in the game.Ó
Wright stops. Shakes his head in wonder at his good fortune. ItÕs so easy for him to continue ticking off thestandoutsÉ
ÒRachel Brooks brings aggression, talent and heart at a level few defenders even want to think about. Michelle Greenough is one of the best all-around players the section has ever seen and (she) will dominate on a regular basis. Zoe Malot has become an absolute stud Ñ well-tempered and a clutch shooter.Ó
Wright takes a second. Another smileÉ
ÒRachel Johnson flies under the radar, but not for long. This girl can take over a game in a heart beat with her wicked shooting and tough-nose defense. Hannah Levien with her drop-dead speed and freak athleticism is a threat every second sheÕs in.
ÒIn the cage, we have two of the best high-school goalies in Northern California with Taylor Leuschen and Haley Cameron Ñ CameronÕs becoming one of the best ever.
ÒThatÕs our top 10. Any one of them would start on any high school team in the state.Ó
Wow. All this talent. After winning the Sac-Joaquin crown a year ago, thereÕs little question that Davis will have one, giant target on its collective back.
Wright knows league (save St. Francis) isnÕt the challenge his girls need going into the playoffs. So, going to big-time tournaments should help.
The Blue Devils will attend the TroubadorsÕ Sept. 9-10 tourney, then get involved in the Woodcreek Invitational on Sept. 24-25. Davis spent a lot of pool time this summer in high-profile California competition as well.
ÒThe tournaments we go to help us with experience, conditioning and help bring the team together through difficult situations,Ó Wright explains. ÒWe look to play well, and by doing so we will put ourselves in position to win titles.Ó
Fair enough. Wright knows what heÕs talking about. In 15 years guiding the girlsÕ team, Wright has seen his Devils play 11 times for the section championship. TheyÕve won seven.
Former Davis High Athlete of the Year and UC Davis star Dakotah Mohr will again assist Wright.
ÒShe brings so much knowledge and love for the game. She is a great role model for the girls,Ó Wright adds, thinking back to the days Mohr when was prowling the pool for some of coachÕs strongest squads, five and six years ago.
Notes: Despite all the talent, Davis will still miss graduated standouts Katie Stark and Mollye Freidman. É Resting sore wrists from his 11-hour-plus swim across the English Channel last week, Wright says heÕs Òpretty well rested.Ó HeÕs looking forward to this school year Òteaching, coaching, spending time with my wife and daughter (Lori and Malaya) and supporting my parents the best I can.Ó WrightÕs mom, Jane, is an AlzheimerÕs sufferer and was a key motivation for swimming the channel. ÒI wanted to raise money for research and awareness about the disease.Ó