Enterprise staff writer
– EditorÕs note: This is the seventh in a nine-part series showcasing fall sports at Davis High School. Today: boys water polo.
Despite the graduation of seven important players from last yearÕs section runner-up Davis High boys water polo team, Blue Devil coach Tracy Stapleton has a feeling …
ÒThis team reminds me of our (fall of 2001) group. We had just won a section title and a lot of those guys were gone. The following team didnÕt have a lot of depth, but they played
together. IÕm seeing this team has the same capability,Ó Stapleton said Tuesday while watching his team at Arroyo Pool. ÒI feel like IÕve been here before.Ó
If history repeats itself, there should be some exciting water polo Ñ not to mention drama Ñ ahead in Davisville.
During that Õ01 section title run, the Devils won only two playoff games by more than a goal. The championship match, against Jesuit (who else?), was a 5-4 victory.
Even though all-league performers Trevor Allen, Max Reilly, Teddy Nicholson and goalkeeper Kody Moynihan are gone, Stapleton seems to find a way to get his players to circle the wagons and come out of the gate with an emphatic splash.
After losing 12-10 to St. MaryÕs in last fallÕs Sac-Joaquin Section title game, is there any sense of unfinished business with this crew?
ÒItÕs on some peopleÕs minds, sure,Ó Stapleton admits. ÒBut right now our focus is on the work. Nothing really matters until the Big Show (playoffs).Ó
Stapleton remembers last yearÕs postseason run, though. Double-digit victories in each game until the finale. Yes, thereÕs unfinished business and you can rest assured, when the time is right, that loss will become a motivating factor.
And when that time comes, thereÕs plenty of returning and new talent to help the Blue Devils erase the memory of being runnersup for the fifth time (DHS has 13 titles).
Attackers Wade Allen, Connor Stapleton and Tre Moynihan will be asked to keep the relentless Davis offense crisp. With solid utility player Paul Dailey roaming all over the pool and center Noah Friedman set in the middle, the shooting trio should be well-supplied with chances.
Allen, who family is steeped in Blue Devil swim and water polo tradition, should be one of the team leaders and top goal producers.
A scary thought down the road for Delta Valley Conference teams: coachÕs son Stapleton is just a sophomore and Moynihan is a junior.
Left-handed defender Mark Ward and backline mate Dillon Osleger are where the opponentsÕ buck, er, ball stops. And Nick Abplanalp will have huge trunks to fill in goal. Last year, Stapleton credited Kody Moynihan as a catalyst for Òour fast-break style.Ó Stapleton believes his new senior stopper understands the scheme and will perform accordingly.
Scott Perry, a senior, and junior David Lester will be counted on in tight spots, or to give starters a blow.
ÒI think both of them play bigger off the bench,Ó Stapleton adds. ÒAnd that will be our big question mark this fall: how do we play off the bench?Ó
Stapleton remembers that his 2001 champs were sterling when substitutes came in. That same magic needs to reappear in 2010.
But fans could be delightfully surprised by the Davis depth. Jack Blattner is a talented sophomore and senior Jack Ramirez and juniors Nick Swaminathan and Brandon Rueda will get their chances.
It all starts in earnest on Saturday as the Devils travel south to play Clovis and Clovis West, two Central Section powerhouses. After that, itÕs on to San Jose for the John Schmitt Memorial Tournament before opening at home with Granite Bay on Sept. 15.
DHS will also travel to AmericaÕs Finest City Invitational in San Diego (Sept. 24-25).
But ultimately, the locals are pointing towards the section playoffs, which start Nov. 5 in Modesto. As usual, mark down Nov. 13 Ñ itÕs the CIF finals in Roseville. ItÕs a good bet fans will see blue and white in the pool that day.
Notes: Players on that memorable 2001 team included Dylan Malot, Aaron Schelegle, Kevin Koblik,
Brian Kelly, Markus Henning, Matt MacLachlan, Philippe Chordas and Keenan Newman. The previous
season, Davis went 28-3 and featured six players who went on to play college water polo. … Since 1994, either Jesuit or the Blue Devils have been in the Sac-Joaquin Section finals every year. On seven occasions, the two schools played each other (advantage Blue Devils, 4-3). … Once again, Sacramento City College student George Papador will be StapletonÕs assistant coach.
Ñ Reach Bruce Gallaudet at [email protected] or (530) 747-8056. Comment on this
story at www.davisenterprise.com