The mission is clear to every Davis High player …
Continue to play football to the best of their abilities. Control the things that the Blue Devils can control. Don’t look ahead.
Sitting at 3-2 with the Delta Valley Conference opener looming Friday at Monterey Trail, DHS is anchored and — according to team captains Brendan MacDonald and Adam King and head coach Steve Smyte — this season is being taken one game at a time.
“When you start looking ahead, you miss what is happening in front of you. Our focus is today, be here now,” Smyte explains.
The thoughts are echoed by King and MacDonald, who constantly remind their teammates and media members that this Blue Devil team takes everything one step at a time.
In DVC play, that first step comes in the form of a Mustang squad that is finding its footing.
After a season-opening loss to Antelope, Monterey Trail has won four straight, including back-to-back wins over Florin (12-7) and Pioneer (28-3). In those last two outings, the Mustangs have rushed for more than 500 yards and have been stingy on defense.
A majority of the ground damage has come via Elijah McGolthin’s 499 yards and five scores. Sterling Powell and Trey Nahhas have combined for another 690 yards and nine TDs as MTHS is averaging six yards a carry.
Smyte knows what his charges have to do when the bell rings.
“We want (our players) to play assignment football — do their jobs — and tackle,” the third-year mentor says.
The coach adds that his guys can’t get lulled into defending the run mindlessly as Mustang junior quarterback Donovan Robinson can pop meaningful, quick completions off of play-action.
With an improved defensive line, Davis hopes trench muscle men like Nick Denton and Marvin Grant can hold their ground, while linebackers Mike McTygue, Adam Inouye and MacDonald can find the holes and hammer Monterey Trail’s ball-carrying trio before it gets untracked.
Last Nov. 4, despite an injured and thin roster, the Blue Devils were in the game with the Mustangs before falling, 27-14.
There is great anticipation in Devil Nation this fall as conference play kicks off. DHS is healthy, has a far deeper bench and is averaging more than 36 points per game.
Smyte is confident but realistic about the Davis offensive keys for the DVC opener.
“We have to make good decisions and hold on to the football,” he says. “(Monterey Trail) has won the turnover battle in every game they’ve won. We have to execute technique and scheme. Play to the echo of the whistle and give maximum effort on every down.”
With first-year QB Grant Dickerson learning on the job, the 6-foot-3 senior has brought solid play to the position.
Dickerson has passed for 982 yards and 11 TDs. His primary recipients have been H-back Kevin Sorensen and wideout C.K. Hicks, but there is plenty of depth at receiver. Dickerson has found tight end MacDonald for an 80-yard score and isn’t shy about throwing to emerging end Brett Bloomfield.
While opposing defenses worry that the Devils will spank them with the pass, junior tailback Winfred Roberson is starting to rumble — 560 yards and eight rushing touchdowns.
Special teams also could prove vital …
“We have to protect the punter, especially against (the Mustangs), because they have fast edge rushers, and we have to get down field fast on our kickoff team and stay in the lanes,” Smyte says.“Then block our butts off and tackle.”
So what are the long-term keys to competing for — and eventually winning — a playoff berth from the six-headed dragon known as the DVC?
“We have to play hard,” Smyte explains. “Play smart. We have to be aggressive in all three phases of the game, protect the rock and win the turnover battles.”
Notes: Denton (shoulder) and Hicks (back) have had the bye week to rest injuries suffered in the 40-0 victory over Woodland on Sept. 21. … “As for playoffs?” Smyte threw a question back to a reporter. “I love what Jim Mora Sr. said: ‘Playoffs? What playoffs?’ Playoffs won’t happen if we think about them. We get there by taking the steps versus our next opponent and focusing on our next practice, our next rep.” … Friday’s game time is 7:15 p.m. at Macres Stadium at Monterey Trail. … Future DVC foes include Elk Grove (5-0), Franklin (5-0), Grant (2-3) and Laguna Creek (2-3).
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at [email protected] or (530) 747-8047.