Davis boys primed for run at CIF water polo title

By From page B1 | November 01, 2012

“I like our odds,” Blue Devil boys water polo coach Tracy Stapleton admitted as he looked to the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs. “We’re playing real well, we have experience on our side and we’ve defeated most of the top teams.”

But Stapleton knows the postseason can hold choppy seas.

“We don’t focus on whether we’re the best team, we focus on playing our best. That’s a mantra I’ve always drilled into our teams. Therefore, there’s no reason to believe, that if we play our best, we won’t be in a position to win it.”

Two weeks ago, Davis High started showing its playoff teeth with a 2-2 performance in the North-South Challenge in Atherton. At that invitational, the top teams in California gather to sort things out.

Last weekend, the locals were 3-1 in the Finish Memorial Cup (San Jose). Again, only the finest programs in the state got the call.

At 20-7 overall and sporting a league championship, Davis earned the section’s top-seed.

But jamming eight, first-round games into one day means that DHS will have to play at Johansen High (Modesto) against Buhach Colony at 8 a.m. Friday.

Stapleton and Company should be able to work through the sleepys…

Their opponents from Atwater were 10-10 on the year, eking out a third-place finish in the California Central Conference. The Thunder will be facing one of the nation’s higest-scoring schools in Davis.

For the third straight season, senior attacker Connor Stapleton scored more than 100 goals. Joined by Graham Fullerton, Bradley Nicholson, Garrett Fisk and Tyler Ujifusa — among others — Stapleton anchored a team that could score from anywhere in the pool.

Stapleton the Elder said in recent history, Davis looked to Stapleton the Younger for most of its offensive juice. While his son’s proficiency is intact, the coach is delighted that he has a handful of guys with 40 or more tallies.

“Because of that, we’re not so … unbalanced in our scoring,” Stapleton explained. “If (an opponent) tries to take away Connor, we still have a lot of firepower.

“I’m excited to see what we have in our tank.”

Notes: Davis has fallen to Jesuit each of the past two CIF finales, but on Oct. 17, the Devils sent the Marauders packing in an 18-2 blowout at Arroyo Pool. Still, at 5-15 (4-3 in the hybrid league the two schools play in), Jesuit got into the 16-team field (vs. St. Mary’s). …DHS is a young team — Stapleton and Jack Blattner are the only seniors. …Sophomore goalkeeper Jeff Stark has been brilliant at the net. …The locals have won 13 CIF water polo crowns, the last coming in 2008. …Stapleton says he’s not in reflective mode — yet. Despite this being his son’s senior campaign, dad says, “I’m coaching the same way. There will be time afterward (to think back on the years together as father/coach and son).”

— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at [email protected] or 530-747-8047.

Bruce Gallaudet

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