During this Halloween week, to most football observers, a date with the region’s No. 3 school, Elk Grove, would be downright scary.
But Davis High head coach Steve Smyte speaks for his whole team when he says, “We fear no one. But we respect everyone.”
After a spirited Monday practice — and a weekend filled with film of last week’s meltdown against Grant — the Blue Devils are ready to take a crack at The Thundering Herd.
A DHS win on Friday at Ron & Mary Brown Stadium could put the long-starving Devils into the playoffs.
“After looking at the films (of the 48-14 loss to the Pacers), like I say, you’re never as good or as bad as you think you are,” third-year mentor Smyte told The Enterprise.
“It was like one guy missed an assignment and boom! The football gods are cruel; they have a way of finding you when you don’t do something right.”
A victory over Grant (4-5, 2-2 in Delta Valley Conference) would have sent Davis (5-4, 2-2) bouncing merrily into the postseason.
But this conference is guaranteed only two playoff berths, one of which will go to Franklin (9-0, 4-0).
Now, even if Elk Grove falls in four days, the locals will need some help. It’s expected the Pacers will paste Laguna Creek (2-6, 0-4) and a loss by The Herd puts it with Grant and DHS at 3-2 in DVC — tied for second. The three teams then would need tiebreakers to decide who gets the second playoff spot promised to the league. If that’s Grant or Elk Grove, it will send that team into the Division II tournament.
If that happens, and Davis is left to vie for an at-large Division I berth, it will have to hope there are teams with worse than 6-4 marks waiting in the wings. If not, DHS will have to win more tiebreakers among the teams with which its overall record is knotted.
Whew. That Halloween caldron that’s being stirred for the playoffs has plenty of foreign ingredients that could be heart-warming or heart-rending. None of it means anything if the Blue Devils don’t get past Elk Grove.
As disappointing as the Grant game was, the locals had their moments.
Kevin Sorensen had four catches for 125 yards and a 78-yard TD. Linebacker Brendan MacDonald had 10 tackles and, on four Pacer possessions, the DHS defense looked formidable.
Monday usually is a day that sees the local gridders do a lot of walk-throughs as the squad learns about its opposition. But this Monday seemed different.
Where these Devils banshees or zombies starting off this key week?
“Banshees. There were no zombies out there,” Smyte played along with the question. “Even the guys who were sore … they were out here, suited up. It was a great practice.
“Look at other Mondays. We have typically four, five guys out. Not (this Monday). We want to be tough, not stupid, though. Safety always is first and foremost with us.”
MacDonald and two-way lineman Bailey Murray were guys out of pads.
Back to the films. Against Grant, Smyte occasionally liked what he saw:
“(Running back) Austin Lampley really ran hard. He did some good things and made some good reads,” the coach said, also praising the second-half play of quarterback Grant Dickerson, “who also made some good reads.”
Smyte thought his guys had “a lot more opportunities,” but seemed to be just off when it most counted.
“(Center) Bray Harwood was our best offensive lineman Friday. He had a good game against that big nose tackle (Misi Taifane, 6-foot-3, 290 pounds).”
Smyte also had words of praise for wideout and kick returner C.K. Hicks: “I’m telling you, he can play with anybody. He’s dangerous.”
So, as evidenced by Davis’ resiliency (it hasn’t lost two in a row this season), the Devils have the talent to put themselves in playoff consideration.
And besides, it’s Halloween week. Certainly, stranger things have happened.