*Editor’s note: This is the third in a 12-part series previewing Davis High’s spring sports.
The former Beast of the East now turns its attention to becoming Kings of the Valley as Davis High boys lacrosse finds itself relocated going into 2013 regular-season play.
After waltzing through the Bay Shore Athletic League undefeated, the Blue Devils are coming off a 20-1 campaign in which their only loss was in the North Coast Section quarterfinals (6-2 to Monte Vista).
While third-year DHS coach Nick Juri is not happy that his guys no longer toil in the BSAL, he says the new conference — the Sacramento Valley Lacrosse League — will be “just fine,” especially since its winner still gets to enter NCS playoffs.
But there’s no word from SVLL members how they feel about the powerful Devils coming home …
In 2012, Davis averaged 10 goals a game, climbed to No. 4 in the California rankings (according to MaxPreps.com) and cracked most rating services’ top 25 in the United States.
And what about the members of that wicked offense?
Most of the Blue Devil pop comes from a talented midfield that features Michigan-bound Mikie Schlosser. Now a senior, Schlosser accounted for 52 goals and a .331 shooting percentage last season.
But Schlosser, a four-year starter, isn’t the only threat emerging from the second line. Kian Reno (29 goals in 2012), Dan Rowen (16) and Ryan Amesbury (five) all return.
And by adding a renewed focus from its veteran attackers, DHS could be even more dominant in its new surroundings.
Buzzing around the opponents’ goal will be returning starters Willie Hawkins (32 goals), Mark Bruemmer (15) and Kevin Klenzendorf (nine).
“All seven of these players have speed and finishing ability,” Juri told The Enterprise. “We want to incorporate the attackers into our scoring more. If we get them all on the same page … It’ll be really scary.”
And as good as that offense was last season, the defense stood equally tall, never allowing a foe to score in double digits while giving up only 119 goals in 21 games.
But gone are longstickers Dominic D’Angelo and Max Guida and defenders Peter Spitzer and captain Tim McIntyre.
Also, faceoff specialist Carson Stone has been lost to graduation.
“He was special,” Juri says, adding that the quintet will missed. “Carson won 80 percent of his faceoffs. That’s unheard of.”
But the coach believes the Devils won’t miss a beat protecting the goal:
“We’ll have Reno and Connal Hart taking those faceoffs. And on defense, we’ll be OK with veteran guys we have back there.”
At the top of that list is senior Rudy Buhlman, a four-year varsity player who will suit up for Dominican University (San Rafael) next season. Juri praised Buhlman’s “take-no-prisoners defense.”
Junior Rowen will play a flex between defense and midfield while another 11th-grader, Sam Gellen, turns back intruders. Senior Kelby Spore will be another veteran whose experience should come in handy.
Between the pipes, goalkeeper Will McPherson has been strong in camp and Juri says his team is blessed to have a starter like his senior — and a strong back-up in junior Vikram Prathap.
“Will is looking great and he’s going to be play a lot,” Juri explains. “He’s earned that time. But Vikram is there and I want to get him more time because he has improved.”
In the team’s two scrimmages — Tuesday night against Jesuit and Friday at Foothill — Juri plans to give each a half’s worth of exposure.
About the new league …
DHS will play each school — Lincoln (Stockton), St. Mary’s (Stockton), Granite Bay, Jesuit, Oak Ridge and Bella Vista — twice.
Juri is disappointed that the SVLL won’t have a postseason tournament like the Bay Shore Athletic League did, but says he has scheduled some of those same Bay Area teams to provide extra-tough competition.
Novato (March 23), Cardinal Newman (April 4) and Tamalpais (April 19) are some of those squads — and each will come to Davis for the nonleague matches.
“Granite Bay, Oak Ridge … They’re tough. Jesuit is always ready,” Juri continues, cautioning he isn’t belittling the his new playmates. “But that postseason league tournament the BSAL had was good because it gave the guys experience … they understood the pressure they’d be under in the (sections).”
Juri also knows a 20-1 record includes baggage:
“We have a big target on our backs. Everybody knows we’re coming and they’ll want to do their best.”
Notes: The Blue Devils open by hosting Miramonte on March 1. League play starts March 12 at St. Mary’s and the first SVLL home game is March 15 against Jesuit. The varsity roster consists of 10 seniors, 13 juniors and two sophomores. … Juri likes where his players are during the first weeks of practice: “I think we’re a little ahead of last year.” Yikes. … The DHS junior varsity head coach is Adam Price.
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8047.