The script is eerily similar for the Davis High football team.
Five wins — one victory away from a possible playoff berth — and two of the most fearsome teams in the Delta Valley Conference remaining on the schedule.
Last year, the ball didn’t bounce the Blue Devils’ way, as they missed the playoffs by one win.
But this year, DHS (5-3 overall, 1-2 Delta Valley Conference) has a chance for redemption. The Blue Devils get their first chance at securing a playoff berth at 7:15 p.m. Friday against Grant (5-3, 2-1) when the Pacers come to Ron & Mary Brown Stadium.
Grant’s strength lies in the trenches; the Pacer O-line has an average weight of 312 pounds, which is more than both UCLA (311 pounds) and USC (298) and is only 5 pounds less than the Oakland Raiders and San Francisco 49ers (317).
Despite the sheer enormity of the Grant linemen, DHS head coach Marc Hicks is still confident in the ability of his line.
“I think we’re going to be fine there,” Hicks said. “I look at it this way: Elk Grove, great team, great program; they held them, they did OK against them. If we do what we’re supposed to do, we should be OK. Now, only time will tell, but I have a good feeling about this game. Win, lose or draw, I think we’ll play them tough.”
Pacer left guard Shawn Matautia (6 feet 4 inches, 400 pounds) and left tackle Darrin Paulo (6-6, 320) have made a way for Grant running backs. The Pacer offense is averaging 246.6 yards per game.
The Pacers also have a loaded stable of capable running backs, who they can use in the power-run scheme.
Earlier in the season, Grant used eight different running backs during the course of one game. That group of backs is led by Deandre Whittington-Grays, who has rushed for 817 yards and nine scores this season.
After seeing more of a spread offense last week, Hicks thinks his defense can adjust and perform against the downhill attack from Grant.
“I think we’ll be fine. Like I said, if Elk Grove beat ‘em, and I know it was a close game, I feel that we can beat them,” Hicks said. “I think we can beat any team. I think we’ve given away a of couple games that we shouldn’t have given away.
“If I was a betting man — which I’m not — I would always bet on the Blue Devils. Whatever the outcome is, we still have one more shot.”
For the Blue Devils, Emilio Barba will be under center again this week, and Hicks has faith in his senior signal caller.
“What I’m going to do with Emilio … is to let Emilio be Emilio,” Hicks said. “People underestimate Emilio. He’s a great competitor and a great kid. I’m going to let Emilio do what he does best, and that’s running the offense.”
Even though this week’s game is still a regular-season game, Hicks and his coaching staff have stressed its importance to the players.
“This is a playoff game,” Hicks said. “We’ve had two of the best practices that we’ve had all year back-to-back (Monday and Tuesday). I’m hoping that, at this point, we are peaking, and peaking at the right time.”
Notes: Hicks did not reveal much about the role of backup quarterback Quinten Jones: “He’s my secret weapon,” Hicks said. “I’m not going to say any more than that.” Last week, the Pacers dominated Monterey Trail, winning 47-21.