Editor’s note: This is the last in a three-part series previewing the 2013 edition of the Davis High football team.
For the Davis High football team, the time is now.
Since the 2010 season, the Blue Devils have steadily improved, increasing their win totals from one to two then jumping to a 5-5 record last season.
If that trend continues in 2013, DHS could be on pace for just its second postseason appearance since 1995. The Devils last reached the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs in 2007.
In many of those nonplayoff seasons, Davis’ Achilles’ heel was lack of depth on the offensive and defensive lines. This year, however, depth in the trenches should be the Blue Devils’ strength. New head coach Marc Hicks has several options behind his starters, which means tired lineman in the fourth quarter shouldn’t be an issue this season.
DHS’ improved offensive line will be tasked with opening up lanes for senior running backs Winfred Roberson, Austin Lampley and Brendan MacDonald, and junior Wally Perez.
That rushing attack will need to be strong as the locals’ passing game remains their biggest question mark. Without standout receiver C.K. Hicks, who is out for the season with a torn ACL, and two other top pass-catchers from 2012 — Kevin Sorensen and Brett Bloomfield — no longer on the team, the Devils are working to develop a whole new receiving corps. In addition, Emilo Barba and Quinten Jones are still locked in a competition for the starting quarterback spot.
On the defensive side of the ball, senior defensive end Marvin Grant returns and transfer Jonah Williams has looked impressive in camp. MacDonald will roam the middle of the field as an inside linebacker and is expected to be the leader of the defense.
And while the Devil secondary looks inexperienced in paper, defensive coordinator and lead assistant coach Ty Brown has been impressed with the growth of cornerbacks Joey Dossa and Marquise Turner and safeties Bailey Yarrow and Nate Curtis.
The defense will have to be at its best right out of the gates, as DHS opens with a tough, nonconference matchup on the road against Yuba City (9-2 in 2012 including 5-0 in the Tri-County League) on Aug. 30. The Honkers gashed the Blue Devils for 414 rushing yards in last season’s opener.
Davis then travels to Sacramento to meet Foothill (1-9, 0-5) before facing Armijo (1-9, 0-5) in Fairfield. Both should be very winnable games for the Devils, who beat the pair by a combined score of 102-7 last year.
DHS steamrolled Foothill, gaining 230 yards on the ground, while against Armijo, the Devils took to the air. In that contest, 2012 starting QB Grant Dickerson and Barba combined to throw six touchdown passes.
Next, Davis looks to avenge last year’s heartbreaking 26-21 loss to Rio Americano (4-6, 2-3) when the Raiders come to Ron & Mary Brown Stadium for the Blue Devils’ home opener on Sept. 20.
DHS then finishes nonconference play with a rivalry game against Woodland. The Wolves (2-8, 2-3) will come to town on Sept. 27 looking to get revenge for last season’s 40-0 Devil beatdown.
The locals get a bye week before beginning their Delta Valley Conference schedule on Oct. 11 at home against Monterey Trail (5-5, 1-4), who fell 42-7 to Davis last year. After that, the schedule gets really tough …
The DVC has three of the perennial powerhouse programs in the section: Elk Grove (12-2, 4-1), Grant (5-6, 3-2) and Franklin (12-1, 5-0), a team the Devils will host on Oct. 18. DHS also gets Grant at home.
“I think having any game at home, you would like to think is an advantage,” Hicks said. “But football’s a strange sport, you never really know. It’s like that old Forrest Gump saying, ‘It’s like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.’ If we’re steady enough and we play hard enough and we keep our wits about ourselves, we’ll be good.”
The contest against Franklin, which is ranked 13th in the area, will be a real test of the Blue Devils‘ progress as the Wildcats rolled to a 72-7 victory over the locals in 2012.
After Franklin, Davis heads to Laguna Creek, a team the Devils shut out 27-0 last season. This year, however, the Cardinals feature standout signal-caller Cecil Williams II, who will play at Harvard next fall.
The home schedule ends on Nov. 1 when the ninth-ranked Pacers come to Brown Stadium. Although head coach Mike Alberghini’s roster looks young, everyone in the area knows Grant is never short on talent.
Like last year, the Devils wrap up with a season-ending showdown against Elk Grove, where they will try to avenge the devastating 17-10 loss which kept them out of the 2012 postseason. The third-ranked Thundering Herd, who took second place in the section last season, are led by standout running back Wadus Parker and quarterback Tommy Arnold.
So, how can DHS navigate this gauntlet all the way to a playoff berth?
“Eliminate the turnovers and execute,” Hicks said. “You have to execute in the game of football. If you don’t execute in the game of football, the results will be disastrous. If we can eliminate the turnovers, execute, and play physical and hard, we will be good.”
Note: The locals get a dress rehearsal on Saturday at the Natomas High Jamboree. Beginning at 11 a.m., Davis will face Florin, Natomas and Johnson in three 20-minute scrimmages.
— Reach Thomas Oide at email@example.com.