They kill drives, momentum, morale.
No team is immune.
And for the past two weeks, the Davis High football team has fallen because of mental miscues — penalties in particular.
“I saw a lot of the same mistakes that we made (against Monterey Trail),” head coach Marc Hicks said. “Certain people keep making the same mistakes and unfortunately for us, we can’t just put somebody else in that spot.”
Last week, the Blue Devils jumped offside on many occasions, largely due to the hard snap counts from Franklin’s quarterback Lamar Jackson. DHS been working on recognizing snap counts and ball drills all week.
Even though penalties are a big concern for the Blue Devils, an even bigger concern is DHS’ lack of a running game. Last week marked the third consecutive week that the Blue Devils have been held to less than 100 rushing yards.
With a loaded running back stable consisting of Talek Deary, Winfred Roberson and Wally Perez, teams have been stacking the box with eight players for most games, which poses a concern for the DHS offense.
“Yeah, I’m a little bit concerned,” Hicks said. “But again, our problem is guys making mistakes. The blocks are there, we’re seeing holes on film, but the running backs have to hit the holes. We have to eliminate the mistakes of the linemen: blocking the wrong guy, going to the wrong guy, not knowing where they’re going for whatever reason.
“We should be running the ball better, that’s been our bread and butter from the beginning,” Hicks added. “You stack eight in the box, then we should be able to throw the ball. We have two very capable quarterbacks.”
For the third consecutive week, the Blue Devil defense will see yet another mobile quarterback, as Laguna Creek runs a spread option offense.
Even though the Cardinals stand at 1-6 overall (0-2 Delta Valley Conference), they lost to Monterey Trail by a seven-point margin last week, the same result as the Devils.
“(Laguna Creek) runs a little spread, a little bit of wing, they have some good speed,” Hicks said. “It’s gonna be another battle. It’s gonna come down to what we’re going to do.”
The Devil defense will need to keep an eye on Russell Williams Jr., who has racked up 419 yards and four touchdowns on the season. Jaquan Brown-Collins has also been effective: rushing for 388 yards and five scores.
The two running backs need to be shut down as this is a pivotal game for the Blue Devils.
In order to qualify for the playoffs, teams typically need to have at least six wins, and two league wins.
The Blue Devils currently meet neither requirement.
Standing at 4-3 overall (0-2 DVC), the Blue Devils will need to win at least two of the next three games against Laguna Creek, Grant, and a brutal season finale against powerhouse Elk Grove.
“I think they know what’s at stake,” Hicks said. “We’ll be reminding them again (at practice), but all I can really say is ‘We’ll see.’”
But before looking ahead to the Grant and Elk Grove games, the Devils need to focus on the task at hand: beating Laguna Creek. According to Hicks, the key to the game will be in the trenches.
“It all starts with those five young men out in front,” Hicks said as he pointed to his offensive line. “If they do what they’re supposed to do, everything else goes. We have a good line, but they have to believe in themselves. Last couple of games, I don’t think that they’ve believed in themselves. I don’t know what, but we keep going over there, keep loving on them, keep telling them what to do, showing them what to do. At some point they are going to have to say, ‘We are going to do this.’ ”