On Tuesday, the Davis High boys soccer team got the ball rolling with a victory over Woodland.
Coming up on Friday, the Blue Devil football team has its turn to defeat its cross-county rival, when the Wolves come to Brown Stadium for a 7:15 p.m. contest.
DHS (3-1) will be attempting to beat WHS (1-3) for the second consecutive season, following a 40-0 blowout in 2012.
Last week against Rio Americano, the Devil defense was stellar, holding the run-oriented Raiders to just 1.4 yards per carry and 168 total yards.
Woodland, however, will give the Davis defense a much different look — an up-tempo, spread-option attack that is unlike anything the locals have seen this season.
This week at practice, the coaching staff, including defensive coordinator Ty Brown, is preparing the Blue Devils for what they might encounter:
“We’re gonna give (the defense) some no-huddle looks in practice, and things like that,” Brown said. “We’re gonna put them in stressful positions in practice so when stressful situations present themselves on Friday night, we’ll be prepared so we can rock and roll.”
Although the Wolves have struggled thus far into the season, it’s not for lack of offensive talent. The DHS front seven will have to contend with a quartet of running backs — all four have carried the ball more than 20 times — paced by senior Alex Preciado, who is averaging 51.3 yards per game. Another senior, Joseph Duran, is averaging more than seven yards per carry.
Devil cornerback Joey Dossa, who has splashed onto the scene in recent weeks, likely will have the task of covering wide receiver Devin Jones, a two-way standout who has committed to play corner next year at North Dakota.
On the offensive side of the ball, Davis will look to continue its current string of success. The locals have averaged just over 26 points per game in their three-game winning streak.
The best news for the Blue Devils is that running back and linebacker Wally Perez will be returning from injury week. The junior will add his talents to a DHS backfield that is already flush with speedster Talek Deary and workhorse Winfred Roberson.
It could be just in the nick of time as WHS’ run defense has been stout. The Wolves were in full lockdown mode against Colfax last week, holding the Falcons to eight rushing yards on 18 carries.
The Woodland defense has been less effective against the pass, giving up more than 250 yards through the air in each of its four games. This could be where the Devils get their points as junior quarterback Quinten Jones has seen increased opportunities as the season progresses and is coming off of his best outing of the year against Rio — 147 yards and a touchdown pass.
“(Jones) is going to expand his own role,” said DHS head coach Marc Hicks. “He knows what is expected of him as the quarterback. He is a hard worker, so I think he will continue to evolve as we get better as a unit. QJ is doing just fine for where he is at.”
Facing a longtime rival like WHS means the Blue Devils also have been preparing for the added pressure that goes along with the game.
“We’re trying to stay as relaxed as possible, getting the guys to stay relaxed, have fun, and play the game,” said Hicks, a former DHS standout at running back in the mid-1980s. “We’re always emphasizing how important this game is. It’s not maybe of the caliber rivalry when I was in school, but for us coaches, it’s still a big deal.”
With the added emphasis on this week’s opponent, Hicks said his players have really taken it upon themselves to get ready:
“Our guys are getting up (for the game), they’re all watching film on their own. We’re getting ready, they’re serious. They’re coming in on their own at lunch and watching film this week. That shows that they are ready.”
The first-year head coach is hoping that will translate into a huge effort on the field Friday.
“One thing that (the team) has to keep in perspective though, is that this is a huge game,” Hicks said. “And win or lose, as long as you can go out and play your hardest, and you can look at yourself in the mirror and say, ‘I did everything I could,’ then you’re a success.”
— Reach Thomas Oide at firstname.lastname@example.org