Enterprise staff writer
ItÕs been an education. ItÕs no secret the coaches in Davis HighÕs football program have had a wealth of college experience.
Headmaster Steve Smyte Ñ who, after more than a decade at Boise State and UC Davis, opted to come back and lead his beloved Blue Devils Ñ has instilled a sense of pride in his undersized, roster-thin team.
Bouncing along at 1-7, itÕs not the overnight transformation a handful of followers expected. But those around construction understand a foundation has to be laid before all the pretty trappings start to take shape.
At Davis High School this fall, two far-reaching foundations were laid.
As work went on around Halden Field Ñ putting in new home-side stands, new concession facilities, state-of-the-art lighting, a grand scoreboard, a wonderful turf field Ñ Smyte and Company were building a culture of respect, dedication, support and pride.
ÒWe want people to point when they see one of our players walking down the street in his uniform jersey on game day,Ó Smyte said before the season started. ÒWe want them to point with pride and say to their young kids, ÔThere goes a Davis Blue Devil.ÕÓ
Despite losing most of its games, there has nonetheless been no lost pride. ItÕs no secret to Smyte, his staff or team that the losses arenÕt for lack of trying.
ÒIt will take time (for wins) but the attitude must change around the team. They must learn how to win,Ó linebackers and special teams coach Randy Malmgren says. ÒThis wasnÕt a very athletic class.Ó
Malmgren says the Devils have their standouts, but when a team dresses 26 players for a game Ñ six of them slightly injured, six who are in their first year of football Ñ odds quickly stack up against them.
Players playing out of position to fill for the injured adds to a situation that, week in and week out, has seen Davis play hard, hold the line, then blow an assignment that leads to a catastrophic advance by its foes.
Also, the thin roster has meant exhausted players late in each game.
ÒBut these guys never quit. Never,Ó Smyte said after last weekÕs Grant game.
And so, when DHS meets Elk Grove (3-5, 0-3 in Delta Valley Conference) on Friday at Ron & Mary Brown Stadium, it will be an evening to honor the 19 senior Blue Devils. Not for their scoreboard accomplishment, but for their stick-to-itness and their ability to perform despite the shortcomings and still battle through with a positive attitude.
Ten years from now, when Smyte and his guys have long turned the corner, those 19 seniors can look back on 2010 and know that they were the foundation from which future successes were built.
Smyte likes to talk about integrity and pride.
If there has been a more honest season in Davis football history, itÕs a secret. This Class of 2011 laid it all out there.
Friday night is a chance to honor that commitment at the last home game of the season.
Notes: Malmgren last coached high school in 1991 when he led Archbishop Riordan (San Francisco) in the West Catholic Athletic League, one of the most competitive football conferences in the United States. After 10 years at Laney College (Oakland), Malmgren was most recently linebacker coach at Sierra College. His charges had a 39-game win streak and went from D-III to D-A in community college ranks. Malmgren had to give up coaching at Sierra when a business commitment kept him from reporting in early August. Smyte invited him to join the Devils. ÒCoach Smyte is dedicated to the program and I know he has been frustrated (by the injuries and lack of depth),Ó Malmgren said. Smyte also was hired in May, having to squeeze a yearÕs worth of work into sixth months. … Game time is 7:15 p.m. Junior varsity plays at 5 p.m.
Ñ Reach Bruce Gallaudet at firstname.lastname@example.org or (530) 747-8056. Comment on this story at www.davisenterprise.com