ELK GROVE — “What can I say? Grant Dickerson has been awesome,” coach Steve Smyte said of his Davis High quarterback. “He has met, and exceeded, all expectations we’ve had for him.”
In leading the Blue Devils to a 42-7 Delta Valley Conference-opening defeat at Monterey Trail on Friday, senior Dickerson completed 16-of-22 passes for 212 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Somewhere along the line, this first-year varsity signal caller has adopted his coach’s riverboat gambler style. In topping the Mustangs on Friday, Dickerson hit five of six passes on fourth-down conversions.
For the season, Dickerson has thrown 1,221 yards and 13 touchdowns — lofty figures since single-season school records stand at 1,890 yards and 18 TDs. Dickerson has completed 52 percent of his passes with six interceptions (three coming in a first-game loss to Yuba City).
With Davis (4-2) no longer playing doormat in league, Dickerson says he and his teammates can continue the roll, but he believes there’s room for improvement.
“I don’t think I’m ahead of where I wanted to be,” the 6-foot-3 former receiver explained. “I think I’ve learned a lot of coach Smyte’s schemes. But I didn’t play quarterback last year and (then just) had to focus on my plays and not everything like this year.
“So now that I’ve gone through a preseason and our first league game, I definitely know what coach Smyte’s trying to do with our players and I kinda know where he wants to throw the ball, to which players.”
And despite all the success — Smyte says Dickerson has become one of the region’s elite QBs — Dickerson and his coach know he is still a work in progress.
“I see things that he gets better at each week,” Smyte told The Enterprise. “Grant had very little experience coming in and there is so much to absorb every week. He has picked it up fast and has a natural feel for the game.”
Grant, the son of Kären and Dave Dickerson (a JV assistant coach), has great escape-ability, which makes giving up on a play and throwing the ball away a tougher decision for the emerging QB.
When Dickerson scrambles, Smyte’s heart is in his throat, although the coach trusts him…
“He can get out of situations when pass protections break down. (He owes) that to his strength and speed. He is a great athlete who can run with the ball.”
But Smyte much prefers that Dickerson hand it off — or throw to the likes of C.K. Hicks, Kevin Sorensen or Brett Bloomfield.
Sorensen and Hicks have been favorite targets of Dickerson’s, but the QB liked what he saw from Bloomfield on Friday: three grabs for 65 yards and a touchdown.
“Brett had some great catches,” Dickerson said. “He wasn’t (considered a lot) at the beginning of the season because we had C.K. and Kevin making plays. But (Friday) Brett came out and did a great job.”
Terrific. Just what Davis opponents need, another receiver to cover. With TD catches by Quinn Williams and Brendan MacDonald, too, that means Dickerson has thrown his 13 scoring strikes to five different teammates.
“These last two weeks I’ve seen a maturing in understanding his role and taking more of a leadership position. Putting more on his shoulders,” Smyte reports.
And Dickerson’s technique is improving. He’s always been a solid deep thrower, but the coaches say Dickerson’s short and medium tosses are becoming pinpoint.
“Another thing that Grant has done well that others don’t see … is his ability to catch bad snaps. He has quick hands and excellent reactions, which have allowed him to make a play even with a bad snap,” Smyte adds.
So where are these upstart Blue Devils headed?
“This is definitely one of our best years,” Dickerson believes. “We have a whole bunch of playmakers on offense and defense.”
Without saying something that could be used as material for opponents’ locker rooms, Dickerson says Davis should be considered in the mix for a playoff berth.
“But, remember, we also can still improve,” he adds. “We had too many penalties, I threw away touchdowns… Even though we scored a lot, there’s still a lot for us to work on.”
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at [email protected] or 530-747-8047.