Enterprise staff writer
More than a week before the start of school, the echoes of athletes working hard are ringing down the empty corridors at Davis High.
The pop of the pads can be heard on Halden Field as a new coaching era begins for the Blue Devils. A short distance away, thereÕs the distinctive click of sticks Ñ field hockey in full bloom.
Listen, out there at Yudin Field. Those yells? ItÕs the guys getting ready for another run at a section soccer crown, while just on the other side of the fence, a new girls tennis coach Ñ the first coaching change for that team in three decades Ñ greets her talented crew.
In nine sports, including freshman and junior varsity ranks, more than 400 athletes are working for positions on teams that will represent DHS.
Knowing that Davis has won more than 50 Sac-Joaquin Secton crowns in these sports, one can expect that competition is keen among the students, coaching brilliant among the staffs and expectations high within the fan ranks.
New athletic director Dennis Foster says it isnÕt a surprise to him, whatÕs happening in preparation for 2010-11 Davis sports.
ÒThe level of professionalism I have encountered with coaches matches up with the high level of success our athletic department has had over itÕs long history,Ó the former Natomas High AD points out. ÒEach coach is well trained in their craft É and does an excellent job with parent and community relations, as well.Ó
Stability Ñ and through that consistency, allowing athletes to know what to expect and to prepare for Ñ has been a hallmark of Blue Devil sports and coaching staffs. This school year will be no different. In 27 sports, only girls tennis (Sally Hosley) and football (Steve Smyte) have new coaches at the varsity level.
ÒMy (fall) coaches, in most instances, are É prepared and have taken many hours in the spring and summer getting ready to provide the best possible experience for the young men and women in our athletic program.Ó
That coaching dedication has translated to a region-best 107 section crowns since CIF started keeping track of such things in 1970.
A quick look at the foundations being laid in this fallÕs nine sports hints that more banners could be on their way to Davis High…
Boys soccer (coach Ashley Yudin) Ñ Pushing two decades on the pitch at DHS, Yudin greeted guys Monday who will play on a field named in his honor. His teams have captured five section crowns and have some unfinished business to attend to after being upset in last yearÕs semifinal playoff match. (Golden Valley won on penalty kicks after an injury knocked all-everything playmaker Greg Carter out of the game.)
Girls water polo (coach Doug Wright) Ñ As you read this, DHSÕ Wright is attempting a crossing of the English Channel. When he gets back, his girls will attempt to ford the expanse of the Sac-Jaoquin competition for the second straight season Ñ and seventh time in the past 10 years. Practice begins next Monday.
Boys water polo (coach Tracy Stapleton) Ñ Since 1995, the section finals have had either a Davis or Jesuit team playing for the crown. Last year the Devils just missed their 14th boysÕ title in losing to St. MaryÕs in the finals. It shouldnÕt surprise anyone that, despite losing eight key seniors, DHS is again loaded for bear. Like the girls, the boys begin practice Monday.
Girls golf (coach Rhonda Mohr) Ñ After a slow start, it was literally a walk in the park for MohrÕs Blue Devils as they captured the Delta Valley Conference title Ñ smoking second-place Kennedy by 50-plus strokes in the finale. Gone is sensational No. 1 Kelsey Dedoshka, but donÕt count Davis out. A handful of solid players return.
Football (coach Steve Smyte) Ñ One of those two new coaches, Smyte is a former Boise State and UC Davis assistant who teaches special education at DHS. After a successful summer-league experience, the Blue Devils are showing quickness and togetherness during their week on the field. Coming off a 2-8 season, could it be that the locals are the 2010 DVC surprise package?
Girls volleyball (coach Leigh Whitmore) Ñ Watching her ranks grow tremendously from last year to this, Whitmore hopes when tryouts end there will be enough players to field three quality teams Ñ and enough varsity-level talent to retool the once-mighty Blue Devils. Davis has won six section volleyball titles and been runners-up six other times.
Cross country (coach Bill Gregg) Ñ Under the watchful eye of Gregg, Davis has run to six consecutive boys titles. The girls have taken 11 section titles, although a second-place finish to Oak Ridge last fall interrupted a run of seven straight crowns. Some new faces are expected to fuel high expectations again this year.
Field hockey (coach Katy Loge) — DHS tied with Chico for its second consecutive Eastern Athletic League championship, making it 13 conference crowns in 18 years. Blue Devil Rachel Mack, who graduated in June, has been aiding Loge during tryouts. The locals should know by the end of the week who makes up JV and varsity rosters.
Girls tennis (coach Sally Hosley) Ñ Veteran area instructor Hosley replaces Paul Ochs, a fixture in DHS coaching who completed 34 seasons mentoring local tennis-playing girls. Hosley has a solid returning group, which made it to the finals in 2009 before falling short against St. Francis. Ochs won six CIF titles and finished second to the Troubadors three of the past four seasons.
Notes: Beginning next week, individual fall sports will be previewed in a seven-part series. Both water polo teams will run the same day, as will boys and girls cross country. Football will be featured in a special section.