The John Wiley Era of Blue Devil football officially began on the field Monday when spring ball got underway with the first of a month’s worth of practices.
Wiley, most recently the defensive coordinator at Christian Brothers High, greeted about 60 Davis High gridiron hopefuls (freshmen through juniors) in a spirited, no-pads session on the grass just outside Brown Stadium.
“We look forward to being a competitive team, playing hard as well as playing smart,” explained Wiley, who replaced interim coach Marc Hicks. “We need to establish our team as one of great fundamentals.”
Despite being headed by a newcomer to DHS athletics, the Devil staff is dotted with familiar faces and holdovers from the Hicks and Steve Smyte regimes.
Wiley, a former Chicago Bears defensive back and all-SEC player at Auburn, has named 12-year NFL veteran and Davis favorite son Jason Fisk as defensive line coach.
Ty Brown, also the school’s popular wrestling coach, works with the defensive backs and is expected to again coordinate the defense.
Joe Carnazzo returns as linebacker coach and two effective Junior Blue Devil head coaches — Marty Morse (running backs) and John Griffiths (tight ends) — join the staff.
Yijie Ge is back as offensive line coach.
A new name — but an old DHS friend — is offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Bob Ghazanfari, a 1993 Blue Devil graduate.
Ghazanfari played at Sacramento State (1994-1997) before coaching there for five seasons. He’s also coached at American River College, Modesto Christian and Sacramento high schools.
“Coach Ghaz has a history of successfully developing players who have moved on (through) football,” Wiley told The Enterprise. “(He) has been a part of many record-breaking offenses, (including) some of the most prolific offenses in Sacramento State history.”
In the past 10 seasons, DHS has had one winning season (2007). It won the 1988 Sac-Joaquin Section championship.
After winning seven games total from 2008 to 2011, the Devils forged back-to-back 5-5 campaigns under Smyte and Hicks.
But just when it looked like the Devils were getting the hang of Delta Valley Conference play, everything changes for 2014.
Into the DVC comes Jesuit, Pleasant Grove and Sheldon. Gone is Laguna Creek.
Davis High will participate in the Sacramento State football camp in June before regular-season workouts begin in August.
Scrimmages at Folsom (Aug. 23) and home with Sacramento (Aug. 28) are the final warm-ups before the Blue Devils meet River Valley (Sept. 5) and Vintage (Sept. 12) at Brown Stadium.
A trip to Edison (Stockton) comes Sept. 19 before the locals strap it on for Homecoming against Elk Grove. The game also marks the inaugural contest of the new-look DVC.
The rest of the Delta Valley minefield: Jesuit (Oct. 3); at Sheldon (Oct. 10); at Franklin (Oct. 17); Senior Night with Pleasant Grove (Oct. 24); happy Halloween at Grant (Oct. 31); and Nov. 7 on the road at Monterey Trail.
Notes: Wiley is the fifth DHS football coach in eight seasons (Jim Johnson, Dan Gazzaniga, Smyte and Hicks have served in that order). … Former Blue Devils Fisk and Hicks were finalists for the top Devil post. Fisk — who recorded a sack in Super Bowl XXXIV — was a nose tackle at Stanford before going on to play for five teams (primarily for Tennessee) in the NFL. … Fundraising for the Davis High Lift-a-thon has started and Devil players are in the process of securing pledges. The Lift-a-thon is the program’s biggest fundraiser of the year, according to Wiley. … Mike Satre returns as junior varsity head coach with Chuck Temple as defensive coordinator. Lui Leyva (line), Ian Marrow (line), Rick Yaver (running backs/linebackers), Frank Lagattuta (receivers/defensive backs), Chris Lundin (tight ends/linebackers) and QC manager Logan Kittle round out the staff. Satre will remain offensive coordinator.
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at email@example.com or 530-320-4456