Enterprise staff writer
ÒHey! We donÕt walk here … you guys should know better!Ó came the coachÕs admonition.
A little later the unthinkable happens Ñ and as the coach approaches with a quick cadence, a glint in his eyes but command in his voice, those who know Steve Smyte understand thereÕs a lesson coming…
ÒWhat are you doing?Ó comes the questions Ñ from 25 yards away.
ÒSitting? YouÕre sitting?Ó
SmyteÕs steps quicken. As his players-turned-mentors scramble to their feet, the Junior Blue Devil football campers follow suit.
ÒWe donÕt sit on a football field!Ó
SmyteÕs message was received before he said that.
ÒWe have too much respect for the game, for the field to sit. DonÕt we?Ó
As the group Ñ including SmyteÕs Blue Devil leaders nod affirmatively Ñ Smyte smiles and veers off in another direction.
Knowing he got his point home, he shakes his head, the smile getting wider.
The first-year Davis High coach understands heÕs looking at his gridiron future. HeÕs impressed with the turnout, popping buttons over how his players are handling the responsibility as teachers.
Like a pinball, heÕs bouncing from one skills station to another at crowded Halden Field at DHS. In less than two weeks, both the little guys and the high school players will be in gear, preparing for the real football season.
This is a busy morning, this Tuesday is. More than 100 youth-program players and kids who Òthought theyÕd give it a tryÓ have come to this three-day skills camp.
Junior Blue Devils Youth Tackle Football President Al Inouye is amazed, and proud.
ÒCan you believe this? Can you believe how fast Steve has gotten it together … knowing how late he came on?Ó Inouye asks. ÒThe kids are loving this.Ó
In the middle of the stadium sit Devil quarterbacks Shayne Reagan and Dane Denkers. The conversation is a welcome break for players (Smyte hasnÕt seen them sitting yet).
Over in the corner, Derrick Coronado watches Ricky Pacciorini, then Quentin McCray blast through the pads as a cut-back drill is happening for aspiring running backs.
Linebackers and defensive backs are getting smart attention from the likes of DHS standouts Kevin Concolino, Marcus Charles and Blair Kittle.
ÒLook at these guys. ItÕs what we want from our players,Ó Smyte said, hinting that, at least on this day, his bark was worse than his bite. ÒI really am proud of my players…Ó
Smyte stood and watched as Denkers stayed after the two-hour camp and showed a 10-year-old wanna-be QB a few more techniques.
ÒAnd you have to be impressed with what Inouye has accomplished,Ó Smyte added as he helped his guys stow equipment for the next dayÕs session. ÒThis is awesome. ItÕs the future. So important … this means everything to the program.Ó
What Inouye has done with the Junior Blue Devil program is nothing short of resurrection.
Three years ago, there was flagging enrollment. With four teams and under 75 players signed up, DJBD officials feared there might be a total collapse, said one program veteran.
But that was then. This is now…
Inouye figures enrollment will top out at 160. Davis will field eight teams, called Blue and White squads.
When practice begins Monday, each Blue and White team of each of the four divisions will practice together, splitting into their respective squads later in the week and for the weekend contests.
ÒEven though enrollment is up significantly, (having these extra) teams will allow players to get more playing time,Ó Inouye, whose son Josh plays, further explains.
ÒBut you have to give a lot of credit to what (Smyte) is bringing to this … so quickly.Ó
Marty Morse, in his third year coaching the Junior Blue Devils, concurs.
ÒThis (camp) has been so well-run. The leadership (Smyte) brings. His dedication being involved on such short notice is amazing. To this many of his (players) out here shows his commitment to football in Davis,Ó Morse added as he helped wherever he was asked during the seven-station camp.
As the final horn sounded, ending Day 1, it was clear the little players Ñ ages 6 to early teens Ñ were disappointed the time had passed so quickly.
But Smyte promised more of the same today and Thursday as he addressed the assembled players and their parents.
ÒI like what I saw,Ó was the short message. ÒSee you all tomorrow…Ó
Well, coach, the kids liked what they saw, too. And theyÕre probably thinking as they fall asleep tonight, ÒSee you tomorrow Ñ and when I get to the high school, too, coach.Ó
Notes: Davis High two-way standout Blair Kittle, who missed most of 2009 with a knee injury, was looking like his old self and fired up about his upcoming season. …Charles, a junior defensive back, was impressed with the kids he worked with: ÒAt first the kids will get a little rowdy, but then you watch and youÕre pretty sure (Davis football) has a future with these guys. TheyÕre real energetic.Ó Registration for Davis Junior Blue Devils football is still being taken. Deadline is Aug. 10 and the fee for players is $300. There are special discounts for multiple-player signups, penalties for late registration. Visit http://www.juniorbluedevils.com for registration information and forms. …Davis High kicks off its regular season on Sept. 3 on the road at Armijo. The Blue Devils, under departed coach Dan Gazzaniga, were
2-8 each of the past two seasons. …Smyte, in his first season at the helm of the Blue Devils, coached as an assistant at Boise State and UC Davis. The native of Canada is a special-education teacher at DHS.