Let’s hope that Friday’s Blue Devil football game will be one for the ages.
Davis flies under the radar no more, and a very, very good Franklin team — 6-0 and ranked second in the Sac-Joaquin Section — is lying in wait for its Delta Valley Conference rivals.
When the two schools kick off at 7:15 p.m. at Cosumnes Oaks High, there are so many directions this game could head.
Knowing that, it makes Friday that much more interesting.
The Wildcats, a spread offense that uses all its firepower to move the ball, has been helped out by a defense that repeatedly has given Franklin a short field.
Last week, in a 34-26 win at Grant, it was the defense that saved the day — blocking a field goal with seconds left, then, adding insult to injury by returning the ball for a touchdown.
DHS, meanwhile, buried an unsuspecting Monterey Trail, 42-7. After four years of DVC despair, the Devils (4-2) made quite a statement. There probably are some league coaches looking back at last week’s papers to make sure the score wasn’t a typo.
It wasn’t. And regardless of what happens with Franklin, it’s doubtful that DHS is going to disappoint anyone from here on out.
Blue Devil Nation, take heart …
Not only is your team deeper than at anytime in the past five seasons, it has scary-good skills players and a quarterback who is growing Hulk-like in stature.
Twice in the past seven days, two newspapers have credited signal-caller Grant Dickerson with having Peyton Manningesque calm and ability. Wow.
Dickerson told me nothing happens — for him or his teammates — without the brilliant play of his offensive line.
The senior, who didn’t play quarterback in 2011, seems to have a moat around him. Bray Harwood, Oscar Sepulveda, Nick Denton, Brain Stabenfeldt, Bailey Murray and Zac Slavich have been trench mainstays.
The line’s solid effort has allowed Davis to farm out the ball, giving tailback Winfred Roberson a chance to score nine touchdowns and go over 600 yards — this while actually getting occasional breaks and missing half the first game with a knee bruise.
With Dickerson getting a chance to throw without running for his life (remember Shayne Reagan’s courageous 2011 season), the big right-hander has 13 TDs and more than 1,200 yards through the air.
Shhhh. Don’t tell the other DVC teams, but Dickerson is on a school-record-setting pace in both categories.
Oh, did I mention DHS might have the best receiving corps in the Sac-Joaquin Section ranks?
Friday night, they’ll be a key. Franklin plays tough up front. C.K. Hicks, Kevin Sorensen, Brett Bloomfield and their pals will have to help out on pass protection — in addition to being cat-quick off the ball to get open when their numbers are called.
Then there’s special teams …
Former Davis High and UC Davis standout Josh Reese has done a terrific job coaching those unsung Devils units.
All season, special teams have covered kickoffs and punts well. (Punts? What punts, you ask? Fair enough, since DHS didn’t punt once against Monterey Trail, but don’t expect that lightning to hit twice against Franklin.)
Good kick coverage will be only half the battle on Friday. Reese and his players know it’s time that Adam King, Hicks or Quinn Williams receive that one big block and take a game-changer back to The House.
“We’ve been doing a great job on coverage and returns,” Reese told me this week. “But we’re always changing things up. We don’t want to get scouted … beat on our coverage or returns.”
Reese doesn’t want to tip his hand, but smiles broadly when asked if there are new wrinkles in store for the heart of the conference lineup.
Mix in the offensive genius of head coach Steve Smyte and this Blue Devil team could be scarier than Davis’ mascot El Diablo dressed as Dracula on Halloween.
48-45? Could be. 42-7? Could be. 10-6? Doubtful. The real question is, who wins? By what margin? The game is that intriguing.
Kickoff is 7:15 p.m. See you at Cosumnes Oaks High? Miss this one, and you might miss a classic.
While I Have You Here: The massive soccer crowd for Jesuit and Davis last Saturday saw a clunker (if you’re a Blue Devil fan), but the number of fans in attendance — an estimated 1,500 — spotlighted how valuable the rebuild of old Halden Field has been for DHS.
Not only did the school’s athletic program get more than $4,000 for the gate, it provided a showcase venue for one of the state’s top rivalries. Regardless of the sport, there is something special about Jesuit/Davis or St. Francis/Davis.
I know. Our soccer coaches, past and present, prefer playing on the natural grass at Yudin Field. The Devils practice there. They’re comfortable there. And a lot of folks (including those at PG&E) worked hard to get lights on that pitch, which sits north of the tennis courts.
But there is no strategy for charging admission at Yudin Field, and because of the low-sitting bleachers, sight lines aren’t the best. (Even though Ron & Mary Brown Stadium’s visitors seating isn’t super, the visitors’ accommodations at Yudin Field are even worse.)
And who didn’t love having the concession stands open? Thanks, Blue Devil Football Backers.
So, kudos to the administrators who moved Saturday’s game to the stadium. It’s why we brought the on-campus facility back to life. Who’s looking forward to a replay this spring when St. Francis comes to town?
— Bruce Gallaudet is a staff writer for The Davis Enterprise. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8047.