It was a festive final day of Davis Junior Blue Devils youth tackle football as three local teams competed for Sacramento Youth League championships on Sunday afternoon at Ron & Mary Brown Stadium.
For Davis, there were mixed results on the scoreboard, but fans, coaches and players for all three squads saw the end of a successful season.
While the Midgets Blue team captured its third consecutive title with a 56-24 win over Pleasant Grove, the Pee Wees Blue came up just short in a 14-6 setback to Rio Linda and the Junior Midgets Blue fell 38-0 to the powerhouse PG Eagles.
“Remember the names,” Midget head coach Marty Morse said after his team’s victory. “Nicholas Amoah, Connor Bunfill, Daniel Castor, Liam Condon, Ben Eason, Tucker Fisk, Austin Griffiths, Jesus Jimenez, Eben Kohn, John Lagattuta, Miles Lampley, Christian McCoy, Kyle Morse, Ismael (Ish) Perez, Josh Steen, Deon Wilkins, David Yo and David Zingaro. And let’s not forget the inspiration of Jack Hoal, injured in the beginning of the season, but who stuck with his teammates throughout the year …
“These guys are the future of Davis High School football.”
Morse’s boys stunned first-place Pleasant Grove, which came into the matchup unbeaten, including a win over the Devils earlier this season.
“It was an incredible offensive performance by the eighth-graders,” Morse added, “a performance that was a true team effort.”
With everyone contributing, it was running back Perez’s eye-popping, five-touchdown performance that had people talking.
After the opening kickoff, Davis drove down to score first.
The Eagles then fumbled on their first two possessions and the Devils took advantage, scoring two additional touchdowns that put them up 24-0 midway through the first quarter.
Local quarterback Lagattuta led the offense with great poise and leadership, according to Morse.
Wideouts Kyle Morse and Easton had a handful of difficult catches, while slot back Condon created holes for the running backs and caught passes from the backfield. But the game belonged to the offensive line: Griffiths, Fisk, Amoah, Yo and Jimenez.
“I am so impressed with the way this group executes their play,” Morse said. “Our line coach, Jason Fisk, has done such an outstanding job teaching these guys how to play this game. These linemen dominated (Sunday) and gave a 110 percent effort.
“Our offense was so dialed in thanks to the combined efforts of coach Fisk and offensive coordinator John Griffiths. I am so impressed with the entire coaching staff in preparing our players for this victory.”
The Blue Devils took a 48-8 lead into the half.
However, Pleasant Grove made adjustments and came out throwing the ball. Big plays allowed the Eagles to get into scoring position and find the end zone to squeeze the margin to 48-24 near the end of the third quarter.
Finally, though, a long Devil drive in the fourth quarter put the game out of reach.
“Our defense did a fantastic job containing the speedy running backs from Pleasant Grove,” Morse said. “Defensive ends Lampley and Easton stepped up their game (Sunday). Condon and Perez were solid at the middle linebacker position.
“It was great to see this Devil team … play some extremely great football. I am so proud of their effort and know these guys will be entertaining the Davis football fans for years to come.”
Davis took the Rio Linda Knights down to the wire in the Pee Wees-level championship contest, but a last-gasp effort came up just short in a 14-6 loss.
The defensive matchup had the Blue Devils playing for field position, using great tackles by Joey Asta, Lucas Griffiths and Sebastian Tamayo.
The Knights defense also was tough, but Payne Barksdale looked like he had Davis in business with a 23-yard run down to the 25. An interception, however, squelched the threat.
Rio Linda’s offense wasn’t doing much either, with Devil defenders Tanner McNamara, Tsadiku Obolu, Kel Williams and Jeremiah Jones providing big plays. Eventually, McNamara intercepted a pass to set up Taylor Vaughn’s nifty touchdown run that pulled the locals to 7-6 at intermission.
Tackles from Asta Obolu and Gerard Christian-Lichtenhan kept Davis in the game in the third period, even stopping the Knights at the 4-yard line on one drive.
Still, a late Rio Linda score gave the visitors the victory. Despite the loss, parents were grateful for what one father called “the extraordinary coaches that gave up their time to mentor our children.”
Conversely, the coaches were indebted to the families who provided passionate support all season long.
It was a very rough championship game for the Blue Devils, who were beaten by the Pleasant Grove Junior Eagles, 38-0.
After a strong run to the title contest, Davis was overmatched in speed and size and had difficulty getting anything going on offense.
Local running backs Arcel Rusangawa and Zach Thornburgh did their best to move the ball down field, but were held to 22 and 23 yards, respectively. A 25-yard completion from Thornburgh to tight end Will Smith just before the end of the first half was one of the offensive highlights.
The undefeated Eagles have not allowed a point in 2012.
On defense, the Devils battled hard to contain a fast-moving offense, and got some great tackles from cornerback Charlie Easton, safety Luke Maffly and linebackers Tyler Brown, Smith and Ryan Benjamin. But PG running backs were able to break through some tackles and displayed the same blazing speed that they had all season.
Even though Davis’ valiant efforts fell short, the players and coaches were able to look back with pride on a great season.