For the second consecutive season, the Davis Junior Blue Devils youth tackle football program finds three of its teams in the Sacramento Youth League championship games.
On Saturday, the local Midget Blue squad pounded Colfax, 42-6; the Junior Midgets Blue nipped Pleasant Grove, 13-8; and the Pee Wees Blue rolled, 34-0.
Now, all three groups return home for a trio of title games on Sunday.
Davis’ Midgets (4 p.m.) and Junior Midgets (2 p.m.) meet Pleasant Grove, while the Pee Wees play a noon contest with Rio Linda. The games will be played at Davis High’s Ron & Mary Brown Stadium.
Last year, the local Midgets and Junior Midgets won their conference crowns (as did the Pee Wees White squad).
Here’s a look at last weekend’s playoff action …
In Rio Linda, the Blue Devils dominated Colfax, 42-6, in the first playoff round.
The defending division champs were solid in every regard, as the Davis offense got off to great start by marching 68 yards on 15 plays on its opening drive.
Ish Perez recorded his first of four touchdown runs to cap off the scoring drive.
“Ish has been a fantastic power running back all season,” said Devil head coach Marty Morse. “He reads his blocks well and runs downhill for positive yardage every carry.”
Perez finished the game with 147 yards on 18 carries.
One reason for his success has been the dominating performance of the local offensive line.
Led by the consistent snapping of center Austin Griffiths, the Blue Devils have been able to control the line of scrimmage all season. Tucker Fisk, Nicholas Amoah, Jesus Jiminez and David Yo have flanked Griffiths brilliantly, as the group has provided massive holes for the running backs.
“Our linemen are the heart and soul of this team. They are a blue-collar bunch of guys,” Morse added. “They come to work every Saturday and control the line of scrimmage, allowing our backs to gain big yards.”
Davis quarterback John Lagattuta had an outstanding game against Colfax, leading his team on four of its five scoring drives. Lagattuta completed 6-of-7 passes for 68 yards, with tight end Ben Easton (two receptions for 24 yards) as his favorite target.
On defense, Easton also made his presence known with two interceptions, one of which he returned 38 yards for a touchdown.
Defensive end Miles Lampley had a big day for the Devils, containing the Falcon running backs with four key tackles. Fisk, Kyle Morse and Liam Condon recorded three tackles each, while Ebon Kohn, Easton, Amoah, Danielle Castro, Connor Bunfill, Jiminez and Yo all added stops.
The victory improves the Midget squad’s record to 8-1, with the only loss coming against the undefeated Eagles in Sept. 8. The rematch, according to Morse, “proves to be an exciting matchup. It is a repeat of the championship game from 2011.”
The Devils beat Pleasant Grove, 36-12, to cap a 10-0 campaign last year.
The defending league champion Blue Devils battled it out with the Colfax in a real nail-biter, ultimately winning 13-8 with precision passing and tough defensive stands.
Interceptions by Charlie Easton, Neil Welch and Luke Maffly were keys to Davis’ comeback victory.
The Falcons scored first in the game on a long scramble for a touchdown and a two-point field goal conversion, but it was the last time they would find the end zone.
Meanwhile, the Devils attempted to respond by running the ball against a stingy Colfax defense.
“We thought if we could establish a solid ground game, we could control the tempo throughout,” said Davis coach Paul Welch. “But their defense wasn’t having any of it. We ended up going to the air to try to break something loose.”
And break loose they did …
A 37-yard pass from Zach Thornburgh to running back Maffly was followed by an 18-yard pass from Thornburgh to tight end Will Smith for the Blue Devils’ first touchdown. The local momentum continued on the next possession, with running backs Maffly, Thornburgh, Gabel Longshore and Arcel Rusangawa pounding their way down the field and Thornburgh finally punching it in for the final score of the afternoon.
Late in the first half, the Falcons drove the ball deep into Davis territory, but Easton’s pick came as time expired.
Colfax controlled the ball much of the second half, but the Devil defense protected its narrow lead behind great backfield tackling by linemen Joe Morrison, Luke Scoggins and Eric Balderama.
Linebackers Kayden Hoal, Tyler Brown and Smith kept Falcon running backs from converting on critical fourth-down runs and cornerback Welch intercepted a pass that prevented an almost certain touchdown.
With two minutes left in the game and Colfax inside the Devil 10, Davis made its biggest stand yet as a spectacular team effort stuffed the Falcon offense.
Later, the final Colfax drive ended with safety Maffly stepping in front of a long pass in the final seconds of the game and the Blue Devils breathed a collective sigh of relief.
“(It was) definitely the most nervous I’ve been at any time this season,” said local head coach Josh Maffly. “But the guys made the big plays every time it really mattered … and that’s what it takes to win playoff football. I couldn’t be more proud of their efforts.”
Even though Pleasant Grove began the game from its own 50-yard line, the Davis defensive barricade held the Eagles in place with tackles by Gerard Christian-Lichtenhan and Jeremiah Jones.
On the offensive side, Taylor Vaughn got the ball downfield before the initial drive stalled — but the exchange set the tone for the locals’ 34-0 win: The Blue Devils would move the ball and PG would not.
On Davis’ second possession, good line play by Tsadiku Obolu and forceful rushes by Christian-Lichtenhan pushed the Eagles all the way to their 35-yard line.
There, Pleasant Grove turned it over and Blue Devil QB Payne Barksdale completed passes to Taylor Vaughn and Lucas Griffiths, who took his reception in for a TD.
In the second quarter, Davis played lockdown defense and scored on a safety, then Vaughn returned a kick for a touchdown.
Vaughn scored on another long TD on the third period, with Barksdale’s conversion making it 21-0.
On the next PG possession, Kel Williams’ interception set up Davis deep in its opponent’s territory, allowing a series of Griffiths carries to eventually mean a touchdown for the rugged running back.
Good play from kicker Michael Cantanzaro and defenders Koshan Schiffman, Sebastian Tamayo and Tanner McNamara were key in the final period when the Devils scored another touchdown to put the game away when Andrew Battistoni recovered a late fumble.