You know the story. In the Sacramento Valley soccer annals it’s The Big Game — Jesuit vs. Davis.
The Marauders and longtime coach Paul Rose have grabbed nine Sac-Joaquin Section titles and stuck their noses in another six final games. The Blue Devils — under recently retired coach Ashley Yudin — won six regional crowns.
Since 1996, only once (2004) has the prep championship not involved at least one of the two schools. Thanks to a recent rule change that no longer requires north playing south in the finals, DHS and Jesuit have split the last two finales — with the Devils standing as the reigning CIF kings.
The names of the participants still conjure vivid memories — Anibaba, Jahn, Spinoso, Gross, Fenner, Helmus — and the competition seems to always be nailbiting: Jesuit is 6-4-2 against Davis over the past 10 years and, on three occasions in five tournament meetings, Davis has knocked out the Marauders (including the 2-2 tie broken by Blue Devil penalty kicks in last November’s championship contest).
On Saturday at 8 p.m. at DHS’ Ron & Mary Brown Stadium, The Big Game is renewed.
Jesuit (15-1-1) comes in ranked No. 5 in the land by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America, while Davis is 7-3-3, playing strong defense but looking for answers on the offensive end.
“The game against Jesuit always warrants an increased focus,” Devil interim head coach Alex Park told The Enterprise. “We’ve had a healthy competition … and this (game) allows both teams to rise to the occasion. The match always provides us with opportunities to build our confidence, while at the same time identify areas for development.”
One of those areas, putting the ball in the net, is something that Park believes will come for DHS. The Blue Devils have scored only 20 goals, but have outshot virtually every opponent.
Park believes it’s just a matter of time before the ball eludes opposing goalies — and for Devil fans, Saturday would be a good time for that to happen.
Senior forward Collin Holtz, who has to sit out Thursday’s Delta Valley Conference game at Monterey Trail (thanks to a red card against Laguna Creek on Tuesday), will be back up top Saturday, and wing D.J. Villegas (broken toe) is expected to return as well, Park said.
For Jesuit, strong midfield play has helped the Marauders keep the ball in their attack zone. JHS has 51 goals on the season.
“This is a great tradition,” adds Park, who spend almost a decade as the Devils’ junior varsity coach. “As our healthy rivalry has grown, it brings out more fans to watch and just makes it a great experience for players and fans alike. The nighttime setting is always a crowd-pleaser.”
Notes: Jesuit is 3-0 in Delta River League play and meets Sheldon on Thursday. … Admission will be charged for Saturday’s game and the concession stands will be staffed by members of the Davis Blue Devil Football Backers. A JV game will start at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $5, $3 for students and $2 for senior citizens. DHS Athletic Director Dennis Foster says there is no re-entry — backpacks and outside drinks will not be permitted. … Davis’ defense has allowed but nine scores.
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at [email protected] or (530) 747-8047.