ELK GROVE — Where to start?
In a powerhouse performance that sent shock waves through the Delta Valley Conference, Davis High hammered Monterey Trail, 42-7, on Friday at Mark Macres Stadium.
The Mustangs — who have appeared in the Sac-Joaquin Section D-I football finals in two of the past three seasons — came into the game 4-1 and had soundly beaten DHS in the schools’ only two previous meetings.
Along the way, Davis put some incredible — and curious — statistics up…
The Devils converted six of seven fourth-down plays.
Davis had the last possession of the first half and the first of the second half. Combine the two drives, and the Blue Devils had the ball for 28 plays, gained almost 140 yards and took 16:57 off the clock — and didn’t score on either journey.
Of Monterey Trail’s 235 yards, 159 came on four plays.
Davis had 22 first downs to only seven for the Mustangs.
And so it went on an evening that saw Devil junior Quinn Williams return an errant pass 29 yards for a first-period touchdown, then had safety Adam King go 87 yards with a fourth-quarter fumble for another score.
Davis (4-2, 1-0 in DVC) dominated from start to finish.
After stopping Monterey Trail on its opening drive at the nine-yard line, the Blue Devils went on a 13-play drive in the opposite direction, culminating with a fourth-down, 22-yard touchdown pass from Grant Dickerson to C.K. Hicks.
About 90 seconds later, Williams got his pick six and the Devils were in the process of announcing their presence in the conference.
“We practiced hard for two weeks for this game,” two-way DHS lineman Oscar Sepulveda told The Enterprise. “I felt that we were mentally, physically and in every possible other way prepared. I don’t know … I’m just speechless.”
Sepulveda and his trench brethren pushed around the smaller Mustangs and, on defense, stopped The Trail’s quick-hitting ground attack. On offense, they opened manageable holes for backs Winfred Roberson and Austin Lampley.
When the Devils stopped their hosts on their first try on the second quarter, Hicks took an end-around rush 61 yards to make things 21-0 when Thomas May (perfect on the night) added his third extra point. Along the way, three key blocks came far downfield with Brett Bloomfield’s final seal-off letting Hicks go all the way.
Another three-and-out for Monterey Trail launched Davis on the half-ending, unrequited drive of 8:30. It fizzled when Dickerson threw incomplete to Adam Inouye alone in the end zone. It would be Davis’ only miscue on a fourth down.
The second half was another 8:27 adventure, again ending in quicksand when Dickerson was picked off by Sterling Powell in the end zone.
Powell bounced out to the one-yard line and stopped. But Monterey Trail showed its only life of the contest when Donovan Robinson carried for 21 yards on first down, then C.J. Ramsuer burst 78 yards up the middle for the Mustangs’ only score.
But right back came Davis…
Dickerson — brilliant, with a 16-for-22 performance good for 212 yards and two scores — found Bloomfield for a 19-yard touchdown on fourth down.
With Inouye and Nash Nunes stopping The Trail on a fake punt, Davis got great field position at the Mustang 37. Roberson converted a fourth-and-one with a two-yard blast, then capped the eight-play drive with a five-yard TD.
As the offense came off the field, leading 35-7, Davis head coach Steve Smyte implored his troops: “This isn’t done yet. We came here to finish.”
The Blue Devils — who are 7-32 in the previous four seasons — were listening.
Just when it looked like Monterey Trail had something going, there was miscommunication in the backfield. The ball popped loose around the Davis 10, where King scooped it up and made a beeline down the middle of the field, ending the game’s scoring with his 87-yard fumble return.
“It was just a complete team victory,” Smyte said. “If you work hard enough for something … and you believe hard enough, you can achieve it.
“We can’t control the environment. We can’t control who we’re (scheduled) to play. We can’t control the refs. All we can do is control the things we can do. And we did that tonight — we did a lot of good things that allowed us an opportunity to win.”
Roberson finished with 67 yards on 17 carries and his touchdown. He shared time with Sacramento transfer Austin Lampley, who went for 40 yards on nine carries. Roberson now has 637 rushing yards and six TDs.
Hicks had eight catches for 89 yards and three times his receptions kept alive or culminated drives on fourth downs. His two touchdowns give him five on the season.
Eli Castro had two impressive solo tackles on second-half kickoffs and Zac Slavin was an immovable object in extended play for the injured Nick Denton (shoulder).
“The defense was tough when necessary. Special teams kids were just flying and on offense we had good balance,” Smyte added, laughing, when asked about all those fourth-down conversions.
“I’m going to swing our swords,” he continued. “I’m not playing safe. These kids play too hard for me to go and punt the ball. I don’t like punting — punting is an admission of failure. After you do it enough, the kids just come to expect it. Our players don’t freak out on fourth downs.”
Notes: Next Friday, Davis travels to Franklin (6-0) for DVC Test No. 2. The Wildcats are coming off a 34-26 win over Grant. …By the way, how much could you have won in Las Vegas if you had bet that after six games the Blue Devils would be 4-2 and Grant 2-4? …Smyte added: “I’ve never been prouder of a team … getting our first victory in the super-strength DVC. This is a great league. (Monterey Trail) is a good football team. They came in 4-1. But we’re also in the mix now — we’re headed in the right direction. …In addition to Denton, Davis was missing Ted Riffle (arm). …Elk Grove (6-0) spanked Laguna Creek, 52-7. The Cardinals are 2-4. …From the There Could Have Been a Lot More Dept.: Davis failed twice in the red zone (after extended drives) and Andre Foster — playing the in secondary — made a nice move on a Mustang defender and almost had his own pick six late in the game. …One area to work on? Penalties. Davis took 16 flags for 127 yards.
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8047.