New-feel Blue Devils kick off football practices
August 9, 2011Gary Day Broadcasting
Second-year DHS football head coach Steve Smyte, left, gives instruction to the Blue Devil offense on Monday as the team opened fall practice at Brown Stadium. Wayne Tilcock/Enterprise photo
“Yes. Great work, Cookie. That’s the way to stay with him!” comes the coach’s praise.
“No, no, no!” the coach isn’t happy on the next play.
“The object is you get the safety to bite on the play-action,” the mentor demonstrates his admonition. “If he doesn’t do that, I want you to cut on his inside shoulder to do this (the coach turns ever so slightly to the middle of the field).
“If he does that, then you’ve got the corner route open.”
As the wide receiver nods in understanding, the coach quickly yells to his quarterback:
“If he doesn’t do either, Shayne … then I want you to throw it to the flat.”
Steve Smyte, in his second season as Davis High’s head football coach, must feel like this first day of his 2011 team’s workouts is Christmas.
More than 30 healthy bodies orbited the stations of Monday’s practice.
There were familiar names like Corey Nelson, Shayne Reagan, Austin Day and Marcus Charles. And there were new names: Bailey Murray, Winfred Roberson, C.K. Hicks.
For the first day together, Smyte liked what he saw from his Blue Devils.
“It’s kinda hard to tell from the first day, but I like our attitude,” the DHS special-education instructor explained. “Our guys get after it.
“We are further ahead in where we are than last year. Depth may again be an issue, but we have more guys that can play football … that’s for sure.”
Smyte doesn’t like to look back. He doesn’t even want to discuss last season, a 1-9 exercise in which early injuries to standout running back Courtney Williams and No. 1 receiver Dillard Brown sent The Airship Blue Devil spiraling to Earth after an opening-game 31-6 win over Armijo.
“Last year, when we lost Dillard, we went two or three games with guys that never before played a snap in their lives,” Smyte remembers, quickly changing the subject.
Williams and Brown have graduated. Nonetheless, the coach looks hopefully to this fall:
“This year we have six or seven guys in that receiving corps. Every one of those guys can run and catch. Last year we were sooo limited in what we could do. Other teams figured us out.”
There’s a much-improved secondary and the linebacking unit revolves around Nelson, Grant Dickerson, Brendan MacDonald and Day. Those four make it a position at which the Devils assuredly will be stronger.
Roberson, Adam Inouye and MacDonald should see lots of action running out of the backfield and Reagan, the Delta Valley Conference’s reigning quarterback of the year, will be keeping the offense moving forward.
Smyte says the offensive line could come a long way. Guys like senior center Alex Magrino and tackles Murray, a sophomore, and senior Jacob Schroeder will be joined by Brian Stabenfeldt. Though he now has a boot on his injured foot, Stabenfeldt is expected to be ready for the start of 2011.
Then there’s Nick Denton. At 6-foot-3, 255 pounds, “when dialed in, he’s a beast,” offers Smyte.
“The offensive line — there (were times Monday) when they took guys off the line back to the next level … and we didn’t do that last year,” the coach added. ”But then, on the next play … it’s a swinging door. It’s that consistency; they have to get better every down. They cannot take a play off.”
Two-a-days continue through Aug. 18.
Davis High has six home dates on its nine-game schedule. It opens Sept. 2 at Armijo, then plays Sacramento (Sept. 9), Will C. Wood (Sept. 16) and Colfax (Sept. 23) all at Ron & Mary Brown Stadium. Sept. 30 is a bye week, which is followed by Franklin (at Davis on Oct. 7), Laguna Creek (road game Oct. 14), Grant (at DHS on Oct. 21), Elk Grove (away on Oct. 28) and Monterey Trail (Nov. 4 in Davis).
Notes: Running backs coach Marc Hicks is recovering from hip surgery last month and says he’ll be back with the Devils before too long. Hicks couldn’t stay away Monday, although he was merely an observer. … Nick Jenness, a brilliant secondary performer, apparently will miss this season. The senior says surgery is scheduled. “He’s a huge loss from the leadership standpoint, and his presence on the field, and from a mental standpoint,” Smyte says. “He’s such a great kid.” … The DHS Blue & White Scrimmage will be played Friday, Aug. 19. Freshmen play at 4 p.m., junior varsity goes at 5 p.m. and varsity will follow around 6 p.m.
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at email@example.com or (530) 747-8047