Davis left guard Sebastian Tamayo had blood smeared on his uniform Friday night. After the Blue Devils beat Cosumnes Oaks 27-14 to take the Delta League title, Tamayo wore a wrap of medical tape around his right arm to cover a bleeding wound and he still had a huge smile on his face. This was just the way he likes it.
Tamayo and his four offensive linemates plowed the way past a Wolf Pack team that could have won its first-ever league title. Instead, Davis finished the regular season 9-1 and take the school’s first league championship in 25 years. Not bad for a group of seniors that watched the Blue Devils go 0-10 two years ago.
“Once we came together, we always knew we could do something great. Even though it didn’t seem likely to the rest of the world, to us, we knew it would be a barrier, but we knew we could get through it,” Tamayo said.
Together, Kieffer Jones, Patton Miller, Josiah Roa, Gerad Christian-Lichtenhan and Tamayo helped the Blue Devils set the tone on the first possession of the game. On a drive that lasted 7 minutes and 19 seconds, Davis marched 67 yards on 14 plays, converting on two third downs and once on fourth down to take a 7-0 lead.
“We put it on the big boys up front,” Davis coach Steve Smyte said. “That was our gameplan going in. We felt we could grind ‘em out up front, even though at times we wanted to air it out. ... I have to keep pinching myself, no, no, no.”
Smyte, a former college receivers coach, was well-served to stick to the ground game.
Taylor Vaughn charged to 73 yards and three touchdowns in the first half as Davis took a 20-7 lead. Even the defensive line got into the act, stuffing a fourth-and-1 try at midfield to set up the offense for a short field.
In the second half, Vaughn turned it over to running back Aaron Turner and evasive quarterback Payne Barksdale as Davis mostly treaded water, content to ride out the win.
That’s the problem the Blue Devils offense poses. You want to stop Vaughn? Fine. That leaves room for Barksdale or Turner. You want to stuff the box? Also fine. Quarterback Luke Carrell can chuck darts, like he did on a slant that went for a 55-yard touchdown in the second half .
All the while, the linemen are holding down the fort.
“(The offense is) whatever we need it to be,” Tamayo said. “That’s what’s great about the team, it’s very versatile. I think we have the greatest set of receivers in the league. Our running backs being Aaron and Taylor, they’re awesome. You see them run and those guys don’t stop. ... Payne won’t be touched and Luke, as long as we protect him, he’s hucking it all day.”
All Cosumnes Oaks coach Andrew Bettincourt could do was tip his backward baseball cap. He still smiled after the game — the Wolf Pack went 7-3, after all, and expect a top seed in the Division II playoffs — but he was frustrated by two interceptions and a fumble. Davis had no turnovers.
“You learn to win through losses and you learn about yourself through losses. What we have to do is look in the mirror. ... now it’s win or go home,” he said.
And now, after an 11-week regular season, we’re talking playoffs. The Wolf Pack have had games like this and bounced back nicely. He knows they can do it again.
“There’s not a team we worry about that are just better than us. There are teams that are better coached than us,” he said. “We need to get our guys better prepared for the mentality going into these games. This is uncharted territory for these guys. Delta League title, things they haven’t done before. As coaches, some of us have been there and played in major games before, we need to give them the insight and the cheat sheet to be successful in the playoffs.”
Davis is making similar plans, likely with a bye in the first round of the Division I playoffs. There are no secrets about this Blue Devils team, Smyte said. They’re going to try to push teams around at the line of scrimmage. And if they need big plays, they think they can get them.
With his team kneeling in front of him after the game, Smyte addressed his group.
“Delta League freaking champions,” Smyte said, as the team hooted and hollered.
“But,” he bellowed loudly. “We’re not done yet.”