John Wiley was ready to join the dog pile, to surround himself with players celebrating victory for the first time in 11 months.
But the Davis High School football coach decided to pause. He needed a moment to compose himself, to process the reality of what had happened Friday night at Brown Stadium in Yolo County.
Davis stunned No. 2-ranked Elk Grove 16-14 on a last-play, 28-yard field goal by Chris Johnson to serve notice that the Blue Devils look to be a factor again in a prep football season that lately has been defined by stunning upsets.
“We got into the team room,” Wiley recalled Saturday morning, “and then I went back outside by myself, and that’s when I got a little teary-eyed. Man, I feel so good for those kids who have worked so hard. When you see the smiles and the joy and the laughter, and all those students running out onto the field to celebrate, everyone jumping and screaming like they won the lottery, it’s just feels so good.”
The Blue Devils came in 0-3, and Elk Grove was a runaway 3-0, but Davis scored one of the biggest regular-season upsets in memory.
This one resonates stronger than Sacramento’s upset over former top-ranked Folsom a week earlier, halting the Bulldogs’ state-leading 48-game regular-season winning streak. Sacramento entered the game at Folsom ranked and with recent playoff success. Davis was 3-7 last season, 2-8 in 2014 and last produced a winning season in 2007. It has managed just two winning campaigns since 2000.
The Blue Devils had lost to Elk Grove 56-13 in 2014 and 55-0 last season, but led 13-0 Friday night after two John Lagattuta touchdown passes. Then they endured the final frantic moments.
On the final play, Johnson’s first field-goal attempt was good, but the Herd had called a timeout to ice him. The second attempt missed, but the Herd was penalized for roughing the holder. The third attempt from 28 yards was a clean make, and then the emotions.
Among those enjoying the scene was Jason Fisk, a Davis star in the late 1980s before playing defensive tackle at Stanford and in the NFL for 12 seasons. . His son, tight end Tucker, is Davis’ best player and headed for Stanford.
“He’s the real deal,” Wiley said of Tucker Fisk.
Davis will be the real deal only if it can back up this upset. Wiley understands, having played college ball at Auburn, where the football team is only as good as its last game.
“To borrow a line from coach (Patriots coach) Bill Belichick, we’re on to Jesuit,” Wiley said of his next Delta League opponent. “We’ve got to build on this. As big as this was for our team, our school, our community, it was yesterday.”
Here’s a look at some of the region’s other memorable prep football upsets:
▪ 1973: Christian Brothers was top-ranked in Superior California (encompassing schools to the Oregon border) by The Bee but was reduced to a crawl in the mud by a 5-4 Jesuit team in a scoreless draw in Holy Bowl V.
▪ 1978: Christian Brothers stunned top-ranked Cordova 6-0 in an era when the Lancers almost did not lose. Cordova led the nation in victories that decade – going 102-6-1 – and the Lancers were in the midst of a Sac-Joaquin Section four-peat.
▪ 1980: A crowd of 16,665, an area playoff record at the time, filed into Hughes Stadium for the city championship game and saw Highlands linebacker Gerald Figures twice stop nationallt recruited tailback Kevin Willhite inside the 5-yard line to seal a 20-12 victory over Cordova, ranked No. 1 in the state, in coach Ron Lancaster’s last game. Cordova entered with a 28-game winning streak.
▪ 1984: Elk Grove, which started the season 1-3, became the first team in section history to win a Division I championship after finishing third in its league. The Thundering Herd beat top-ranked Nevada Union in a playoff opener 9-6 for the program’s first postseason victory. Led by coach Steve DaPrato, Elk Grove beat four playoff teams with a combined 42-3-1 record, all on the road.
▪ 1986: After losing to Cordova during the regular season, Christian Brothers and coach Dan Hawkins got revenge in the city championship game, beating the Lancers 20-7 to end the Big Red’s 28-game winning streak.
▪ 1987: Johnson and tailback star Kyron Vandell staged a late 85-yard drive to knock off top-ranked Cordova 22-21. It ended the Lancers’ 11-year, 56-game win streak against Sacramento City Unified School District teams.
▪ 1988: Despite having two losses and a tie during the regular season, Davis beat Merced (13-0), ranked third in the state, in the D-I section finals. Coach Dave Whitmire, quarterback Brian Wernicke and lineman Jason Fisk led the Blue Devils.
▪ 1991: Roseville stunned previously unbeaten and top-ranked Grant 19-14 in a playoff opener as the Tigers’ defense stymied the Pacers’ speed. Three years later, Roseville did it again, beating top-ranked Grant in Week 5 of the 1994 regular season by the same score. Roseville had entered the game unranked at 1-3.
▪ 2007: Burbank beat top-ranked Grant 27-21 in Del Paso Heights to secure the Titans’ first Metro League championship in 40 seasons, leading coach John Heffernan to say, “We’re a nuts-and-bolts group – helmets and shoulder pads and heart.”
▪ 2016: Sacramento upended Folsom, top-ranked by The Bee since the start of the 2012 season, as Tariq Hollandsworth rushed for 268 yards.