Joe Davidson

Prep football notes: Davis ushers in new football era featuring family ties

Thanks to the effort and attitude of two Davis High School football players with family ties to the program’s storied past, Blue Devils fans aren’t feeling quite so blue.

Davis was a force in the 1980s and ’90s under coach Dave Whitmire, who preferred his team ran with power in 1986 with hard-charging tailback Marty Morse and defend with authority and purpose with star lineman Jason Fisk in 1989.

Now the sons of Morse and Fisk are leading the charge as Davis aims to reverse a troubling trend in Yolo County. Cole Morse, a senior tailback, rushed for 108 yards and accounted for three touchdowns, and Tucker Fisk, a junior tight end and defensive lineman, again displayed his strength and versatility as the upstart Blue Devils belted Edison of Stockton 36-0 Friday in a nonleague finale.

We have a lot of camaraderie. We know each other. We’re ready to win.

Davis running back Cole Morse

The Blue Devils (2-1) matched their 2014 victory total. The goal is much greater, of course.

Davis has enjoyed just one winning season in the last 10 years, going 7-4 in 2007 under coach Jim Johnson. The Blue Devils open Delta League play Friday at No. 3 Elk Grove.

“We need the momentum going in,” Cole Morse said. “We definitely have it right now. We have good players, and we’re working hard. There’s a good feeling right now.”

Low participation numbers, coaching turnover and a brutal Delta League with heavyweights such as Grant, Elk Grove, Franklin, Jesuit and Monterey Trail have stalled Davis’ progress, though the Blue Devils have long been a Sac-Joaquin Section power in sports such as baseball, soccer, tennis, cross country, track and field, swimming and water polo.

But football can be the most challenging sport to jump-start, and the impact is significant. Football builds identity for a campus – good or bad – as the primary revenue sport. It’s also the most visible. There’s a vibe on campus now, Morse said. Before, the Blue Devils looked to compete. Now, they look to win.

Steve Smyte coached Davis to 5-5 in 2012, and Marc Hicks, the greatest player in program history, led the Blue Devils to a 5-5 showing in 2013. John Wiley is in his second year at Davis’ helm.

“We’ve had some bad years here recently, but we’re getting better,” Cole Morse said. “We’ve been playing football together, a lot of us, for eight years. We have a lot of camaraderie. We know each other. We’re ready to win.”

Cole Morse finds inspiration within his family. His brother Kyle, a junior receiver, is out for the season with an ACL injury. “I run for him,” Cole Morse said.

Marty Morse played at UC Davis and coached his sons in lower-level programs. Jason Fisk excelled at Stanford and played in the NFL from 1995 to 2006. He’s now a Blue Devils assistant coach.

Tucker Fisk, at 6-foot-4, 255 pounds, is pretty good, too. He has scholarship offers from UC Davis, UCLA and Washington. He’s also an accomplished swimmer.

“Tucker’s the most athletic guy I’ve ever seen, amazing in any sport,” Cole Morse said. “And he gives us that physicality that we need.”

Glen Welch, a basketball star, is a receiving threat. Wanting to maximize his senior year, Welch decided to give football one last shot.

2-1 Davis’ record this season, matching their 2014 victory total

“He’s a great basketball player, and it’s good to have his size, hops and speed,” Cole Morse said.

Cole Morse has skills, too. At 5-10 and 180 pounds, he can run with power and speed. And he likes to remind his dad who the best runner is at the dinner table. Cole has the family record for rushing yards in a game with 253, against Edison in 2014. Marty’s best was 238 against Valley in 1986, a game in which he had an 80-yard touchdown run. That’s still a family record.

“I don’t look at it as pressure having a dad who played here and was really good,” Cole Morse said. “I look at it as motivation. He teaches me a lot. He knows this game.”

Vander Waal update – Quarterback Tyler Vander Waal, who transferred from Elk Grove to Christian Brothers earlier this season, will need clearance from the Sac-Joaquin Section to be eligible to play this fall. Specifically, there would have to be proof this was not an athletically motivated transfer, which the section and CIF frown upon. The junior with good grades and upside left Elk Grove on the eve of the season.

In January, Justus Spillner transferred from Nevada Union, where he was a two-year starting quarterback, to Colfax. He hoped to be cleared to play after no more than the CIF’s mandatory 30-day sit-out period for transfers. But the section ruled his transfer was athletically motivated – a decision upheld after appeals – and he cannot play this fall, his senior season.

Natomas’ Leyva hurt – Natomas quarterback Adrian Leyva was hurt during a sack in a 37-25 loss to Highlands on Friday, and the Nighthawks fear the worst. The initial diagnosis, athletic director Anthony Agrella said, is an ACL injury. Natomas (3-1) aims to make the playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first time.

Franklin’s Jackson feted – Franklin defensive back Lamar Jackson, a national recruit, accepted an invitation and honorary game jersey Thursday to play in the 2016 Under Armour All-American game. Other area stars to play in the game include Vei Moala, James Sample and Shaq Thompson of Grant, Arik Armstead of Pleasant Grove and Eddie Vanderdoes of Placer.