2009 Football: Davie County preview
By Bret Strelow
MOCKSVILLE ó Davie County, coming off a down year by its standards, hasn’t changed its expectations.
Davie had won five straight CPC titles entering last season, but the War Eagles dropped their first three conference games and finished in third place during a 7-5 campaign.
Davie hadn’t endured a three-loss run through the CPC since 2000.
“They still have the goal of getting that conference championship back over here across the river,” Davie coach Doug Illing said. “That’s been goal No. 1 from Day 1.”
Continued development by standout receiver Joe Watson and the return of linebacker Jared Barber, both juniors, could make Davie a dangerous foe.
Watson has grown two inches and gained 29 pounds since the end of his sophomore season, when he caught 40 passes for 944 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Davie has two quarterbacks competing for the starting job, but the 6-foot-3 Watson is still a solid candidate for CPC player of the year honors.
“Experience has groomed him a lot,” Illing said. “With his route running, he’s gotten stronger and gotten faster. He’s added a little more bulk and a little more speed to his frame.
“He’s definitely going to be a big-play threat for us. As he gets more mature, consistent play will come and he’ll raise his level of play even more.”
Davie has dealt with its share of shoulder injuries, and the introduction of new exercises is part of what Illing termed a “huge offseason” for his program.
The 6-2, 218-pound Barber, who made a team-leading 151 tackles as a varsity freshman in 2007, missed four games last season with a shoulder injury.
He still totaled 88 tackles last year, which ended with a playoff loss to perennial power Butler, and underwent surgery in early February.
Barber is part of a large junior class that already has vast varsity experience.
“We’ve got a lot of youth that’s returning,” Illing said. “We had 11 players that were sophomores on the field for the last game against Butler. When you take half of your offense and your defense and 11 guys returning and they’re just juniors, they’ve got a lot of experience playing the game on Friday night.
“That right now is our biggest strength, but we have to line up against other people and be able to play fast and physical.”
Two juniors are taking snaps, but varsity experience at quarterback is limited. Jacob Barber, Jared’s brother, played in about half of Davie’s games last year and threw a total of four passes.
Barber (5-11) is a threat to run, and Carson Herndon (6-4) has the size of a prototypical quarterback.
“Both have looked really good at times,” Illing said. “We’re just trying to get them comfortable calling the plays, making the reads, being consistent. With the competition between the two, it will bring out the best in both of them.”
Davie will also have someone different handling most of the ball-carrying duties.
Skeeter Montgomery and Nick Bohannon, who were both in the mix at receiver at the start of last season, will attempt to replace the departed James Mayfield.
Montgomery carried the ball in only three games, but he had 19 rushes for 205 yards and four touchdowns in an early victory against Providence Day.
“I’m really pleased with the progression there,” Illing said. “Skeeter is picking up right where he left off last year filling in for Mayfield, and Nick’s been an addition that’s pushing Skeeter for that starting spot.”
Davie can achieve balance in its four-wideout attack, and Watson has plenty of help.
Darius Wilson and P.J. Neely combined for 544 yards on 34 catches last season. Jarrett Wallace, Teddy Allen and Nick Holder could see time at the fourth receiver slot.
Devaron Scott, a senior, is expected to anchor the offensive line. He’ll be joined by Ricky Bell, Ray Sheppard, Andrew Guardado, Zach Dunn, Braxton Grant and freshman Cole Blankenship.
Scott has moved from right tackle to center.
“We moved him inside to combine his strengths and alleviate some of his weaknesses,” Illing said. “We feel like he can be a tremendous help and a big factor from the center spot.
“We’ve got some bodies, and all of them are being very competitive.”
Davie has a pair of players working at both kicker (Woody Parrish, Brian Bullins) and punter (Herndon, Sean Newman).
Defensively, Justin Miller and Chase Sampson return to the line. Davie will turn to nose guards Christian Mcgougan and Chris Smoot as well as ends Anthony Ressa and Andrew Buchanan.
Miller and Sampson offer versatility.
“Both had really good offseasons and looked good early in camp,” Illing said. “Both are learning the offensive line, so we’re double-dutying them to create some depth.”
Devonta Scott and Kenyatta Brand are key figures at outside linebacker, and Jared Barber will be accompanied by senior Matt Speer.
Jordan Farmer and Michael Marrs will also work into the middle.
“We’ve got some experience there inside we really feel good about,” Illing said.
Dangelo Mayfield and Zach Long are returning starters in the secondary. Josh Money and Jamal Mayfield are available at the second cornerback spot, and Illing said Alex Newman has been a pleasant surprise. He was called up from the jayvee team last year as a sophomore.
This year’s roster has 54 upperclassmen, one sophomore and one freshman. Tenth-grader Mick Spillman, like Blankenship, is an offensive lineman.
“Sometimes you worry about kids’ game experience, and I think that’s something we got last year,” Illing said. “We’ve definitely got that under our belt now.”
Follow the War Eagles
Aug. 21 Alexander Central
Aug. 28 Greensboro Page
Sept. 4 at West Rowan
Sept. 11 at Providence Day
Sept. 18 Thomasville
Sept. 25 at Salisbury
Oct. 2 Open
Oct. 9 R.J. Reynolds*
Oct. 16 at West Forsyth*
Oct. 23 at Mount Tabor*
Oct. 30 Reagan*
Nov. 6 at North Davidson*
Game time: 7:30 p.m.
*4A Central Piedmont