The sting lingers. Davie coach Doug Illing is not at peace with the 29-25 outcome of last year’s first-round playoff game against Dudley.
The War Eagles were coming off a 2010 run that they will cherish forever (state 4A runner-up), and they had come into the 2011 postseason with very high hopes.
They sprinted to a 14-0 lead. They were leading 25-7 in the third quarter when Dudley faced third-and-10. They were holding a 25-15 lead with 10:14 to go after Kyle Bullins and Jamal Lackey combined for a sack that led to an A.J. Blaskievich fumble recovery. They were leading 25-22 when Dudley faced fourth-and-7 at the Davie 34. Then Dudley faced fourth-and-20 with 15 seconds left.
When the Dudley QB unleashed the prayer from the 38, he didn’t have the arm to reach the end zone. But his receiver caught the ball inside the 5 and helicoptered into paydirt with six seconds on the clock.
The fateful play turned Davie stomachs. The look on home faces was beyond stunned. Davie came as close as you can come to winning without winning. That’s tough for anyone to take at any time, but when it happens in the playoffs, it’s a hundred times worse.
“I truly feel we were one play away from making a deep run,” Illing said. “We were an offensive team that was very difficult to stop, and we were a defensive team that was banged up but we were getting back healthy. Had we won that game, Denzel Redmon would have been back the next week to give us a big playmaker offensively and defensively.”
Turning The Page
The time has arrived to advance past the end-of-game torture from Dudley and write a new chapter.
The number of bodies in the Davie Football Family has never been greater. It was gratifying for Illing load up 104 players for team camp at St. Andrews in Laurinburg on July 19-22. “It’s the biggest number we’ve taken to camp,” he said. “We’ve taken maybe 85-90 before.” It’s energizing for Illing to see 134 players between the JV and varsity teams.
“I’ve been doing this a long time and this is the best summer workouts we’ve had, numbers-wise,” he said. “It’s exciting to see the interest and enthusiasm. And we’ve pushed them hard this summer. We had a new workout routine. It’s more explosion and more intense workouts, and gosh, they kept coming back. That tells you they’ve got a passion for it. When you get that kind of stuff going on, it gets contagious.”
A by-product of the large roster, of course, is fierce competition for starting spots.
“They see a lot of bodies standing behind them,” he said. “They see people working hard and they know they’ve got to do the same or somebody is going to pass them. That creates a great situation for us because now they’re pushing each other. Now we can coach them instead of pushing them and coaching them.”
The development at quarterback is an important storyline. Sophomore Parker Correll and freshman Cade Carney will likely rotate in and out. Last year, with Adam Smith carving up people with his arm and legs, Davie was a team that picked up yardage in big chunks. Correll and Carney will take their first varsity snaps Friday at Page. The passing game will almost certainly have some growing pains. Patience will be required ...