Young Davie an underdog at Page

Published 9:44 am Thursday, August 16, 2018

Davie’s young football team – it may only start a handful of seniors – will face the ultimate season-opening test Friday night at Page at 7:30.

While the War Eagles are coming off a 5-7, 2-3 season in which they finished fourth in the Central Piedmont Conference and extended a bothersome stretch (one winning season in five years), the Pirates are 38-7 since 2015.

In 2015, the Pirates went 13-3 and claimed 4AA runner-up. In 2016, they went 14-2, including 5-0 in the Metro 4-A Conference, and again claimed 4AA runner-up. In 2017, they went 11-2, repeated as conference champions and climbed to the third round of the playoffs in Jared Rolfes’ first year at the helm, losing 9-5 to Mallard Creek, the eventual 4AA runner-up.

According to the Greensboro News & Record, “the Pirates are loaded with talent on both sides of the ball.”

“Page was young last year,” Davie assistant coach Perry Long said. “They’re going to be really good this year.”

Four Pirates cracked the News & Record’s list for preseason contenders for the All-Area team:

• Junior quarterback Javondrew Paige (6-1, 210), who passed for 2,011 yards and 21 touchdowns and ran for 662 yards and 13 TDs in 2017.

• Senior transfer receiver Ford Moser (6-0, 185), who had 74 catches for 1,174 yards last year for Northern Guilford.

• Senior defensive lineman Kam Gavin (6-0, 240), who had eight sacks and 12 tackles for loss last year. “Gavin is a disruptive force in opposing backfields,” the News & Record reported.

• Senior linebacker Alex Angus (6-1, 195), who has committed to Appalachian St. The News & Record wrote: “Angus was a playmaker at safety and has moved down to linebacker. This spot could just as easily have gone to teammate Stephen Scott (6-0, 225).”

Davie coach Tim Devericks said everything starts with Paige. The War Eagles did a marvelous job against him for nearly all of regulation in last year’s loss. He was held to 26 yards on 16 carries and 10-of-23 passing for 108 yards, with over half of those coming on one play. But now he’s a year older and buoyed by 11 wins on his resume.

“Jared had to start a young guy last year, and obviously they chose the best athlete on their team,” Devericks said. “Keeping up with them throughout the season, his athleticism and growing as a quarterback, we saw he’s a special player.”

The way the media and coaches are talking about Page, one has to wonder if Davie has any chance. The War Eagles are a long-shot, but they’re not a no-shot because they have a reputation for rising up and winning these types of games.

After all, the War Eagles own a 7-6 lead in the series. They have a three-game winning streak at Page. (Davie and Page will square off in the opener for the eighth straight year, and the home team hasn’t prevailed since 2010.)

In 2012, Cade Carney rushed for 234 yards – perhaps the greatest freshman debut of all time – as Davie pulled a 31-14 shocker. In 2014, Parker Correll threw for 273 yards, including 113 to Brandon Lankford, as Davie stunned Page 45-40. In 2016, Chris Reynolds passed for 294 yards, Cooper Wall reeled in 235 receiving yards and Hite Merrifield’s interception ignited a fourth-quarter comeback as Davie escaped 39-29. Page wouldn’t lose again until the 4AA championship game against Wake Forest.

“Both teams are very competitive programs and very proud programs that want to get the season started off right,” Devericks said. “It’s been a back-and-forth series for a while, and we look to continue that.”

Enormous collapses have defined the past two meetings. In 2016, the War Eagles trailed 29-16 with less than 10 minutes left. They ripped off 23 points in a span of 7:12 to win by 10.

Last year, in the first game on Davie’s new campus, the War Eagles led 14-0 deep into the fourth, thanks to 25- and 28-yard TD catches by Jack Reynolds and Evan Little. Page found life on a fluke, 58-yard TD pass by Paige with 4:51 to go. Angus’ 37-yard pick-6 tied the game at 14 with 4:09 to go. After Page blocked a Davie field goal in OT, Paige’s 10-yard run gave the Pirates a 20-14 win.