Davie Football: ’23 War Eagles have some extra motivation

Published 1:24 pm Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

By Brian Pitts

Sports Editor

After losing seven of 11 games last year, Davie is hoping to create a comeback story in 2023, one that parallels the 2015-16 seasons.

In 2015, a young Davie team took its lumps and finished 5-7. Even though it was largely a forgettable season that saw Davie suffer six losses by 14-plus points, the season ended on a good note. Scotland County prevailed 44-36 in the first round of the playoffs, but Davie gave the unbeaten Fighting Scots a mighty scare.   

Then in 2016, with Chris Reynolds back for his second year as starting quarterback, the War Eagles settled scores, captured the CPC title, soared to 12-2 and made the county proud. There were five payback wins as the outcomes against Page, West Rowan, Reagan, West Forsyth and North Davidson were flipped from losses in 2015 to victories.

Fast forward to 2022. Davie limped to fifth in the eight-team CPC, but the season ended on a good note. The War Eagles had a 17-14, second-quarter lead over unbeaten Grimsley in the first round. Davie ultimately succumbed to the Whirlies’, 69-37, but the War Eagles walked out of Jamieson Stadium with their heads up.

Now in 2023, the War Eagles have extra motivation like the 2016 squad and Ty Miller and Co. are going to try to recreate some of that same magic.

“We have (25) seniors,” defensive coordinator Blaine Nicholson said. “They learned a lot of lessons last year. We’re asking some young guys to step in and step up, and we know that they can. Their athletic ability is going to allow them to. We’re looking forward to this season a lot.”

“If they put in the work, we definitely have a chance of having a really good season,” offensive coordinator Matt Gould said. “I think we can compete with everybody that we play against.”

Davie has some hosses on the offensive and defensive lines, and for the thousandth time, wins and losses come down to the trenches.

“Man I’m telling you, our offensive line is really improved,” Nicholson said. “We made some personnel changes. Coach (Tim) Devericks, coach Gould and coach Pas (Spencer Pasciolla) put a lot of time in molding that offensive line, and we’ve got several seniors starting on that offensive line.”

“For the first time in three or four years, we’re pretty solid on both sides of the ball up front,” Devericks said. “That’s where games are won.”

Last year the offense averaged 29.8 points and 352 yards and piled up 46 touchdowns. With the playmakers behind that big line, it doesn’t take much imagination to envision Davie putting up even bigger numbers this year.

“The backfield is loaded,” Nicholson said. “Any time you have a running back and a quarterback like we do (in Markel Summers and Miller, respectively), that’s going to be a lot of trouble for defenses. We’re going to be able to run the ball more. We’re going to be able to maybe knock some people off the line instead of catching so much. I think we’re going to have a great year offensively – not as much boom or bust. Sometimes we either got a big loss or a big gain. I think it’s going to be more consistent. More time running off the clock is better for the War Eagles. That’s helping everybody out.”

Defensively, getting off the field has been a problem for the War Eagles. In 2021, they gave up an average of 39.8 points. In 2022, opponents scored 34.8. The defense might not be a brick wall in 2023, but Nicholson believes it can continue to improve.

Davie returns seven starters on defense, “and that’s not counting some guys who played a lot of minutes, because we rotate a lot on defense,” Nicholson said. “We’ve had two rough years on defense, but we did see improvement from 2021. We still gave up too many points, but there was improvement there and we look to improve on that this year. We knocked off 59 passing yards per game. In total yards, we knocked off 30 per game. We improved by one turnover per game. In three out of four quarters, we decreased the points. To me, there’s so many parallels from the 2015 team to last year’s team, and that bodes really well because we got right (in 2016) and did good stuff.”

Notes: Devericks has nine assistants, including Pasciolla (offensive line), Logan Holder (receivers), Brandon Thalasinos (receivers), Gould (quarterbacks/running backs), Terrell Wilson (defensive line), Randy Athey (defensive line), Todd Bumgarner (inside linebackers), Corey Tilley (outside linebackers) and Nicholson (secondary). … The new addition to the staff is Holder, who quarterbacked Mt. Airy to a 32-8 record from 2012-14. He is the son of a Surry County legend, Kelly Holder. Kelly went 218-85 over 23 years and retired from coaching in 2018. After starting his career at Surry Central in 1995 and spending four years there, he went 195-61 over 19 years at Mt. Airy, guiding the Granite Bears to a state championship in 2008 and two state runners-ups.