Gauntlet tune up: Davie cruises past Reynolds, big tests in next 4 games
Published 1:56 pm Tuesday, September 19, 2023
By Brian Pitts
In Friday’s Central Piedmont Conference opener at Reynolds, Davie’s football team demolished an inferior opponent it was expected to flatten.
Now comes four big tests in four weeks: East Forsyth, Reagan, Mt. Tabor, West Forsyth.
In the final tune-up before the four-week gauntlet, Davie’s offense scored on lightning-quick possessions, the defense teed off on the Demons’ air-raid offense and a running clock shortened the game to two hours, five minutes as Davie waltzed 47-3.
“We had some lackluster days at practice and I challenged them from Thursday on that if we’re going to compete in every game that we need to change our mindset in how we approach practices and games,” coach Tim Devericks said. “We’re in a seven-week battle.”
The War Eagles responded just like the coach hoped they would.
“I loved their energy,” he said. “They were pulling for each other. The communication was the best it’s been all year as far as what calls we were making, and that’s what it takes to be locked in and ready to play. They were pulling for each other, and that’s what I like to see.”
Quarterback Ty Miller was his typical self, going 15 of 25 for 196 yards. He threw one touchdown pass and ran for three scores. The TD pass to Ethan Driver extended Miller’s streak; he has thrown at least one TD in all 15 of his varsity games in two years.
Markel Summers’ 106 rushing yards were nothing new; it was his third straight game with 100-plus.
Miller’s favorite target on this night was Driver, the gifted sophomore who had six grabs for 106 yards. It was his third 100-yard game in four tries.
“Ty doesn’t rely on one person,” Devericks said. Miller also connected with Leon Bradshaw (3-28), Evan York (3-27), Grey Deal (2-23) and Braddock Coleman (1-12). “He’s throwing the ball where the defense is telling us to throw it. We’re OK with a 5-yard checkdown.
“Ethan and Braddock are good route-runners, and those guys compete every day. They are such competitive young men.”
In the first half, the War Eagles ripped off four TD drives in six possessions while opening up a 41-3 spread. Summers (11-86 rushing), Miller (14 of 21 for 184 yards) and Driver (6-106) did just about all their damage in the first half as Davie averaged 8.2 yards per play in the first 24 minutes.
Meanwhile, the Demons were powerless to slow the onslaught. They averaged 2.6 yards per play in the first half and went 3 for 11 on third-down conversions. Their first-half possessions: fumble, punt, punt, field goal, punt, fumble, punt, end of half.
Their go-to play was short passes from sophomore QB Tommy Elrod to receiver Mac Murphy. They connected eight times in the game, but Murphy only managed 60 yards as Davie’s defense made Reynolds work for every yard it got.
One of the biggest highlights of the first half was Gavin Reese’s kickoff return after Reynolds got on the board with a 22-yard field goal. Reese, an impressive sophomore cornerback, kicked into another gear at midfield and was never touched as he sped 89 yards to the end zone.
“He’s a kid who doesn’t say a lot, but he’s competing on every play,” Devericks said. “I’m excited for him. Sometimes on defense, those guys don’t get a lot of recognition by just doing their job. Gavin was smiling for the first time in a while. They tell me he talks in school, but I don’t see it much on the football field.”
Reese wasn’t the only one who reached the end zone for the first time as a War Eagle. Later in the second quarter, Elrod threw a lateral. Freshman cornerback Braxton Bowling alertly swooped in, scooped it up and rambled 74 yards the other way.
“We preach when the ball’s on the ground to pick it up,” Devericks said. “We do scoop-and-score drills.”
It was time for the running clock when Davie made it 47-3 with 9:46 remaining in the third. Davie’s offense only ran 12 plays in the second half.
The War Eagles moved to 3-1 overall. During their three-game winning streak, they have triumphed by 32, 29 and 44 points. By contrast, the Demons stayed in the doldrums at 1-3.
Now it’s time for a huge test. Davie will host unbeaten East Forsyth (4-0, 1-0 CPC) Friday night at 7. East is a juggernaut that has shared first or finished first outright each of the past three years. Over the last three seasons, it is 27-3, including wins of 49-7 over Heritage, 55-0 over Jack Britt, 27-21 over A.C. Reynolds and 29-21 over Reagan in 2023.
Although the War Eagles have lost seven straight in the series, including 56-21 last year, they look like they could be a dark horse in the CPC race.
“We’ve got a big-time opponent coming to Mocksville,” Devericks said. “We’re going to have to lock in this week and try to execute. We’ve got some competitors on our team that will respect (East), but at the same time, they’re willing to line up and try to compete with them.”
Notes: A few times against Reynolds, York lined up in the backfield and took what amounted to long handoffs from Miller. It was a wrinkle in the offensive scheme. “We’re trying to get the ball to different people and keep other people fresh,” Devericks said. … Davie has won five straight and 13 of 14 against Reynolds. Since the Demons shocked Davie 28-10 in 2018, the War Eagles have won the past five meetings by 29, 19, 45, 24 and 44 points. … Senior linebacker Ian Boger intercepted a pass in the final minutes and went 90 yards to the house. Unfortunately, the TD was nullified by a penalty.