Davis High wins practice time with 49ers guard Mike Iupati

jcortez@modbee.comJune 27, 2013 

The Davis High football team has added 49ers guard Mike Iupati to its coaching staff.

OK, so it's only for two hours on Saturday, but the Spartans will take it.

"The kids are really excited about this," said Davis' third-year coach, Chris Cloward. "We're hoping to find out what it takes to gain that edge, or mentality, that he had in order to be great.

"In our little world of high school football, we just hope we can maximize our physical and emotional potential to be the best we can be."

Gatorade gave high school football programs across the nation a chance to win a training session with an NFL player, and Davis won the contest for the Northern California region.

"One of the secretaries at school got the information from one of the parents," said first-year athletic director Tim Garcia, a former Davis quarterback. "We went to the Gatorade website, entered the contest ... and the school with the most votes wins."

The Spartans, who had just about everybody on campus voting early and voting often, won about $1,400 worth of Gatorade merchandise, according to Garcia.

But the real prize is the two hours with Iupati, who helped the 49ers reach the Super Bowl last season.

"This is going to be our most fun practice of the season," said senior-to-be tackle Mathew Wittmayer. "We're going to be out there sweating, working hard.

"I've never even been to an NFL game and I'm going to be meeting an NFL player. It's crazy."

The event begins at 10 a.m. Saturday at Davis High's varsity baseball diamond. Fans are invited to watch the Spartans work with Iupati, but will not be permitted inside the fence.

According to Cloward, Iupati will conduct a question-and-answer session with players for about 20 minutes, then get into some hands-on instruction. After that, for the final 30 minutes or so, the University of Idaho alum will sign autographs for the players and take pictures with them.

"We're always searching for different angles to motivate and reach students," said Garcia. "Any insight he can give our kids, who may have gone through some of the same situations as he did, would be a real positive."

There will be food and drinks available, music, raffles and other vendors — such as the ever-popular Cupcake Lady — on site.

"We're going to have an NFL player on campus talking to our kids," said Garcia. "We want to make this an event that's as exciting as possible, for our school and the whole community."

It's the second time in a week that a member of the 49ers has been in Modesto. On Monday, San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick, a 2006 graduate of Pitman High in Turlock, hosted the inaugural Against All Odds Golf Tournament at Del Rio Country Club.

Davis has gone 6-24 over the past three seasons and has had a winning record since going 6-5 in 2009. The Spartans have been hurt by dwindling enrollment since the opening of Enochs and Gregori high schools. Davis shrunk from a high of 3,047 students in the 2005-06 school year to about 1,300 this year.

"This will be my third season as head coach, and it's been a struggle," said Cloward. "This is a nice shot in the arm for the program."

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