During Tim Garcia’s postgame interview following his Spartans’ 52-20 thumping of Weston Ranch (Stockton) on Friday, a Davis High School parent interrupted the session to shake the coach’s hand.
“You’ve made me one happy dad,” said the parent, who quickly disappeared into a scrum of players, fans, parents and coaches mingling on the Modesto Junior College field.
That’s what a 4-0 start will do for a team and its fanbase. More accurately, that’s what a 4-0 start following four consecutive seasons of no better than 3-7 will do for a team and its fanbase.
“This is kind of a surprise to everybody,” said junior two-way starter Talolo Limu-Jones, who scored a defensive and offensive touchdown against the Cougars (1-2). “But Coach Garcia has pushed everybody to put this program back on top.”
Garcia, the former Davis High quarterback, is the program’s link to the glory days, when the Spartans were one of the most feared teams in the old Central California Conference. He’s talked a great deal this year about restoring the tradition to the program. Part of that was returning to MJC, which used to be the Spartans’ unofficial home stadium.
“This win gives us a lot of confidence going into MMC,” said Limu-Jones, whose team starts Modesto Metro Conference play next week against Enochs, which is off to an 0-4 start for the second consecutive season.
Yes, the Spartans look like they’ll be making some noise in the conference race this season, and wasted little time showing that Friday.
On the game’s first play from scrimmage, with the ball resting on Davis’ 30-yard line, Spartans running back Jasiah Millhouse busted through the line and then up the home sideline for 67 yards, to Weston Ranch’s 3. Two plays later, Darin Lugo did the honors, scoring from the 2.
The Cougars’ first drive got off to an inauspicious start when, on their third play, a botched shotgun snap sailed over the head of quarterback Mohammad Khan and was recovered on the 17 by Limu-Jones. The Spartans went four-and-out, missing a chance to score, but they forced a three-and-out on the Ranch’s next drive and got the ball at midfield. Four plays later, Lugo gashed the Cougars on a quick dive from the 18 for a 14-0 lead after Josh Flores’ PAT.
Things didn’t get much better for the Cougars, who fumbled the ball on their next possession. Limu-Jones scooped up his second fumble of the night and raced 65 yards to make it 21-0.
Davis’ Eli Correa then intercepted Khan on Weston Ranch’s next possession, and a 36-yard run by Lugo took the ball to the 4-yard line. Two plays later, Millhouse bounced in from the 3 to make it 27-0.
Weston Ranch finally got into the scoring column with 5:46 left in the first half when Khan hit Marque Watson with a quick slant from the 8.
After the ensuing kickoff, the Spartans set up on their 24 with 5:38 remaining in the half. They promptly drove 76-yards on 10 plays – including a 31-yard pick-up by Rodriguez on a fake punt on fourth-and-15 – and Millhouse capped the drive when he burst in from the 2 with one second left on the clock for a 33-7 lead at the intermission.
Davis got off to a hot start in the second half, too, when the Spartans forced Weston Ranch to go three-and-out and Eli Correa blocked the punt to give Davis the possession at the 5. Magana (10-of-11, 140 yards) then hit Limu-Jones on a slant to make it 39-7. About 90 seconds later, Tala Toilolo hauled in a 29-yard TD strike (set up by a Nico Salazar interception) and Millhouse (nine carries, 79 yards) scored from 11 to make it 52-7 with 3:22 left in the third.