High School Football

How Davis plans to overcome the loss of one of Sac-Joaquin Section’s top passers

2019 High School Football Preview: Davis

After ending the 2018 season on a four-game winning streak, Davis High School returns its top three wide receivers from a year ago, including senior Michael Sherrod Jr.
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After ending the 2018 season on a four-game winning streak, Davis High School returns its top three wide receivers from a year ago, including senior Michael Sherrod Jr.

Davis senior wide receivers Nick Arrieta, Michael Sherrod Jr., and Gregory Smith have all been friends since freshman year.

Although they don’t have a group nickname, they are always together on and off the field, whether it be working on routes during practice or helping in the community such as cleaning classrooms around campus.

“Nick makes moves to get open,” Smith said. “Bama (Sherrod Jr.) is tall and can go around and go over defensive backs. I am the wildcard in that a quarterback can throw it up and I can get it.”

The group will be vital to the Spartans’ success as they look to clinch a playoff spot for the first time since 2009 after ending last year on a four-game winning streak and just missing the playoffs at 5-5. The five wins were the most since 2014, coach Tim Garcia’s first year at Davis.

“They are going to be four-year football players, which is key in our program now,” Garcia said. “They have matured on and off the field. It’s their season and this is their team.”

Smith and Sherrod Jr. finished in the top 10 in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section in receiving yards. Smith was sixth with 1,084 yards while Sherrod Jr. had 1,015.

Sherrod Jr. said the goal is again to go over 1,000 yards for both he and Smith in Davis’ Air Raid offense.

But, to get the yards, you need a quarterback. It will no doubt be a challenge as the Spartans have to replace Xavier Rodriguez, who was second in passing yards (3,518) in the section and tossed 37 touchdowns against just five interceptions. He’s a freshman at Arizona Christian.

Fortunately for the receivers, they are quite familiar with the new quarterback.

Senior Elijah Diaz, who played wide receiver last year and had 43 receptions for 493 receiving yards and five touchdowns, has earned the starting job.

“He was our starting middle linebacker and slot receiver and is a talented football player,” Garcia said. “When the lights come on, you get his best effort and ability.”

Diaz’s speed will allow the Spartans to add a more run-pass option to their offense.

Sherrod Jr., who moved from Alabama before his freshman year, said he and Diaz became fast friends when he got to Modesto.

The 6-foot-2 deep threat is recovering from a broken right thumb, suffered early in the summer.

“Doctors said no contact until Aug. 15 and our scrimmage is the 16th,” he said. “I will be ready to play.”

Some of the close games that got away late were discussed during the offseason.

“We were in the game against Amador and lost,” Garcia said. “We lost to Los Banos in the fourth quarter and Mountain House, too. We had the taste of success and taste of letdowns and learned from our mistakes. We need to be consistent in all three phases of the game.”

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School: Davis

Record: 5-5, 4-3 in Western Athletic Conference

Players to Watch: Senior wide receiver Nick Arrieta, senior wide receiver Michael Sherrod Jr., senior wide receiver Gregory Smith

Biggest Game: Sept. 27 vs. Los Banos

Something special about school: Team runs out of the tunnel with a Spartan flag to the song, “In the Air Tonight” by Phil Collins before every home game.

Playoff appearances last five years: None

Season Schedule:

DateOpponentTime
Aug.



23at Ripon Christian7:30 p.m.
30at Franklin7 p.m.
Sept.



6El Capitan 7 p.m.
13Bye Week

20Mountain House7 p.m.
27Los Banos7 p.m.
Oct.



4at Pacheco 7 p.m.
11at Lathrop7 p.m.
17Beyer7 p.m.
25Johansen7 p.m.
Nov.



1at Ceres7 p.m.
Julian A. Lopez has been covering local sports for The Modesto Bee since August 2018. He graduated from Arizona State in 2016 with a BA in Journalism.
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