Davenport Assumption's football season is turning into a rerun. Its fans won't mind sitting through it if it concludes like the 2016 regular-season version.

After dropping the district opener to West Delaware last year, the Knights rebounded with six consecutive victories to earn a share of the Class 3A District 4 title and a berth in the playoffs.

So after the Knights fell in overtime to West Delaware in the district opener, they were in the same situation.

Win six straight or likely see their season end.

Coach Wade King's squad is two-thirds of the way there and eyes a fifth victory in a row Friday night at Clear Creek Amana.

"It kind of motivates you the rest of the year that you can't slip up at all," defensive back Jon Bassier said.

Obviously, no team prefers being in that high-pressure predicament. However, King said it has given his coaching staff leverage with its players.

"If they're not having a great practice or not very focused, all we have to do is say, 'You're season is going to be over if we don't win this football game,'" King said. "We've been able to snap them into a pretty focused state since that West Delaware game."

Assumption overcame a sluggish first half to blast Central DeWitt 56-17. It dropped Dubuque Wahlert 35-10 and has recorded back-to-back 41-0 routs over Maquoketa and Center Point-Urbana.

The weekly grind of staying in the playoff mix has united a roster of just more than 30 players.

Even with the limited numbers, King said his team has found more individuals who can contribute. It doesn't have to lean on the same 11 bodies on both sides of the ball.

"We felt a little too comfortable after that North Scott win (in the season opener)," defensive end Anthony Valainis said. "We know what happened against Bettendorf (a 45-7 loss), and our mentality changed after that West Delaware game.

"We felt we needed to pick it up, and that this could be it."

An experienced defense has been at the forefront of the surge.

The Knights have generated 11 turnovers in district play, including seven in the past three weeks. They had two interceptions and six sacks last Friday against CPU.

Wahlert rushed for 110 yards against Assumption's defense. Maquoketa had 37 yards on the ground, and CPU netted minus-1.

"We bring a lot of experience and return a lot of starters on defense," Bassier said. "We trust everybody that is out there, the guys to our left and the guys to the right to get the job done."

Brandon Schlichting, Adam Metivier, Bassier and Seth Adrian have intercepted passes.

Ends Donaven Juarez and Valainis have teamed for 11 tackles for loss. Linebacker Antonio Santillan is the squad's leading tackler.

"Our defensive unit has been pretty cohesive," King said, "and we're tackling a lot better. That was a huge issue when we played Bettendorf. We're running through our tackles and becoming a better tackling team.

"I give credit to our defensive staff because they're putting our kids in good situations, developing some solid schemes for teams that we play."

The Knights have two more challenges in front of them — Clear Creek Amana (2-5) and Marion (5-2).

CCA has one of the district's top receivers in Darius Moore (39 receptions, 538 yards). Marion, led by the quarterback-receiver duo of Trevor Paulsen and Blair Brooks, is averaging more than 45 points an outing in its five wins.

"We're going to have to play awfully well down the stretch," King said. "We're not peeking around the corner by any stretch."

If Assumption plays with the same swagger as it has the past four weeks, Bassier is confident football awaits his team beyond Week 9.

"Everybody is dialed in right now," Bassier said. "We know if we play our best and don't beat ourselves, we can win these six in a row."


Prep sports editor, with emphasis on covering the Mississippi Athletic Conference and Iowa area high schools. I've been in sports journalism for 17 years, the last five at the Quad-City Times.