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Davenport Central coach Ben Sacco directs his players during a practice. The Blue Devils are 2-0 heading into Friday's game at North Scott.

Ben Sacco calls it riding the wave.

Davenport Central's football team had three turnovers in about a five-minute stretch of the third quarter at Burlington in Week 1. The Blue Devils did not crash.

It was whistled for 13 penalties costing them more than 110 yards last week against Davenport West. The Blue Devils did not wipe out.

Those miscues, coupled with just 23 to 24 players in uniform each of the first two weeks, illustrates Sacco's program still has plenty of room for growth.

The playoffs are probably a long shot this season since only the top two teams from each district advance and Central is lumped with Bettendorf, Iowa City High, Muscatine and Clinton — the toughest Class 4A district in eastern Iowa and all ranked among the state's top 15.

But for a senior class that never won more than a game each of the past three years, a 2-0 start — regardless of the opposition — signals growth.

"We have talented kids who haven't been coached the way they should have been coached all the way through the ranks," Sacco said.

With any coaching change, there is an adjustment period.

Sacco admits he and his assistants have a better understanding in the second year of their regime how to motivate and teach kids at Central. Sacco believes he has his assistants, filtering down to the youth program, in the best positions to help the Blue Devils build success.

"We're going to start to see some more disciplined athletes come through and take advantage of things that historically Central hasn't been great at as far as discipline and understanding the game of football," Sacco said. "It won't just be us trying to out-athlete people."

Sacco tinkered with a spread offense last year, but that didn't fall in line with his previous coaching experiences at Davenport Assumption.

The Blue Devils have leaned more on a clock-chewing, run-oriented attack this season. It was a necessity with the lack of depth, but it also caters to Central's personnel.

Central is averaging almost 7 yards per rush in the first two games thanks to a backfield of Kobe Williams and Jatoviay Hill along with a veteran offensive line.

"That's our main core of seniors," left guard A.J. Menke said of the linemen. "We know we can depend on us to get the job done."

Sacco said that offensive line was a committed group in the offseason. They worked out together in the weight room and on the practice field.

"We're more dedicated and we actually try to get stuff done now," Menke said. "The last couple of years, we'd mess around in practice sometimes."

Back-to-back wins have created more energy at practice. The Blue Devils have a chance for their first 3-0 start in 23 years Friday night at North Scott (0-2).

"For us to get some confidence in ourselves and understand we can be a good team, it builds a little momentum," Sacco said. "For our kids and their focus, they might commit to football now where they might not have been as committed in the first two weeks.

"But they see 2-0, yeah, we can compete and play with these guys."

KNIGHTS TURN TO LEVY: Assumption senior quarterback and linebacker Chris Bridges suffered a leg injury in the fourth quarter of last week's loss at Bettendorf. Coach Wade King is uncertain when or if Bridges will return.

"We're holding out on that," King said. "You feel for a kid that is a senior with something like that, but I think he's pretty determined to get back."

In the meantime, the Knights will turn to junior Jayce Levy behind center for Friday's home district opener against fifth-ranked West Delaware.

Levy, a state track qualifier, is averaging more than 10 yards per rush and has caught three passes for 78 yards the first two weeks. He has played quarterback at times the past two seasons.

"We think he'll do a great job," King said. "Big things can happen when he has the ball in his hands."

RACKING UP THE YARDS: Muscatine's Drew Greenhaw and Clinton's Gage Harris compiled some gaudy receiving totals last week.

Greenhaw had 14 receptions for 235 yards against Iowa City West, the most receiving yards in a game by an Iowa Class 4A player this season. Harris, meanwhile, caught 14 passes for 196 yards in the River Kings' 51-28 triumph against North Scott. 

Harris and Greenhaw are Nos. 1 and 3 in 4A receiving through two weeks.


Sports Editor

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.