Davis quarterback Elijah Diaz accounted for 35 touchdowns as the Spartans won eight games, its most under head coach Tim Garcia. Despite its success, Davis was omitted from the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs. (Samantha Schmidt)

Modesto QB Club: No one happy with eight-win Davis left out of playoffs

Ron Agostini

MODESTO –The Grace Davis High Spartans have been left out of the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs despite an 8-2 record, and coach Tim Garcia did not hide his disgust.

“The most frustrating thing is that my kids will never get this opportunity back,” Garcia said Monday after the Modesto Quarterback Club’s weekly lunch. “It’s flat-out wrong.”

Davis (8-2, 5-2) finished in a three-way tie for second place with Los Banos (5-5, 5-2) and Johansen (7-3, 5-2), all behind champion Beyer in the Western Athletic Conference.  The Patriots (7-3, 6-1) advanced to the Division IV bracket, and Los Banos (5-5,5-2) was slotted into D-V.

Meanwhile, Davis and Johansen collect equipment for storage this week.  Davis’ angst is understandable. It opened the season by handing eventual Southern League champion Ripon Christian (9-1) its only loss and later knocked off Beyer 35-14.

The Spartans were hurt, however, by falling to Los Banos 24-17 – Davis led 17-0 – and to Johansen 21-14. Other factors: The WAC does not grade highly section-wide, and all non-league champions are evaluated via a computer formula that seriously considers strength of schedule.

Davis’ numbers did not add up, to the chagrin of Garcia and the Spartans. Modesto Junior College coach Rusty Stivers offered some empathy: His 2001 Riverbank Bruins went 8-2 and did not qualify. Merced was not selected despite an 8-2 record in 2005.

The Spartans opened the season with non-league wins over RC, Franklin of Stockton, El Capitan and Mountain House. The section apparently was not impressed. City coaches believed both Davis and Johansen were shortchanged, though the Spartans and the Vikings have built their programs back to respectability.

Garcia, a former quarterback at Davis, called attention to quarterback Elijah Diaz who finished the season with 35 total touchdowns. The coach felt Diaz and his fellow seniors deserved at least one more game.

“When you win eight games, I don’t care who you’re playing,” Garcia said.

QB CLUB NOTES – A “J” was painted onto the turf of Johansen’s Dan Gonsalves Stadium before last week’s WAC showdown between Johansen and Beyer, but Vikings’ coach Scott Sacuskie didn’t seem upset. “People in the community had a little pride for Johansen,” he said. Johansen played at home as the designated visiting team while Beyer celebrated Senior Night. Johansen’s 7-3 season record, blemished by the 24-14 loss to the Patriots, was its best since 2008. …

Beyer played most of the game without injured Darius Murphy, who surprisingly was inserted at quarterback against Johansen. “We found out we could do things without Darius Murphy,” Patriots coach Greg Bockman said. Murphy’s ankle injury leaves him questionable for Beyer, the No. 11 seed in D-IV, for its first-round game Friday night at No. 6 seed Merced. …

Downey (7-3, 4-1), the runner-up behind Turlock in the Central California Athletic League, finished the regular season with a 41-6 victory over Modesto. Coach Jeremy Plaa expressed disappointment in the Knights’ No. 10 seed in Division II and their trip to seventh-seeded Granite Bay (4-6). The Grizzlies tied for fifth in the tough Sierra Foothill League. “The theme this week is respect,” Plaa said.  

Central Catholic assistant coach Myron Larson lamented three Raider turnovers, compared to none by Oakdale, during the Raiders’ 42-39 loss at Patton Field. The CC loss threw the Valley Oak League race into a tri-title with Oakdale, the Raiders and Manteca. Oakdale’s gutsy and successful play-action pass on 4th-and-3 from near midfield clinched the win with about two minutes left. “We feel if we got the ball back, we would have scored to win the game,” Larson said. The Raiders, seeded fifth in Division II, welcome 12th-seeded Tracy (4-6) Friday night. ...

Gregori locked its playoff berth with a 35-0 victory over Enochs. "We put things together and showed a lot of improvement," Jaguars coach Lamar Wallace said. Titus Rhiney rushed for 157 yards and topped the 1,000-yard mark, and quarterback Baker Melendez accounted for three touchdowns. Gregori's reward is a No. 11 seed in Division I and a bus ride to sixth-seeded Davis of Yolo County (9-1). ...

The QB club welcomed five Modesto High players as special guests. The Panthers (1-9, 0-5) struggled in coach Dylan Miller’s first season. “What we’ll continue to do is fight. Better days ahead is all I can say,” Miller said. …

Big Valley Christian (6-4), which successfully defended its Central California Athletic Alliance title, earned a No. 5 seed in Division VII and will travel to fourth-seeded Le Grand (5-5). The Lions can avenge a 41-28 loss to the Bulldogs on Sept. 6. BVC lost running back Javyn Drobnick for the season during that game.  …

Stivers thinks MJC (6-2, 2-1), 26-24 loss to Fresno aside, still can qualify for at-large NorCal playoff berth. The goal:  Wins at Sacramento on Saturday afternoon and at home vs. Delta, combined with a little help elsewhere. ... The QB club will meet at Coaches Corner next Tuesday, the day after Veterans Day.