DAYTON - There will be several unknown factors to consider when the Dayton High School football team kicks off its season at home tonight.
With a new team and philosophy, not to mention a newly implemented wing-T offense, coach Butch Cattanach will be looking to address those unknowns when the Dust Devils line up at 7:30 p.m. to play Delta High School from Clarksburg, Calif.
"Right now, I can't wait to play, but at the same time, I still wish we had another week to prepare," said Cattanach, who is entering his fourth season as Dayton's head coach.
Even the opponent is an unknown because the Delta Saints were a late addition to the schedule after Whittell backed out of the season-opening date. This will be the first-ever meeting between Dayton and Delta.
"I found Delta on a bulletin board at a coaches clinic," Cattanach said. They were looking for a game, we were looking for a game; we needed to have a game before we open league with Rite of Passage, so it worked out."
Cattanach admits he knows little about Delta, other than it is a school of about 300 students located in the Sacramento River delta area, and that it produced former NFL quarterback Tony Eason - a senior in 1977 who played for the New England Patriots in the 1985 Super Bowl.
"They're just one of those small schools that gets after it on Friday nights," Cattanach said. "I've heard they are a wing-T team also, that they have a great tradition and that they play very, very hard."
There were some positive signs last Saturday when Dayton hosted Pershing County (Lovelock) and Mineral County (Hawthorne) for a scrimmage. Among other things, the Dust Devils are still working on the offensive transition from power-I to wing-T. This is a difference from the last two years, when Dayton's offense was geared toward running back Shane VanZant, who is now at Butte College.
"We still have to work on a lot of intricacies, but the kids are doing a good job," Cattanach said of the wing-T. "This is going to give us an opportunity to mix things up. Before, you knew if our tailback took a step in one direction, that was where the ball would be going."
One question on offense was settled when junior Anthony Cupp was named starting quarterback this week. Cupp and senior Jory Eley had been battling for the starting position.
"Anthony throws the ball a little bit better and Jory looks more effective at wingback," Cattanach said.
Fullback Ivan Trigueros, along with Matt Sumsion and Eley at the wingback positions, will join Cupp to form the backfield in Dayton's misdirection-oriented offense. All three are senior returnees, as is Garrett Watkins, who will start at an end and also play some at wingback.
It's a team-oriented offense, which fits right in with the Dust Devils' motto - "Together we can."
"As a team, I think we're looking better than since I've been here," Eley said. "I think this is the best team football program we've had because we've all come together."
Eley, a second-team all-Northern 3A defensive back last year, also plays cornerback in an experienced secondary. Sumsion is the other cornerback and Watkins is the safety.
"It doesn't look too bad. We still have a lot of work to do, we made a lot of mistakes, but we're going to step it up," senior inside linebacker A.J. Owens said, referring to the scrimmage on Saturday.
Eight players will start on both offense and defense, but Cattanach intends to look at everyone on the 26-man roster tonight.
"We will play everybody, no matter what the score and no matter what the situation," he said, casting an eye toward Dayton's Northern 3A opener at home against Rite of Passage on Sept. 7. "We've got a lot of two-way players right now, but we want to cut that down to three or four players."
C: Justin Zabel 5-10, 210 jr.
G: Ryan Jacobsen 5-9, 203 sr.
G: Josh May 6-3, 190 sr.
T: Daniel Lopez 5-9, 200 sr.
T: Steve Salazar 6-1, 300 jr.
E: Brian Irwin 6-2, 200 jr.
E: Garrett Watkins 6-3 180 sr.
QB: Anthony Cupp 6-2, 230 jr.
FB: Ivan Trigueros 5-8, 165 sr.
WB: Matt Sumsion 5-10, 152 sr.
WB: Jory Eley 5-8, 150 sr.
T: Charles Maloney 6-4, 305, sr.
OLB: Gabe Sumsion 5-8, 140 jr.
ILB: A.J. Owens 5-9, 175 sr.
CB: M. Sumsion