51st Heritage Bowl: Spencer's Tarvaraska Davis making name for himself

Spencer quarterback faces huge challenge against Carver

dmitchell@ledger-enquirer.comAugust 29, 2013 

Spencer running back Damarkus Robins stood on the sidelines during practice earlier this week, joking with his quarterback Tarvaraska Davis.

"Tra-vos-skee," Robins said, putting the emphasis on the final syllable. "That's how people always say his name. Tra-vos-SKEE."

They laughed. Davis shook his head. Most teammates and coaches just call him Snookie. It's an affectionate nickname, unique and easy to say.

Asked what he wanted to be called in the newspaper, however, Davis said one word.

"Tarvaraska."

The senior quarterback, who is entering his third season as the Greenwave starter, is still trying to make a name for himself. Despite throwing for more than 2,100 yards, 18 touchdowns and just 8 interceptions last year, he knows people will only take notice if the team improves on its three wins from last season.

"We want to make the playoffs," Davis said. "I just want to win."

That quest begins Friday night in the 51st Heritage Bowl, a non-region contest against Carver that kicks off at 7:30 p.m. at A.J. McClung Memorial Stadium.

The 50th edition of the rivalry was better than the previous two for Spencer, but still ended in a 41-point romp for the Tigers.

Spencer players and coaches know the challenge ahead of them, but they also know the improvements they have made, Davis in particular.

"He's gotten better," coach Calvin Arnold said.

"He has gotten better. The biggest thing with him is he's starting to see the game as coaches see the game. He's starting to understand why we do certain things. He takes full advantage of watching film when he can."

His teammates have taken notice, as well.

Robins called him the best quarterback in the Region 5AA -- high praise, but not outlandish.

You think so?

"Yes. I know so. He's accurate. He's got a strong arm. If he's got to, he can run. He can extend the play. He's great."

Sophomore safety Daymeonta White noted the quarterback's unwillingness to give up on a play, too, noting how much it helps a defense to see its offense doing everything it can to keep them off the field.

"It hypes us up," he said. "I see him avoiding tackles, doing what he does, so we know we have to match what he's doing. If Snookie's doing good, we've got to do better. And if we're doing better, he's going to do the best."

Davis said he feels like he's gotten better both physically and as a leader.

He loves being the guy people rely on to make a play.

"Just being around me," he said of what made him enjoy quarterback, which he has been playing since he was a little kid. "Plays being around me. I like being that player that people rely on. I like the pressure."

The pressure will be as great as any game he'll play on Friday. The Carver defense will present a level of talent he won't face for the rest of the season.

The Tigers have a slew of linebackers that can blitz or drop back into coverage, a big defensive front and a talented secondary.

Win or lose, Davis and Spencer have a great opportunity to show their improvement on a big stage.

If they do that, maybe, just maybe, people might remember the name.

David Mitchell, Follow David on Twitter @leprepsports and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ledgerenquirersports.

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