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He Sends His Regrets

Venice's Davis admits he was wrong to have left Carson during last season

September 13, 2003|Eric Stephens | Times Staff Writer

Beau Davis grew up imagining himself dressed in black and powder blue, throwing passes on the nearby high school football field under the bright lights.

It was easy to dream about playing football for Carson High, a perennial City Section powerhouse. His parents graduated from the school. He would go to games and watch the Colts, anticipating the day he might star for a team that would add to a winning Carson tradition that included 10 City championships.

So how strange it was Friday night in Carson's season opener to find Davis taking snaps for Venice, the opponent.

Having climbed the latter of lower level football to become a part-time starter as a junior at Carson last season, Davis quit the team the week of the Colts' first playoff game last year.

His family later moved to Venice -- a traumatic experience for a lifelong Carson fan -- seeking a fresh start.

The desired scenario: That everyone, especially his old pals at Carson, would forget why he ever left his old neighborhood.

The move, Davis wants them to know, wasn't easy. "It was hard on me," he said. "I was leaving all my friends at Carson, going to a place I'd never been before."

He didn't want to go, but he couldn't stay. A bridge had been burned.

In football, where teamwork and camaraderie are paramount, Davis broke a trust when he walked out on his team -- especially at such a key juncture of the season. Davis isn't the first player to quit a team, nor will he be the last. Plenty of high school athletes do it every year for any number of reasons.

But his timing?

"To do that right before the playoffs, it just wasn't right," Carson quarterback Bo Napoleon said. "He could have at least finished out the season."

And that's coming from the player who benefited most personally by Davis leaving.

Carson Coach John Aguirre used both quarterbacks -- "Big Beau", Davis, or "Little Bo," Napoleon -- depending on the situation and who was playing best. Davis, a drop-back passer with a powerful arm, passed for 1,005 yards and eight touchdowns. But the Colts also responded to Napoleon, an athletic sophomore.

Aguirre said Davis wanted to know who would start the first playoff game, against Jefferson High.

Aguirre said his choice was Napoleon, who had thrown for a career-high five touchdowns the previous week. The coach said Davis responded by retrieving his equipment, put it on the table and said he was gone.

Free safety Chet Sanders, now a senior, said he wishes Davis would have waited.

"If he wanted to quit, why didn't he do it before the season or after," Sanders said. "You wait until the playoffs. Why? He quit when his team needed him the most."

Leaving the way he did is something Davis wishes he can take back.

"I regret it," he said. "I've really never quit something like that. I guess I was so caught up in the emotion and other stuff that happened. I just did what I had to do.

"That kind of thing, you just look back and say, 'I wish I wouldn't have done that or I wish I would have stuck it out.' But it's something you can't look back on. You've just got to go on and make the right decisions [in the future]."

Coach Angelo Gasca had some concerns when Davis showed up at Venice: What would the player do if things didn't go his way? In making Davis Venice's quarterback, would the coach be setting a bad example by rewarding someone who had put himself ahead of a team?

Now, months later, Gasca's fears have subsided. He's convinced that Davis is fully committed to his program.

"I'm sure it was hard for him to be at a school three years and then uproot yourself," Gasca said. "But he's adjusted well. He's a good kid and a great student. He's just trying to make the most of this situation."

Gasca doesn't condone Davis quitting on his former team. But he also wasn't going to deny him a second chance.

"Kids make bad decisions," he said. "I'm over 40 and I still make bad decisions. I want people to have a chance to make things right.

"People do things sometimes because they don't know what else to do and that may not be the best time to make a decision. But this is all part of growing up. It's a life lesson for Beau."

His new teammates have faith in him.

"I just think he can start fresh here and keep things positive," senior running back Byron Ellis said. "All of the negative stuff can stay over there."

Aguirre, the Carson coach, said he holds no ill will against Davis.

"We tried to make the best of the situation and it wasn't good enough," the coach said. "But I wish him well. It's a win-win situation for both of us."

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