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For Banning, 60 Minutes of Travis Davis Is Usually Good News : Prep football: Pilots’ star running back also excels on defense. This season, he even had to fill in for the punter.

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

As far as Travis Davis of Banning High is concerned, there hasn’t been much rest for the weary.

For most of the season, Davis has been running the ball 25 to 30 times a game as Banning’s tailback.

When Banning’s offense is off the field, Davis mans the Pilots’ right cornerback position.

Since the playoffs began, he has been returning punts and kicks.

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And, as if Banning Coach Joe Dominguez couldn’t think up enough tasks for his versatile 6-foot, 185-pound senior, he even had Davis punting for much of the season, when the regular punter was down with an injury.

“I didn’t mind it, really,” the soft-spoken Davis said. “I could kick pretty good. Anyway, punting gave me a little rest time.”

Except for one problem. With Banning’s high-powered offense ripping off one long scoring drive after another, Davis hardly ever got a chance to punt.

Which was OK, because Davis doesn’t need much rest.

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“I like to be on the field the whole game,” Davis said. “That way you feel like a part of it all the time.”

Dominguez has since turned the punting chores over to placekicker Ricardo Robledo. But if Banning (9-3) is going to win the L.A. City 4-A Division championship Friday against Carson (11-1), expect Davis to play a major role.

The game--the 10th time the rival schools have met for the City title since 1978--is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at El Camino College.

On Oct. 12, Carson beat Banning, 41-14, in a Pacific League game. But Davis still rushed for 159 yards in 28 carries--the most yards Carson has allowed to an opposing running back all season.

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Banning has won six of the previous nine City championship matchups against Carson.

But Carson has won the last two--in 1986 and 1988--and Carson Coach Gene Vollnogle will be coaching in his last game before retirement, giving the Colts an emotional boost.

“I think we can beat them,” Davis said. “We just have to play harder and eliminate the turnovers.”

A dominating, full-field performance by Davis wouldn’t hurt, either. Two weeks ago, against Kennedy, Davis:

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Rushed for 108 yards, including a touchdown.

Returned a kickoff from his own three-yard line, raced straight up the middle, broke a tackle, then cut back to the right sideline for a 97-yard touchdown run.

Intercepted two passes and made a Kennedy receiver see stars with a devastating hit on the sidelines.

Davis has rushed for 1,657 yards this season in 223 carries--an average of 7.4 yards per carry. He has scored 17 touchdowns on the ground, plus his scoring kickoff return.

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Davis has surpassed 200 yards in three games this year--against Dorsey, Gardena and Crenshaw--and has reached the 100-yard mark on seven other occasions.

Dorsey held Davis to 48 yards in Banning’s 21-20 semifinal victory last week--until the last play of the game.

On that play, Davis ran a sweep to the right from 13 yards out, slashed back to the middle, and high-stepped into the end zone for the decisive touchdown with 1:28 left to play. Robledo’s extra point was the margin of victory.

“The blocking was the difference,” Davis said, with characteristic modesty. “Everybody blocked as hard as they could and gave me a hole to the inside.”

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Still, Davis leaves the laid-back approach on the sidelines. Once on the field, he thrives on contact.

“I love to hit, even on offense,” Davis said. “When I run the ball, I love it when there is just one guy who thinks he can take me down. I take the attitude that no one person can bring me down.”

What makes Davis such an attractive college prospect is his combination of toughness, strength and the speed to get outside, where he can isolate and run over defensive backs.

On Banning’s track team last season, Davis ran a personal best of 10.8 seconds in the 100 meters.

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“Travis can do everything that great backs do,” Dominguez said. “He can make the first guy miss a tackle, and then he can go right through the next guy. And he’s got a natural high leg-kick action in his running stride. He can do it all.”

On Saturday, Davis will visit USC for the first of his recruiting trips. He also has visits lined up to Washington, UCLA, Notre Dame and Stanford. Stanford is particularly interested in Davis, who is a bright student and excels in mathematics.

All five colleges see Davis as a potential force on either offense or defense.

“Most of the college recruiters that I have spoken to think Travis can do just about anything,” Dominguez said. “They say he can be a Division I running back or a Division I defensive back.”

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As a sophomore, Davis was a full-time cornerback on Banning’s varsity. He switched to running back the following season but missed nearly every game with a variety of ankle injuries.

“It was terrible,” Davis said. “I wanted to play, but I had to sit there and watch everyone else go out there and have fun. I got frustrated.”

He won’t be watching Friday.


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