Once a ballboy, now he's the ballcarrier

One day toward the end of last school year at Estancia High, football coach Mike Bargas noticed a familiar face.

Bargas tried to put a name to the face of the junior transferring to the school. The Eagles’ third-year coach admits he’s terrible with names.

The last time Bargas remembered seeing the kid was when he was an assistant coach at Newport Harbor in 2004. Back then, the kid was a 5-foot, 115-pound ballboy for the Sailors.

Sean Davis was all grown up by now, nine inches taller and 85 pounds heavier.

“I remember when he used to ride on the bus with us,” Bargas said. “It was a pleasant surprise to see him.

“I just remember a little pudgy kid and now he’s a big pudgy kid.”

Davis is still responsible for holding a ball during football games.

In his senior year, Davis is just running with it, full speed ahead, and knocking back tacklers in the process as a running back for Estancia.

Davis’ presence in the backfield and as an inside linebacker has allowed the Eagles (6-4) to qualify for tonight’s CIF Southern Section Southern Division first-round playoff game at Laguna Hills (8-2) at 7. Without Davis, Estancia most likely isn’t making its first playoff appearance since Bargas’ first year at the school in 2007.

In the final three regular-season games, Davis elevated his play on offense. He topped 100 yards on the ground in each of the crucial Orange Coast League games.

With Alex Abalos, the team’s starting running back, dealing with an injured ankle down the stretch, Davis gave the Eagles another option. Davis turned into a bulldozer.

The shifty Abalos is back and closer to being 100%. The different running styles of Abalos and Davis can only help the Eagles’ attempt to upset the defending champion Hawks and record the program’s first playoff victory since 1980.

Being a part of a program with little postseason success is something new to Davis. He grew up rooting for Newport Harbor on the sideline as a ballboy during its back-to-back championship appearances in 2004 and 2005, then played for the program when he enrolled into the school in 2006.

For three years Davis suited up as a proud Sailor. That was about to change. Davis said family problems forced him to transfer out of Newport Harbor in the second semester of his junior year.

“I wanted to stay, but it was pretty much a choice we had to make because I was having a rough time,” Davis said. “I lost some people in my life and I just needed a new start.”

The transition to Estancia hasn’t been an easy one for Davis, but one person has helped.

Bargas can relate with Davis. He left Newport Harbor’s storied program after the 2006 season to take his first head coaching position at a school lacking tradition in football.

When Bargas was at Newport Harbor, Davis considered him the coolest coach on staff.

Bargas clearly understood Davis’ situation. Finishing his final year of high school on another campus is an adjustment, from making new friends, to learning a new system.

“The guy hasn’t been here three years and he decides to make the sacrifice [of] coming in as a senior, giving up his roots over there [at Newport Harbor], kind of like I did,” said Bargas, who was sold on Davis after calling his former boss at Newport Harbor, Coach Jeff Brinkley. “[Brinkley] said he’s a great kid. He thought he could help us and he has.”

There are days Davis said he thinks of how his senior year might have turned out like if he had stayed at Newport Harbor. He said he was one of the strongest players in the weight room last year. The Sailors are also back in the playoffs.

Davis is too busy to let the what-ifs distract him. He knows another team needs him on the field in the playoffs and he isn’t about to let Bargas down.

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