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Davis drives Narbonne back to Coliseum
Â RUNNING FOR A REPEAT: Narbonne's Melvin Davis has carried the Gauchos back into the City Section finals after piling up nearly 300 yards of offense in their way against Carson. (Nick Koza for Sentinel) REMEMBERING DANNIE: Melvin Davis points to the sky in memory of his friend and former teammate Dannie Farber after his Narbonne squad defeated Carson in the City semifinals. The team has dedicated the season to Farber, who was killed in May weeks before his graduation. (Nick Koza for Sentinel)
When Narbonne takes the field on Saturday at the Coliseum, Melvin Davis will lead them in with the school flag.
Nobody more than Davis appreciates that task. It was the job held by his friend Dannie Farber last year.
"It's motivating," Davis said.
It was his friend who waved that flag at every game. And it was the lasting memory many had of someone whose death still resonates at the school.
Farber was gunned down on May 24 in Compton, just weeks short of graduating. It was his touchdown grab a year ago - followed by Davis' two-point conversion - that sent Narbonne to the City championship against San Pedro.
He's never far from anyone's mind. The team has his No. 4 on every helmet and before each game, they chant "Four...Time" to remember who they dedicated the season to.
It's what Davis said refocused the Gauchos after a surprising loss to Banning to end the season.
"We reminded ourselves of the promise we made," he said proudly. "Remember the number on the back of our helmets."
Dannie wouldn't quit. And neither would his friend or his team.
After shutting out L.A. Jordan 33-0 in their playoff opener, they traveled to Venice and won 48-32. Then in a rematch with Carson, who beat them 41-28 earlier this year, they won in dramatic fashion 42-38.
Davis played big in every game, capitalizing with 281 total yards of offense (208 rushing). After the game, he soaked it all in as he sat on the field.
He thought about his team's improbable run as a No. 11 seed and the first team in school history to reach back-to-back City finals. Thought about sweet revenge of avenging their loss to Carson. And he thought about his friend watching from above.
That's why carrying the flag - Dannie's flag - means everything to him.
"He'd be excited to see Crenshaw again." Davis said of Farber.
At Farber's funeral, Narbonne head coach Manuel Douglas said Davis had the option of wearing his number 4 before it was retired. He refused but he carried the memory of his friend with him.
Against San Pedro this year -their first meeting since last year's Championship - Davis powered the Gauchos to a second-half comeback victory. Afterwards he pointed to the sky and credited his inspiration.
The University of Washington commit rushed for nearly 1500 yards and 13 touchdowns this year. As he goes, so do the Gauchos who have usually won when he sets the tone with his powerful running and deceptive speed.
At 6-2, 235 lbs., Davis was a handful for Crenshaw in their meeting last year, averaging 5.4 yards per carry. But he knows that things are different a year later.
"It's a whole new squad," he said of the Cougars.
He hopes that experience will favor the Gauchos as those who played in last year's final. Davis scored three touchdowns in that game and he knows his team will need everything he has to repeat.
"We left something there at the Coliseum and we're going back to get it."
And as he runs, he does not just for the front of the jersey but the back of his helmet. No. 4 will be watching over him and his team as they seek to repeat and finish an emotional year on top.