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Valencia football's Davis Pitner: Finding his way on the line

Posted: June 10, 2013 8:43 p.m.
Updated: June 10, 2013 8:43 p.m.

Valencia's Davis Pitner excels with a business-like attitude on the offensive line.

 

 

Offensive line is the perfect position for Davis Pitner.

Linemen are some of the most important parts of any football team and they have to work as hard as anyone on the field because they’re seeing action every play. And yet, they get very little attention.

That about sums up Pitner, a two-year Valencia varsity football player who recently graduated.

“He’s not the one to take the limelight of it all,” says Pitner’s mother, Kate. “He wants to be involved, but just not out in front.”

From day one, Pitner approached football like he does with most everything in his life. He did is as thought it was a full-time job, and he did it was everythiing he had.

On the side, Davis does work for a charity called Raise Your Hand Foundation, which assists children in West Africa who are seeking higher education.

He assists with canned food drives at his family’s church, Real Life Church.

He’s helped serve Thanksgiving dinner at local senior centers and he’s spent time working with disabled kids at Valencia High, among other things.

This is the type of work Davis has done for several years — lifting boxes, answering phones, cleaning up — quietly doing his job in the background.

He’s the offensive lineman of volunteers.

“My parents have really taught me about moral values and really have grown me into the type of person I am today,” Davis says. “Just caring for others and just helping out. It’s what I like to do and what I’ve done for a long time.”

For the past four years, Davis has tried to balance out his passion for football with his other interests in life and he’s managed to go about everything with an equal level of commitment.

“Whatever’s important to him, he puts his heart on the line and works as hard as he needs to,” says Niko Lachman, a friend and former Valencia teammate. “All these things he does because they’re important to him and they’re important to his family.”

Since he began playing football in eighth grade, he’s loved it and he’s poured every ounce of effort into it.

The game has a strong history in his family after his grandfather, Merle Weaver, played professional football for a short time in the 1940s after his career as a lineman at Iowa State.

Davis says he’s used his grandfather as inspiration.

But midway through what had been a stellar senior season, Davis’ devotion to the game was tested when he tore multiple ligaments in his knee.

It happened during pregame warmups for Valencia’s Foothill League opener against Saugus on Oct. 5

At the time, he tried to play through it and actually survived three offensive possessions before succumbing to the season-ending injury.

“Up to that point in the first five games he was playing as well as any lineman I’ve seen at Valencia High School,” says Valencia head football coach Larry Muir.

Initially, Davis felt devastated knowing his four-year Valencia High playing career was suddenly over.

But that wore off quickly when he started immersing himself in game film so he could help fellow linemen to prepare for games.

He took on a semi-coaching role for the remainder of the season, often pacing the sidelines on crutches.

“He did sort of one day snap into high gear of taking charge and staying involved,” Kate says. “One thing he did was he really tried to make himself useful as much as he could.”

To Davis’ delight, Linfield College, a small school in Oregon, offered him a spot on its football team.

In addition to being a highly rated academic institution, Linfield is consistently one of the top NCAA Division III football teams in the nation.

Davis said he earned multiple financial grants from the school for his strong academics (3.7 GPA) and his work with charities.

Finally, the offensive lineman was getting some credit.

“Going through something that’s so life changing and so impacting on yourself, it really changes your whole entire personality,” Davis says of his injury. “With football and in general, it changed my personality and made me into a more determined individual.”

Davis remembers Valencia’s last football game when it lost to Palos Verdes in the CIF-Southern Section Northern Division semifinals.

It was the end of the line for senior players like Davis, who remembers sitting quietly in the locker room after the game.

He listened as Valencia head coach Muir spoke to the seniors.

“(He) told us that losing this game sucks, but this whole football experience, everything you’ve gone through, it’s going to prepare us,” Pitner remembers.

The speech hit home for him.

It helped him realize how much football had taught him about life.

The game had showed him the value of discipline, responsibility and sacrifice.

It all began to make sense at that moment in the locker room.

“What football did for us was it was a stepping stone for what real life is,” Davis says.

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