Davis wins again at home

Published 6:00 am Monday, December 29, 2008

After a 15-year absence, Herbert Davis returned to BrookhavenAcademy as head football coach. Davis had to install his philosophyas he regrouped and made adjustments in the program.

Winners of two straight District 4-AA championships under formerhead coach Bo Milton, the Cougars didn’t miss a step with Davis atthe controls and marched to a third consecutive district crown,despite a rash of early-season injuries.

For his team’s accomplishments, Davis has been chosen The DAILYLEADER’s 2008 Coach of the Year on the All-Lincoln County FootballTeam.

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Davis, 41, celebrates his birthday Jan. 1. His return toBrookhaven Academy was a celebration in itself for the 1985 BAgraduate. In 1993 he had coached the Cougars to their first-everstate football title, beating Greenville Christian in thechampionship game.

“We came into a pretty good situation here at BrookhavenAcademy,” said Davis. “Coach (Ray) Ishee and Coach (Bo) Milton hadthe program going in the right way.”

Recognized for his enthusiasm and intensity, even in practice,Davis expects his players to give their best during the week and onFriday nights. That philosophy paid dividends.

“Our team had a good attitude and they were coachable,” saidDavis. “They gave a great effort and that can win a lot ofgames.”

Davis loses 10 seniors off the 3-time defending districtchampionship squad. They are Kolby Byrd, Caleb Covington, Ty Smith,Clayton Reed, Kyle Burke, Caleb Dorman, Reid Smith, NathanSbravati, Caleb Williams and Garrett Posey.

“Success starts with leadership and we had some good leaders onthis team,” said Davis. “You have to believe in the system.”

Senior starting quarterback Ty Smith sustained an ankle injuryin a preseason jamboree and the Cougars were in a bind. SophomoreChandler Rogers stepped up and produced an outstanding season.Rogers became an exceptional passer.

“Chandler really blossomed,” said Davis. “As a team we matured.We started five sophomores.”

Davis noted the progress of Dorman at wide receiver. A newcomerto football, the senior standout became the team’s leadingreceiver, with 34 receptions for 564 yards 2 TDs.

According to Davis, sophomores Scottie Peavey and Jennings Millsalso made great strides. “Scottie was fourth on our depth chart buthe wound up as our second leading receiver,” with 27 catches for537 yards and 5 TDs.

“Defense was our strength,” said Davis. “We never gave up morethan 14 points, except to Bowling Green.” The Cougars were defeated29-27 by Bowling Green in the first round of the state playoffs andfinished 8-4.

By comparison, the Cougars averaged 28 points per outing in thelast 9 games of the season.

Davis said his assistant coaches were a key to the team’ssuccess. Kenny Williams followed him from Greenwood Pillow andcoordinated the defense, also coaching the offensive line. RobertYoung coaches the team’s linebackers and wide receivers.

Asked about interest in the football program, Davis said, “Ourfan base and community support have grown. We have more folksfollowing us than some of the teams have in their home stands.”

The field house was in the midst of major renovations when Davisarrived on the BA campus last December. “We have great facilities.That allows us every opportunity to be successful. Ouradministration has been very supportive.”

Davis said the players made him successful. “Our kids dedicatedthemselves to our offseason strength program. Our strength andconditioning program really paid off.”

After graduating from BA, Davis played fullback on Co-Lin’s 1985state championship squad that also won the East Bowl. Ray Ishee wasthe head coach at Co-Lin and Bob Ricketts was offensivecoordinator.

“A lot of my offensive philosophy came from Coach Ricketts,”said Davis. “I was fortunate to play for Coach Ishee.”

Davis graduated from Mississippi College where he playedbaseball. His coaching career began at Winston Academy and the teamfinished 12-1, winning a state title. He also won a state title atGreenwood Pillow in 1997. His Columbus Heritage teams played forstate championships twice in 3 years.

He also had coaching stints at Indianola Academy, Cruger-Tchula,Southern Arkansas University and Northwest Community College.

Davis and his wife, the former Darla Bullock of Greenwood, have3 children: Chansley Hodge, age 19; Makenzie, 12; and Hayden,10.

A resident of the New Sight community, Davis enjoys spendingtime with his family and deer hunting when he isn’t coachingfootball.