BA’s Davis in ‘Cougariffic’ campaign

Published 6:00 am Monday, December 28, 2009

Brookhaven Academy’s unprecedented march to the MAIS Class AAState Football Championship would be described as “Cougariffic” byBA fans. Coach Herbert Davis labeled his team’s unexpected level ofsuccess a reward for hard work and determination.

“It was a great team effort,” said Davis, The DAILY LEADER’sLincoln County Coach of the Year. “Somebody always was stepping up.Someone always made a play.”

Davis, 42, had to replace 10 starters off last year’s District4-AA championship team. Seven seniors stepped up and providedimportant leadership this season. They included linemen WillGatlin, Prentiss Smith, Clint “Stump” Stewart, linebackers DonovanLorraine and Jamison Powell, defensive back Logan Pace and widereceiver Tripp Jolly.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

BA’s remarkable campaign began slowly with preseason practice,starting in late July. Looking back for a moment, Davis said, “Itwas the worst two-a-days (practices) as far as attitude andleadership. We finally got some leadership and the kids startedstepping up.

“They started to have fun when we won a few games,” hecontinued. “They got themselves ready to play. They didn’t thinkthey could lose when they stepped on the field.”

He said development of the young offensive line was critical tothe team’s success. Working mainly in the trenches were AlanMichael Allred (6-0, 175, jr.) at left tackle, Clint Stewart (6-1,250, sr.) at left guard, Hunter Franklin (5-10, 205, soph.) atcenter, Will Gatlin (6-3, 235, sr.) at right guard and CameronBarry (6-1, 215, jr.) at right tackle.

Davis, who has been coaching football for 15 years, won a statechampionship at BA in 1993. He left Lincoln County after that yearand didn’t return until 2008. He has coached at Winston Academy,Columbus Heritage, Indianola Academy and Greenwood Pillow Academy.He won state titles at Winston and Pillow. His Heritage teams weretwice runners-up.

“Confidence was a key to our success,” said Davis. The teammotto this year was simple: “Believe.”

“This group really bought into the idea and took off with it,”said Davis.

Working as BA’s assistant coaches were Kenny Williams and RobertYoung. Williams has been coaching with Davis for five years, threeof them at Pillow.

“Coach Williams understands what I want and what I expect,” saidDavis. “He probably did his best job leading those young guys. He’sin charge of our weight program and he breaks down film.

“Coach Young does a good job coaching our receivers,” Davisadded. “We work well together.”

BA’s high-powered passing game was quarterbacked by ChandlerRogers. He passed for nearly 4,000 yards and rushed for over 1,000yards, accounting for 59 touchdowns.

“We almost had three receivers with 50 catches apiece,” saidDavis. Two of them, Tripp Jolly and Christian (Bubba) Keene caughtover 1,000 yards of passes.

BA’s spread offense became more potent as the season progressed.Davis said, “We averaged over 200 yards rushing our last fourgames.”

Davis believes in strong, emotional, hard-hitting play onoffense and defense. He stalks the sidelines during games, shoutingencouragement to his players.

He reviews and grades game films with his staff, the same nightas games.

This year Davis had an extra load to carry, serving as BA’sheadmaster and athletic director. He is looking forward to devotingmore time to football when the new headmaster comes aboard.

Davis and his wife, Darla, have three children. They areChansley Hodge, age 20; Mackenzie, 13; and Hayden, 11.

A Mississippi College graduate, Davis began his coaching careerat Winston Academy where his team finished 12-1 wining a statetitle. His father, Herbert Davis, Sr., is a New Sight communityresident and one of his most fervent supporters, walking thesidelines during games and shouting encouragement to theCougars.