Davis works to boost Lawrence Co. football

Published 8:30 pm Sunday, July 7, 2013

MONTICELLO – Herbert Davis has a vision for improving the Lawrence County High School football program. He’s already started raising funds for remodeling of the Brinson Foster Field House.

“Anyone interested in helping out can contact me,” said Davis, during a Tuesday interview. He estimates the remodeling process to require at least $30,000. The money would improve the locker room, weightlifting facility and the coaches’ office.

Davis, 46, moved to Monticello to accept the head football job in January. He had coached the previous two seasons at Ocean Springs, working as offensive coordinator with longtime friend and head coach Ryan Ross.

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A Lincoln County native with 23 years of coaching experience, Davis replaced David Parker who coached LCHS one season before he was fired. He has taken a coaching position at Seminary. LCHS finished 1-10 last season.

Looking to the immediate future, Davis said he must hire a linebacker/defensive backs coach and a defensive coordinator within the next few weeks. Former assistants John Davis and Jimmy Coley have left for positions at East Oktibbeha and Pelahatchie respectively.

David Barber remains on staff and coaches receivers. New hires are Joseph Hooker, defensive tackles, and David Sawyer, offensive line. Sawyer coached the previous two seasons at Belhaven University. He was the starting center at Ole Miss when Eli Manning was calling signals for the Rebels.

Davis said he finished spring practice with 53 players. They are averaging 36 players for the summer workouts, which feature weightlifting and conditioning.

“Our workout numbers have been OK,” said Davis. “We are making some progress. We have found some depth and some players who we can count on.”

He said team members have participated in 7-on-7 passing camps at Mississippi State, Louisiana-Lafayette and Copiah-Lincoln Community College. “These camps have helped us learn more about the team. It makes us mentally tougher, too. We need to learn how to overcome adversity. We must see improvement to have more positive results.”

Davis prefers to run a pass-oriented spread offense, a radical departure from the Wing-T style rushing attack that the Cougars ran in their 1999 march to the Class 4A state championship. His two quarterbacks, freshman Hayden Davis and senior Will Jackson, are spending the summer learning the passing game.

“The biggest thing here is encouraging our community,” said Coach Davis. “The work ethic and commitment required to have a successful program requires a lot of dedication from parents and players alike.”

A faded sign, hanging on the chain-link fence near the home side entrance to the stadium, recognizes the 1999 LCHS state championship team that was coached by Danny Adams.

Davis coached state championship teams at Brookhaven Academy in 1993 and 2009 and in 1997 at Greenwood Pillow. He played high school football at BA, then at Co-Lin and Mississippi College. He obtained a master’s degree from Delta State.

Davis said unity was crucial to an athletic program’s success. LCHS draws students from elementary schools located in New Hebron, Monticello and Topeka-Tilton.

“We are recruiting these athletes for Lawrence County,” said Davis. “We want them to have great years in K-8. Then we want to have them huffing and puffing for our athletic program.”

He said Superintendent of Education Dr. Tammy Fairburn, principal Darrell Turner and athletic director Cory Keyes have provided plenty of support. “We appreciate their help and interest.”

Lawrence County is a member of Region 7-4A. McComb, dropping down from Class 5A, is expected to be the favorite in the football race. Columbia, under the direction of former Tylertown coach Walter Denton, should be a title contender, too. North Pike was state playoff runner-up two years ago. South Pike and Purvis usually field strong teams.

LCHS begins preseason practice Aug. 5. The Cougars play their first game Aug. 23, at Wesson.