Shane Davis has been involved in high school football for a long time.
The veteran coach worked several years as an assistant at various schools before being named head coach at Apalachee prior to the 2005 season.
This year, however, has been tough — mentally and physically — on the coach as the Wildcats enter this week 0-8 with just two games left in 2013.
“The goal of our program is to win,” Davis said. “However, we are also always going to try and do things the right way. My job as a coach is to win and put a quality team on the field that can be competitive.”
After going 1-9 in his first season at AHS, Davis had 6-5 and 6-6 seasons before finishing 7-4 in 2008, going to the playoffs all three years. The breakout campaign came with an undefeated regular season in 2009 and a trip to the third round of the state playoffs.
There wasn’t a high level of expectation to win when Davis coached his AHS first team in 2005.
“We sold out to get to where we needed to go,” he said. “We had to focus on getting tougher and focus on fighting for four quarters. It was a different era for our program.”
The Wildcats finished 6-4 in 2010, just missing the postseason for a fifth year in a row. Since then the program has gone through 4-6 and 5-5 campaigns. Even those seasons, however, were successful in terms of wins when compared to 2013.
“It does cause you to second guess yourself,” Davis said. “When you are winning you don’t do that. Winning at times will overshadow some problems you may have. Losing doesn’t mask anything.”
Each week this season, the Wildcat players have shown up ready to work when Monday arrives.
Davis said he has always stressed the importance of doing the same routine, whether the team wins or loses on Friday.
Being the head coach of the program means the ultimate responsibility falls on him, Davis said.
He said he realizes the region AHS competes in may very well be the toughest in the state. He also realizes the team only returned a handful of starters this fall. Still, Davis doesn’t like to use those things as excuses.
“At the end of the day, it goes back to me,” he said. “It’s my job to play with the hand we have been dealt. I love our kids. I know that myself and our coaches will do everything in our power to get things going in the right direction again. Any coach out there who is competitive would have a hard time with a season like the one we are going through. This is really a different situation than our first year here.”
As someone who has known Davis even before he arrived at AHS, it is worth noting that the coach has never backed away from talking about his team.
Some coaches, when faced with seasons like this, prefer not to talk to the media. One head coach (not in Barrow County) told me one time, “I’d rather not have anything in the paper about us when we go through rough seasons.”
Each week, however, Davis has answered questions from this newspaper and others. He clearly knows how to succeed on the football field. His loyalty to his assistant coaches — and in turn their loyalty to him — is somewhat of an anomaly in the world of high school athletics.
High school football runs in up and down cycle. Very few programs go 9-1 or 10-0 each fall. Davis has guided the AHS program to the state playoffs four times. Sometimes you have to go back to zero before you climb to more successful heights.
It’s been said in this space before, but it certainly is worth repeating: AHS and the Barrow County School System is fortunate to have Shane Davis as a head football coach. Anyone who doesn’t understand what he has done and accomplished during his tenure doesn’t truly understand football or high school athletics.
Chris Bridges is sports editor of the Barrow Journal. Send comments about this column to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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