During football season, you won’t find Coach Harold Davis of DeSales High School relaxed on a couch on Sunday evenings enjoying the array of talent in the National Football League. Instead, as the clock ticks, he’s putting in time of commitment as he prepares his team for another week of competition.
“We take one game at a time and each week there is a new challenge in front of you,” Davis relates. “I still enjoy the film work and preparation on the weekends and what goes on through the week with what we do in practice. I am challenged by looking at one game at a time and the team in front of me and just wanting to be successful against them.”
Perhaps another challenge was five years ago when Davis took over as head coach of DeSales. As a former player at DeSales, it was now his chance to give back to a program that gave so much to him.
After being an assistant coach for six years, the title of head coach carried a special ring to it as Davis was now in a position of total leadership and seeking to take the Colts to the next level.
“I am very fortunate to be in this position,” he says. “It is obviously special, because I am an alumni and because I care so much about the school – my tie to it as a player and as an assistant coach. So it is amazing some of the things that have happened the last five years and I am glad I have been able to be a part of it.”
Well numbers don’t lie, and his speak for themselves. During his time as head coach, DeSales has had a 57-12 record overall to go along with back-to-back state titles in 2013 and 2014, and the retired firefighter has led a group of guys who’ve extinguished their opponents on the field.
But he would be the first to say all the success doesn’t sit on his shoulders alone, but it starts with having great kids at the school and a coaching staff who all have bought into the same message. With 15 total coaches in the football program, nearly half of them have gone through the DeSales football program also. So many of them have delivered the same message to their players.
“It’s discipline,” Davis adds. That is a huge part of it. That’s one of the main things we want from our kids. I kind of believe that if everyone is on the same page and doing what their job is supposed to be, then success will follow. Our kids are good kids and this is a good school and they listen very well to our coaching. We’re kind of hard on them. I am the old school kind of coaching, but they respond to it and like I said, I think discipline is a large part of it.”
For Davis, success exceeds beyond the football field. His goals have been to shape and transform young boys into being strong young men. He understands that some of them will leave his program to play college football, but the majority will not. So what tools do players leave with that they are able to utilize in the many years to come after high school?
“Everybody likes to win and be successful because you’re playing football,” he says. “But in our playbook, there is a team philosophy and very little of that has to deal with football. It is about how you treat people, having respect for people and working with one another and how to be a teammate. Being responsible, that’s the biggest part of what we’re doing. We hope we are making them better and prepared when they leave DeSales not as a football player but as a student. Hopefully, we can lay the groundwork for that, and 10 years down the road they can become a good husband, good father and just a good citizen.”
So if we guessed what the greatest joy Coach Davis has as a head football coach, it wouldn’t be that he coaches at his alma mater. Or if you said he’s won two state championships in Class 2A, you’d be wrong again. Or with one last attempt, thinking the new Paul B. Cox stadium (first time in nearly 60 years that DeSales now have their own playing field) would provide the greatest joy? Well, like they say in baseball, three strikes and you’re out, you’d be wrong again. The greatest joy for Davis is the return on investment he gets when former players come back to him to express their gratitude and what he meant to their life as a coach.
“That’s probably the greatest thing,” he affirms. “Honestly, I love the competition, I love football and I love winning, but it’s more important to know we should be here for more than just winning and teaching football. So that is the biggest reward, seeing our players down the road having success.” VT