By Mark Clark
With all the adversity Davidson High has faced this season, it may seem surprising to many people that the Warriors even made the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 7A playoffs this season. It has been a Dr. Jekyll and Hyde type of season for the Warriors.
First, there was a video of older players attacking a freshman quarterback, who sustained a broken arm, in the team’s locker room this past summer which led to a law suit against the school, its football coach and the Mobile school district.
Then the Warriors’ head coach Fred Riley retired after being placed on leave by the school district and took a job with a semi-professional football team in Mobile.
Finally, the Warriors had to quickly learn a new system under their new coach Shawn Smith, who has served as an assistant coach with the Davidson football team off and on since 2001 for a total of eight years and last worked with the team in 2014 when named interim coach.
But, with a senior heavy lineup, the Warriors have had some success under Smith. The Warriors’ overall record stands at 6-4 and 6-2 record within Region 1. The Warriors losses came at the hands of the second and third place teams in Region 1 – McGill-Toolen and Fairhope. Davidson defeated the region’s top team Theodore 14-13 in an overtime game. The Warriors will try to draw on the success they have had when they come to Garrett-Harrison Stadium on Friday to face the No. 1 ranked Central High Red Devils.
“This is the playoffs and you don’t want to take any other team lightly. Davidson has had a bit of a rollercoaster season. They beat the top team in their region in a game Theodore lost its quarterback to a broken leg. It is kind of hard to judge that game because Theodore became kind of one-dimensional after losing their starting quarterback,” Central coach Jamey DuBose said of his team’s first round opponent. “If you want to compare Davidson to a team we’ve played, it would be Robert E. Lee. They are very athletic and physical. They are not as big on defense, but they have a lot of team speed. Their defense can cause you a lot of problems. They haven’t given up a lot of points. We will have to be selective on offense with our calls.”
Davidson and Central had two common opponents during the 2018 season – Meridian, Miss., and Robert E. Lee. Central beat Meridian 49-10 at home while Davidson lost to the Mississippi school in a road game 21-13 after leading 13-0. Central beat Robert E. Lee 44-17 and Davidson lost to the Generals 27-3 in a game that came apart in the fourth quarter as the Warriors gave up 20 points.
“I think the game will be tougher than you think. They are scary is the way I would label them. Their defense has not given up a lot of points. We will have to take what their defense gives us. We won’t go into the game and keep running if they stop us. We aren’t going to be that hardheaded. If we need to pass, we will do that. On defense, we need to stop the run and put them in a passing situation. We also need to keep the quarterback in the pocket and not allow him to use his legs to hurt us. This is the playoffs and you have to be ready to play. Davidson knows their season is on the line just like we do. They have a long bus ride to get here. We have to make that be an advantage for us. Four and a half hours on a bus is tiring,” DuBose said.
Davidson finished its regular season last Friday with a 42-21 win over Foley. Central has been off a week from playing after beating Auburn 24-7 to complete its perfect 10-0 regular season mark.
“The week off was good for us. We got some players well from some nagging injuries. We had a lot of guys with those types of things going on. It was good as far as getting healthy. We have kept on working like we had to play last week even though we had the week off,” DuBose said.
Davidson has scored 194 points (19.4 ppg) this season and given up 176 points (17.6 ppg). Central scored 432 points (43.2 ppg) and allowed 74 points (7.4 ppg) over its 10 games.
Davidson returned two players who made the Alabama Sports Writers Association Class 7A Second Team in 2017 – kicker Joe Montano and running back Kolbe Blunt. Central also had two players who made the 2017 ASWA Second Team – running back Amentia Spivey and defensive back Deonte Mathews. Central quarterback Peter Parrish made honorable mention for the team. Parrish has made a verbal commitment to LSU and Spivey is verbally committed to Arkansas.