New coach hopes to revive Patrick Henry gridiron
“No, no…don’t clap yet. We haven’t won anything.”
Those were the first words that new Patrick Henry head football coach Bryan Davis said to the Patriot community at a meet-and-greet held this past week at Webb Auditorium.
Dozens of players and parents gathered to meet and hear the plan laid out by Davis to help return Patriots football to its former glory. Patrick Henry has not had a winning season since 2008, going 2-8 last season. Davis becomes the third man at the helm in Ashland since Ray Long stepped down after the 2009 season.
New Patrick Henry head football coach, Bryan Davis, with Principal Wanda Bibb and Athletic Director Matt Crowder during a recent meet-and-greet. Davis will officially start work in August.
Davis’ first message to the team, whom he met with separately prior to the main session, was his mantra for any team he has coached: “Pride, Work, Win,” each multiplied by three. By the end of the night, the assembled team members were shouting that mantra throughout the auditorium.
His coaching road has taken him from the Roanoke Valley to two North Carolina locations: Southwest Guilford High School in High Point and Topsail High School near the coast.
In three seasons at SGHS, Davis resurrected a program, earning three state playoff appearances for a squad that owned an 18-game losing streak when he arrived in 2004. His turnaround ability landed him in Topsail, where they hungered for victory after just two winning seasons in school history. Davis led them to five playoff appearances in six seasons, going 41-29 overall.
He was to take over Warhill’s football program in James City County last fall, but a problem with Virginia not recognizing his North Carolina teaching license, which led him to losing the teaching job promised in connection with the coaching position, forced him to leave after two weeks. He was an assistant at Jacksonville High School in 2013.
Davis will officially begin at Patrick Henry Aug. 1 after his contract in Jacksonville expires. He is hoping to come up to Ashland as many times as possible to work with the players and work on assembling his staff. He is working with Athletic Director Matt Crowder to find people to assist with day-to-day operations until he can jump in with both feet.
“I can promise you this: our team will be fundamentally sound and we will make the community proud with everything we do,” Davis said, adding his work cannot be done without God and his family.
His wife and two sons accompanied Davis to Ashland for the event.
When you get Davis to talk X’s and O’s, he lights up, and also understands the balance between his personal philosophy and using the tools in his arsenal.
“We’ll find what we do well, and we’ll do it better than what the opponent can defend,” Davis explained. “I like the option, but I’ve done the spread. I need to see what these kids can do. Defensively, my style will remind you of a Navy, a Georgia Tech. Overall, I’m not a million play guy.”
As for those who will coach with him, Davis has already reached out to the present assistant staff and has talked with some, saying he’d like to keep as many as “want to be here.” Showing his support in attendance was Long, who coached special teams and in other areas under Jonathan Clark last year.
Davis, the son of longtime Ferrum College head coach Dave Davis, has a specific long-term vision. He’s already watched tape of county rivals. And he knows exactly where he wants Patrick Henry to go.
“This is the 20th anniversary of the 1994 State Championship team,” Davis noted. “The football team sets the foundation for the school, whether we like it or not, so we might as well do it the right way. My goal is for my seniors to walk across the graduation stage with a diploma in one hand and a ring on the other.”
Does this mean he predicts Patrick Henry will win the 5A State Title in December? Not exactly. But in no way does he believe they can’t.
“I looked in the eyes of these players here at Patrick Henry, and saw they want to be part of something special,” he said.
Davis now begins the task of first taking back a mantle Patrick Henry held for over 20 years, the best football team in Hanover County.