Davis’ versatility earns him 2014 All-Metro Player of the Year Award
NATCHEZ — Down 13-0 midway through the first quarter against a team that would eventually become MHSAA Class 5A State Champions, Sidney Davis took the game into his own hands.
Davis walked up to Natchez High head coach Melvin Pete, and softly, confidently said, “Put me at quarterback.”
Pete listened to his 5-foot-11 receiver, inserting him at quarterback against a bigger, faster Laurel team. Knowing this was his senior’s opportunity to make or break his last season with the Bulldogs, Pete pulled freshman quarterback Chris Scott, allowing Davis the opportunity to sink or swim against one of the more athletic teams in the state.
With the ball inside their own 10-yard line, Pete dialed up a pass on first down, but Davis decided to freestyle.
“I took off running just to see what (Laurel) would do,” said Davis of his first down run.
Davis’ first down run generated the first spark of momentum Natchez saw in the contest, but the senior was just getting warmed up.
“The next play was a deep route to Anthony (Robinson), but the guy was all over him, so I knew I was going to have to make a laser throw to him,” Davis said.
Davis to Robinson moved Natchez beyond the 50-yard line, and all of a sudden, the Bulldogs’ bench started to believe. After another deep pass to Robinson, Davis rushed the ball into the end zone from three yards out, sending the Natchez bench into a frenzy.
Three Davis touchdowns later (two rushes and one 32-yard pass to Malik Byrd), late in the second quarter, Natchez took a 28-19 lead over Laurel. His latest score came with three minutes to play in the half, putting an exclamation mark on his four-touchdown peformance in the first half. After Davis scored his fourth, he paused in the end zone, shaking his head, feeling invincible.
“I really felt like they couldn’t stop it,” Davis said. “I felt like I could just keep doing it over and over and over. If we never had a halftime, we never would have stopped.”
Natchez ultimately lost the game 62-34, as Laurel’s size and athleticism wore down the Bulldogs in the second half, but Davis made a name for himself in the showdown.
“That (Davis) really caused some fits for us,” said Laurel head coach Todd Breland after the game concluded. “That guy can make plays.”
Pete admitted he had chills on the sideline during Davis’ performance.
“It made you say, ‘Wow, this guy really is the real deal,’” Pete said.
With a season total of 64 receptions for 850 yards and 10 touchdown catches, 522 passing yards and six passing touchdowns and 300 rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns, Davis seemingly did it all in 2014, earning him the 2014 All-Metro Player of the Year Award. Not to mention, Pete used him on defense, as well, to shut down 6-foot-5 targets like Ferriday’s J’Shon Foster and Laurel’s Octavious Cooley. Along with limiting those two men to a combined two catches, Davis also forced two fumbles on defense in his senior campaign.
In a district with players like Cooley and Brookhaven’s Leo Lewis hogging the spotlight with major offers from SEC schools, Davis flew under the radar, but if you ask him, that’s what made him the great player he is today.
“I feel like I’m overlooked sometimes because of the bigger guys, so I’ve always had a chip on my shoulder,” said Davis, who has offers from UL-Monroe and UL-Lafayette.
That chip on his shoulder is something that carried him through the offseason, working out with parachutes on his back and running hills on different days throughout the week. Davis wasn’t alone, though. He encouraged others to join him, pushing them to be better alongside him.
On top of that, Davis made things easier on his first-year head coach, as Pete was trying to get a football team prepared to play in a month’s time. With Davis’ leadership qualities and experience, Davis meant more to Pete than just another athlete to scheme around.
“What did he mean to me? A smooth transition,” Pete said.
Davis is a young man of few words. Davis is laid back, but fierce on the gridiron, carrying that chip on his shoulder on every route he runs or every pass he throws.
His motor is unparalleled. Past coaches will testify they had to drag him out of the weight room and pull him off of the field from running routes on his own time. He was a leader for a Natchez team that went 5-6 in 2014, and his athleticism demanded respect. In a district full of sharks, Davis swam and was nominated with a first-team all-district selection as an athlete by the coaches in the district.
Despite his height, Davis’ flash on the field, and combined season totals, inspired his team and struck fear in the MHSAA Class 5A State Champions. If Davis’ legacy at Natchez is that he was a fearless leader on the football field, that’s more than enough for him.
“It’s not scary,” said Davis about playing against much bigger teams. “You just have to make plays.”
Pete said Davis’ work ethic, combined with his natural ability to make plays, made him stand out in a district full of high-level talent.
“The guy never complains, and he’s always working to get better,” Pete said. “I mean, he brings other guys with him to work out. That makes guys say, ‘That’s the guy I need to beat. That’s the guy I need to be like.’”
Pete only hopes that Davis is the first of many great players he’ll coach, but he also knows players like him don’t grow on trees.
“You hope that his work ethic and football mentality rubs off on others, and you hope that everybody else has the same type of will, but deep down, you know there’s only one Sidney Davis,” Pete said.