So, as funny as a few random preseason practice drills may have looked, at their core, it was basic coaching philosophy: Don’t overlook the fundamentals.
Davis had his charges join hands in two circles. Looking outward, one group raced another down the field. In order to keep the circle unbroken, they had to communicate each link’s ability to keep pace.
After that, Davis had players crawl on all fours with another player in tow.
Practice was finished off with players pairing up again and carrying their teammates on their back.
It’s all part of his master plan of finding the team’s strength and making it even better.
“We just got some seniors that are stepping up and showing unreal senior leadership. Not that we haven’t had good senior leadership in the past, but this group is a little different.”
It’s not something that he’s never seen before, but it’s been a while.
Davis said this group reminds him of the 2007 squad. The one that started the string of three playoff berths in four years.
While that may not sound like a lot for many programs, that berth in 2007 came after a drought of more than 20 years.
Senior Will Hamby, one of a dozen soon-to-be graduates, sees it, too. And just like the 2007 team left an indelible mark on the program, he’s wanting to leave one as well.
“We’ve never won a playoff game at Pleasant Valley,” he said, “and I want to change that. I know we can go far.
“We know how winning feels and we know how it feels to lose close games. We know how we have to bring it and how intense we have to be.”
Along with Hamby, Davis points to Michael Roe as the spearheads for the new-attitude Raiders. Set on going into the military after graduation, Roe went to the Air Force Academy over the summer.
Davis said he didn’t know what they did when Roe made the trip out West — all he knows is it worked.
“Ever since he came back from there, he’s just a different person as far as leadership and desire and wanting everybody to do good,” Davis said.
Davis can talk about the more traditional positives on this team. He points out this group is bigger and stronger than ones in years past.
He’s got a fair amount of returners, too. A core group in the place all old-school coaches like to see: the offensive line, where five of six are back, including Roe, the tight end.
But there are downsides, as well.
Gone is Kyle Bean, who rushed for more than 5,000 yards in his career at Pleasant Valley. Davis said he isn’t sure who’ll settle into the starting role with Hamby (6-foot, 175 pounds) and Hunter Green (6-2, 205, Jr.) are battling it out.
His quarterback position is in a state of flux, too. There, Lucas Ford and Garrett Preston, a sophomore and junior, respectively, are sharing snaps while Davis, “is waiting for one of them to step up and take over.”
But time and again, while talking about the position battles Davis goes back to the unity of this team and its senior leadership.
While some people may downplay intangibles in the game of football, he’s seen too much to know that it’s not important.
Bran Strickland is the sports editor at The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3570 or follow him on Twitter @bran_strickland.