Robert Davis looked up from Demon Valley, the nickname for the Warner Robins High School practice facility, and in the distance he could see the weight room that was decorated with all the region and state football championships the Demons have won.
The 74-year-old Davis, who had a record of 253-41 with three state championships in 23 seasons as the Warner Robins football head coach, was back on the campus as current head coach Mike Chastain’s guest early last week, and to him, it still felt like home.
“Oh, I have always been a Demon, even though I loved my years at Westside, too, said Davis, who won another 101 games after he started up the Westside High School’s program in 1997. “I loved the fact that Coach Chastain invited me to speak to the team, and it was a privilege to be back on this field and watching them practice. I know a lot of these kids probably don’t know who I am, but they know about the tradition of Warner Robins High School and I feel like I am a part of that great tradition.”
Davis has fond memories of all of his three state championships, but the first one in 1976 still sticks out. “That was the first one we won so it is special, and that team had some amazing players,” Davis said. “Everyone remembers Keith Soles, Phil Williams, Jimmy Womack andof course Ron Simmons and James Brooks, but in the state championship game against Griffin it was a little old running back named Randy Coleman that broke a 50 yard run for a score to get us going. I also remember Ron Simmons hitting the Griffin quarterback so hard that the ball popped up into the air and ended up 20 yards away from the play. But all three of the state championship teams are very special in their own way, and I feel like Coach Chastain has a very special team this year.”
Davis admits to missing most aspects of coaching. “I miss the camaraderie with the coaches and the players and I miss being on the football field, but I do not miss those 110 degree days getting ready for the football season,” Davis said. “I feel like I could still coach but I just can’t stand for very long because I have diabetes in my feet. But I definitely enjoy getting the chance to be around high school football.”
Chastain has enjoyed getting to know Davis over the last few years. “When I got the job two years ago, I reached out to him and it’s great seeing him at the games now, “Chastain said. “We usually talk on Saturday after a big game on Friday night, and I just felt like it was a must to get him out here to talk to this team. Robert Davis is a big part of the history of Warner Robins football and some of these kids might not have known him but they know he was the one who coached the team when they won all of those region and state championships.”
Davis is looking forward to the state championship game on Friday night. “Oh, I will be there somewhere on the visitors sideline by all of the other old handicapped people,” said Davis with a chuckle. “I have a great deal of respect for Rome’s coach John Reid, who used to coach at Tifton, and this should be a great football game. We just have to play our game and maybe throw a few tricks at them and hopefully we will be okay.”