From the time he started at Fairfield Central High, Demetrius Davis was being prepared to become coach of the Griffins.
Having played for coaches Jerry Brown and Buddy Pough influenced his life, Davis said, and gave him a sense of obligation to his alma mater. Now in his third year at Fairfield Central, Davis is leading the Griffins in a second consecutive Class 2A Division 1 championship game.
“What those guys did for me, it really felt like you’re less of a man if you don’t go back and try to do for someone else what was done for you,” Davis said. “I wanted to come back and impact a Fairfield kid the way those guys influenced me.”
Brown, whose influence continues as he leads Batesburg-Leesville in Friday’s Class 2A Division 2 championship, gave Davis a foundation of discipline during his freshman and sophomore years. His time under Brown gave him a model for player discipline.
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Although being a high school football coach was never his intention, Davis was marked for it.
“I’ve always thought from the very first time that I met coach Davis that he had all the right stuff,” Pough said. “He was always a smart boy and he had what it took.” Davis quarterbacked Pough’s Griffins as a senior and, Pough said, the coach was hard on him.
“I beat him up pretty good. I beat him up about wearing an eye shield. I’m very big into the kids all wearing the same thing, and he was wearing the eyeshield when no one else was,” Pough said.
Davis did not ask for special treatment or buckle under the pressure, but he privately let Pough know that he was wearing the eye shield, on doctor’s advice, to protect an eye that had been injured in childhood.
“I felt about two feet tall,” Pough said. But, he also saw that Davis was not a man who would look for the easy way out.
When Davis headed off to Fayetteville State University, he had an open invitation from Pough to return to Fairfield as an assistant.
“But when he came back I was at Carolina and he shows up on my doorstep wanting to coach,” Pough said. “I had to tell him I wasn’t running the show, but I got him a meeting with coach (Lou) Holtz and coach Holtz hired him on the spot.”
Davis said, “Coach Pough is the reason I have a coaching career.”
Davis went to S.C. State with Pough, and spent 10 years there as a position coach.
He might have considered high school coaching a detour or a step back, but when Reggie Kennedy told Davis that he was leaving Fairfield, Davis had to give it a shot.
“I don’t think I would have taken another high school job if it wasn’t Fairfield Central, if it wasn’t home,” Davis said.
Facing Dillon for the second year, Davis is following the advice his mentor gave him last year.
“He told me to just keep doing what got me here,” Davis said. “I didn’t listen last year and we lost. This year, I’m going to take that advice. We’re treating Friday like any other game.”