I never knew Robert Davis personally but I certainly knew him. He was a legend in Warner Robins, Georgia where I lived from 1984-2009. Davis was the former coach of the Warner Robins Demons football team. I spent many Friday nights watching the games he coached. He created one of the top high school football teams in Georgia.
He was old school football. He believed in running the ball and playing defense. One look at him and you KNEW he was a football coach. He always reminded me of the high school football Bobby Bowden. At Warner Robins High, Davis led the team to a 253-41-1 record with 18 regional championships, three state championships (1976, 1981, 1988), and two national championships (1976, 1981).Davis won 354 games which has him ranked as the third winningest coach in Georgia High School football history. He never had a losing season. At Warner Robins High, Davis led the team to a 253-41-1 record with 18 regional championships, three state championships (1976, 1981, 1988), and two national championships (1976, 1981).
The first time I met Coach Davis, I was working part-time as a sports writer for a local newspaper. I remember how I was scared to death and nervous that I would ask a dumb question or make a rookie mistake in my first postgame interview with him. On this night, Davis was not happy with my competition from the other newspaper. During the week, the other newspaper had published a story about his football players stealing pizza from a local pizza hangout. When we entered Davis’ office for the interview, Davis ripped the reporter from the other newspaper then turned his back to him. Davis looked at me and said “Go ahead son, I will answer your questions”. I made sure I asked good questions.
After losing a state semifinal playoff game in the Georgia Dome, I once again interviewed him after the game wondering how he would be after a disappointing loss. He was kind and honest about losing the game. He was frustrated that his team couldn’t seem to get past the semifinal round.
In 1997, I was stunned when I heard the news that Davis was leaving Warner Robins to become the head coach of a new school in Macon. I couldn’t believe it. Macon had done the unthinkable in snagging the coach who had owned the other Macon schools rarely losing a game. That was the end of an era at Warner Robins. Davis also built Westside Macon into another strong contender. Davis retired in 2008.
I have read many tributes today from former players, coaches and fans whose lives have been impacted by Davis. It is certain that his legacy will carry on.
Later this afternoon, the Warner Robins Demons football team tries to win the school’s fourth state title in their history. They won titles in 1976, 1981, 1988 and 2004. This is their eighth appearance in the state final and third straight time they have made it to the title game. They lost to Rome in 2017 and suffered a heartbreaking loss last year’s game to Bainbridge.
Today, Warner Robins will be trying to adding their fifth title when they play the Buford Wolves at Georgia State Stadium in Atlanta. Buford is no slouch either. They have 11 state championship trophies. This is the first time the two teams have played. It should be a good one.
I have never attended Warner Robins High School and never played on their football team yet for the past 34 years they have been my team of choice. I know it’s silly but everybody has their thing right? Georgia High School football and the Warner Robins football team has been my thing during football season.
I did actually play high school football – or it would be more accurate to say that I was ON the football team in Villa Rica, Georgia during my freshman and sophomore years. There was never much of a chance that I would have ever been a starter. Before my junior year, my family moved to Savannah, Georgia and I finished my last two years of high school at Tompkins. The school closed in 1989. When I moved to Warner Robins in 1984, my first game was a Warner Robins-Valdosta playoff game. The next season I attended every Warner Robins home game and I have been a fan ever since. Many years I had season tickets. I rarely missed a game. There was a couple of years when I lived just less than a mile from the stadium and could walk to the games on Friday nights. I loved it. I went through the ups and downs of the various teams through the years. From 1996 until 1999, I worked as a part-time writer for a couple of newspapers and wasn’t able to attend their games; however, I did get the chance to cover a few games for the newspaper. I was both thrilled and extremely nervous the first time I covered a Warner Robins’ game. My first interview of Warner Robins’ Head Coach Robert Davis was a bit intimidating but it went well. When those days were over I continued attending Warner Robins’ football games.
I moved away from Warner Robins in 2012 and after two years in Tampa, Florida we moved to Nashville, Tennessee where we currently live. Even with the distance which separated me, I have still tuned into the games or followed the results on Friday nights.
When each season approaches now, I get the notion that I should end this obsession I have with high school football and following Warner Robins but I still end up tuning in or listening to the Georgia High School Football Scoreboard show. I don’t put my life on hold anymore like I used to do. There are times that i will do other things instead of listening to the games but when I get home or finish what I am doing, I immediately go to all of my places to get updates on the games. That’s just how I am and that’s my thing.
I remembered a funny story about the last season that Warner Robins won the state championship in 2004. Before the season began, I had a situation that I wanted to pray about a situation in my life and decided that I would “fast” going to Warner Robins’ football games that season. Instead of attending or listening to the games, I would pray about the need I was focused on. Wouldn’t you know it – that was the season they won the championship. Was my sacrifice of giving up my season tickets and following the games worth it? Was my prayer answered? Yes, it was. I think it was answered about two months after the season.
Yeah, I do some crazy things sometimes. Try to explain to your church that you support a team with the nickname of “Demons”.
It has been fun. There have been exciting games and heart breakers along the way.
In my first Warner Robins-Northside game in 1985, the Demons won the first overtime game in the series 21-14. I still have a video recording of that game somewhere in my collection. Warner Robins went on to get to the 1985 final which was played in Athens against Clarke Central. I made the trip and sat in sub-freezing temperatures watching the Demons come up short in the game 21-7 and endured a Clarke Central fan yelling in my ear the whole time.
It was also quite cold in 1988 but it didn’t matter when Warner Robins defeated Brookwood 33-7 to win the state championship.
The last game I attended in person was the 2009 Warner Robins-Northside game when the Demons overcame a 20-0 deficit to win on an improbable touchdown pass in the final minutes.
There is not enough space or time for me to tell you all the great games I have seen or listened to over the years. There have also been many exciting players to watch such as Willie Reid, Jon Perkins, Eric McDowell, Ben Smith and so many others.
I have to admit that I am not as obsessed now but I do still keep track of how the Demons are doing. I am living in Tennessee now and I haven’t been able to get into high school football up here. It’s just not the same. I live about a mile for a pretty competitive school but I doubt I will ever attend a game. That time has past and i have no desire to follow another team. Warner Robins has – and will always be – my team. I am not their #1 fan but they have been a part of my life for many Friday nights for the past 34 years.
As the Georgia Dome was imploded this week and finally gave way to another new shiny sports facility, I remember the handful of times that I actually attended events at the Georgia Dome. I wasn’t a frequent visitor and my experiences are limited compared to others but I enjoyed my times of walking inside of Georgia’s first domed stadium. Honestly, when they first announced that they were building a domed stadium in Atlanta, I thought it was silly since Georgia wasn’t exactly the coldest place to need such a facility but as time went on, I saw that it was a huge success for Atlanta. The Georgia Dome has been home to the Atlanta Falcons, Peach Bowl, SEC Championship Game, NCAA Men’s Final Four and the 1996 Summer Olympics.
During the Georgia Dome’s 25-year existence, I believe I have been inside four times – all football games – here is a recap of my times in the Georgia Dome:
October 9, 1994
Atlanta Falcons 34, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 13
This was the first-ever NFL game I attended. I went with my co-worker from the newspaper as we were there to cover the game. The press box was nothing like the high school games I had covered. People gave you stats and you got all the information you could ever want to write about the game. After the game, my job was to interview Atlanta Falcons’ Running Back Craig “Ironhead” Heyward. I was in a group of reporters asking questions of Heyward who was the leading rusher in the game with 87 yards and two touchdowns. The unique thing about this game was that Sam Wyche, who was the Buccaneers coach at the time, elected to go for a 38-yard field goal trailing 34-10 at the end of the game.
December 24, 1994
Atlanta Falcons 10, Arizona Cardinals 6
I returned two months later with my co-worker to cover the final regular season game. The Falcons finished 7-9 that season. My job was to interview Atlanta Falcons’ Wide Receiver Andre Rison because there were rumors that it was going to be his last game with the team. I joined a group of reporter – a large group – gathered around his locker only to learn that Rison had ducked out and left.
December 9, 1995
SW DeKalb 7, Warner Robins 0 (State Semifinals)
I returned to the Georgia Dome a year later working for a different newspaper and covering the Warner Robins Demons in their semifinal playoff game against SW DeKalb. This was when the Georgia High School Association were playing the semifinal round games at the Dome. On this trip, I actually had the chance to walk down on the playing field and sideline. It wasn’t at all like I had expected. The turf wasn’t very good at all. It was a hard fought game but SW DeKalb was led by Quincy Carter at quarterback.
December 11, 2010
Clinch County Panthers 24, Savannah Christian Raiders 14 (State Championship Game)
This was the first time I had ever attended a game at the Georgia Dome as a fan. It was probably the most memorable one for me because I attended with my father. He played at Clinch County and is a big fan. We both joined in with the fans as the game was tight early but a punt return broke the game open on their way to the state title.
Of course, I have watched many games that were played there. It’s was one thing to see it on television but an entirely different experience to go in person. Like many people, I was in awe the first time I walked into the place. I can’t imagine what it would be like to walk inside the new Mercedes-Benz Field next door to it. As for the Georgia Dome, I left there happy 3 of the 4 times I was there. Thanks for the memories.
Hurricane/Tropical Storm Hermine messed up this week’s schedule of game which caused postponements, cancellations and delays but most of the games were played over the course of the Labor Day weekend.
In the best matchup of the week, Grayson defeated McEachern 16-13. Grayson’s Will Van Pamelen booted a 20-yard field goal on the final play for the win.
Some interesting games over the weekend:
Georgia teams swept Colorado at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex as part of the KSA Evevnts Football Series in Orlando, Florida. Tift County defeated Thunder Ridge, Colorado 55-19 and Glynn Academy beat Pomona, Colorado 33-14.
Blessed Trinity traveled to Dublin, Ireland to play St. Peter’s Prep from New Jersey. Blessed Trinity couldn’t keep up with St. Peter’s after tying the game at 7-7 in the first quarter, they were dominated the rest of the game, losing 41-28.
Camden County was scheduled to play in Lake City, Florida against Columbia County, but the game was cancelled due to the weather and field conditions.
Tucker 21, Colquitt County 20. Tucker won in Moultrie to drop the Packers to 0-3.
Madison County 17, Elbert County 15. Madison County was 1-9 last year but now improves to 2-0 this season with a huge upset of #7 Elbert County.
Brooks County 35, Clinch County 21. Brooks County forced four turnovers to build a 28-6 lead going into the fourth quarter.
Cartersville 56, Calhoun 0. Calhoun has not lost by 50 points since 1980. Cartersville dominated from start to finish in what many thought would be a heavyweight battle but Cartersville QB Trevor Lawrence was 21-of-32 for 348 arms and three touchdowns. It should have been called at halftime.
Lowndes 35, Parkview 34. Parkview rallied from a 35-14 deficit in the fourth quarter but missed the extra point with 2:44 left. It was the first time the two teams had met since 2004 when the Vikings beat Parkview 17-14 for the state title.
Peach County 20, Warner Robins 19. In another game plagued by a late extra point, the Demons scored on a touchdown pass with 47 seconds left but the extra point was blocked to preserve the win for Peach County. Warner Robins now drops to 0-3.