Diving for doughnuts: Senior Sean Davis of West Forsyth football has taken skill for blocking kicks into a reward
Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 16, 2023
By Jay Spivey
For the Clemmons Courier
What high school athlete doesn’t want a doughnut for motivation?
For Sean Davis, a senior on the football team at West Forsyth, he doesn’t go out on the field and tries to block field-goal attempts. He’s just good at it, and Coach Kevin Wallace and special-teams Coach Kyle Willard reward the special teams each week at practice with doughnuts if there was a blocked kick the previous Friday night during a game.
Even though the season just finished for West Forsyth after a 47-7 loss at Matthews Butler last Friday night in the second round of the NCHSAA Class 4-A playoffs, Davis, who is 6-feet, 175 pounds, still has fond memories of the doughnuts throughout the season after he says he blocked seven or eight field-goal attempts.
“Any returns, kickoffs or punts run down, or any fumbles forced on kickoffs, or any blocked kicks gets doughnuts for the entire 11 that was on special teams,” Davis said. “Everybody gets them.”
It’s just something fun for the Titans’ coaching staff to do for the players on during practice.
“If they block a kick or score a touchdown on special teams, we do doughnuts for them,” Wallace said. “This past week (after the first-round win at home to Charlotte Ardrey Kell), they got two doughnuts because Sean blocked two kicks. So, it’s done like that.”
The motivation came from something Wallace had heard through the grapevine.
“Years ago, I had a coach that said, ‘Hey, let’s do doughnuts.’ And I said, ‘Alright, let’s do doughnuts.’ And we just kept it going.
“And I think our kids really like it because they get off the field on Thursday after a walk-through, and if they have doughnuts, ‘Right there, hey guys, the punt-return team got a touchdown. Here, you guys get a doughnut today. Come grab one.’ And stuff like that. So, it’s good for the kids. They like it, they enjoy it.”
Although Davis and some other special teams players have certainly benefited from the sugar boost from a doughnut, Davis said that Wallace gets to choose where the doughnuts come from.
“That is all, Coach Wallace,” Davis said. “(They come from) Dunkin’.”
Dunkin’ isn’t Davis’ preferred doughnut spot. He likes Krispy Kreme better. But it doesn’t matter to him. The reward is still the same.
“Krispy Kreme for sure, but I will take whatever doughnuts somebody is willing to give me,” Davis said.
Last week, Davis took a snooze, and he had to pick through the crumbs.
“Some of my teammates got to them before I did,” Davis said. “(Wallace) said he was going to get me two doughnuts. He said he owes me two doughnuts.”
And Davis said Wallace better keep his promise.
“I’m hungry during the day,” Davis said. “So, I’m holding him to it.”
Doughnuts might seem like an off-the-wall reward, but for Davis, he doesn’t care. After all, he didn’t pick up football later in life. He just developed a propensity to block kicks because some coaches saw how good of an athlete he was.
“It started last year in practice with Coach (Adrian) Snow. They just put me there because I was at corner. That’s what, the outside guy always goes there,” Davis said. “It turns out I was actually getting back there pretty fast.”
Growing up running track, as well as playing some basketball, he developed a way to cut corners. Not the bad kind. It’s just a way to get around the edge.
“Really, I think it comes from track and my speed,” Davis said. “My first step is very good, I think.”
Running track-and-field at West Forsyth, mostly running the 100- and 200-meter runs, as well as some relays and hurdles, Coach Nathan Newsome of West Forsyth has helped him with some things.
“I would say the block has definitely helped,” Davis said. “Coming out of the blocks, being aggressive with your first steps, pulling yourself forward, and getting into that drive phase and getting the most acceleration as possible.”
Before eighth grade at Clemmons Middle School, Davis hadn’t even played organized sports other than flag football and a little bit of basketball. And because of COVID-19 at Clemmons Middle, all those sports were canceled.
“I’ve always loved the sport (football),” Davis said. “I’ve always loved watching it since I was little. I didn’t understand it very well when I would watch it when I was younger. I like learned about, and I liked getting involved with the players and everything.”
Father Vonray Davis and mother, Una Broady-Davis, were athletes, but they never pushed participation on him.
“I was outside a lot with my friends playing basketball or football in the street,” Davis said. “That was one of my favorite things to do.”
Once he enrolled at West Forsyth as a freshman, that all changed.
“Growing up, like going into it, I got cut from teams in middle school,” Davis said. “Like basketball, I wasn’t skilled enough to, I hadn’t put in enough work for it. And football, it was just more so I was worried, as well as my parents, about me getting hurt. I had friends that played tackle, but I never jumped right into it.”
Davis also has two younger sisters – Aliyah, 15, and Gabriella, 13 – who are involved in athletics. Aliyah played golf this past season at West Forsyth and will run track there, first with indoor this winter and in the spring with outdoor. Gabriella is at Clemmons Middle.
“Track, really my freshman year, my mom told me I should try it out,” Sean Davis said. “I didn’t think I would be good at running. She told me to try it out just to stay in shape with other sports. And I ended up getting involved in the high jump because my mom did.”
After being cut in middle school, his mom saw something in him that he didn’t.
“My self-esteem wasn’t doing too great,” Davis said. “I didn’t think I was exceptional at anything. She encouraged me to pursue that.”
He finally became involved with tackle football his freshman year at West Forsyth. And playing that season happened in the spring because of COVID-19.
“I was playing basketball at the time, and I walked into the gym for practice for JV, and Coach (Andrew) Yeager, who was the coach of the freshman team at the time, pulled me aside and told me I should try out,” Davis said. “I wanted to play, but since I hadn’t played Pop Warner or anything, it wasn’t, like I didn’t think I was going to pursue it because I hadn’t played. And I was worried about the learning curve. But the fact that he saw something in me got me excited to want to try out.”
It was quite an adjustment for Davis, who stopped playing basketball after his sophomore year because he said he got tired of playing, to step on a football field.
“It was really just getting used to the helmet, the shoulder pads because I had played flag, of course, but it’s night and day difference getting used to like the helmet especially. It’s like an extension of your body.
“But it was fun because all my friends were there from middle school.”
Not only is Davis proficient on special teams, he’s also a defensive back. He started out playing as a freshman at receiver, but Snow, who was the head coach at the time, brought Davis into his office and said he wanted him to play defense his sophomore season.
“I was confused, too, and I was actually a little bit upset, but he said he thought it would be better for me recruiting-wise,” Davis said. “It was hard to take at first because I had worked in the offseason at receiver. And I thought I was going to be the No. 1 option. After I kind of got over myself and just did what Coach asked me to do, that actually ended up being better for me.”
Davis continued to get better and played quite well his junior season with Snow on the varsity team for the Titans.
“All the coaches I’ve had in high school – Coach Snow and Coach Wallace – both have done a lot for me,” Davis said. “And the staff they’ve put around me to help me, all of us, to help us grow and get where we need to be as players.”
Davis is also grateful that Snow saw something in him that he didn’t when he played special teams.
“Special teams kind of came with playing defense,” Davis said. “I’m extremely grateful that he moved me to DB. It’s actually meant everything to me going into college now is the only reason I’ve even gotten looked at recruiting-wise.”
He improved on special teams to the point where he had his first blocked kick last year against Oak Grove in Clemmons.
“Electric,” Davis said. “It was great. It was a close game, coming up on half against half on Oak Grove. I had been blocking them all week in practice. I kept on blocking them over and over. I don’t know, I felt that I could get back there, and I was ready to do it. And I got there, got it with both hands, and my friend, Marcus (Wilson) scooped it and took it all the way to give us a lead at half.”
According to Davis, he had two blocks last season – the one against Oak Grove and the other was an extra-point block at Asheville Reynolds.
“On this team, especially, for me personally, it was just electric because the whole, when we got into that situation, was looking at me, and for me to make a play,” Davis said.
Fast-forward to December of last year when Snow announced that he was leaving as head coach, and Wallace was hired after being the head coach at Northwest Guilford. Wallace noticed that Davis ran a sub-4(-second), 40-yard dash.
“The kid’s got the athletic ability,” Wallace said. “And I could be wrong on this, I believe he’s only played football for like two or three years. He hasn’t played that long, but he’s a smart kid. I think he needs a little bit of confidence on the field, but he just had this knack for blocking field goals. I mean, I think some of it is just his speed, and he would just do what he was coached to do. And he wasn’t scared to dive and layout.
“…I think he started getting confidence and said he could do it. I’ve always put an emphasis on it. I do believe if you block a kick – field goal, extra point, punt, whatever – one a game. You’re going to win a lot of games. And just momentum.”
Not only is Davis grateful for Snow, but he’s also grateful for Wallace.
“I just wanted to say I really like Coach Wallace because of how structured everything was and the discipline you had to have with it, and how he really treated you like an adult and really put all of the tools in front of you,” Davis said. “And you needed was a little bit of motivation, and you had everything in front of you to succeed.”
According to Wallace, Davis prepares himself thoroughly throughout a game week.
“Get around the corner as quickly as possible so I can get into full extension,” Davis said. “(Wallace) encouraged me to (layout) this year, and at first, I was worried about it because I had never really completely given up my body. I just took the leap of faith the first game, and I never looked back. After the first one, I wanted to block every single one of them.”
Not even the best athletes in the world have the kick-blocking skills that Davis has.
“If we put him out there, I’m trusting him blocking the kick because he did enough of it,” Wallace said.
After finishing this past season at 8-4, Catawba College in Salisbury is the only college offer Davis, who has a 3.5 GPA, has so far, but that could change soon.
“He’s a great kid, and hopefully, he continues and sees where his recruiting process goes the next couple months because I think he’ll have some good opportunities to go places, and hopefully go to the right place where he can develop, have a great time and get a good education,” Wallace said.
Whether it be Catawba or somewhere else, once indoor and outdoor track-and-field ends after this winter and spring, he’s looking forward to going to college next fall. And he’s still holding Wallace to those doughnuts he owes him.
“I just really learned to be tougher as a person, fight for things that are uncomfortable, and like really putting others before myself,” Davis said. “And I learned a lot of lessons from football, and hard work was a big one, just putting your head down and putting the work in so you can be the best you can be.”