Kelly Davis saw the invitation to take over as Riverside Military Academy football coach as the ultimate vote of confidence.
Athletic director Marc Paglia made it clear Davis was the only name the administration had in mind when former coach Gary Downs announced he was leaving to take a job with East Tennessee State University.
Shortly after Davis’ hire became official Tuesday, he made it clear he ‘100 percent’ wanted to be Riverside’s new head coach.
“It’s a big honor to be able to get this job,” said Davis, who has served as Riverside’s defensive coordinator the past three seasons. “Working for coach Downs has been a great experience, and I look forward to starting (as head coach).”
The Eagles went 10-20 under Downs over the past three seasons.
Davis got to work Tuesday night working on planning a staff meeting. He’s familiar with the largely transient student population that comes with working at a private military boarding school, but feels confident the Eagles have the athletes to win in a competitive Region 8-AA.
Riverside’s new coach feels that the Eagles’ 3-7 record in 2014 doesn’t paint the complete picture of the football program he can assemble with high school cadets. According to Davis, the Eagles led at some point in eight of their 10 games last season.
Davis brings a military background to his first high school head coaching position. He retired from the U.S. Army after 20 years of service.
Davis also had the opportunity to play semi-professional football while in Europe with the Neustadt Olympians, in Germany.
Once retired from the military, Davis coached at Dunwoody High from 2005-11, serving as defensive line coach before being promoted to defensive coordinator.
Last season, Davis’ defense at Riverside held the opposition to fewer than 20 points in seven games.
“As coach, I want us to focus on being a disciplined team,” said Davis. “I know we have the athletes to compete here at Riverside Military.”
Currently, Davis also serves as tennis coach for Riverside Military, and has led the program to back-to-back Region 8-AA championships. Last season, Davis led the Eagles’ tennis team to the state quarterfinals for the first time in program history.