When Alvin Davis took over the King High School football team in 2008, a couple of things were readily apparent: 1) The program was in desperate need of a turnaround; and 2) the Lions were overdue for a win against Tampa Bay Tech.
The two schools are separated by less than a mile, but one would be hard-pressed to deem the series a 'rivalry.' For more than two decades, Tampa Bay Tech has dominated King on the football field, winning every matchup against their neighbor since 1987. But with two seasons as head coach under his belt and a 4-2 start to the 2010 season, Davis entered last Friday's contest against Tech looking to reverse the trend that had plagued the Lions for years.
This time, the Lions were ready to roar.
Thanks to a first-quarter snap over the punter's head that resulted in a safety and junior running back Chris Murray's 58-yard kick return for a touchdown, the Lions jumped out to an early 9-0 lead. The King defense would do the rest, limiting Tampa Bay Tech to only 224 yards of total offense. Leading by two points with a minute remaining, the Lions stopped the Titans on four consecutive plays, forcing a turnover on downs to secure a 9-7 victory.
"I think we played one good game," said Davis of his team's play against the Titans. "Both teams were good ball teams and we were able to win. Our boys believed in themselves, believed that they could win a ball game. We played together as a team and I think that's what kept us alive."
The win not only put a stop to the series' losing streak but also positioned the Lions to finish the season with a winning record for the first time in recent memory. As a result, Davis was named the Tampa Bay Buccaneers High School Coach of the Week for Week Seven of the 2010 season.
On Thursday, Davis was invited to One Buccaneer Place to receive his award, and he was accompanied by King High School Principal Carla Bruning, Defensive Coordinator Bass Dillard, Athletic Director Dennis Donaldson and Offensive Coordinator Trey Thomas. The five guests received a tour of the facility and watched the Buccaneers practice before Tampa Bay Head Coach Raheem Morris greeted the group and offered congratulations on the Lions' impressive turnaround.
"I'm very honored to be named Coach of the Week," said Davis. "I feel that we worked so hard for three years for our program to rebuild and worked with a good staff – I think one of the best staffs in the county. That's what has made me Coach of the Week, my staff and my players."
Along with a signed certificate, Buccaneers hat and personalized football presented by Coach Morris, Davis received a $1,000 donation from the NFL Youth Football Fund to go towards King's football program.
"The experience was great," said Davis of his visit to One Buc. "This was my first time here and I felt like I was in Disney World, I'm loving it. The staff was real nice, the coaches were real nice and we just appreciate everything that was done for us."
The Buccaneers will honor 10 high school coaches from West Central and Central Florida during this year's prep football season. A Coach of the Year, who receives an additional $1,000 for his football program, will be selected from the 10 weekly winners at the end of the season. The Buccaneers and the NFL's Coach of the Week program aids in the development of youth football, which has a positive influence on young athletes and the communities in which they live.