In 30-plus years of coaching football, from the Pop Warner to high school varsity level, I developed a special affinity for linemen.
Unlike some quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers, they don't need the limelight focused on them to do well.
Most linemen go about their football jobs with a lunch pail and hard hat attitude. I've found, their work ethics are usually among the best on the team and they are willing to do all the little things necessary to build a winning program.
About the only time linemen are individually recognized is if they are flagged for a penalty. But the lack of recognition doesn't bother most, who understand they are playing the sport for the good of the team.
In all levels of football, there are coaches who focus most of their attention on the backs and receivers, believing they are the spokes that turn the wheel.
I was not one of those coaches. Neither was Jack Morris when he and I coached the 1995 Rim Country Middle School eighth-grade football team.
Among the first players to catch our eye during preseason training sessions was Greg Davis.
I think we both recognized Greg as an important building block to the team because he fit all the requirements of a good two-way lineman.
Greg, who died last week at 25 years of age, was a stocky, strong kid who looked to be the ideal prototype for playing quick guard in a Wing-T offense. He had quick feet, good lateral movement and could execute double team blocks and pull on sweeps.
He also had the intelligence, at only 14 years of age, to master the quick and strong side Wing-T alignments and assignments. Some high school players never learn those nuances of the game.
Greg was also a player who never complained, didn't ask for special favors, nor did he criticize his teammates.
In the classroom, he was never a discipline problem or an academic casualty.
Although he was not vocal, he was a quiet leader on the field.
In short, Greg was fun and enjoyable to coach.
To this day, I remember Greg out front blocking on Kyle Conway's bootlegs, leading Timmy Bunting's sweeps and trap blocking for fullback Ben Kreiger.
With Greg seldom leaving the field, the Mavericks finished the year undefeated and White Mountain League champions.
In high school, Greg went on to become a member of the Longhorn football team that won the 1998 3A state championship.
His untimely death has created a void in his family, the Tonto Apache Tribe and the community.
Although the fond memories of him abound, this old coach will always fondly remember him as the shy, bashful boy who only wanted to play football the right way.
Lady Horns speak out
Members of the Lady Longhorn basketball team, who recently received all-region honors, had some interesting comments about their selection.
Here's what they had to say:
"It's an honor to be recognized along with my teammates. We worked hard and had a great season; I'm proud to be a Lady Longhorn."
-- Brittney McDaniel
"I wouldn't be here without my team."
-- Jenna Robertson
-- "With our team, all things are possible. I'm very proud of our team and our accomplishments."
-- Christina Deaton
"It's nice we were recognized for doing something we love."
-- Kayla Morgan
"I'm honored to be included in a group of elite athletes including my teammates."
-- Cydney Figueroa