Davis finds his placekicking groove

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 11, 2005

Usually, the phrase “two-way player” conjures up images of hard-hitting fullbacks/linebackers or speedy receivers/cornerbacks. But at Demopolis, there’s another kind of two-way player: junior guard/placekicker Justin Davis.

Davis has become an integral part of the Tiger’s powerful offensive line–a crucial part of the team’s 11-0 record–but just as important has been his emergence as a consistent option on point-after attempts. With Devin Goodwin’s departure after the 2004 season, the placekicker’s job became a major point of concern with the Demopolis coaching staff through spring practice and into the early part of the regular season.

But as Davis and new holder Jacob Kerby (a freshman defensive back) have settled into their positions, Demopolis’s point-after tries have become dramatically more consistent. Davis is now the team’s fifth-leading scorer, having connected on 40 of 50 attempts with only one miss in his last three games and a six-for-six performance in the 48-7 first-round win over Handley.

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“We’ve done a lot better since the beginning of the season,” Davis says. “[Confidence] is a lot of it. You want to just go out and kick it and not have to think about it. If you don’t think about it, you can do a lot better.”

From Davis’s perspective, the simplicity of what goes into a good extra point is a big help in not over-thinking. He says that a successful try is pretty well dependent on just two factors.

“It’s the holder. You have to have a good hold,” he says. “Other than that, it’s just keeping your eye on the ball.”

Fortunately for Davis, Kerby’s holds have become more and more consistent as the season has progressed. The Handley game was likely the freshman’s best performance yet, as he corralled multiple off-center snaps just in time for Davis to make the kick. The DHS coaching staff named him the special teams “Player of the Week” for his efforts.

“He’s doing a great job,” Davis says. “He did a really good job last week.”

Davis didn’t win the placekicking job overnight. After several years of youth soccer, he began working with the Demopolis kickers freshman year and has worked to hone his skills ever since. Davis says his soccer background gave him something of a leg up, but the two sports are distinct enough that the crossover wasn’t exactly easy.

“Football’s a lot different,” he says, “but soccer does kind of give you a feel for kicking.”

Somewhat ironically, Davis wouldn’t have nearly so many extra point opportunities without his own good work on the offensive line, a major part of the Tigers’ rushing for more than six times their opponents’ total.

As with his his placekicking work, Davis feels he and the entire line have made big strides as the playoffs have approached. He says experience and understanding his teammates has made the biggest difference in the line’s improvement.

“It’s just knowing what to do,” he says. “We’ve been having the effort and working together.”

Davis says that effort has not gone unnoticed, especially by the guys running into the gaping holes the line has been able to open up in 2005.

“They will congratulate us on a big play,” Davis says. “They know they couldn’t do anything without us.”

But which is better–knocking another defender back off the line or knocking another extra point straight through the uprights? To Davis, as long as he’s on the field, it’s all the same.

“I just like it all,” he says.