Chris Bridges is a columnist and former sports editor for The Walton Tribune.

Chris Bridges Mug

Chris Bridges

The success of the George Walton Academy football team this fall is nothing which surprises me.

As I’ve been familiar with Shane Davis for a lot of years, it is no shock that he has guided the Bulldogs to the third round of the GHSA Class A Private state playoffs.

Dating back to the mid-1990s when Davis was part of a successful coaching staff at a high school in my hometown, the paths of the coach and of this sports writer seem to be destined to cross.

Like many in the high school coaching profession, Davis has been at several schools throughout his career. He would eventually move on from the school in my hometown to other programs in the area.

He received his deserved first head coaching job at Apalachee High School in neighboring Barrow County. There he helped guide the Wildcats to their most successful seasons in program history including an undefeated regular season, region title and trip to the state quarterfinals in 2009.

That season was special for Davis, his assistant coaches, players and the entire AHS community. It was also special for this sports reporter.

During that 2009 season, as sports editor of the local paper in Barrow County, I was granted complete access to the Wildcat program. From practice to the sidelines to the locker room, nothing was off limits. Believe me when I say it is not always that way as many football coaches are very guarded when it comes to their program and extremely cautious about any outsiders being allowed inside the inner circle.

I can’t say for sure that I was the only one offered that opportunity. We had competing newspapers in Barrow County then and at the time the Athens paper still placed a premium on high school sports coverage.

All I know is that I was only reporter to be at the coaches meetings, in the locker room before and after games and the one who interviewed the team’s offensive and defensive coordinators each week for their insight about the upcoming opponent.

Davis had a great run at AHS and he eventually moved on to coach at places like Prince Avenue and Grayson. I knew it was only a matter of time before he would be a head coach again. Frankly, I was surprised it took as long as it did.

Make no mistake that Shane Davis is a solid football coach. He knows the X’s and O’s as well as anyone. During his years as an assistant he coached on both sides of the football with high levels of success.

When he began coaching at as an assistant at GWA he told me that it was a transition where he would be the head coach once the legendary Don Williams retired. He asked to me keep that private which I did.

I’ve had the chance to see Davis on the sidelines again this fall. First, when his team traveled North to Banks County High School for a game not on the original 2020 schedule and recorded a 34-7 win. We all know, however, that has been a football season unlike any other.

More recently I had the chance to see Davis and the Bulldogs defeat Loganville Christian Academy in a historic gridiron matchup between the two local private school programs.

What has always impressed me about Davis goes beyond the Friday nights. Certainly, the games are a big part of high school football. 

Davis brings to the table even more than coaching knowledge. He has always had coaching football in the proper perspective. Many times during the seasons I covered his teams he told me of how the sport is a great teaching tool for like.

The coach cares about his players not just during their days competing for him but in the years after their playing days are over.

It’s not easy replacing a long-time coaching legend for any program, regardless of the level. That goes for high school as well. Davis, however, is the right coach for GWA. The program has a tireless worker who is custom-made to lead the Bulldogs to successful on and off the field.

The journey continues this week for Davis and GWA. Don’t be surprised by another playoff victory.

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