MT. JULIET — During school hours Dan Davis teaches history.
Outside of those hours, Davis will be looking to change the course of history as Mt. Juliet Christian’s new football coach.
Davis, 39, was introduced as the Saints’ fifth head coach Monday. The longtime Pearl-Cohn assistant replaces Jake Roberts, who left to take an assistant coaching position at Knoxville Karns after two years at MJCA. The Saints went 3-7 last fall and have never won more than four games in a season since the program’s 2001 kickoff.
That’s the trend Davis will look to change.
“I’m ready to make a true change in the culture in the football program and raise some young men to get out here and win some football games and make the playoffs and we’ll take our chances from there,” Davis said. “This place has tremendous potential. These guys have a true opportunity to be something special. We just have to go ahead and get serious and build it and do it the right way.”
Part of getting serious is a commitment on the part of players to be on hand when the team is together, whether it be for practice or weightlifting. The commitment extends to parents as well.
“When you make the commitment that you’re going to be here, and they know you’re going to be here and it means something to be here, you get more people to buy in,” Davis said. “People are always going to try to fight you in the beginning for whatever reason. But when they see you here every day grinding, they’re going to say to themselves, ‘Maybe I need to be doing that, too’. They see their buddy get a little big bigger and a little bit faster and a little big stronger. They’re going to want some of that, too.
“I’m not going to tell a parent to cancel a planned vacation to Paris, I can’t stop that. I’m not going to punish the student either. But at the same time, if we are going to be serious – and I’m serious about playoff football because that’s all I know – I’m going to infuse that here. And that means we have to change the way we do things.”
Davis spent the past nine seasons at Pearl-Cohn where he served at several positions ranging from special teams coordinator, offensive coordinator, linebackers coach, strength and conditioning coach and freshman head coach, among others, under Tony Brunetti. He was at Glencliff for two seasons prior to that under the late Jim Wilson, who later served as Friendship Christian School’s high school principal.
He’s also coached basketball and golf.
He said his introduction to MJCA came when he was invited by some students and their parents to attend a basketball game at the school a couple of years ago.
“What impressed me the most about this place is the culture, how the kids interacted with each other, it was a lot of community,” Davis said. “It was how high school should be.”
“I think we’ve got the guy who’s going to take us to the next level,” MJCA athletic director Paul Christensen said. “The time is now. We’re going to see immediate change. He’s everything we’re looking for in our football coach.”
A first-team all-city performer at Rufus King High School in his native Milwaukee, Davis was in the final recruiting class of the late Joe Gilliam Sr., at Tennessee State where he played fullback for Gilliam and his successor, Bill Davis. He also played golf for the Tigers. He was named to the All-Academic team in college.
Davis said he will build a system around the players he has, at least at the start.
“This is not the place where I got 100 kids coming out – yet – that’s coming,” said Davis, who was introduced to just over 30 MJCA players earlier in the day. “I’m going to fit the system to the kids I have.
“I am going to play a physical brand of football. That sets the tone more than anything else. You can be physical with 50 guys or you can be physical with 22 guys, as long as you’re all on the same page. In high school football, you set the tone by saying we’re going to go out and punch people in the mouth. That solves a lot of problems fast.”
But before hitting the field, the Saints will have to hit the weight room.
“You have to be in the weight room,” Davis said. “You have to commit to the weight room if you’re going to play championship football.”
Davis said he plans to talk to the current assistant coaches before going outside to build a staff. He plans to have spring practice next month. At least one scrimmage will be scheduled.
Christensen said around 50 resumes were received by MJCA and eight were interviewed by him and an advisory group. He said he was looking for a man of faith, one who has the drive, energy and ability to build a program, who will interact with the community and build its infrastructure.
“When we met with coach Davis, we felt he met every criteria we were looking for,” Christensen said.