Davis steps down as Bellaire football coach

BELLAIRE – Some decisions in life are much harder than others.

Jose Davis made one of the toughest a few weeks ago when he arrived at his decision to step down as the head football coach at his alma mater, Bellaire High School, after five years.

Davis, who had no coaching experience when he was hired to replace Gregg Bonar, spent five years at the Big Reds helm and returned them to the Ohio playoffs in his final two campaigns and won the OVAC Class 3A title this past fall.

“It was a harder decision than I expected,” Davis said during a phone interview shortly after meeting with his players and formally submitting his letter of resignation to school officials Wednesday. “I think it was even harder today as I’ve gotten messages from the kids. I am so thankful for the commitment the kids have given me. I consider those guys my own kids since I’ve spent so much time around them.”

According to Davis, his reasons for stepping down were split between personal and business.

“My oldest son (Javon) is going into high school next year and will be playing and there’s also a business side to coaching,” Davis said. “I know high school coaches don’t coach for the money, but they also don’t coach for free. I was sacrificing and I just couldn’t continue to do it. It was just the right time for the decision to be made.”

During his time as the head coach, Davis compiled a 27-25 record, but a 26-14 mark over the final four seasons.

“I had some individual games stand out, but I took the job with the goal of getting Bellaire football back to being competitive,” Davis said. “I didn’t want us to look like a bye week on people’s schedules. I think we accomplished that. We were competitive and teams had to come and play against us because it was a grind for 48 minutes.”

This past season, the Big Reds began with very high expectations, but entered Buckeye 8 play at 1-2 after falling to Steubenville Central and Shadyside. However, the Big Reds proceeded to win six in a row before falling to rival Martins Ferry in the regular season finale.

Bellaire was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by Newark Catholic.

“I’d been leaning toward (stepping down) for a while, but I wanted to give myself enough time to see if there was anything that could sway me back the other way,” Davis said. “Some things that happened kind of forces your hand at times and a decision had to be made. One thing I took away from my time as a professional player was not to take anything personally because it’s a business.”

The Big Reds finished the 2012 season at 8-2 and defeated arch-rival Martins Ferry to win SPARKY that season. They qualified for the postseason and fell in the opening round at Cleveland Cuyahoga Heights that year.

It was that 2012 season that created some of Davis’ fondest memories.

“The pep rally on the night before that (2012) Martins Ferry game was great just to see the excitement and the auditorium packed with adults and younger kids. At that point, I knew we were headed in the right direction,” Davis said. “Then when we won the game and came back into town and people were so excited. I knew we could overcome people telling us that it couldn’t be done.”

Davis, who played collegiately at Kent State and professionally in Canada and in the arena game, informed his coaching staff on New Year’s Eve.

“I think most of them had an idea on what way I was leaning,” Davis said. “I am so thankful to the staff. We had a great mix of older and younger guys and we got along really well.”

Davis isn’t sure that any of the current staff members are interested in the head coaching job, but he’s sure the program is on solid footing for whoever is hired in the coming weeks.

“Whoever takes over isn’t starting from scratch,” Davis said. “Bellaire football has been around for a lot of years and no individual, including myself, is bigger than the program. The kids have it going in the right direction and I believe the kids will do the work and the things needed to keep it going. There’s a lot of talent returning.”

As for his future, Davis isn’t “closing any doors” on possible future opportunities.

“If the right job comes along, I may throw my hat in there,” Davis said. “I am not saying I am not ever going to coach again.”

Davis has accepted the head coaching post for the Rudy Mumley OVAC All-Star Charity Football Classic in July.

Staskey can be reached at sstaskey@timesleaderonline.com