Davis takes over the SJC grid program

BELLAIRE – When Jose Davis stepped down as the head coach at his alma mater in January, he made no bones about it that it wasn’t the end of his coaching career.

As it turned out, Davis didn’t have to wait long or look far for the next stop in his coaching career.

Davis was formally introduced as the new head coach at St. John Central during a press conference at the Irish Youth Sports Complex Monday afternoon.

“My plan was to sit back and see what happens (in terms of coaching),” Davis said. “I was approached about this opportunity, so I talked it over with my family and this is the decision we came to.”

Davis takes over for Jeff Paolina, who had the job for one season. According to a prepared statement by Paolina, he had no intentions of coaching the Irish program longterm.

“It gave me the opportunity to coach at my alma mater and to keep the football program stable until we found a long-term coach with the type of credentials and qualifications that we were looking for.”

Davis fits that job description like a glove. He tendered his resignation after a five-year stint with the Big Reds. He guided the program to a pair of playoff berths, a 27-25 record and the OVAC Class 3A title last season.

“You don’t always want to be patted on the back, but sometimes it’s good to be appreciated and good to be wanted,” Davis said. “For them to reach out to me and be so persistent about it makes me even more excited and anxious to go to bat for them.”

This wasn’t a spur of the moment decision by neither Davis nor St. John Central. According to Davis, the two sides have been discussing different matters and negoiating different aspects for nearly a month prior to Monday’s announcement.

“When I got a text message from Jeff, I thought, ‘why not take this opportunity to at least sit down and talk to them?” Davis said. “You never know what’s going to come about, so we sat down and here we are.

The fact that Paolina was willing to give up the job and shift his focus to the younger levels of Irish football meant a lot to Davis.

“I think it tells you a lot about (Jeff) as a person that he’s willing to step aside to try to get this thing going,” Davis said. “To put the trust in me and give me the keys to guide this program the way it needs to be guided humbling. I am excited about the leadership here (at St. John). Everything I’ve asked for, they’ve been open arms and glad to help me in any way possible. I am excited about the challenge.”

Though he didn’t have long-term coaching plans, Paolina admitted the decision to step down after one season was difficult.

“It’s bittersweet handing over the football program, but it’s not about me,” Paolina said. “It’s about keeping with the original plan, and I want to do whatever I can to put the football program in the best position possible to win football games every season.”

When the season begins in August, Davis will be the fourth Irish head coach in as many seasons. During the last three years, St. John Central has posted a 4-25 record and all of those victories came in 2012.

Because of the enrollment numbers and struggles of late, Davis knows there’s a faction of people scratching their head wondering why he decided to accept this position.

“It’s an opportunity and a challenge,” Davis said. “There have been some Division I (college) players come through this valley in the last couple of years and many were in the St. John’s feeder system. If we have those types of kids on this team (at St. John) and they’re difference makers. And there were several kids I coached at Bellaire that were, at one time in the St. John feeder system. So, it’s now my job to keep those kids here and not let them branch off to the public schools around here.”

Davis was given reign on selecting his coaching staff and many familiar faces are making the switch with him to Green and White from the Red and Black. Davis has already formally hired Ty Masciarelli, Justin Green, Ryan McMahon and Casey Davis. There will also be a couple of holdovers from Paolina’s staff.

“Being able to coach with many of the same guys I’ve been coaching with for five years was important to me,” Davis said.

“Because, in my playing days, I’ve been around some good staffs and some bad staffs. I realize when you’re facing a tall task like this, you want guys who are on board with you and ready to pull the rope in the same direction.”

Along with his wife, Amy, Davis also went to the aforementioned coaches to gauge their thoughts and ideas.

“After mulling it over, everyone was on board to move this thing forward,” Davis said. “The grind and when people say something can’t be done are motivating factors for me. We have to keep the blinders on and keep moving forward.”

Prior to meeting with the media Monday, Davis spent time meeting with student-athletes at St. John’s to get the ball rolling in the off-season program.

“I’ve been brainstorming some things about how we’re going to approach this,” Davis said. “It’s going to be a big adjustment for me because things are different at St. John than they were at Bellaire.

“There are things we’re going to sit down as a staff and map out how we’re going to make sure we get the kids in the weightroom.”

Davis will still coach the Ohio squad in this summer’s Rudy Mumley OVAC All-Star Charity Football Classic. He earned that based on winning the conference title last season with the Big Reds.

The Davis era of St. John Central football begins with a trip to Millersport. He will make his home debut in week two against Conotton Valley.

“This is not an overnight process and it’s going to take a total group effort,” Davis said. “The kids have to understand that, too. No one wants to be a part of a loser and keeping kids positive when things don’t go well right away is part of the grind.”