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Davis is planning his next level move

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By Jenna McKenna

His smile is pleasant, his manner gentle. At first look, would the casual observer know that Stephen Davis is a drive killer?

Davis, a senior at Chiefland High School, is winding down his senior basketball season, following a senior football season in which he was named Second Team All-State at the defensive back position.

Even the awarded position is deceptive – Davis, the punisher, was mostly suited up as a linebacker. Maybe voting sportswriters had never seen a linebacker packaged in five feet, eight inches of explosive muscle. That's excusable – as in the aftermath of a missile strike, many of Davis' targets might say they never saw him either.

“Stephen has a nose for the ball; he's a game-changing player,” says Chiefland football Head Coach Ajay Ulmer.

“Nobody can believe he's only five-eight – he can jump out of the gym,” echoes basketball Head Coach Mark Lundy.

On the grid, his true favorite place, Davis finds a way to be where the ball is. This season, he finished with 63 tackles, three interceptions and 1,109 all-purpose yards as a true two-way player and primary ballcarrier for the Indians. When he wasn't playing defense, he found a way to score 12 touchdowns as a running back.

Davis has played football in Chiefland since the age of 12, starting under CAAA coach Philip Cothron.

“I always played running back and linebacker,” he says.

A highly emotional player and leader, Davis' intimidating physical play is inspiring to his teammates and frightening to his opponents. When he hits them, as the saying goes, they stay hit. Davis himself admits liking football better, because an insult on the field is legally returned on the field.

“If somebody says something about me, I can just tackle them harder,” he says.

“As long as I hit them fair, I can hit them hard.”

How does Davis get up for games?

“I watch videos of Ray Lewis.”

That's the master at work, for sure.

No loose cannon, Davis controls his vengeance to legal strikes. His teammates admire his leadership so much they elected him game day captain again and again, an honor reflected in the Captain Award he received at last week's football banquet.

Davis hopes the banquet wasn't the last event of his football career. He's been getting looks from Coach Howard Schnellenberger of Florida Atlantic University, current home of Chiefland alum Cortez Gent, and is waiting, now, for some final details of his academic record to be processed. He has a backup plan, too, to go into the Marines and specialize in law enforcement if college doesn't come through right now.

“Stephen has a plan; he's moving forward,” Ulmer said.

Although he is undersized for his position in a Division I program, Davis has a ton of heart, Ulmer says.

“I think if he can get an opportunity, he'll be able to take advantage of it,” he says.

Davis thinks so, too.

“I think I could play in the NFL,” he says.

“Because I have the potential, the self-motivation. When I set my mind to it, I do it.”