MHS wastes little time in naming new football coach

It didn’t take long for the Monticello School Board to name a new Billies’ head football coach. In the same special called meeting last Wednesday, the board not only accepted Greg Tiner’s resignation, it also appointed Marty Davis to succeed him.

<span>Thus begins a new era in Monticello High School football. Not that it’ll be much different from the old regime—Davis is a longtime Billies’ assistant coach who’s spent 19 years with the MHS football team. And fans won’t be able to tell much difference between Tiner’s and Davis’ coaching philosophies, the coach who will take over the head job on July 1 said.</span>

<span>“If you ask most coaches,” Davis said, “the first thing they want to do offensively is run the ball. And they want to be able to stop the run on the defensive side of the ball. They want to be sound as to how they line up, and they want to be able to execute. The level of talent is going to dictate what you can and can’t do.</span>

<span>“The first rule of football is that you have to play defense. I told our kids a couple of days ago we’re going to put the best 11 on the field. A lot of our kids have a mindset they’re one side of the ball specialists; our thing as coaches is to put the best 11 on the field. If that means a player plays offense, defense and special teams, they’re going to do that. </span>

<span>“At the same time, players are going to get a chance to prove themselves in practice they deserve to be out there. Everybody’s going to have a role on this team. It might not necessarily be as a starter, it may be as a contributing starter, it might be as a practice player but here’s the thing–everybody is going to get a fair shot. It’s up to the players to win whatever position they want to play. Hopefully, we’re going to put everyone in positions to where we have a chance to be successful as a team.”</span>

<span>Since Davis moved up from the defensive coordinator position, another longtime assistant, Randy Harvey, will assume that job under Davis, he said. Former Monticello head coach and current athletics director Johnny McMurry will continue as offensive coordinator, a position he came out of coaching retirement to handle for Tiner in 2013.</span>

<span>“We were all here when the program was starting to develop and get to the level of where we are now,” Davis noted. “The past couple of years, we’ve not been as good as we have in the past but we still take the same approach but we still take the same approach as to how we do things. it’s just a matter of getting the kids to buy in to what we’re wanting to do—and hopefully, continue the legacy.</span>

<span>“In whatever activity or sport you’re in, it’s always competitive. I think that’s why we’re in the business. I’m competitive, I want to win and my thing is I want us to be in a position to be a factor at the end of the year. I want our kids to go out, be able to compete and be competitive against whoever we line up against. In my opinion, this is probably one of the stronger 4A conferences in the state, if not the strongest.”</span>

<span>Class 4A, District 8 was tough last season, and the new coaching staff will face an even more competitive league this year. Dollarway, the winner of 4A-2 and a state semifinalist, will move into 4A-8 as Lake Village Lakeside drops to Class 3A. Monticello makes it a priority to make the state playoffs each season but an 0-5 start to 2013 had some wondering if that streak would continue. The Billies earned the fourth seed from 4A-8 with a 4-1 finish to the season. </span>

<span>“It’s 11 years in a row,” Davis said of the Billies’ playoff run, “and hopefully, 12 years in a row. It’s going to be tough, though. Our kids are competitive. They want to win. And we want to do everything we can to put them in a position to do that. We’re not going to back up just because the level of competition is high. We’re going to work hard and do the best we can.” </span>

<span>Graduating high school from Monticello’s chief rival—Warren—in 1981, Davis attended Arkansas Tech University. After his four years at Tech, he became a student assistant with the football program in 1987. He started his coaching career at Dardanelle as an assistant senior high and head junior high football coach following college, for two years.</span>

<span>Then McMurry, who was either in his second or third year as Monticello head coach, Davis remembered, hired him as an assistant. He spent 16 years coaching under McMurry with the Billies. Davis left with McMurry when McMurry was hired as Watson Chapel’s head football coach, spending the next three years as McMurry’s defensive coordinator, and head track coach for the Wildcats.</span>

<span>Davis became dean of students, football defensive coordinator and head track coach at Hamburg in 2008, and returned to Monticello three years later as defensive coordinator and head track coach—a position he said he will continue next season.</span>

<span>When the job was opened at Monticello, Davis said it was the logical next step in his career.      </span>

<span>“I became aware there was a possibility (of Tiner’s departure),” Davis said. “Knowing that, nobody wants to be left with no options. When I found out there was a possibility Coach Tiner could leave, it hit me I might have a shot. Once he made his decision, I let our AD know that I was interested in the position—and from there, it went through the process.”</span>

<span>On July 1, Davis will become the first black head football coach in the history of Monticello High School. There is no added pressure, though, Davis was quick to point out. </span>

<span>“It’s not really an issue for me and I don’t think it will be an issue for our kids,” he noted. “To me, it’s not a factor. It wasn’t a factor in me deciding I wanted to be the head coach. It’s never been a factor in anything I’ve done in my entire life. You treat people he way you want to be treated. I’m probably guilty of a lot of things but one thing I’m not guilty of is not being fair, consistent and firm. Whether it’s black or white, I expect that from the people I deal with. That’s what I do.”</span>

<span>Davis will inherit a Billies’ team that lost 16 seniors—including four starting offensive linemen—but has a wealth of young talent entering the program. And a junior high football program that’s bursting at the seams with potential.</span>

<span>“I’m not exactly sure how many guys we’ll have coming back from last year but we do have a lot of young guys that played a lot,” Davis said as he turned his attention to the 2014 Monticello team. “Some of (the youngsters) had to start last year for us. Our biggest issue in the last couple of years has been matching up athletically with everyone else. We have guys that are athletic but we’re probably not as athletic as the people we line up against—which means we have to be a little bit more sound ands disciplined. Fundamentally, especially, we have to be sound in what we do.</span>

<span>“We lose four offensive linemen but we’ve got some good young kids coming up. Very seldom are you in a situation where you want to throw young guys against the seasoned players we have in this conference. Some of our young guys are going to have to grow up early. Some of them did last year, too. Each year, you should grow and develop as an athlete. That’s why seasoned players tend to play better than those who are not experienced. But for us to have a chance, those players have to come through for us.</span>

<span>“We’e young, but we’re experienced. We probably had some guys last year who weren’t ready to play that we had to play because we just didn’t have anyone else. I think that experience is going to help them. The offense we ran last year was just about their first experience with doing that, especially with our wide receivers and quarterbacks. I think, with that experience, it gives us a chance to be a little more effective in what we’re trying to do. We’re not going to do as much offensively as we did last year. We’re going to have a certain run package, a certain pass package and we’re going to be sound in those specific packages—and that’s going to give us a chance to be successful.”</span>

<span>Davis said he’ll spend the summer analyzing what the Billies can do to prepare for the likes of Dollarway, Warren, Hamburg and Star City. As the Billies prepare for the fall, Davis said he sees potential from the athletes who will wear the blue and white in 2014.</span>

<span>“We have to evaluate the level of talent we have and find out what scheme fits best,” Davis noted. “Being here and having an idea of what we can and can’t do is a tremendous help. We’re not going to vary a lot from what we’ve done in the past but we will change a couple of things.</span>

<span>“We’ve got kids in the program who are now in the third year of what we’re trying to do defensively. On the offensive side, we’re trying to go from a predominately running game to a little bit more spread, wide-open game—although we still want to run the ball. Our thing is to basically have two phases of offense; a short-yardage, downhill running game and being able to spread it out and pass it when we can. </span>

<span>“Our level of speed is a little bit better than it has been in the past. We have some talent in our senior group but, once again, they’ve got to understand it’s not going to be easy because athletically, we’re probably not going to match up. I think being kind of hard-nosed and sound in what we do gives us an opportunity to be competitive.  </span>

<span>“I think there’s some things we can do that will give us a chance to be more competitive in those situations. This program was built by doing things a certain way as far as making our kids accountable, making sure they’re fundamental in what we do. The strength program has always been the backbone of what we’ve done on the football field. As far as identifying what our kids are capable of doing and putting them in those positions, that’s our job as coaches.”</span>

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