Four coaches to make debuts in City League
After spending the last two seasons as an assistant with the Otterbein men's team, the 1991 Pickerington graduate who coached Jonathan Alder to a combined 27-16 mark from 2004-06 decided to look for another high school position.
Beechcroft had an opening for a social studies teacher when Steve Smith -- who also had been serving as the boys soccer coach -- left to become the guidance counselor at Independence, and Davis filled that position.
Kent Burgert has coached the Cougars since the 1999-2000 season but retired from teaching in 2007. Under Columbus Public Schools rules, Davis gained preference to coach ahead of Burgert once he became a teacher.
Davis will be one of at least four new boys basketball coaches in the City for the 2008-09 school year. Also taking over programs for the first time are Jason Bates (Walnut Ridge), LeAnthony Jones (Linden-McKinley) and Jeremy McDaniel (West).
"Teaching and coaching in high school is a better fit for me," Davis said. "I'll get to spend more time with my family. At the college level, there are a lot of hours in the evening and a lot of time traveling and being away from your family. Financially it's a lot better at the high-school level. Ultimately, there are a lot of factors that led me to Beechcroft."
Burgert is a 1970 Upper Arlington graduate who assisted at South for two years and at West for 18 years before taking over for Dave Scheetz in 1998-99. He led the Cowboys to a 21-2 mark in his only season at West before taking over at Beechcroft, where his teams went 136-74 in nine seasons and won regional titles in 2002 and 2003 and five district titles overall.
The Cougars moved up to Division I last year and went 14-7.
"(Davis has) big shoes to fill," Beechcroft athletics director Jerry Bell said. "Kent's an excellent coach. (Burgert's) very disappointed, but I think he understands the Columbus system. (Hiring Davis) met a lot of needs in terms of hiring a teacher and coach."
Davis assisted at Delaware for four seasons before taking over at Jonathan Alder. The Otterbein graduate has coached his new team throughout several summer activities.
"I think that will be a good fit for him," Otterbein men's coach Dick Reynolds said. "He'll do a nice job over there."
"Beechcroft has an excellent tradition," Davis said. "They've been to three final fours in nine seasons. There's not a lot of schools in the Central District that can say that. It's a very healthy program and basically I want to continue with that. There's no question there's a need for us to get physically stronger so that we can compete with Division I programs like Brookhaven and Northland. Hopefully those are commitments the guys will make and the basketball part will take care of itself."
Jones, a teacher at Champion Middle School, has coached Brookhaven's boys golf team the last two years and has been Independence's junior varsity coach the last three years. He has been a teacher in CPS for nine years.
Jones takes over for Jimmy Jones, who went59-99 in seven seasons and did not have his coaching contract renewed. Linden made a Division II state semifinal appearance in 2005 despite going 6-14 in the regular season and was a district runner-up in 2002.
"I saw the posting and I felt like it was time to move on to a head-coaching spot," said Jones, who took over the program in late May. "We've participated in various shootouts and scrimmages. I think it's going to be an interesting experience to get an opportunity to work with these kids. Some of the kids that go to Linden are very tough-minded kids. We're going to have to have them buckle down on their grades. I think they need to have high expectations and make sure they're always taking a full class load so they have room for error."
Bates was an assistant the last five years at Africentric, including the last two under his older brother, Michael. Their father, LeRoy, coached at Toledo Libbey from 1992 until retiring at the end of the 2008 season.
Jason Bates, who played for Columbus State before going to Africentric, also was the Africentric Middle School coach for three years and led that team to the City title in 2005. He takes over for Milburn Johnson, who led the Scots to a 9-11 mark in his only season as coach.
Neshaun Coleman, a former Ohio State player who formerly assisted at Africentric, will be on Jason Bates' staff along with Ramon Spears and former Walnut Ridge coach Jesse Jackson.
"I've always been a learner and I've always wanted to be a coach," Jason Bates said. "I feel like I'm ready. It's going to take some consistency (to be successful at Walnut Ridge). It's going to take them buying into me as their leader, and everything else will fall into place. I'm a different type of coach than what they're used to. I'm very energetic and I'm really about relationships. One thing I want to try to do is reach them individually."
It's been an exciting few months for McDaniel, who recently bought a house and will be getting married Saturday in addition to becoming a varsity coach for the first time.
McDaniel is a 2002 Briggs graduate who played Ohio Dominican until graduating in 2007. He was an assistant last year at Walnut Ridge but remains a west-side resident and knows several of the Cowboys' coach from working with them at the Ashburn Youth Center.
Keith Neal, who is director of the Ashburn Youth Center, is among those along with former Briggs coaches John Smith and Paul Pennell who McDaniel lists as mentors.
Aaron Stamper, Mike Richie and Pennell are expected to be assistants.
"I'm younger than a lot of coaches, but the quality of coaches I've been around will help," McDaniel said. "What I'm excited about is that I get to do something I love to do with a passion. I'm still at Walnut Ridge, but I'm still (living on the west side). I really want to start establishing a presence in the school and in the middle schools. A lot of the kids right now are going to Briggs. I also want to bring back that tradition, just everything that encompasses a program. Once the parents and players see that we have an interest in making them into young men, they'll be interested in coming here."