Football: Walnut Ridge Scots, Africentric Nubians name new coaches
By the end of his four-year tenure as Africentric’s football coach, Clarence Daniels had lifted a program that had lost 36 consecutive City League-South Division games before he took over to winning two league contests during each of the last two seasons.
Last fall, the Nubians competed in the postseason for the first time and posted the first winning record in program history despite being limited to just six games because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Daniels served as an assistant at Walnut Ridge for eight seasons before becoming Africentric’s coach, with the Scots going 54-27 and making one playoff appearance during that time.
He recently left the Africentric position to become the coach of the Scots, with Jamell Davis recently being named the Nubians’ new coach.
Byron Mattox guided Walnut Ridge to a 106-42 mark in 15 seasons with five playoff appearances.
“When coach Mattox stepped down at the end of the season, he spoke to me about the opportunity and said he thought I’d be great for the position,” Daniels said. “It’s going to be a tremendous obstacle walking in the shoes of coach Mattox. He set the bar really high. I’m excited to reignite the culture and it’s going to be a great transition.”
Daniels is a 1992 Mifflin graduate who went on to play for West Liberty State and then served as an assistant at his high school alma mater before joining Mattox’s program.
Walnut Ridge beat Eastmoor Academy 14-6 to win last year’s City championship game following a three-game regular season. The Scots made it to the second round of the Division II, Region 7 playoffs and finished 6-3 after going 11-1 and advancing to a regional semifinal in 2019.
The Scots also made playoff appearances in 2009, 2017 and 2019 under Mattox and finished ninth in their region – one spot out of the playoffs – two other times.
Africentric’s only previous non-losing season before last fall came when it went 5-5 in 2008.
The Nubians went 7-29 under Daniels, including improving from 0-10 in 2018 to 2-8 in 2019.
After going 2-1 in the City-South last fall, Africentric won its first two playoff games in Division VI, Region 23 before falling 51-12 to Beverly Fort Frye in a regional quarterfinal to finish 4-2.
Daniels was named the district’s Coach of the Year.
Taking over for him is Davis, a 2007 Brookhaven graduate who served as an assistant with the Bearcats from 2009-13 before the school closed.
Davis then was an assistant at Beechcroft in 2014 when the team went 11-1 and was a Division IV, Region 13 runner-up before serving as an assistant coach at Hocking College for two seasons.
Davis was an assistant at East from 2017-19, with the team going 6-4 in his final season there, before serving as the tight ends coach at Gahanna last fall.
“While I was at East, all three years there we did a joint practice with Africentric,” Davis said. “I was able to see their positive attitude and I thought in the back of my mind I’d want to be there someday. (Girls basketball) coach (Will) McKinney and (boys basketball) coach (Michael) Bates are there, so it would be a chance to build off their culture.
“Africentric is Division VI in football and (the OHSAA) did announce that 12 teams (in each region) will be in the playoffs (beginning in 2021), so realistically if we can win five games, we can be in. Africentric has a lot of talent coming back.”