Friday Night Lights Sees LB Ben Davis

GORDO – For once, Friday Night Lights had a competitive game. They seem to be few and far between on this year’s schedule. Then again, FNL is all about the prospects, and while viewing Gordo 49, American Christian 28, we saw a good one: Scout’s top man in the state for the class of 2016, Ben Davis of Gordo.

We also saw a key matchup in Class 3A, Region 4, as Gordo came in ranked second and ACA was No. 7 in the state polls. The game was nip-and-tuck until midway through the fourth quarter.

Living in Gordo might not be for everyone, but it’s a fun place to cover a game because the entire town is all about their Green Wave. Also, 3A ball is where you still see the occasional straight ahead kicker, like Gordo’s Will Hankins To the categories:

TOP PROSPECT: That would be young Mr. Davis, son of former Alabama and Cardinals great Wayne Davis. What about Ben Davis makes him a great football player? Said Gordo Coach Ryan Lolley: “Ben works extremely hard in the weight room. He works extremely hard in the class room. He works extremely hard being the best person he can be. He’s got a great family that does a nice job of raising him. He’s become a great young man, and we’re fortunate to have him here at Gordo for his last season here.

“Ben has improved tremendously (as a player). He’s gotten stronger, which has made him a lot more physical, which poses a problem for anyone we play.

“Offensively, we allow him to block at tight end, and we also get him the ball in space and allow him to make something happen. We can also get vertical with him on a deep ball, because he’s got great length, nice speed and sure hands.”

Lolley added that Wayne Davis plays a huge role for the Green Wave, both as a mentor for the high school players and as director of the Gordo City Peewee League, home to future Green Wave players.

Added ACA Coach Chris Smelley of Davis: “He’s a fantastic football player. He’s got all the measurables and the size. From what I hear, he works extremely hard. He’s a special talent, and not a guy that you go up against all the time.”

For the night, Davis unofficially had 8 tackles at linebacker, and while at tight end, the 6-4, 235-pounder caught two passes for 58 yards, including a 48-yard touchdown catch and run. He personally stopped two Patriot drives with first a pass break-up (albeit, a dropped pick) and later, an interception off a batted ball. He also flashed by absolutely obliterating a poor ACA back at the line of scrimmage.

Of his son’s recruitment, Wayne Davis said, “We’re going to let Ben go through the process. It’s good for him to have all these one-on-one, man-to-man talks with head coaches. He likes Jimbo Fisher, and he likes those Palm Trees in Tallahassee. Then there’s Alabama.

“He’s either going to commit on National Signing Day or at the Under Armor Game in Orlando (January 2).”

SENIORS WHO SHINED: ACA running back Caleb Squires (6-2, 205) is having quite a season, despite being the aforementioned victim of the missile named Ben Davis. He’s a top baseball prospect, too. . Friday, he had a pair of 2-yard scoring runs and tacked on a 26-yard touchdown catch on a wheel route.

For the Green Wave, Davis has help at linebacker from 5-11, 210-pound Tyree Hurst, who brings the lumber.

JUNIORS TO WATCH: Gordo quarterback Koy Chapman (6-0, 194) has a chance to play at the next level. For the Patriots, defensive lineman P.J. Sledge (6-0, 265) is a tough guy who opponents must game plan for.

SUPER SOPHS: He was team MVP as a ninth-grader, so the name Collin Herring of Gordo is no stranger to those in West Alabama. The 5-9, 213-pounder can hurt you as a runner and a receiver, as ACA learned. For the Patriots, a pair of 6-1, 231-pound offensive linemen are certainly not done growing. The grocery bill at the homes of Gaines Jordan and Dalton Beck is sure to soar in the coming months/years.

HOW ‘BOUT THEM BURGERS: As you’ll see in the next category, FNL had not been to Gordo in a LONG time, and even then not as FNL. So, of course it was time to review some stadium burgers. They were a tad over-cooked, but the char-grilled flavor was locked in. The fries were greasy, but crisp and tasty.

CRIMSON CONNECTION: Turns out Davis was not the only former Tide player in attendance. Helping out his older brother as a volunteer assistant was ex-Bama and Rams H-back Brad Smelley. Supporting his son, sophomore reserve receiver John David Shealy, was 1978 and ‘79 national championship quarterback Steadman Shealy.

FLASHBACK: Way back in 1987, I served as the play-by-play announcer for Fayette County, which featured then-eighth grade quarterback Lance Tucker, an ex-Bama player who is the now the Tigers’ head coach. The most fun game to call all year came in Gordo, when the visiting Tigers won the game largely due to a punt return for a touchdown. My then-color commentator, James Raley Morrison, has since passed away, but that was a night all present will remember. I even managed to make fun of James Raley’s hair cut in between plays. Good times, and the last time I’d been to a Gordo game until Friday.

UP NEXT: A schedule change. The injury to Shawn Jennings made FNL re-think Dadeville at Leeds. Instead, we will bring you coverage of McAdory at Hillcrest, a matchup where both teams have underclassmen high on Alabama’s radar: McAdory athlete Malcolm Askew, and star running back Brian Robinson of Hillcrest.

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