2015 Football: Davis excited for first season at MMA

MMA head coach Buster Davis talks to his team in the weight room. Rich Cooley/Daily

WOODSTOCK — Massanutten Military Academy head football coach James “Buster” Davis has known for a long time that he wanted to be a head coach.

This season the former NFL player will try to help turn around an MMA program that has struggled for a number of years, and he said he’s happy with what he’s seen from his players early on.

“I got coachable kids and to me that goes a long way in football,” Davis said. “… If one team is a little more talented, but you have guys that are coachable and believe in the system and know their assignment and do it 100 miles an hour that’s what you want.

“I’ll take that all day over talent.”

Most of MMA’s players didn’t come in until Aug. 22, leaving little time for the team to get ready for the upcoming season, which starts on Aug. 28.

Davis had eight players there for the first week of practice on Aug. 10 and said he liked what he saw from them.

Former MMA head football coach and athletic director Chris Gilliland left in early August and the school hired Davis the week before practice started.

Davis, who was a second-team All-American at Florida State University and played for several teams in the NFL, said MMA was exactly what he was looking for. Davis bounced around at a few schools as head football coach in Florida over the last five years, but the key element was he wanted to be an athletic director as well as football coach.

“I needed a change,” Davis said. “I wanted to be able to run my own department and get into the administrative role and also coaching football.”

Davis has experience coaching at a military school so he said he understands how things work at the school.

He said he also knows it will take some work to get things turned around for the football program.

“This is the opportunity I’m looking for to get the chance to be in charge of an athletic department, to be able to create the image that you want society to perceive you as,” Davis said. “We want society to know us as a championship program. It’s going to take work. We’ve got work to do.”

Davis said that former Florida State head football coach Bobby Bowden and former Indianapolis head football coach Tony Dungy both had an influence on him and his coaching style.

“I think coach Bowden and coach Dungy were the same type of coach,” Davis said. “They coach their coaches and they let their guys be who they are. Coaching, you’re always going to deal with different personalities. That’s what coaching is all about, letting those personalities be who they are within the system. It’s the same with my kids. I’ve got all different types of personalities and backgrounds and to me diversity is so much a part of society now that it’s great to have.”

Two key players that Davis will have this season at MMA will be fullbacks Jake Long and Tyler Draddy, both of whom will also see playing time on defense as well. Long, a senior, took over for Draddy, a junior, after he suffered an injury midway through the season.

The players are excited to be playing for Davis, especially with his NFL background.

“I like coach Davis, he’s pretty straight forward,” Draddy said. “I like his expertise — it’s probably the best thing I can get — with him being in the (NFL). I’m just super excited for the season to get started.”

The Colonels won two games last year, which was an improvement over the previous couple of seasons.

Davis said having a little success last year can only help the team this season.

“I’m excited. I like the experience and I like what’s going on here,” Davis said. “Our goal is to win a state championship — bottom line. That’s our goal every year here.”

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com