Georgia coaching legend Robert Davis dies at age 77

Robert Davis (center) won 354 games and three state titles as a Georgia high school football coach.

Credit: Taimy Alvarez / AJC file

Credit: Taimy Alvarez / AJC file

Robert Davis, whose 354 victories at Warner Robins and Westside of Macon rank third all-time among Georgia high school football coaches, died Thursday morning. He was 77.

''That’s a blow to that community; he put Warner Robins on the map,'' said Bowdon coach Richard Fendley, who played on Davis' 1988 Warner Robins team that won a state championship and whose late father, Richard Fendley Sr., was Davis' longtime defensive coordinator.

"He coached not just some good teams, but some great teams. I enjoyed playing for him. I think that every former player would have something fond in their memory about Robert Davis. His name is synonymous with Middle Georgia football.''

A native of North Carolina, Davis grew up in northern Florida and came to Georgia not long out of college to join Warner Robins' staff as an offensive line coach in 1965. Davis became the Demons' head coach in 1973 and led the program to 18 region titles and three state championships in the highest classification during an era when only Valdosta and Clarke Central consistently rivaled Warner Robins as one of the state’s premier big programs.

Davis' record at Warner Robins was 253-41-1 in 24 seasons from 1973 through 1996.

''I believed in running the ball and stopping the run, and we won a lot doing that,'' Davis said in a 2016 interview with Georgia High School Football Daily. “It’s not the stuff they’re playing now, the basketball on grass. Nobody runs off-tackle now, and nobody G-blocks, the old-fashioned stuff. We wanted to be physical.”

Davis' 1976 and 1981 teams were named national champions by the National Sports News Service. Davis' 1976 team, featuring James Brooks, Ron Simmons and Jimmy Womack, is considered by some the state’s best team in history. It won its state-playoff games 42-0, 56-7 and 34-0.

''I don’t think anybody could’ve beaten us that year,'' Davis said in the 2016 interview. “We didn’t have any weaknesses. All I had to do was get them on the field and keep them between the ruts.”

In 1997, Davis left Warner Robins and started the program at Westside in Macon, where there hadn’t been a state-contending public-school team in nearly two decades. Davis won two region titles, reached two state semifinals and fashioned a 101-33 record with the Seminoles before retiring after the 2008 season.

Davis was inducted into the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2010 and the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in 2012.

His record in 36 seasons was 354-74-1. Only Larry Campbell and Alan Chadwick have won more games in Georgia.

Funeral services will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday at Southside Baptist Church in Warner Robins, with graveside services at Magnolia Park Cemetery.

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