By Lee Davis
If winning two state championships in a row in any sport is a difficult task, winning three is almost impossible.
The Oak Mountain boys soccer team has a legitimate shot at earning that rare third straight title, and if the Eagles achieve it, Kennedy Davis is likely to be a primary catalyst.
Davis, a senior midfielder, had scored a whopping 20 goals and nine assists by the end of last week, as Oak Mountain holds the number one ranking in Class 7A in the latest Alabama Sports Writers Association poll.
Eagle coach Dan DeMasters said Davis’ full value can’t be measured by on-the-field statistics.
“Kennedy is a once-in-a-lifetime player,” DeMasters said. “He plays at a very high level, but one of his best attributes is his willingness to sacrifice to bring players up to his level instead of separating himself from the rest of the group. Kennedy gets individual and team accolades because he puts his teammates first and cares more for others than himself.”
As DeMasters said, Davis’ team-first attitude has paid off in individual awards. He is a two-time All-State selection and a candidate for Alabama Gatorade Soccer Player of the Year. Popular with his fellow Eagles, Davis was chosen as team captain before the start of his senior season.
Davis said the key to being a successful midfielder is comparatively simple.
“It’s all about being in good condition and being aware of what’s going on in the game at all times,” he explained. “It’s also important to keep the ball in the air as much as possible.”
As impressive as Davis is on the soccer field, he is equally strong in the classroom. He is near the top of his class with a 4.07 grade point average.
“I don’t have to worry about him in the classroom,” DeMasters said. “His classroom habits extend to the soccer field.”
Davis, who will play at Dartmouth College next year, pursues academics with the same passionate aggression as if he were chasing a soccer ball.
“Academics have always been important to me,” he said. “Both school and soccer are areas where you have the opportunity to do well. I want to take advantage of both.”
Even when Davis isn’t honing his soccer game or doing homework, he’s rarely in front of a television or a video game. Most likely, he’s serving the community in a volunteer capacity – such as working with special needs children at the Bell Center Youth Alliance or distributing water to runners at the Mercedes Marathon.
As busy as Davis is, he insists that it’s really no big deal.
“It’s just a matter of getting a routine,” he explained. There’s soccer and school. Then there’s study time and volunteer time. A social life is important, too. If you’re in a routine you can find time for it all.”
Davis kicked his first soccer ball at the age of four, and even in elementary school he had the look of a potential star.
“I just loved to play from the very beginning,” he recalled. “I decided early on that soccer was the sport for me.”
The years passed quickly, and Davis’ soccer resume grew rapidly. He starred for the Vestavia Steamers 99 Black club team, and he played on Alabama State Cup Champions three times between 2011 and 2014. The bigger the challenge, the better Davis likes it, as his favorite games on Oak Mountain’s schedule are against out-of-state powers.
“Our area games are of course important, but I really get pumped up when we play the good teams from other states,” he said. “Oak Mountain is one of the few schools around here that play the out-of-state teams. It’s a chance for us to prove that high school soccer in Alabama is as good as it is in any of the other southern states. When we play those teams, I feel like we’re representing not only our school but our state.”
Another plus of the tough out-of-state schedule is to get the Eagles ready for the rigors of the post-season playoffs. Davis likes his team’s chances of claiming a third straight blue trophy.
“We lost a lot of seniors from last year’s team, but we can win if we don’t get complacent,” he said. “We know we’re one of the best teams in the state, so if we step up our execution and stay focused, we’ve got a good chance.”
In fact, Davis is on a mission to end his high school career as a champion.
“I definitely don’t want to end my senior year with a loss,” he said. “I can’t think of a better way to move on to college than by putting another state championship trophy in the school trophy case.”
Even if Oak Mountain does win that coveted third straight title, don’t be surprised if Kennedy Davis still finds time to finish his homework and hand out a water bottle or two before the day is done.