Widener senior wide receiver Anthony Davis has appreciated many things about his college career, but he says the chance to compete in his own backyard has been truly special.
A graduate of Chester High, the 6-foot-1, 196-pound Davis has cherished being able to star at college in the same city. And he will get at least one more chance as Widener (12-0) hosts Linfield, Ore. (10-1) in an NCAA Division III quarterfinal at noon Saturday.
"More than words can explain, it has meant so much to me, to be able to play here," Davis said after a recent night practice. "I love everything about it and I get to be around my family a lot, and everyone who has seen me play in high school gets to see my games."
Those people have seen some outstanding performances. This season Davis has 74 receptions for 1,223 yards and 10 touchdowns. He has averaged 23.6 yards per kick return and 12.3 yard on punt returns.
Davis is first in school history with 261 career receptions, 6,576 all-purpose yards, 3,934 receiving yards, and 1,704 kickoff return yards. His 41 career touchdown receptions are second to the 44 by Michael Coleman from 1998 to 2001.
"Coming from here you have always been taught it is what you make of it," Davis said.
Davis has made the most of his opportunities.
This season his output is slightly down, but that is by design. A year ago Davis had 91 receptions for the 6-4 Pride. First-year coach Mike Kelly, a former Eagles assistant and a head coach in the Canadian Football League, told Davis that he might get targeted less but that it would result in a greater balance for the offense.
"He bought into our system," said Kelly, Widener's third coach in three years.
The coach said Davis' value goes beyond the traditional statistics.
"The biggest thing people need to know is how tough he is," Kelly said. "He is one of the best downfield blockers that I have seen all year long."
The fact that he's not getting quite as many touches doesn't bother Davis one bit.
"This year you just can't key on me as teams did in the past," he said. "We have a lot of other players who can get the job done as well, and so it has been working out great."
What: Division III playoffs quarterfinal.
When: Saturday at noon.
Where: Leslie C. Quick Jr. Stadium.
Records: Linfield (10-1); Widener (12-0).
Coaches: Linfield, Joseph Smith (9th season, 81-16); Widener, Mike Kelly (1st season, 12-0).
Series: First meeting.
Key players: Linfield - Soph. QB Sam Riddle (2,377 yds., 28 TDs, 7 INTs, 404 yds. rushing, 12 TDs), Sr. WR Charlie Poppen (57 rec., 915 yds., 14 TDs), Jr. DE Alex Hoff (22.5 tackles for loss, 11 sacks).
Widener - Sr. WR Anthony Davis (74 rec., 1,224 yds., 10 TDs, 23.6 KR avg., 12.3 PR avg.); Sr. LB Kevin Burns (88 tackles, 21.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks); Soph. QB Seth Klein (3,199 yds., 33 TDs, 4 INTs).
- Marc Narducci