There is no telling how much damage Norris Davis could have done on the high school football field if given the opportunity to play the position that his talent eventually led him to while at the University of North Carolina. Davis, a 1984 graduate of South Lakes High School and wide receiver for the Seahawks football team, blew former South Lakes Athletic Director Bob Graumann's mind while blowing by the Northern Region's opposing defenses.
"One of the things we always criticized ourselves for was that we didn't get the ball in his hands enough," said former Oakton Director of Student Activities Dave Morgan.
Both Graumann and Morgan were assistant football coaches at South Lakes under then head coach Tom Secules.
"Tom Secules was the head coach and Bobby Comerford was the defensive coordinator," said Graumann, who marveled at the speed possessed by Davis — a 6-foot, 3-inch, 195-pound wide receiver that Comerford wanted to mold into a defensive back. "We tried really talking with Tom to get Norris to go both ways. We finally got him to relent and [Davis] became a nickel back for us in passing situations."
According to Graumann, Morgan and Comerford, in his first year on defense, as a senior, Davis led the team in defensive interceptions and set a record for single-season interceptions that still stands today (3).
"He only played on extreme passing downs because I was very concerned that he [would] hurt himself," said Comerford. "We didn't figure out enough ways to get him the ball. Times have changed and now we would have gotten him the ball more."
DAVIS HAD that kind of adaptability, diversity and versatility, all traits that eventually afforded him the opportunity to play football for the University of North Carolina on a full scholarship. He was later drafted by the National Football League's Kansas City Chiefs.
The standout wide receiver also ran track and helped South Lakes to the school's only two district titles in outdoor track (1983, 1984) with standout performances in the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes.
But it was only after watching Davis tinker with a sport that he didn't even want to play — basketball — that Graumann realized that Davis was a higher caliber athlete than those around him. In the 1980's, the Northern Region had intramural sports. Davis, who opted not to go out for basketball coach Wendell Byrd's basketball team "because he didn't like all the running that Wendell made them do," said Graumann, opted instead to play with an intramural team made up of players Byrd cut during tryouts — a team that dubbed itself "The Byrd-Droppings."
"He scored 52 points in one game," said Graumann, who taught Davis a high-bar gymnastics routine while he had him in his physical education class. "He was probably the most complete athlete. He could do anything from basketball, to gymnastics, to football."
"HE WAS THE Eddie Royal of his era," said South Lakes baseball coach Galvin Morris. Royal, regarded as one of the Northern Region's top game-breakers while at Westfield, later became the offensive star of Virginia Tech's football team. Morris, a 1990 graduate of South Lakes, was a 12-year-old when Davis was a senior. Morris spent his Friday nights in Reston watching Davis do what he did best — run back kicks.
"You wouldn't want to kick it to him because he would run it back," said Morris.
According to several accounts, Davis did not pass the physical required to play for the Kansas City Chiefs after an injury kept him sidelined for the rest of his football career.
DAVIS LED the Seahawks to two Great Falls District titles in 1983 (6-4) and 1984 (7-3). According to the South Lakes record books, the Seahawks have won only four total district titles in school history. South Lakes won the region in 2002 and 1991.
"He was one of our first blue-chipper football players," said Morgan of Davis, who was recruited by several schools, but eventually chose the University of North Carolina.
As a Tarheel, Davis recorded 190 tackles, 112 solo, 78 assisted, two forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries. He deflected two passes, broke up nine, pressured three, and tackled six times for a loss of 21 yards. He also recorded 1.5 sacks for a loss of 11 yards and picked off five passes. He returned six interceptions in his career for 81 yards and two touchdowns with the longest run back at 31 yards. He returned two punts for 43 yards and two touchdowns. But Davis's true specialty was kick off returns in which he returned 13 kick-offs for 247 yards.
"I always thought he saw the field real well," said Morgan. "He was not very easy to bring down. He had the quickness to elude players. Once he broke a tackle he was off and running."
Did You Know?
South Lakes, which opened its doors to students in 1978, played a junior varsity schedule in head coach Tom Secules's first year at the helm. After a 9-1 start, the Seahawks played a AA varsity football schedule the next year and finished the season with a 1-9 record. In both 1981 and 1982, South Lakes was a region runner-up and in Norris Davis's junior and senior seasons, 1983 and 1984, the Seahawks lost to eventual state champions Mt. Vernon and T.C. Williams, respectively.
Norris Davis is 80 in a survey of the area's Top 100 Athletes by Connection Newspapers in 2000.