Just because he couldn’t play, doesn’t mean he couldn’t contribute.
Kyle Davis is a senior at Father Judge High School. He attended Archbishop Ryan for the first three years of his high school career, and even became a First-Team All-Catholic selection on the offensive line for the Raiders. When Frank McArdle got the job with the Crusaders, Davis followed. But because of the PIAA transfer rule, he was ineligible for his senior season.
He could have called it quits. Instead, he found another way to help the team.
“I transferred in March and it took about three months before I realized I couldn’t play,” said Davis, who lives in Croydon. “When I found out, I started to do other things. I still lifted with the team, I could do anything but play. I lifted to stay in shape, but I didn’t practice.”
Instead, he helped run it.
Davis might have been the youngest assistant coach in Catholic League history this year. He would go to every practice and help out. He’d watch. He’d offer advice. He’d give tips. He would pretty much do everything an assistant would do, and more.
“We would start every day with meetings and watch film or lift,” Davis said. “Then everyone would practice, so I would go out and carry the bags out and set them up. Then I’d watch. I’d help them anyway I could. They had a really good offensive line, so they didn’t need a lot of help, but if I saw something, I would help them.”
Judge had a solid season, winning three games, including triumphs over Ryan and Lincoln, and made the Red Division playoffs where they fell to St. Joe’s Prep.
Davis was impressed with what he saw from his new teammates, and it didn’t take him long to go from hated Raider rival to brother.
“I had help because I knew Colin McNicholas before I got here, he’s a defensive back,” Davis said. “He’s a great guy. He made sure I knew everyone, and once I got to know them, we became friends. I was there to help them, and they knew it.
“I didn’t have to teach them a lot, but if I saw anything that they were doing, in practice or in games, I could help. Plus I knew a lot about (what McArdle wanted), so I could help there, too. I just tried to help in those type of ways.”
Davis might not have played this year, but because he was All-Catholic as a junior, he was eligible to play in the city all-star game. But like everything else this spring, it was canceled because of the coronavirus.
“We together and then a few days later it was canceled,” Davis said. “We got to meet everyone, we were in a group chat, but we didn’t practice or take team pictures. Like everything else, it just got canceled.”
That meant Davis would go his entire senior season without getting to hear the pads pop in a game.
That does not bode well for the first guy who lines up against him in the fall.
Davis, a 5-foot-11, 275-pound offensive tackle, is bound for Lycoming College in Williamsport. While he has saw time on defense, he’ll play offense for the Warriors.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” Davis said. “I just can’t wait to play. I missed playing. This year was probably the best thing that could have happened to me because I learned so much about the game. I’ve learned so much about the position. I got better. I lifted, I got stronger, but I want to play. I really miss playing and I can’t wait to get back to doing it. I hope we get to start on time because I’m ready to play.”
Davis has learned a lot about football this year, but he also learned a lot of other life lessons. The best one is that Ryan and Judge are great rivals, but better friends.
You know these teams like to beat each other every time they play, but the rivalry ends when the final whistle blows.
“I still love all the guys at Ryan and we’re all friends,” Davis said. “It’s a rivalry, but it’s a community where we’re all friends. Not just me. I still talk to them, we all like them. They’re a good team. I’m still good friends with all of those guys. Now I have friends at both schools.”
Next year he’ll have two teams to cheer for while he’s at Lycoming. He’ll also be busy studying accounting.
“I love it, I’ve always liked working with numbers and I’m good at math,” said Davis, who threw the shot put this year in winter track. “I’m looking forward to learning more. I think that will be a good fit for me. It’s a good job, too.”
Now Davis is just waiting for graduation and counting the days until he can get back on the field.
And while he never did get to represent the Crusaders, he’ll always know what it looked like to wear a Judge uniform.
This year, since he wasn’t able to get on the field, the Judge Football Club presented Davis with a picture of him in his stance. The photo was drawn by Brian Condron, and it holds a special place in his heart.
“When they gave me that, I was on the verge of tears,” Davis said. “It’s a great picture. I love it. It meant so much that they made that for me.
“This year wasn’t the way I thought it would go, but it was great. I learned a lot and I’m ready for college.”