One of the top players in the Southwestern Conference, Kriston Davis has gained more than 1,700 yards and scored 20 touchdowns as the Maroons’ featured running back for the past year and a half.
Some may say Davis, at 5-foot-9, 180 pounds, is too small to play at the NCAA Division I level, but his balance and speed have helped the Maroons to a 3-1 start to the 2017 season. For now, that is all that matters to him.
His focus is helping West qualify for the IHSA playoffs for a sixth straight year and to keep the season going into November.
“I’m just doing whatever I can to help this team win. Whatever they need me to do, I’ll do,” Davis said following a recent Maroons practice. “This team and the one my freshman year are the best I’ve been on here at West. That team my freshman year was very strong. It had great senior leadership. I really believe that’s what you need.
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“You need senior leaders to bring the underclassmen along and to pick them up when they’re down. We’ve got 24 seniors on this team. It’s the same kind of team we had three years ago.”
Davis ran for 1,135 yards and 10 touchdowns a year ago. So far this season, he has 744 yards and 10 touchdowns for the Maroons, who head to Granite City on Friday tied with East St. Louis atop the Southwestern Conference.
West, which has wins over East St. Louis in two of the past three years, will host the defending Class 7A state champions Sept. 30.
Davis, who rushed for 163 yards and a pair of scores in a 20-6 win over Alton last week, isn’t looking ahead to the Flyers. After four years, he knows better.
“One game a time. That’s the way we’re looking and approaching each week,” Davis said. “This conference is so good, and you have to prepare the best you can for every opponent. This is one league where ‘on any given night’ is so true. Last week we just played a solid football game for four quarters.
“The defense did a great job by not giving up a point for the second game in a row. The offensive line did a good job as they have all year. They’re my brothers.”
Davis is also one of the most versatile players on the Maroons team. As a defensive back, he has made 17 tackles, nine of them solos.
“Kriston works his butt off, and he’s talented,” coach Cameron Pettus said. “He’s gotten a lot better over the years. He’s strong, he’s got great vision and he’s very strong. He has the ability to break tackles very well.
“As far as college goes, I think he’s a great running back, but he’s done a great job for us on defense as well. I’ll let those guys (college coaches) make the decisions about where he plays in college.”
Another thing that has set Davis apart this season is his health. Injuries have already sidelined running backs Jarrell Anderson, of East St. Louis, and Dionte Rodgers, of Edwardsville, for the season. Granite City quarterback Freddy Edwards and Columbia running back Colton Byrd are also out with injuries for undetermined amounts of time.
“I know all those guys. I’m praying for them,” Davis said. “I’m also asking God to keep me safe and healthy.”
Davis said while he loves playing defense, he will probably play on the offensive side of the football at the next level.
“Right now I’m just enjoying the (recruiting) process. I have a couple of schools in mind, but we’ll see what happens in the next few weeks here,” Davis said. “I’m aggressive, and so I love defense. When I run with the football, I’ll make contact first a lot of the time.”
Pettus said that while Davis is deserving of the accolades, the Maroons’ success has been a team effort.
“Kriston will be the first to tell you it’s been a team effort here at West,” Pettus said. “The defense is playing great right now, the offensive line is blocking well, the quarterback is making outstanding decisions with the football and special teams are stepping up right now. It’s been a total team effort each week.”