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There is a new air of excitement around the West Limestone football program, and much of that is due to new football coach Shelby Davis.

Davis was hired earlier this month to take over for Jordan Cantrell, and quickly began working to raise the excitement level and the numbers in the program.

“We have just hit the ground running,” Davis said. “We have gotten in the weight room and gone to work. There's a lot of excitement and buzz here at West as far as football goes. We've had a lot of kids who have come out and signed up this spring. For example, I think there were 16 kids in the weights room seventh period before I got here. I've been doing after school weights for kids who don't have seventh period athletics, and yesterday between seventh period and after school we had 47 kids come in. Our numbers have grown, and so has the excitement through the school about the football program.”

West Limestone athletic director Russ Cleveland isn't surprised, and said Davis' ability to create excitement is one reason he was selected as head coach.

“He's real excitable and real energetic,” Cleveland said. “We went through the interview process, and it was pretty clear which way we thought it might go. And then when we did the second interviews (with the finalists), it worked its way out like it should.”

Prior to taking over at West Limestone, Davis was an assistant coach at Carroll High School in Ozark. The Class 5A Eagles have gone undefeated in the regular season the past two years, with Davis being a major part of that success.

“He got with coach (Roger) McDonald, and worked his way up from a position coach to two years as their offensive coordinator, three years as defensive coordinator and then co-head coach,” Cleveland said. “His defense last year averaged giving up just nine points per game, and the team that put them out (of the playoffs) the last two seasons was the eventual state champion. They played a very aggressive style of defense and were very energetic.”

Cleveland said he feels Davis' coaching style and personality meshes well with the West Limestone program.

“There are a lot of good coaches out there, but the biggest thing to me is fit,” Cleveland said. “Does he fit with the kids, with us, and does his vision line up with what we want? I thought it did and I think it has worked out the way it should. The kids have gravitated towards him, which is a very good sign and what I thought would happen, but you never know.”

Davis said he has been very impressed with the players' work ethic so far.

“They have actually inspired me,” Davis said. “It just goes along with what people in the community have told me, that these kids work hard, play hard and give it everything they've got. I've been on both ends of this, both as a player and coach, working for or playing for somebody new. People always have have always got their reservations, but these kids have welcomed me with open arms, and we've just been going to work.”

Cleveland, for one, is happy to see his new football coach fit in so well with the players, the school and the community.

“Right now, we're on a good path,” Cleveland said. “I'm excited and the kids are excited, and I think the future at West Limestone is really bright.”