By R. Alan Richardson
When it comes to looking for athletes, players, coaches, and others that make the grade for our Morgan’s finest list, you don’t have to look far to find a number of folks that fit the bill. The halls of Morgan County High School are dotted with legendary players and coaches that are still a part of the Bulldog tradition.
Davis Bell definitely makes the list based on a number of reasons. He attended school here for 12 years as a two-sport all-star in high school, and returned home as a coach, teacher, and administrator for another 29 years and counting. That’s 41 years overall that he has been a part of the Red and Black tradition. His current position is as an Assistant Principal at the high school and the head administrator of the Freshman Academy.
Like so many of our other members of this hall of fame list, Bell was reluctant at first saying, “You must be desperate for a story.” To be honest, not at all. Bell played for long-time head football coach, Wayne Bradshaw in the 1980’s as a running back, wide receiver, and quarterback on some very special teams. The speedster also played for Randy Miley and Steve Cisson in baseball. His 1980 team is the only team in Morgan County history to make it to the final four before falling to Lee County in a third game of a three game series.
He talked about the competition of his playing days saying, “Our football region was loaded with Morgan, Greene, Washington-Wilkes, Putnam, and Aquinas. They only took two teams to the state back then and it was a dog-eat-dog rivalry region. In baseball you always had to go through powerhouse Harlem and we only did it one time in 1980.” Bell joked about his basketball career under Coach Reggie Ross with these words, “I was a point guard of course and Coach Ross told me to get us in an offense and defense, but don’t worry about shooting because we had some good players out there.”
After high school he went on to play a year of baseball at Georgia Southwestern before realizing, “It was time for me to be a full-time student and get serious about my career. I transferred to the University of Georgia where I got a degree in Health and Physical Education. After that I was fortunate enough to come back to Morgan County Middle School where Dr. Alfred Murray hired me as a teacher and Alvin Richardson hired me as the Middle School head football coach. It was the most fun I had as a coach. That first year we were unbeaten and unscored upon winning the league championship over Oglethorpe. After that I thought it was easy, but I found out pretty quickly that I was wrong. We had some great players and a great coaching staff in Ken Davis and John Hood. I think I was trying too hard to get to the high school and be a part of Coach Richardson’s staff. My big break came when Alvin hired me to replace Tod Swymer as the offensive line coach.”
Bell followed several of his mentors’ paths saying, “I followed Alvin and Steve into administration after my coaching career. They were like family to me and were great men to coach with. I’m blessed to have been here for all these years. I feel like the One Morgan slogan fits me pretty well. It’s all I’ve ever known.”
The conversation came around to family. His face lit up when talking about his super supportive wife, Sandi Engle Bell, and two sons, Brett and Bob. Sandi is also a life-long Morgan County student and teacher at the High School while son Bob is a loan officer at the Bank of Madison and Brett is the defensive backs coach with the Bulldogs. He told us, “I think it’s pretty cool that they both played football at the same positions as I did. Bob was a running back and wide receiver and Brett played quarterback. I’m very proud of both of them.”
He gave some insight into his most memorable game after that with these comments, “The one game that stands out to me the most was beating Lincoln County 1-0 on penetration at home. Coach Richardson was on the other sideline at Lincoln that night. The stands were packed. Just the excitement and intensity on the field was like no other game I’ve ever been a part of as a player.”
He also wanted to add his support for all the football coaches and other coaches at MCHS. “I think we have the best coaching staff we’ve ever had here from top to bottom. These are great people who know their sport and truly care about kids. I think our children are in good hands.”
Davis Bell now has his place in the Morgan’s Finest list and deservedly so. He’s played, taught, coached, and mentored 1000’s of our kids in a way that should be applauded. Thanks Coach for all you do for the students at our high school.