Former Woodstock Academy football coach, Jemal Davis, has taken Norwich Free Academy to the football state championship in the Class LL final at Rentschler Field in East Hartford. NFA (12-0) plays Xavier (11-1) at 7 p.m Friday night.
Jemal Davis coached Woodstock Academy football in their first years of existance starting in 2006 when my daughter, Mariah was a senior and an assistant to Jemal on the sidelines. I recall seeing Mariah standing on the sideline next to Jemal during the first game, dutifully following his instructions. I was impressed with his professional seriousness and his treatment of Mariah.
The first game was also very exciting. Our quarterback John Norman (#4) and tailback Adam Gumula (#20) impressed all with a solid ground game through the center of a much larger opposing line from Fitch. Adam also punted and kicked field goals/extra points. The sound of players colliding on each play was impressive yet no player on our team struggled to get off the ground play after play. Defensive high points came when Zach Berquist (#56) single-handedly downed the larger fullback at the line; then Ernie Wetzel (#57) sacked the quarterback in similar fashion and intercepted a pass; and then Zack Wetzel (#30) wrapped himself around the legs of the Fitch halfback in a flying tackle to force a fumble right in front of us. Martha Wetzel jumped up and down in sheer joy as the Wetzel boys impressed us all with their outstanding play.
So Woodstock Academy had a good start in Football and it was obvious to me that Jemal Davis took his job seriously for the betterment of the football players and, yes, my daughter Mariah who would go on in the next year to the Divison III World Series with the ECSU baseball team in the same capacity.
When we lost Jemal Davis, we lost a special coach … and the football team has since tanked. Possibly, WA did not understand his value.
What he has done since is to show that he is a valuable addition to the high school environment. And he continues in his gender indescriminant way. When NFA came to Woodstock to innaugurate the new football field in September, we saw Jemal Davis’ practices at work. Yes, NFA uses a female to kick extra ponts and field goals and there was nothing gender-specific about her scoring ability on our new field. She has made 59 of 69 extra points and is 1-for-3 on field goals. That one successful field goal was against Woodstock Academy.
Elisa Formiglio was spotted in the gym class by an assistant football coach and was eventually convinced to go out for the team after discussions between coach Jemal Davis and her parents. Now Formiglio is ready for the last game of her high school career, which also happens to be the most important.
“She’s our kicker,” Davis said. “You never know what’s going to happen, but we’re confident if we get to win by a field goal, she is going to do it. We’re going to put her on the field. Everyone understands that and is excited for that opportunity.”
Davis has also said “It doesn’t matter who you are — what matters is your ability. And for her, she is our best kicker, and she has proven that.”
Too bad Woodstock Academy couldn’t keep him.