All-Area baseball: Golden Falcons' Davis tabbed top coach
By Rob Craig
Published in Sports on June 24, 2007 2:01 AM
The turning point in Charles B. Aycock's championship season took place in late March at Kinston.
The Vikings handed the Golden Falcons a shocking, one-run loss in the Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference opener for both teams. The defeat dropped C.B. Aycock, ranked among the state's top 10 teams, to 5-3 overall.
The bus ride back to Pikeville seemed like an eternity. And since the game occurred on Friday, the team had an additional 48 hours to mull over how badly they played.
Before practice the following Monday, Aycock head coach Charles Davis assembled the team in the locker room and spoke for a few minutes. The players stayed for their own meeting.
Something, says Davis, changed at that point.
"When they came out to the practice field that day, there was a different attitude in them," said Davis, the 2007 News-Argus All-Area Baseball Coach of the Year. "They knew the talent was there, but we had to come together and work hard every day. I think that was a wake-up call and a turning point because after that, they came ready to play every day."
The next 23 opponents felt Aycock's wrath as each suffered a defeat. But even with another talented team in the dugout, Davis knew a little luck was needed, too.
"We've had teams in the past that have been pretty good, but I don't think people realize how lucky you have to be in order to win a state championship," said Davis. "This year we were able to get the breaks."
Northern Nash stopped the two-month winning streak in game two of the eastern regional championship series. Aycock responded with a dominating third-game performance and earned a trip to the state finals.
Reaching that point, says Davis, was a tremendous feat. And the players, who talked about winning a state championship from day one, handled the community's expectations with poise.
"I didn't discourage it because I don't think it ever got in the way," said Davis. "They still kept their focus on each game."
But could Davis push the right buttons one last time? Davis had handled the role of psychiatrist, big brother, father and disciplinarian extremely well?
"It's no longer X's and O's, and finding that balance is really tough no matter the sport," said Davis. "For the most part, the kids knew when we getting on them it was for a reason."
Garrett Davis understood his coach's ire at times.
"He's a great coach," said Garrett. "He gets on you at times, but that's what coaches have to do to keep you motivated."
In the state final, neither motivation nor focus was a problem.
C.B. Aycock didn't need any of that baseball luck Davis' previous teams had lacked. Instead, the Golden Falcons brought a second state title back to Pikeville using their deep talent, combined with the decision making of Davis and his staff.
The Golden Falcons, who finished 31-4 overall, grabbed an eight-run advantage in game two against Southeast Guilford. Once that happened, it was a matter of "when" and not "if" C.B. Aycock would finally capture the prize that eluded the 2002 and 2003 teams.
"It's a lot like Christmas," said Davis. "The anticipation is building up. As the game wore on I felt very good that we were going to win it all."
When Garrett Davis recorded the final strikeout and ended a community's 33-year hunger for a state championship, the veteran coach didn't rush out onto the field. He viewed the surreal experience from the dugout at Doak Field on the N.C. State campus.
"For the first few moments I just sat back and watched the kids," said Davis, whose team claimed ECC regular-season and tournaments in 2006 and 2007. "It was an emotional time. We all shed some tears. The big thing was seeing the reaction of the kids.
"It was a great feeling and it still is right now."
And a feeling the Golden Falcon community certainly won't forget for a long time.
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