DANBURY, Conn. – Rick Davis coached football for eight years at Danbury High School. But the impact he had on his players will be far more lasting.
“He had the ability to connect with each and every individual,’’ said P.J. Prunty, who played as a running back for Davis from 2002-05. “I had him for math class, and it was the same thing. You could just sense that there was sincerity behind it.”
Davis, 64, died Monday after a fighting pancreatic cancer since January. He coached the Hatters from 2001-08 and had a 47-36-4 career record. He led the Hatters to Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference title games in 2001 and 2003. Greenwich beat the Hatters in 2001, and Staples won the 2003 FCIAC title game.
Davis stepped down after finishing 4-7 in 2008. At the time, he said he wanted to devote more time to his family, particularly his grandchildren. Family was a recurring theme for Davis, according to Prunty.
“What I always remember him telling us was our team was a family, and that was always very important to him,’’ said Prunty, who now works in the mayor’s office for Mark Boughton. “That’s always the thing that he tried to get across to us. He led by example. His passion for his family exceeded everything.”
Prunty was not the only one affected by Davis’ death. On Twitter, @jsanny wrote “Great Guy Who Had No Enemies & Hated No One.” @Bill Cortese wrote: “Danbury lost a great teacher, coach and mentor yesterday with the passing of Coach Rick Davis...Glad he's in a place with no more pain.”
Prunty stayed especially close with Davis. After an injury cost Prunty most of his senior season in 2005, he went on to play at Hartwick College. Davis surprised Prunty by visiting him for his Senior Day game there.
It was difficult for Davis to put down the whistle for the final time after the 2008 season but felt it was the right choice, Prunty said.
“He had a great passion for it,’’ Prunty said. “You could see that. But by stepping down when he did, it would leave him more time to spend with his family and friends. He was all about his family. That’s the thing I’m going to remember most about him.”