Football player looks to the sideline

Richland Source will select one student athlete to be recognized as the Park National Bank Athlete of the Month during the 2023-24 school year. Nominations for Athlete of the Month are accepted from Athletic Directors and Coaches, but are ultimately chosen by Richland Source and are based on the student’s exceptional athletic performance, effective teamwork and achievement in their communities. Park National Bank is proud to support this initiative and is giving the athletic department of each school $1,000 in honor of each athlete chosen.

MANSFIELD — He owns Mansfield Senior’s career records for receptions and receiving yards and will soon become the program’s all-time leader in touchdown catches, but statistics aren’t what distinguish Amarr Davis from his peers.

His ability to single-handedly change the outcome of a game puts Davis in a stratosphere occupied by only a handful of Senior High luminaries.

The Tygers find themselves atop the Ohio Cardinal Conference standings thanks in no small part to Davis. The shifty 6-foot, 175-pound senior leads the team with 31 catches for 562 yards and five touchdowns. 

Just how important is Davis to the offense?

The rest of Senior High’s receiving corps has 31 catches for 394 yards and eight TDs. When his 43 rushing yards are factored in, Davis has accounted for slightly more than a third of Mansfield Senior’s 1,803 yards from scrimmage.

Then there are the highlight-reel plays.  

Davis returned an onside kick 49 yards for a touchdown to seal a 24-14 win over reigning Division III state champ Canfield in Week 2. The return came after the Cardinals had cut Senior High’s lead to 17-14 late in the fourth and capped a remarkable three-touchdown night that included scoring catches of 45 and 59 yards.

The following week, Davis hauled in seven catches for 113 yards in Senior High’s 51-10 loss to Massillon. Davis is the only receiver this season to top the century mark against the undefeated Tigers.

A week later, in the Ohio Cardinal Conference opener against three-time defending West Holmes, Davis returned a kick 71 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter of a 38-28 win. It was the first OCC loss for the Knights since the pandemic-altered 2020 season.

“Amarr Davis is blessed by God with an unbelievable ability to play fast and explosive,” veteran Mansfield Senior coach Chioke Bradley said. “Whenever you can put speed in space and it’s a one-on-one situation, or even a one-on-two situation, there’s a 50-50 chance it’s going to be a big play or a touchdown.”

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Davis demonstrated his uncanny game-breaking ability again last week in a 14-6 win over Ashland. He took a handoff from quarterback Duke Reese on a jet sweep and raced around the right end, only to reverse his field and dart through the Ashland defense for a big gain that was nullified by penalty.

“You don’t coach that. Nobody is coaching that,” Bradley said. “We get players like that every so often, guys like Chek Washington and Angelo Grose and Jornell Manns. Amarr Davis is in that conversation.

“To be the all-time leader in every category at a premier position like receiver at a school like Mansfield Senior is unbelievable. It speaks for itself.”

Davis broke Washington’s career record of 1,884 receiving yards in the season-opener, a 35-14 loss to Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary. He surpassed Grose’s career mark of 139 receptions in the win over West Holmes and needs one touchdown catch to tie and two to pass Manns’ career mark of 20 scoring grabs.

“I never expected to break any of those records,” Davis said. “I’m blessed to be able to come out and perform every Friday night and show off my skills.”

Defensive coordinators around the OCC have spent more time game-planning for Davis. He had 17 receptions in Senior High’s three non-conference games, but only 14 so far in four OCC games.

“What a majority of the football-watching population doesn’t realize is he has two or three guys trying to defend him all the time,” first-year offensive coordinator Matt Albert said. “He has an ability to make plays out of nothing, which not a lot of kids can do.

“He has evolved from the start of the season until now. His overall football knowledge has improved.”

Davis had just four catches for 43 yards in last week’s closer-than-expected win over Ashland. He had a pair of drops that might have resulted in big plays.

“He had a few drops and he owned it,” Bradley said. “We’ve got a group message for the offense and he got on there after last week’s game and said, ‘I’ve got to get better.’ 

“When the program’s all-time receiver is telling the other kids who don’t have the same gifts as him that he wasn’t good enough, that sends a message to everybody else.”

Despite all of his video game highlights, Davis is still waiting for a Division I scholarship offer. Bradley said Davis is the victim of a recruiting system in need of fixing.

“The transfer portal kills high school kids like Amarr Davis,” Bradley said. “The high school kid who isn’t a four-star or five-star recruit gets left behind.

“If this was six years ago, Amarr would be a Division I college recruit based off of last year’s film. Never mind all of the explosive plays he’s put on film this year.”


Davis was an All-Ohio first-team pick in Division III as a defensive back last fall. He had nine interceptions as the Tygers reached the Region 10 semifinals.

As good as he is defensively, Davis’ future is likely on the offensive side of the ball.

“All the coaches I’ve talked to like him as a slot receiver,” Bradley said. “He’s a little short to be a cornerback. If he was a little bigger and a little thicker, he could be like Angelo Grose. 

“Amarr Davis, on the offensive side of the ball, has all those Angelo Grose intangible and he may be even a little more explosive.”

While a Division I offer has yet to materialize, Davis has a handful of offers from Division II programs. Several mid-major Division I programs have begun to sniff around.

“I just have to trust the process and see what comes,” Davis said. “I’ve been hearing a lot from big schools. Everybody just wants to see how this season turns out.”

Davis is in the unprecedented position to become a record-setter at two different schools. He attends Mansfield Christian, where he stars on the basketball team during the winter, but the small private school on Logan Road doesn’t offer football. As per Ohio High School Athletic Association rules, Davis is permitted to play football for the public school district where he resides.

A three-year starter for the Mansfield Christian basketball team, Davis has scored 1,268 career points. He will likely pass Jerry Cline (1,641) to become that program’s career scoring leader some time this winter.

So which sport does he prefer?

“Football, for sure,” Davis said. “Basketball is just something I do to keep me out of trouble during the winter.”

Before then, Davis and his football teammates have some unfinished business to take care of this fall. Mansfield Senior hasn’t won an OCC title since 2018.

“I remember, before my freshman year, working out with Cam Todd and Angelo Grose,” Davis said of two of the stars of Senior High’s 2019 state runner-up team. “They told me to work as hard as I can because it goes by quick.

“These four years have flown by.”

Regardless of how the season turns out, Bradley said Davis has a bright future.

“Amarr Davis has put in a lot of work to become the best version of himself,” Bradley said. “No matter where he ends up, somebody is going to get a steal.”