Week 4: Fairfield Prep (2-1) at Sheehan (3-0), 6:30 p.m.
WALLINGFORD — Lightning struck the same place twice last Friday night. Jordan Davis caught two Wes Terzi passes for 70 yards and both went for touchdowns in Sheehan’s 62-20 rout of Guilford.
“First touchdowns of the year, it felt really good,” Davis said Thursday. “Finally, it felt like I’m back.”
When Wallingford police responded last March to a midafternoon accident on Highland Avenue between Route 68 and Buttonwood Circle, barely a mile from Sheehan’s campus, they discovered what remained of a 2009 Toyota Scion wrapped around a tree. The car looked like it had hit a land mine.
Their reaction had to be the same as anyone who saw the photographs in the media. How are those two boys — Jordan “Lightning” Davis and Tre Childers — still alive?
“It’s a miracle both came out and survived,” Sheehan coach John Ferrazzi said. “I’ll tell you. They had the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ with them that day.”
Ferrazzi says he finds himself reminding his Titans to be thankful for what they have, because — just like that — you never know what will happen. There always will be a simultaneous joie de vivre and naïve sense of immortality among our teenagers and every once in a while a reminder of the latter hits our state athletics like a sledgehammer. It happens in different ways, and two weeks ago it happened with the stabbing death of Enfield football player Justin Brady.
Davis, a good kid who was driving in ways he shouldn’t have been, suffered a badly broken right femur. The passenger, the guy Davis calls “my best friend in life,” nearly lost his. Childers suffered a collapsed lung and worse, life-threatening bleeding of the brain. After a long recovery, the great news is Childers is back in school full-time and doing well. He is not playing football.
“It took a toll on me for a while,” said Davis, 17, “but to know Tre is all right and doing really good helped ease that. Yeah, we’re best friends. He comes to games. For us, he’s a player that is hurt right now.”
The Titans take a 3-0 record into Friday night’s stern test against Fairfield Prep. They lead the state with 178 points. Terrence Bogan and Davis are known in area football circles as Thunder and Lightning. After 270 yards rushing against Guilford, Bogan already has 804 yards and 10 touchdowns. He’s averaging nearly 15 yards per carry.
Davis, who ran for 900 yards and amassed nearly 1,300 all-purpose yards in 2017, has had a slower statistical start. Yet it points to an inspired recovery. When you and your best bud have been extricated from a crushed tin can, merely getting back on the field is rather remarkable.
“Jordan’s road to recovery has been pretty impressive,” Ferrazzi said. “Really, he’s still in recovery.”
There were weeks and weeks of physical therapy, three, four, five days each week. Sheehan’s strength coach and athletic trainers worked hard to help him get ready. He was cleared first to practice and then cleared for contact.
“We were going to be patient, there was no rush,” Ferrazzi said. “We didn’t have any intention of activating him in Week One. But after two-three days of practice that week, we evaluated him and had him in our two-deep among a pretty deep group of receivers.
“I went to his mother and asked for her blessing to activate him for the game.”
Tammy Davis’ answer?
“Absolutely,” Ferrazzi said.
Davis has been brought along carefully. The junior has been playing more of a slot receiver than runner and a nickel/outside linebacker more than cornerback. The real Lightning? It’s on the horizon.
“He’s not all the way back, but he’s doing everything in his power to get there,” Ferrazzi said. “He’s such a competitor.”
“I’m definitely not 100 percent,” Davis said. “But I’m feeling really good, a lot more confident and stronger.”
Ferrazzi said Childers, also a junior, comes around often.
“He’s training, working out, everything seems to be going really well,” Ferrazzi said. “I don’t know what the future holds for him as far as football.”
The Titans coach pauses for a second and a small smile crosses his face.
“Tre’s personality is back,” Ferrazzi said. “He has that infectious smile. He’s so close with a lot of the guys. We’re just blessed to have them both.
“As parents, teachers, coaches, you’re trying to prepare these young people for the worst. To never allow them to think it won’t happen to them, and when it happens close it puts everything in perspective. That was a tough time. It was a healing process for the boys and their families and, really, for the school community. They’re not only athletes but they are really popular kids with a lot of friends. In times like that, you feel a tremendous outpouring of support.”
There were fundraisers to help with medical costs. There was emotional support, too. Yes, Wallingford did itself proud.
“The support was amazing,” Davis said. “Crazy.”
The tough part to talk about is that Davis was at an age where he wasn’t supposed to have Childers riding alone in the car with him. The police also deemed he was speeding and driving recklessly. The vehicle was not properly registered.
What has he learned?
“I learned not to be stupid, not to do dumb things,” Davis said. “I learned bad things can happen to anyone at any time. I matured a lot.”
Good things follow bad things. Seasons change. Spring football leads to summer passing league and on to camp. Ferrazzi’s thoughts about “Where do we go without them?” became “How do we adjust?” and, ultimately, “Getting Jordan back was a bonus.”
The Titans return 15 seniors, a lot for a school of Sheehan’s size. They lost only three starters from a team that advanced to the Class M playoffs before losing to Barlow. This is a really good football team. The Titans’ one regular-season loss in 2017 was to Fairfield Prep. The game was tied at 21 early in the fourth quarter before Class LL Prep ran off 17 unanswered points.
“We have a lot of upperclassmen and a lot of talent,” Davis said. “We’re just rolling with it.”
“Even though we lost that game, I think it’s a steppingstone to gain confidence we can compete with a team like that,” Ferrazzi said. “So here we are again. We’re going to learn a lot about who we are (Friday night).”
Jordan Davis believes he has learned something about himself.
“After what we went through, our families, our team, all the community,” Lightning said. “it’s very special to be out there on the football field.”