Staff Photo: Jason Braverman
Hebron Christian's Christian Davila, who transferred from Winder-Barrow, has lead the Lions to a 3-1 start.
In a day and age when so many talented high school athletes transfer to play at perennial powerhouses, Christian Davila's decision to move from Winder-Barrow to Hebron Christian can be seen in a different light.
Sure, athletics played a small role in the two-sport standout's decision -- the relationships Lions football coach Brian Smith and baseball coach Heath Kennedy have with people in their respective sports at the next level won't hurt his chances of being recruited.
However, it went far beyond athletics.
"It was a family decision," Davila said. "We knew some people at Hebron and figured it would be a good place to go. Probably, the (bigger) challenge with my school work is the thing I've noticed the most."
It's doubtful many people in Davila's situation would have chosen to come to Hebron simply for athletics, considering that playing a non-region schedule, the football team will not be participating in the postseason this fall.
And the 6-foot-1, 185-pound senior admits it is tough for someone with his competitive nature to not have a playoff berth to shoot for.
"At first, it was hard to deal with," Davila admitted. "But we set goals for each game and try to get better with each game."
Davila has achieved that goal over the last two seasons.
After throwing for 2,083 yards -- which would've trailed only South Gwinnett's Kent Rollins among Gwinnett County quarterbacks -- on 173 of 281 passes with 18 touchdowns last year at Winder-Barrow, he has picked up where he left off.
Davila is again near the top of the county's passing leaders this year, completing 65 of 107 attempts for 955 yards, with 12 TDs in helping the Lions to a 3-1 record so far.
He has also been a factor on the ground, running for 165 yards and four TDs on 66 carries.
And his addition to the team has allowed Smith to move both members of last year's quarterback tandem -- Matt Pursell and Paul Stinespring -- to better utilize their talents.
Pursell is among Davila's top receiving targets with 15 receptions for 149 yards and five TDs, while Stinespring is the Lions' leading tackler on defense with 30 combined stops and assists.
However, Smith is quick to point out that Davila brings much more than his skills to the Lions' program.
"It helps to have a kid like him who comes in from a bigger program who knows how to practice and do all the little things," Smith said of Davila. "For us to see the example he sets for the rest of the team is big.
"Christian understands film study. He's used to doing that and competing the way you have to do in practice, not taking any plays off and making every rep the best you have. His motor's been on since he's been here. ... It's refreshing to have someone to help lead the team."
It hasn't been that difficult for Davila to fit right in as a team leader for Hebron's football team.
After all, he had all spring and summer to get to know his new Lions teammates.
Baseball, however, was a different matter, especially with preseason workouts beginning just weeks after he enrolled at Hebron.
"At first, it was awkward being the new kid," Davila said. "The only person I really knew was (fellow senior and first-team all-county shortstop) Danny (Lockhart). But after a few practices, I started to fit in."
He definitely began to fit into the Lions' batting order with a breakout season that saw him earn second-team all-county honors.
He led Gwinnett County with 25 stolen bases and 50 runs scored and placed in the top five in average (.478), home runs (11) and RBIs (46), as well as going 5-0 on the mound in helping Hebron to the Region 8-A championship.
Davila is attracting plenty of attention from college programs in both sports.
Valdosta State, Troy and Tennessee-Martin have shown interest in him in football, while Augusta State has already offered him a scholarship in baseball and several other programs have shown interest after his performance at various camps and showcase events over the summer.
As to which sport he sees himself playing at the next level -- if not both -- Davila isn't really sure yet.
"People actually know me more from football," Davila said. "But I've actually been playing baseball longer. ... (Last spring) was my best high school (baseball) season, and (former major leaguer and Danny Lockhart's father) Keith Lockhart as my hitting coach really helped."