As individuals, they could not be more different.
As individuals, they could not be more different.
On the field, Katy High senior running back Jalen Davis will run over a linebacker and then outrun everyone else, using power to set up his next move. His younger half-brother, sophomore running back Seth Davis, will outrun the linebacker, wait for him to catch up, and then stiff-arm him as he continues his jaunt, not unlike a play he pulled off in a win against Mayde Creek earlier this season. Seth uses agility to set up his next move.
Off the field, Jalen is outgoing and sociable, always up for a hangout at Katy Mills Mall, while Seth is quiet and has the same few friends he’s had since the sixth grade, more comfortable playing video games at a friend’s house than going anywhere public.
Together, however, they form the dynamic, versatile and athletically gifted backfield for the No. 9 state-ranked Tigers (11-1). Following in a distinguished line of premier Katy running backs, including stars like Aundre Dean, Kyle Porter, Adam Taylor, Rodney Anderson, and Deondrick Glass, the Davis brothers are asserting themselves this season as two of the best ballcarriers to wear the red and white.
The 5-foot-10, 180-pound Jalen, the Tigers’ No. 1 back, has 1,298 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns, averaging 8.3 yards per carry. The 5-6, 150-pound Seth has 1,469 yards and 15 touchdowns, averaging 8.6 yards per carry.
In large part because of the Davis brothers’ prolific production, the Tigers find themselves two wins away from their ninth state championship. The first step comes Saturday against Buda Hays (10-3) in the state semifinal at 2 p.m. at McLane Stadium in Waco.
“Get to state, win state. That’s our main goal,” Seth said. “Get that chance to play at (AT&T) Stadium.”
If Katy is to get there, the Davis brothers will have a lot to do with it. As the boys’ father, Don Davis, likes to say, Jalen brings the “thunder.” Seth is the “lightning.”
“They complement each other as well as any tandem backs we’ve had,” coach Gary Joseph said. “They’re very unselfish. They don’t care who gets the yards or attention, as long as we get the win.”
Indeed, the brothers could not care less about stats or individual recognition.
“We don’t get into all that,” Jalen said. “We just run, and we just play football like we’ve learned to do it.”
Five times this season, Jalen and Seth have each rushed for at least 100 yards in the same game; that’s occurred twice in three playoff games (in the other playoff game, Jalen fell a yard short at 99 yards). In the Tigers’ 51-14 win over Clear Falls in the Class 6A-Division II regional final on Jan. 2, Jalen ran for 120 yards and two touchdowns and Seth ran for 170 yards and two touchdowns. The brothers scored Katy’s first three offensive touchdowns and combined for four of the Tigers’ six overall.
“The biggest thing of any game is to come out strong and put the other team on their heels,” Seth said. “That’s what we do, and that’s where things start for us.”
Jalen shared carries last season with Ron Hoff, but when Hoff suffered a significant injury during the bi-district playoff win against Ridge Point, Jalen emerged into his own.
He had 217 yards and two touchdowns against Ridge Point. He had 101 yards in an area win over Cy-Fair. He had 44 yards and a touchdown on eight carries in a regional semifinal loss to eventual state champion North Shore.
“He’s had a lot of competition,” said Don’s wife Michelle, Jalen’s stepmom and Seth’s mother. “Every time he was supposed to be next in line, there was always someone there, too. So, in the face of competition, in the face of all of that, Jalen embraces the challenge and pushes extra hard to do what he needs to do to compete.”
Jalen has scored on the Tigers’ first play from scrimmage on a game’s opening drive six times this season. Before an opponent’s offense can even snap the ball, that team often finds itself in a deficit because of Jalen’s propensity for the home-run play.
“(Katy running backs) Coach (Kevin) Garvin has never doubted Jalen, from day one,” Don said. “He’s always tried to get everyone to believe in Jalen as a No. 1 running back. He has a bond with Jalen like no coach I’ve ever seen, and Seth has the same bond with Coach Joseph.”
Joseph appreciates the underdog temperament of his precocious youngster. Seth already had an unmatched work ethic and drive. Through Jalen, he’s learned how to work even harder and how to see the field better.
“Seth’s a competitor,” Joseph said. “He doesn’t worry about how big he is or anything like that. He just wants to compete. That’s a great thing. It inspires a lot of kids when you have one that size who runs that hard and plays that well. It can inspire your team, and he does.”
Jalen takes pride in his brother’s success.
“I love to watch him come out with confidence, hitting and coming out with a boom,” Jalen said.
Because of Seth’s success, Joseph was able to use Jalen conservatively during the regular season, keeping him fresh for these playoffs. Seth even has the slight upper hand in carries, 169 to 157, despite Jalen being the starter.
“He’s just now getting the light shined on him, but this is what I expected,” Jalen said. “He’s letting everyone see who he is.”
Seth’s diminutive frame can make a skeptic out of any fan, and even college coaches. Don admits that has been the case. But those in or close to the Katy program know better.
Don said, “dynamite comes in small packages.” Michelle reminds her son of another overlooked, inspiring individual who conquered giants.
“I tell him he’s like David versus Goliath,” Michelle said. “David didn’t care about his size; he knew who was for him. When he’s out there, Seth keeps God first. In the meantime, he’s just got to keep working hard.”
Both boys grew up with church as their foundation. It explains their morals and values. Their respect for others had been instilled long ago. But Don credits Joseph for their team mindset and unselfishness on the field.
“When they come home, the talk is not about how many yards or touchdowns they had,” Don said. “They right away go to the video and watch the Hudl, seeing what they did wrong. It’s about if they won, if they made the right block, if they missed any assignments. That’s not coming from me. That’s from Coach Joseph.
“In March, when the pandemic hit, and older people were going to the grocery store at different times than the younger people, Seth was like, ‘Dad, we can’t go to practice. We might get Coach Joseph sick. He’s high-risk.’ I was like, ‘Damn, that kid really loves his coach.’ So, the kids don’t worry about themselves. Every kid on this team is like that, which is why I think we can go far. They think about Coach Joseph and getting what they want out of each game. The goal is to keep playing football.”
This season’s march to the state semifinals has been remarkable, with Katy having to overcome so much, from bouts with COVID-19 to drama off the field during the regular season to season-ending injuries to key starters.
Michelle hinted it could be a season of fate.
“They weren’t even supposed to play together this season,” Michelle said. “Seth was supposed to be on the JV.”
After every game, Michelle has Jalen and Seth sign a football that she’s keeping as a memento for when they are older. Each boy signs it with the date the game was played, against whom and with their stats and a scripture.
It’s a memory for them to have years from now, acknowledging the special season when they played together. One that, if Jalen and Seth have their way, ends with winning the last game of the season at AT&T Stadium on Jan. 16.
“I love they’ve had the opportunity to play together and it’s been such a blessing,” Michelle said. “The opportunity of them possibly winning state? Even more of a blessing.”