MAYFLOWER — Initially in seeking his career path, Mayflower coach Jed Davis thought he would have to either become a youth minister or a coach.

"Then, I decided why not do both?" he said.

Thus, Davis’ philosophy in the Mayflower program is built on establishing long-term relations that include team bonding, community relationships and spiritual development.

"It’s not just about football," he said. "It’s about everything else. It’s about giving back to the community."

It’s mandatory for the Mayflower Eagles to participate in community service projects such as picking up trash and helping build a Habitat for Humanity house.

Mayflower also has a father-son retreat. During the summer at Malvern, there’s a five-day "Band of Brothers" camp of team-building exercises.

"Those exercises help build relationships," he said. "In the ‘Band of Brothers’ camp, they have nobody but each other. Football is great. Winning is great and a lot of fun, but it’s not what we’re about."

Davis says his program is bits and pieces of some from others he has experienced — from former coaches to the movie, "Remember the Titans."

Each year, he selects a team Bible verse for players to wear on their helmets and wristbands.

In the process of building a successful football team, he is trying to change a mindset and a culture — one player, one team at a time.

"A lot of our players do not have Dads in their lives," he said. "We need to build the players up so the cycle doesn’t repeat itself."

It’s football-plus. Over the long term, the plus will likely prove more important than the football.

(Sports columnist David MCCollum can be reached at 505-1235 or david.mccollum@thecabin.net)