Davila Carving Out His Own AFL Legacy
Thursday May 1, 2014
When AFL Hall of Famer and Arizona Rattlers legend Sherdrick Bonner left the desert in 2007, his legacy was secure. The resume listed 14 seasons with two ArenaBowl titles, an ArenaBowl VIII MVP award, a spot among the Top 10 greatest AFL players ever and every meaningful Rattlers passing record.
In other words, pretty big shoes to fill.
I remember the day the Rattlers signed Nick Davila to possibly take the reins at quarterback. I wondered who this lanky, long-haired guy was. I vaguely remember him playing college ball at Cincinnati. He led the Spokane Shock
to an af2 ArenaCup title, but that was about it.
Fast forward about five years, and Davila has firmly established himself as the AFL's top gunslinger while building a legacy that could eventually eclipse that of Bonner. Rattlers Head Coach Kevin Guy
looks like an absolute genius for luring the quarterback away from the Shock.
Davila's numbers continue to be mind-boggling.
In 2014, the Latin Laser has 47 passing touchdowns against just four picks in leading the Rattlers to a 6-0 start as they seek a third straight ArenaBowl championship. Davila has thrown nearly as many touchdowns (47) as incompletions (57). He is on pace to have the highest single-season passer rating of his AFL career.
In his first four seasons with the Rattlers, Davila threw 442 touchdown passes with only 58 interceptions while completing more than 67 percent of his throws. His career passer rating of 123.64 is second-best in league history amongst qualified quarterbacks.
Less than five years into his AFL career, Davila ranks 10th all-time in TD passes. He is 12th in all-time completions and passing yards, while his accuracy has led to a completion percentage that is third in AFL history.
“Being in this system four or five years, I know where to go with the football,” Davila said April 24 on NBC Sports Radio 1060 Phoenix. “Our coaches do a great job and I've got a lot of confidence. But all eight guys on the field have to make plays and we have been doing that.”
The similarities between Davila and Bonner are remarkable. Both have won two AFL championships. Both throw from the left side. When Bonner interviews Davila during and after games, it is easy to see the pair have mutual respect for each other. And both embraced the desert as their second home after migrating from California.
But there are differences as well. One of Bonner's greatest attributes was his toughness and longevity. Bonner built his legacy in nearly 15 years while Davila has called the Snake Pit home for less than five campaigns. Bonner threw for more than 80 touchdowns in a season just three times in his career while Davila has thrown for more than 110 scores each of the last three years. He is now 11 TDs short of joining the 500 touchdown club.
While Bonner eclipsed 4,000 yards passing in a season just once, Davila has recorded four seasons of more than 4,800 passing yards for the Rattlers, including a 5,500-yard effort in 2012.
“We like to put on a show for the fans,” admitted Davila, whose Rattlers are 68-18 overall since he joined the team.
The Arizona quarterback keeps pushing himself to improve despite sitting on top of the AFL mountain.
Before this season, Davila hired a personal trainer to get his body in the best shape possible to endure the grind of an 18-game regular season plus the playoffs.
“I really focused this offseason on training my body,” Davila said. “I wanted to be in the best shape I could be.”
His offensive line has done a great job of protecting him this season, giving Davila time to find a receiving corps with an incredible amount of depth. Besides the household names of Maurice Purify and Rod Windsor, Davila has gotten big-play support from Nick Miller, Tysson Poots and Kerry Reed.
“Just look at the play Kerry made stepping in for Mo,” said Davila, referring to Reed's late game-winning touchdown at San Jose while subbing for an injured Purify. “It just goes to show we have some great depth with our wide receivers.”
The quarterback said despite winning the last two league titles and being undefeated in 2014, Arizona will not rest on its laurels. With Davila at the helm, a third straight championship could be on the horizon. A second league MVP award may also be in the cards. And who knows, there could eventually be a spot for Davila next to Bonner in the Hall of Fame.
“We have fallen in love with the process of becoming great,” Davila said. “Nothing is given to us. This team works hard. And the bottom line is winning and that's what we love to do.”
Matt Loeschman is the business editor/city reporter at the Williamson County Sun and a color commentator for SHN Sports in Georgetown, Texas. As a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, he bleeds burnt orange but is also an avid fan of the Arizona Rattlers, Arizona Diamondbacks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Dallas Stars, Texas Stars, Houston Rockets, Houston Dynamo and Austin Aztex. With nearly 20 years of experience in print journalism and radio, Matt has covered sports ranging from high school to the pros along with local news. He has followed the AFL since 2000. You can follow him on Twitter @MattLoeschman
The opinions expressed in the article above are only those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts, opinions, or official stance of ArenaFan Online or its staff, or the Arena Football League, or any AFL or af2 teams.