GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Sincere Davis’ coaches, teammates and classmates haven’t had trouble remembering him since his death was announced in March.
"I can just see images of him daily, smiling. He had this great, beautiful smile,” said Jared Rolfes, Page High School Varsity Football Coach. “He would just look at you and smile. Kind of make you melt."
Though thoughts of his cheerful face emerge unprovoked, evidence of his commitment to his team, and his passion, are preserved through videos his coaches are tasked with reviewing.
"He's on every single film,” Rolfes said. “I mean, number 26 lines up and catches a ball, runs a ball in every single film."
Months after the 18-year-old senior captain took his final snap in a Pirates uniform, classmates say Davis was at a gathering at an apartment complex on North Elm Street in Greensboro when he was shot in the head.
"It was very emotional. I didn't know how to take it at first. I just kind of shut down,” said Javondre Paige, 2019 senior quarterback. "I try not to ask God why."
Ten days later, it was announced that Davis had died at the hospital. Greensboro police ruled his death a homicide.
"Just having been a part of how our school was impacted on those days when he did pass, you just saw the significance of who he was as a person,” Rolfes said.
As the coaches prepared their plans for the 2019 season, they also contemplated how they should honor their fallen former foreman.
“There's always a kid on the team, teams that I've coached every year that I kind of joke around with or kind of pick on, and he was that guy,” Rolfe added, of his relationship with Davis.
Through conversations with Davis’ family, with input from coaches and players, the team decided to dedicate their season theme to him, adopting the motto “26 Strong.”
"He set the standard so high for everyone else, throughout the season, in the classroom and in the weight room,” Paige said.
The front of each of the player's helmets will feature a sticker with the number 26 and it will also be on the coaches’ gear.
But, most significantly, a different player will wear the number 26 for each of the team’s games.
"Wearing the number 26 moving forward is a really big deal now,” Rolfes said.
Senior Jerome Roy wore number 26 during Page’s first game at Davie High.
Before the game, the team remembered Davis in private.
"We took the entire team, as another way to honor him and his family, to the cemetery last week before we played Davie County and just allowed a few people to talk and speak and just spend some time," Rofles said. "There were some kids that it definitely struck, and you could tell their emotions were in a different place as they kind of reflected on him. And his headstone is in place now and it's beautiful,."
Along with the “26 Strong” theme, the team will focus on three core values and three additional things that encompass who Davis was as a student-athlete, Rolfes said.
"Just an all-around good student,” Rolfes said, of Davis, who was taking AP classes during his senior year. “A model for what we want in student-athletes."
On Friday, before the Pirates play their first home game against Northern Guilford, Davis’ parents will walk down to the field with the player chosen to wear number 26.
That player will be announced on Thursday.
"We know who we're playing for,” Paige said.
At the end of the season, Rolfes says, a scholarship will be given in Davis’ honor.
Greensboro police have not released any suspect information in connection to Davis’ death, adding that the investigation is still open but could not offer any new details.