Former Howell head coach Cory Davies, who led the Rebels to their only state title in program history, is back in the Freehold Regional District as the new head coach at Freehold Township.

Davies was approved by the Board of Education on Wednesday night to take over for Mike D'Antonio, who stepped down after five seasons with the Patriots. Davies was the head coach at Howell for 21 years before stepping down in 2011. He led the Rebels to a school-record 11-1 season in 2007 that included the Central Jersey Group IV title, and his teams qualified for the playoffs in five of his last six seasons.

Former Howell head coach Cory Davies has returned to the head-coaching ranks in the Freehold Regional District as Freehold Township's new football coach. (Photo by Bill Normile)

Davies was most recently Lacey's offensive coordinator for the last three seasons, which including coaching his son, quarterback Conor Davies, this past fall. He is the architect of a high-octane, no-huddle spread that was among the Shore's most prolific offenses at Howell and Lacey. His older son, Ryan, set numerous Shore Conference passing records during Davies' final two years at Howell, and his quarterbacks for the Rebels led the Shore in passing yards five times after he installed the offense in 2005.

He inherits a program that has only made one state playoff appearance in its history back in 2001, has never won a state playoff game, and has not had a winning season since 2004 under former coach Dom Lepore, who is now an assistant at Manalapan. Among the Patriots' returning players is junior quarterback Jack O'Brien, who threw for 1,247 yards and nine touchdowns this fall.

Davies' hiring leaves Holmdel as the only current coaching vacancy in the Shore.