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Game of the Week: Hilliard Darby vs. Hilliard Davidson Preview

By Danny Fogarty, 09/09/21, 9:00AM EDT


A preview of this year's fourth Game of the Week between Hilliard Darby and Hilliard Davidson.

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- When John Hilliard founded the town that bore his name in 1852, it was only known for railways and trains.

Hilliard never would have imagined what would make his town special over 150 years later: high-powered football. 

Hilliard Darby will take a short ride to Hilliard Davidson Friday night in a game that pits two undefeated in-city rivals against each other.

The game is expected to draw crowds from both bases to the game as the rivals try to stay unbeaten.

Davidson coach Jeremy Scally said that his players are looking forward to Friday's game and how a crowd affects how energetic his players are.

"I think our kids are certainly cited," Scally said. "Does the environment give you a little bit of energy? Yes, absolutely."

Darby coach John Santagata said that wants to keep his current game plan as his team is used to playing in high-steaks contests.

"We've played in a lot of big games over the years," Santagata said. "I don't really we don't really do anything different, to be honest."

The last time these teams met was Week 1 of last year when Davidson narrowly won 17-13 on the road against Darby.

Santagata said that, rather than focusing on last year's game, he wants to look at how his team has played thus far in 2021.

"I think we need to learn from our previous three games of this season," Santagata said. "I think the important thing is to improve upon from our last game."

Santagata said he would specifically like to cut down on the number of offensive penalties and fumbles his team had during last Friday's win against Westerville South.

Hilliard Davidson running back Charlie Williams rushes for a big gain in a 2020 game against Olentangy Liberty.

In its first three games, Darby has beaten two teams who currently have winning records in Hilliard Bradley and Westerville South.

Davidson, on the other hand, has beaten three teams who all have losing records and just won win overall between them.

Scally said that his team is not blind to Darby's tough schedule and impressive wins thus far while also stressing that all that matters is scoring more points than their opponent on Friday night.

"We're not ignorant to the to the fact that you know they (Darby) have some pretty quality wins," Scally said. "But to our kids' credit, we talked to them a lot this year about just scoring one more point than your opponent."

Santagata said that although his team could be confident in their wins against competitive teams this year, he wants to focus more on what they can do to progress.

"I think I'd be very careful having confidence," Santagata said. "We need to focus on what we can control and improve on the mistakes we made."

While Davidson's sins may not seem as great as Darby's, what cannot be questioned is the effectiveness of the Wildcats' run game.

As a team, Davidson has averaged 290 rushing yards after its first three games.

Scally said that even before the conversation about Davidson's running backs begins, their veteran offensive line must be recognized for its impact on the team.

"I think our running backs will be the first to say this to you," Scally said. "Before you mention the running backs, you have four returning starters senior offensive line."

Scally also said that his team's run game is simple in that their main goal is to keep the other team off the field by having long drives that end on touchdowns.

Santagata's main goal on offense will similarly be to run the ball and prevent Davidson's offense from getting on the field.

"Our offense wants to keep those running backs on the sidelines as much as possible," Santagata said. "That would mean controlling the clock with our running game as as best we can."

On Friday night at 7:00 p.m., Davidson's stadium will host the two undefeated titans of John Hilliard's namesake town.

When it was founded, there were only 280 residents living in Hilliard.

While its population of over 28,000 today may not all fit inside Hilliard Davidson Stadium, the packed crowd will no doubt surpass its founding population and then some.

The only question is: who will rule Hilliard this year?