Football - Game of the Week
Davidson wary of Coffman attack
Coffman's Zac Fouche is dragged down by Jerome's Alex Linard on Aug. 24. In games Friday, Sept. 14, the Shamrocks will be host to Hilliard Davidson and the Celtics will be host to Hilliard Bradley.
The Hilliard Davidson High School football team's option offense has been known to run the ball, run the ball again and run the ball some more, taking time off the clock and keeping its opponent's offense on the sideline.
Despite employing a spread attack, Dublin Coffman has been even more effective on the ground this season than the Wildcats. That would seem to give the Shamrocks the advantage when they play host to Davidson on Friday, Sept. 14, even though the Wildcats have won the last three meetings, including a 14-0 victory last year.
The contest marks the OCC-Central Division opener for both teams.
Coffman, which improved to 3-0 with a 40-7 win over Massillon Perry on Sept. 7, is averaging 244 yards rushing per game and Davidson, which beat Beavercreek 14-13 on Sept. 7 to improve to 2-1, is averaging 196. The Shamrocks are averaging 171 yards passing and the Wildcats are averaging just under 40 yards through the air.
"I don't think the teams are as evenly matched as they have been in the past," Davidson coach Brian White said. "The games have been pretty close over the years, but they have a returning quarterback (senior James Walsh) who is pretty dynamic and they have a Division I offensive lineman (Ohio University recruit Zack Murdock) and a couple of players back on a big defensive line. They are a pretty good team."
The leading rusher for the Shamrocks is senior Bilal Williamson, a three-year starter who has run for 392 yards on 58 carries and seven touchdowns. Walsh, also an Ohio recruit, has 231 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 32 carries.
Walsh also has completed 43 of 63 passes for 513 yards, five touchdowns and one interception. Senior Austen Rankin is the Shamrocks' leading receiver with 13 catches for 83 yards. Senior Zac Fouche is next with 10 receptions for 169 yards and two touchdowns, followed by senior Tony Woodford with nine catches for 113 yards and one touchdown and Williamson with seven receptions for 115 yards and two scores.
"I know they try to be about 50-50 run to pass, but they might be more (run-oriented) this year because they have a couple of good running backs," White said. "I think it's their quarterback that really makes the running game move."
Senior running back E.J. Jennings leads Davidson in rushing with 273 yards and four touchdowns on 60 carries. Junior running back D.D. Clark has 98 yards on 27 carries.
Junior quarterback Nick Iske is 6-for-11 passing for 119 yards with one touchdown, a 4-yarder to sophomore tight end Nick Potts. Senior Nick Waters is the Wildcats' leading receiver with three catches for 65 yards.
"Our defense has to get off the field," Coffman coach Mark Crabtree said. "That's their plan. They want to run the ball and take time off the clock and wear out your defense. We can't let that happen."
That was the case last season, as Davidson had 61 offensive plays, running the ball on all but one. The Wildcats rushed for 268 yards, including 177 yards on 48 carries for 2012 graduate Alex Mickley.
Coffman had 47 offensive plays, with 23 coming on the ground. Walsh finished 12-for-24 passing for 108 yards and had 17 yards rushing on six carries.
That game was played in week eight. This year the teams meet in week four.
"One main difference is we're playing earlier (in the season) than before," Crabtree said.
"We played them in the eighth week before and now it's four weeks sooner. But it really doesn't matter if the game is played in week one or week 10, the kids will be ready to play on both sides."
In the series, the teams split six meetings when both school districts had one high school. Dublin added a second high school (Scioto) in 1995 and Hilliard followed suit two years later (Darby). Since then, Davidson is 13-6 against Coffman. That includes four Division I playoff meetings, with each team winning two.
In Coffman's win over previously unbeaten Massillon Perry, Walsh completed 23 of 32 passes for 313 yards and three touchdowns and William-son rushed for 136 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries.
"I thought we did some good things on offense and, after the first quarter, our defense tightened up," Crabtree said. "We had too many penalties (13 for 155 yards) and that's something we're going to have to clean up. We have to make sure we stay in the game mentally."
Davidson rebounded from a 17-3 loss to Darby on Aug. 31 by edging Beavercreek. The Wildcats stopped a two-point conversion attempt late in the game to secure the win. Jennings had 87 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries.
"If anything, (the win over Beavercreek) gave us more confidence," White said. "The kids played hard and with a lot of heart. Hopefully, that will carry over into practice this week and when we take the field on Friday."