Hilliard Davidson High School football coach Brian White has participated in each of the Wildcats' first three games against Hilliard Darby.

Hilliard Davidson High School football coach Brian White has participated in each of the Wildcats' first three games against Hilliard Darby.

White said the hype and intensity level for those contests was special. The Panthers won the first meeting 21-10 in Columbus Crew Stadium in 2007, the Wildcats won the rematch 21-14 in Crew Stadium in 2008, and Davidson hammered the Panthers 42-0 at Darby last year.

Yet, a lot more will be at stake Friday when Davidson plays host to Darby in its own stadium for the first time.

The Wildcats, who beat Upper Arlington 34-7 last Friday to improve to 9-0 overall and 6-0 in the OCC-Central Division, would win the OCC-Central title outright with a win.

The Panthers, who pounded Westland 42-13 last Friday to improve to 8-1 overall and 5-1 in the OCC-Central, could win a share of a league title for the first time since 2007 and only the second time in its history.

"It's always a big deal when you play your sister school in your own district, but there's a lot more riding on this game than community pride," White said. "Combined, these are the best teams we've ever had going up against each other, with a 17-1 record between us. This game will decide the OCC championship, and it's a huge game for both of us, because we don't want to share the title and they want to win a share of it."

The game also has major playoff implications. Davidson is ranked second in the Division I Region 3 computer point standings with a 24.7839 average, ahead of sixth-place Darby (19.1278 average).

A win would assure the Wildcats of playing host to a playoff game, as they did last year en route to winning the state title.

"We really want to get a home playoff game, because our coaches stress that great teams play great at home, and we want to start the playoffs on the right track," Davidson senior quarterback Jimmy Curtis said.

With a victory, Darby would match the 2007 team for most wins in a regular season and lock down a spot in the Region 3 playoffs.

The Panthers are coming off a season in which they finished 3-6 overall and 0-5 in the OCC-Central.

"We've already got the second-most number of wins in Darby history, but we want more," Darby senior quarterback Matt Allen said. "We're both in a position to make the playoffs, win or lose, but this game will affect both teams' positioning, so it's equally important to both of us. Davidson's the best program in central Ohio, and a win over them would be the biggest win of our season."

Allen said he and Davidson senior center Logan Backstrom send text messages to each other after every game.

Darby senior linebacker Matt Cyrus played for the Memorial Middle School football team alongside several of Davidson's starters, including Backstrom, Curtis and senior tight end/linebacker Keith Heitzman.

"It's going to be a special game, because a lot of us grew up together and we know them better than most teams," Cyrus said. "Logan Backstrom and I have known each other since kindergarten and I played with a lot of their guys in middle school."

Even though the OCC-Central championship is on the line, Curtis said earning community bragging rights is still an important aspect of the game.

"This is definitely huge for us, because it's going to be our senior night and its going to be the first time we've ever played Darby in our own stadium," Curtis said.

"We see them around Hilliard all the time, and we definitely want to have bragging rights when we run into them. A lot of us played football together in middle school, and when we see our old teammates on the field, sometimes we'll give each other this little grin because it feels like the old days. But once the game starts, no one's thinking about friendships anymore."