At 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds, Sam Coles might not look like the prototypical "Leo" linebacker on the Hilliard Davidson High School football team's defense.

At 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds, Sam Coles might not look like the prototypical "Leo" linebacker on the Hilliard Davidson High School football team's defense.

But while he lacks size, he does not lack determination, coach Brian White said.

Coles is one of the reasons why the Wildcats have started 4-0 after beating Thomas Worthington 33-0 at home Sept. 23. It was the team's second consecutive shutout, as Davidson defeated Westland 64-0 on Sept. 16. The Wildcats have allowed 14 points in four games.

"He has worked so hard over the last four years to make himself into the athlete that he is," White said of Coles. "He's like one of those special kids that just does everything right in the classroom, has great character and has been so committed to the weight room in the offseason, in addition to playing baseball in the spring."

Coles, who shares captain duties with fellow seniors Chase Delande, Jake Himmeger and Dylan Skaggs, follows a line of players who have enjoyed success at what White calls the team's most crucial defensive position.

In the team's defensive scheme, the "Leo" is lined up on the tight end. He must be able to rush the quarterback and also stop the run.

Keith Heitzman played the position the previous two seasons and helped the Wildcats win the program's second Division I state title in 2009 with a 15-14 win over Cleveland Glenville.

Last season, Davidson reached a state semifinal before losing 28-14 to Huber Heights Wayne and quarterback Braxton Miller, who is now a freshman quarterback at Ohio State.

The 6-3, 235-pound Heitzman is now a freshman defensive lineman at the University of Michigan.

J.B. Strahler played the position during the program's first state title season in 2006, helping the Wildcats beat Mentor 36-35 in double overtime in the championship game. Strahler graduated in 2007 and went on to play football at Ashland and Ohio universities.

Tyler Backstrom, who graduated in 2009, also excelled at the position. Backstrom is a junior at Ohio, where he plays on the baseball team.

Coles played defensive end last season and studied Heitzman closely as he prepared for the move to "Leo" this season.

"Keith and Sammy really complemented each other very well last year," White said. "Keith obviously was a tremendous player. That 'Leo' position is where we try to put our better defensive players. Keith commanded a lot of respect from our opponents and they had to account for Keith, so it enabled Sammy to really develop a lot last year. He was able to get by without much recognition and when Keith graduated it was our intention to move Sammy over to 'Leo' and it has worked out pretty well so far."

"So far, I haven't really felt that important because on our defense everybody has to do their job and work together," Coles said. "We have been doing a really good job, so I really haven't felt that much pressure."

Coles also contributes on offense, where he plays tight end and blocks for the team's run-oriented attack.

As a sophomore, Coles was in uniform during the team's state title run, but did not play in the championship. After the Wildcats fell short of a state title last year, Coles hopes to cap his Davidson career by helping the team reach another state final.

"All of our seniors have to have their best year as seniors," Coles said. "We just have to get better every week, every day in practice."

Coles has been a versatile player on the school's baseball team, pitching in addition to playing catcher, infielder and outfielder.

Football, however, is his first love.

"I would say I like football better," Coles said. "It seems like we're more of a family in football."

Coles also excels in the classroom, where he has a 4.2 grade-point average that ranks 14th in the class. He has been contacted by Ivy League schools Brown, Harvard and Penn.