Hillliard Darby keeps win in perspective
As students from their school celebrated on the field, members of the Hilliard Darby High School football team kept their 17-3 win over host Hilliard Davidson on Aug. 31 in perspective.
Panthers coach John Santayana and his players realize they still have a long road ahead in their pursuit of a Division I, Region 3 playoff berth.
"Right now, we just have to keep our heads up," senior running back Caleb Day said. "With this win, we can't get cocky. We worked during the summer and it showed out here."
Darby ended four seasons of frustration against Davidson, as the Wildcats had won the previous four meetings when the teams were in the OCC-Central Division together. All four of those games were played the final week of the season.
As part of OCC realignment this summer, Darby moved to the OCC-Cardinal.
The Panthers won the first game in the series, 21-10 at Crew Stadium in opening week of the 2007 season.
"It's been some time since we've able to beat them," Santagata said. "I'm just proud of our kids, proud of their effort. It was a great win for us."
The loss snapped Davidson's 23-game regular-season winning streak. The Wildcats' previous regular-season loss came against Dublin Coffman, 10-7 in week eight of the 2009 season.
Students from both schools were boisterous throughout the game. Numerous students from Darby walked in unison from Darby to Davidson before the game.
"We had great support," Santagata said. "Our kids came out to support us. It's exciting to see how many kids were here cheering and going crazy. That's a lot of school pride. I'm proud of them."
"That was real special," Panthers senior quarterback Chase Long well said of the Darby students' unison march to Davidson. "It really shows that they care, and it's just an amazing thing."
Day, a University of Illinois recruit, rushed for 94 yards on eight carries and scored two touchdowns, including a 50-yard run early in the second half that gave the Panthers a 14-3 lead. The score was set up by a 45-yard kickoff return by Day.
"This (win) means a lot," Day said. "The Darby school and community were looking forward to this game. They were counting on us to win this game. I'd like to thank the coaches and everybody because they put in a hell of an effort."
Darby's defense contained Davidson's ground attack for most of the game. The Panthers had a 195-141 advantage in rushing yards.
"Davidson is a great football team, a great program," Santagata said. "We were able to run the football, which is what both teams want to do."
Junior running back Demetrius Clark led Davidson's offense, rushing for 57 yards on 11 carries. Junior quarterback Nick Isle completed three of seven passes for 64 yards and rushed for 50 yards on 11 carries.
The Wildcats' lone score was set up a Darby miscue in the first quarter, as the long snap on fourth down sailed over the head of punter Nate Green, giving Davidson first-and-goal at the Panthers 5-yard line. Darby's defense, however, kept the Wildcats out of the end zone, forcing Davidson to settle for a 22-yard field goal by Jack Johns.
"Darby outplayed us, they outcoached us and I'm quite certain over the past month they have out-practiced us, and it showed up (Aug. 31)," Davidson coach Brian White said.
White doesn't want his team dwelling on the loss to Darby. Nor does he want his players focusing on their home game against Beavercreek on Friday, Sept. 7, or their OCC-Central opener Sept. 14 at Dublin Coffman.
The Wildcats' primary focus should be on improving, White said.
"We can't worry about Darby, we can't worry about Coffman, we can't worry about Beavercreek," he said. "We have to worry about ourselves. If we take care of ourselves and continue to make steady improvements, then I think hopefully things will take care of themselves."