According to Hilliard Davidson High School football coach Brian White, 6-foot-1, 235-pound senior linebacker and tight end Alex Backenstoe embodies the traits he looks for in a player.
"He's just a hard-working kid that really loves to come and be here and loves his teammates," White said. "The coaches all love him, and that's what we win a lot of games with."
With Backenstoe helping to lead the way, Davidson is off to a 2-0 start, including a 21-0 win at Darby on Sept. 6. Last season, he was named second-team all-district in Division I on defense and first-team all-OCC-Central Division.
As the Leo linebacker, Backenstoe lines up across from the tight end and is looked upon to rush the quarterback and stop the run. He credits 2009 graduate Tyler Backstrom, a former player at the position and current assistant coach, for his success.
"Coach Backstrom has been a great mentor to me because he knows where it's coming from and before me Sammy Coles," Backenstoe said. "I've just had a lot of great role models to try and model myself after."
Backenstoe not only plays a key role on defense, but he provides solid contributions on offense in the Wildcats' run-oriented power running game.
"He's really good," White said. "He's an intelligent kid. ... Our tight end position is really complex in terms of all the things he has to know, and he grasps it really well. He plays a ton of downs for us at two very physically demanding positions."
White compared Backenstoe with former Wildcats who played both positions, including 2011 graduate Keith Heitzman, who is a starter at defensive end for the University of Michigan.
"He doesn't have the 6-4, 245-pound stature that Keith Heitzman did, but he affects the game just like Keith did," White said. "He plays the same positions and does a lot of the same things Keith did.
"Unfortunately, Alex is 6-1 and 230 instead of 6-4, 245, but he's a phenomenal kid. He's just a neat, fun kid to coach and a great person as well."
Backenstoe appears destined to play at the college level like Heitzman. He has received interest from several schools and White expects that interest to increase as the season progresses.
Davidson will put its undefeated record on the line when it visits Beavercreek on Friday, Sept. 13.
Last season, the Wildcats edged the Beavers 14-13, thwarting a two-point conversion attempt late in the game to secure the win.
Beavercreek lost to Fairfield 21-7 in its opener Aug. 30 but bounced back to defeat Dayton Carroll 41-0 on Sept. 6.
The Beavers' defense features linebacker Airius Moore, a 6-1, 215-pound senior who was named defensive Player of the Year in the Greater Western Ohio Conference last season and has drawn multiple scholarship offers. Among the colleges pursuing him are Illinois, Indiana, Cincinnati and Marshall. Senior quarterback Mike Berry (6-3, 219) has made a commitment to Toledo.
Last season, Beavercreek finished 7-3 overall and 4-1 in the GWOC Central Division to share the league title with Clayton Northmont.