Hilliard Davidson High School football coach Brian White said his team's preparation this week has a different feel from other weeks.
The Wildcats play host to Dublin Coffman on Friday, Sept. 20, in the OCC-Central Division opener for both teams.
"When you get to practice on Monday, it's one of those deals when you know you have to be a little more focused," White said.
"You know who's coming up and you know how good (the Shamrocks) are, no matter what the records are. You have to be able to compete your best on Friday night."
White's point was proven last season, as Coffman blew out Davidson 33-10 in the fourth week of the regular season but the Wildcats avenged the loss by beating the Shamrocks 17-14 in the first round of the Division I, Region 3 playoffs.
"Last year, I thought we had a pretty average team and they beat us in the regular season and we were able to come back and knock them off in the playoffs when I thought they had an outstanding team," White said.
Coffman and Davidson split their first six meetings when both school districts had only one high school. Dublin opened its second high school, Scioto, in 1995 and Hilliard followed suit two years later when Darby opened. Since then, Davidson is 14-7 against Coffman, including a 3-2 edge in the postseason.
The Wildcats improved to 3-0 with a 35-7 victory over host Beavercreek on Sept. 13. That same night, the Shamrocks dropped to 1-2 with a 26-17 loss at Canton McKinley, a perennial state power.
Coffman has more of a run-based offense this season as it is going through a transition at quarterback. James Walsh, a two-year starter who now plays for Boston College, graduated and was replaced by junior Ben Beckett, who started the first two games but was benched in favor of sophomore Gunnar Hoak in the second half of a 30-17 loss to Dublin Scioto on Sept. 6. Hoak started against McKinley and is expected to start against Davidson.
Hoak has completed 17 of 40 passes for 143 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions, and Beckett is 13-for-26 passing for 113 yards and one touchdown.
Senior running back Dre Kendrick is the Shamrocks' leading rusher with 486 yards and one touchdown on 82 carries.
"Psychologically, we're in good shape," Coffman coach Mark Crabtree said of his team's record. "We have made our share of mistakes, but if we can cut down on those and play with effort, we'll be OK.
"Our players recognize our situation of playing a lot of new guys. We have to continue to play with maximum effort and fight our way through it."
Davidson's option offense is led by senior fullback D.D. Clark, who has rushed for 313 yards and three touchdowns on 44 carries. Senior slotback Phillipie Motley, who has verbally committed to the University of Pittsburgh, has 236 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries and junior running back Markus Bailey has 109 yards and three scores on 32 carries.
Senior quarterback Nick Iske is 5-for-11 passing for 93 yards and one touchdown. He connected with Motley on a 25-yard touchdown pass against Beavercreek.
"(The Wildcats) still kind of grind it out and run the ball, but (Iske) gives them the ability to throw the ball a little more," Crabtree said. "You basically have to not do anything crazy defensively, so (that) if they beat you, you have to make them earn it."