The Hilliard Davidson High School football team goes from playing against a similar opponent to facing a contrasting style as it looks to begin the season with a third consecutive shutout.
The Wildcats defeated Darby 14-0 on Aug. 31 in a battle of triple-option offenses. But on Friday, Sept. 7, they will play host to Bradley and its spread offense.>> Hilliard Davidson 14, Hilliard Darby 0 <<
"(The Jaguars) are a very different team from us and with Darby there are so many similarities," Wildcats coach Brian White said. "I don't know if you could be more different than what we are from Bradley. Darby runs the ball a lot and it's the same with us. (The Jaguars) want to throw the ball around a lot."
Both teams enter the game at 2-0. However, while Davidson has outscored its first two opponents 45-0, Bradley needed overtime to defeat Findlay 34-28 on Aug. 24 and edged Stow-Munroe Falls 20-19 on Aug 31 at Ashland University.
The Jaguars defeated Davidson 28-10 last season and hold a 2-1 edge in the all-time series. They also won 31-28 in 2016 after the Wildcats won 20-0 in 2015.
"We look forward to the rivalry with both Hilliard schools because it's great for the community and there will be big crowds," said Jaguars coach Mike LoParo, whose program swept Davidson and Darby each of the past two seasons. "Davidson has a great team this year with athletes all over the place. They have four Division I recruits on defense, which is probably why they have been so good this season."
Those four college prospects are senior defensive end Josiah Ezirim, senior linebackers Evan Annis and Ethan Royer and junior defensive end Gage Keyes.
"Their defense is really great and filled with super-talented athletes," LoParo said. "This is the most talent I have seen from them since they won the (Division I) state title in 2009."
Jordan Hicks has led Davidson's offense through two games with 195 yards rushing and four touchdowns on 37 carries. The senior running back had 111 yards and three touchdowns on 11 carries in a 31-0 win over Grove City on Aug. 24.
Senior running back Christian Sweet has 117 yards rushing on 24 carries, and senior quarterback Carson Felicetty has rushed for 107 yards and one score on 17 carries. He also is 2-for-5 passing for 95 yards and a touchdown.
"They have their typical 'ground it and pound it' style of play," LoParo said. "They run with a lot of power and it's hard to defend because they have such physicality up front. Just like the defense, they have Division I athletes all over the place. We have to make sure we tackle well."
Bradley has added a little more of a running threat from the quarterback position to its spread attack. Senior Griffin Veil, who bided his time behind two all-state performers in 2017 graduate Will Phillis and 2018 graduate Josh Stewart, was the Jaguars' leading rusher against Stow-Munroe Falls with 65 yards on 14 carries.
Veil is 37-for-62 passing for 436 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions on the season.
"A lot of stopping (Bradley) has to do with containing the quarterback and putting pressure on him," White said. "(Veil) has come up through their program and probably knows their system a lot better than the two previous quarterbacks, who transferred in and had to learn the system. He's probably more of a master of the offense and he also gives them more of a pass-run threat than in the past."
Bradley's defense is led by a pair of senior linebackers in Ohio University recruit Cannon Blauser and Cincinnati recruit Zach Hummel.