The Hilliard Davidson High School football team may be facing a more athletic opponent when it takes on fourth-seeded Springfield in a Division I, Region 3 semifinal Friday, Nov. 9, at London.
That's nothing new for coach Brian White and his top-seeded Wildcats.
"Some friends of mine in the Dayton area said we're probably not going to be as big, we're probably not going to be as strong and we're probably not going to be as fast," White said. "Maybe the thing that we can rely on is the camaraderie of our team and some of the intangibles that I'd like to think we have. That's what maybe gives us a chance against people who are more athletic, bigger, stronger and faster."
Davidson opened the playoffs by holding off eighth-seeded Huber Heights Wayne 28-21 on Nov. 2 at home to improve to 10-1. That same night, Springfield, whose nickname also is Wildcats, defeated fifth-seeded Kettering Fairmont 19-14 to improve to 9-2.
"We've talked to some people who say that Springfield has more athletes than what Wayne did, but it's a different kind of athlete," White said. "The Springfield athletes are a little bigger and stronger and maybe just not quite as elusive as the Wayne kids, but what they bring in terms of size and strength probably poses more of a problem."
After failing to make the playoffs last season for the first time since 2007, Davidson is looking to advance to a regional final for the first time since 2015, when it lost to Wayne 20-6.
"We're happy for our kids especially," White said. "The ones that were juniors last year and are seniors now took it personal last year and took it personal in the offseason to make sure that what happened last year didn't happen again this year."
Springfield, which also missed the postseason last season, and Davidson last met in 2010, when Davidson won 9-0 in the second round of the playoffs.
Jordan Hicks led the way for Davidson in the win over Wayne, rushing for 194 yards and four touchdowns on 28 carries. Kalib O'Connor added 92 yards on 13 carries and quarterback Carson Felicetty rushed for 74 yards on 11 carries.
Senior linebacker Ethan Royer, who had a key interception against Wayne, is looking forward to the team's latest challenge.
"For the most part, no matter who we play, they're going to have better athletes than us and we knew that going into the game against Wayne," Royer said. "We really need to stress the importance of playing together as a team, chemistry, the fundamentals, and that's how we get stuff done."
Hicks leads Davidson in rushing with 770 yards and 20 touchdowns on 168 carries, followed by Christian Sweet with 583 yards and four touchdowns on 125 carries and O'Connor with 496 yards and a touchdown on 128 carries.
"We do what we know how to do and we try to do it to the best of our ability," White said. "A lot of weeks this year, it's worked out for us, so we're not looking to change our philosophy."
Springfield features a balanced offensive attack, led by quarterback Re'Heim Moss, who has completed 56 of 115 passes for 1,145 yards with 10 touchdowns and six interceptions and has rushed for 374 yards and six touchdowns on 86 carries.
Tavion Smoot has rushed for a team-high 863 yards with four touchdowns on 138 carries and Michael Brown-Stephens has 17 receptions for 424 yards and two scores.
"They definitely have some large individuals," Royer said. "They have some pretty big dudes on the offensive and defensive lines, bigger than anyone we have. All their running backs and their quarterback look very good, so it will definitely be a challenge and we'll just have to prepare the best we can all week long."
The Davidson-Springfield winner plays second-seeded Clayton Northmont or sixth-seeded Pickerington Central in the regional final Nov. 16 at a site to be announced. The Tigers beat Davidson 17-14 in overtime on Sept. 21.