Keith Moore walked into the Grove City High School football team's locker room last Saturday knowing he was going to watch film of his team's win over Pickerington North 12-7 from the day before.

What he didn't know was that his coaches already were preparing to face Hilliard Davidson on Saturday in the first round of the Division I, Region 3 playoffs. Davidson beat Grove City 15-0 on Sept. 5.

"While that game was awhile ago, both teams can take something away from it," said Davidson coach Brian White, whose team beat Hilliard Darby 21-14 on Oct. 23 to finish the regular season 9-1. "Watching our film, we haven't changed much on offense or defense. Their defense is very similar, but their offense has made some changes."
Grove City, as a whole, is a changed team. On Sept. 5, the Dawgs fell to 0-3 and had yet to score a point on offense. Grove City then won six of seven games in the OCC-Ohio Division, with the loss to Pickerington Central 37-19 on Oct. 17.

"In those first three games we weren't that confident," Moore said.

"We didn't know we could win. Now it's all changed. We have that confidence you need to win and we're playing as a team and believing in each other."

In that first meeting Sept. 5, the first half was a stalemate as Davidson had the ball inside the Grove City 25-yard line three times but the drives resulted in an interception, a fumble and a blocked field goal.

Davidson's defense kept Grove City's offense at bay as the Dawgs' first seven possessions were three-and-outs. Grove City's first first down came in the fourth quarter.

Since then, Grove City's offense has emerged, led by quarterback Mike Mayers.

"He gives us the opportunity to throw the football downfield," Grove City coach Matt Jordan said. "Cody Johnston, Kory Martin, Grant Mosher, Jordan Sturgell and Anthony Adams can all stretch the field. It seems when Mike does a nice job of taking care of the football we can move the ball and almost set up our running game with our passing game."

Last Friday, Mayers was 22-for-38 for 237 yards and a touchdown pass in one of his better outings of the season.

"He's a good quarterback with a good arm," White said.

"In week three they still hadn't refined their system (Jordan) installed. They've had seven weeks now to adapt to his style and scheme."

Only twice has Davidson's 50 shade defense allowed 21 or more points in a game. Defensive end Tyler Backstrom has played a key role on the Wildcats' defense that has allowed 8.5 points per game.

"We're going to have to be balanced against their defense," Jordan said. "We tried to run the football against them the first meeting and we'll do that again, too, but we have to have more balance to keep them on their toes and we have more faith in Mike."

Moore didn't play on the offensive side of the ball in the first meeting with Davidson and he has proven to be a commodity to the Dawgs' offense.

Last Friday, he scored on a 23-yard run with five minutes remaining for what proved to be the winning touchdown.

Davidson's offensive output has decreased in the last four games as the competition's talent has increased. In the Wildcats' first six games, they averaged 34.2 points per game, but in the last four games against opponents that finished the regular season a combined 30-10 they averaged 16.5 points.

Against Darby, quarterback Jake Trubiano rushed for 144 yards on 14 carries and had touchdown runs of 47 and 70 yards. Ryan Meadows added 72 yards on 15 attempts as the Wildcats rushed for 304 yards.

Against Grove City earlier this season, Meadows finished with 122 yards on 28 carries.

"Grove City's defense doesn't have that one standout out player," White said. "They play extremely well as a unit. It's hard to find a blaring weakness on their defense. They're aggressive, run to the ball well and know and understand schemes very well."

Since its loss to Davidson, Grove City has averaged 17.6 points per game and five of the Dawgs' six wins were by seven or fewer points.

"We are a much more confident team," Jordan said.

"At the point we played Davidson, we hadn't won a game and something is to be said on learning how to win. They've done a great job figuring out how to win. Granted, you can argue about our competition versus Davidson's competition. But we've found a way to win games and win close games."