The Dublin Coffman and Hilliard Davidson high school football teams met only three weeks ago, but there will be a significant change from the first meeting.

The Dublin Coffman and Hilliard Davidson high school football teams met only three weeks ago, but there will be a significant change from the first meeting.

The Shamrocks won't have coach Mark Crabtree on the sideline when they play host to the Wildcats on Friday, Nov. 4 in the opening round of the Division I, Region 3 playoffs.

Last week, Crabtree, who is in his 16th season, was suspended by the Ohio High School Athletic Association for the first two playoff games this season because of a recruiting violation involving an eighth-grader.

Stepping in as interim coach is defensive coordinator Curtis Crager, who said Crabtree can't be on the field or in the coaches' box, but can watch the game from the stands.

Crager is much more concerned about facing a Davidson team coached by Brian White than he is about the Shamrocks' coaching situation.

"First and foremost, Brian is one of the best, if not the best, coaches in the state of Ohio, and his teams are so fundamentally sound and they make so many tweaks that it's tough to keep up," said Crager, whose team is 8-2 overall and lost to the Wildcats 7-6 in OCC-Central Division play Oct. 14 at home. "The way their linemen get off the ball, the way their quarterback reads the defenses and executes the triple-option, and the way their running backs run ... all of that makes them difficult to stop.

"You have to be fundamentally sound and, when you aren't, that's when they hurt you. We have to make sure we get lined up and match their physicality on both sides of the ball."

Davidson, which defeated Westland 56-0 on Oct. 28 to improve to 8-2 overall and win the OCC-Central title at 5-0, plans to continue with the formula that helped it win state championships in 2006 and 2009 -- a deceptive running attack that eats up the clock and keeps opposing offenses watching from the sideline.

"We moved the ball well last time we played (Coffman), but we didn't score as much as we should have," White said. "We need to be moving the ball and paying ourselves at the end of the drives.

"Paying ourselves sometimes means more than scoring points. It can also be flipping the field with a good punt so they don't start with good field position. We can't be giving them fumbles, interceptions or giving the ball up on downs."

In the first meeting, the Shamrocks totaled just 156 total yards, including 83 rushing.

Davidson had a fake punt midway through the fourth quarter to secure the win. Punter David Hoyle ran for 23 yards on fourth-and-12 from the Wildcats' 25-yard line to pick up a key first down.

"They are so disciplined on defense, and that wins ballgames," said Crager, whose team finished 4-1 in the OCC-Central after defeating Upper Arlington 27-21 on Oct. 28. "It all comes down to blocking and tackling, and getting things done. Basically, they want to keep the ball away from us and we want to get our offense on the field and keep them off."

Ryan Royer leads the Wildcats' ground attack with 1,173 yards and 20 touchdowns on 215 carries. Quarterback David St. Clair has rushed for 914 yards and seven scores on 113 carries and has attempted only 16 passes this season, completing 10 for 165 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions.

Casey Kirk leads Coffman with 846 yards rushing and eight touchdowns on 128 carries, and quarterback Drew Hodgson has completed 142 of 209 passes for 1,901 yards with 21 touchdowns and five interceptions. His top targets are Mike Drennan (40 catches, 474 yards, 2 TDs) and Caleb Stoneburner (32 catches, 477 yards, 9 TDs).

"They are loaded with skill players like Casey Kirk at running back or the guys they put out in the wide receiver positions," said White, whose team lost 14-10 at Coffman in the first round of the 2014 playoffs. "They put a lot of guys out there who are extremely dangerous and can hit home runs from any point on the field."

The Coffman-Davidson winner advances to play top-seeded Huber Heights Wayne or eighth-seeded Lancaster in a regional semifinal Nov. 11 at a site to be determined.

shennen@thisweeknews.com

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