Hilliard Darby High School earned its first Ralph Young All-Sports Award by winning '20 square feet' at a time.
Athletics director Chris Ludban takes pride in winning the award for the OCC-Cardinal Division because it shows how well the coaches, athletes and parents have bought into the school district's athletics philosophy.
"We talk to the coaches about winning the Ralph Young award and we have finally broken through," said Ludban, who completed his third year leading the athletics department. "Not only here at Darby, but in all of the Hilliard schools, we want to win our '20 square feet.' If you work to control the 20 square feet that you are in, then you are doing your part. Winning your 20 square feet each day, that's something you can control."
The All-Sports award, in its eighth year, goes to the school in each of the OCC's five divisions that performs the best in the conference's common sports over the course of the school year. There were 20 common sports in the OCC-Cardinal.
"Another thing the (school) district has moved to is the 7-12 program," Ludban said. "That's a focus on sports, not just the high-school level, but also in middle school.
"Our coaches take the time to go down to middle-school contests, and we want those athletes to play some contests at the high school, using the high-school locker rooms and everything. That program has been one of the big things that has helped us at all levels."
The Panthers scored 98 of a possible 140 points to finish first in the overall OCC-Cardinal standings for the 2016-17 school year. Dublin Jerome was second with 96.5 points, followed by Bradley (92), Thomas Worthington (83), Dublin Scioto (75), Worthington Kilbourne (63.5) and Delaware (52).
The other All-Sports award winners were Dublin Coffman in the OCC-Central, New Albany in the OCC-Capital, Olentangy Liberty in the OCC-Buckeye and Pickerington Central in the OCC-Ohio.
The award is named in honor of Young, who was a longtime OCC secretary and a longtime track official and managed basketball tournaments at the sectional, district and regional levels for the Ohio High School Athletic Association.
Young also served as athletics director at Delaware and treasurer of the OHSAA's Central District.
"First and foremost, (the award) speaks volumes about our coaches and student-athletes," Ludban said. "We're playing in one of the best conferences in the state, and it also shows all of the hard work and hours our coaches have put in. And the kids are buying into what the coaches are selling."
Darby won league titles in baseball, girls track and field, boys volleyball, girls volleyball and wrestling. The Panthers were league runners-up in girls cross country, girls soccer, boys soccer, boys tennis and boys track, and the boys soccer team tied for second.
"It's a pretty big deal because it shows that we are doing well in all sports," said Don Seymour, who completed his seventh season as girls track coach. "(Winning the award) comes from every team doing their part. It's a wonderful accomplishment."
The girls track team won its second consecutive OCC-Cardinal championship after winning its first league title last year, while the wrestling team won its first league championship since 2013.
"The big factor, I think, is getting a lot of kids out in a lot of sports," said Brendan Moody, who has coached the wrestling program for eight seasons. "All sports have injuries and you have to have guys ready to step in and get the job done. That depth helps bring success."
The boys volleyball team won its 18th consecutive league title and the girls volleyball team won its first league championship since winning back-to-back titles in 1998 and 1999, while the baseball team won its third consecutive league title.
"I think it's great school-wide (to win the award)," said Chris Fugitt, who completed his 20th season as baseball coach. "With Chris (Ludban) being in charge and (assistant athletics director) Jay Smith also on board, they have a vision for us as a school and also a commitment to see that we do well on the field or court of play."