The Hilliard Darby High School football team enters its home game against Lancaster on Friday, Sept. 7, looking to bounce back from a loss to rival Davidson.
The Panthers slipped to 1-1 with a 14-0 loss at Davidson on Aug. 31. That same night, Lancaster fell to 0-2 with a 32-22 loss to visiting DeSales.>> Hilliard Davidson 14, Hilliard Darby 0 <<
"We need to bounce back because it's not going to get much easier this week," Panthers coach John Santagata said. "We just have to learn from (the loss to Davidson) and move on. We didn't make much growth from our first game to our second and that's the key here. We have to improve this week dramatically. We have to stop making so many errors."
The Panthers must transition from facing Davidson's triple-option offense to preparing for Lancaster's wing-T scheme.
"They're a big, physical football team, just what you think of a Lancaster team," Santagata said. "They run the wing-T and they know what they're doing. They've been running it forever, so it's going to be a challenge."
Lancaster's offense had success against DeSales as quarterback Tyler Monk passed for a career-high 209 yards and two touchdowns. Casey Finck had seven receptions for 127 yards and a touchdown and Max Hamilton added five catches for 64 yards and one score.
The Golden Gales also moved the ball on the ground, with running back Lucas Gauerke rushing for 99 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries.
After producing 296 total yards in a 17-14 win over Olentangy on Aug. 24, Darby's offense was unable to get untracked against Davidson, as it managed just 93 total yards.
Santagata said the Panthers' offense will need to improve if it is to be successful against a Lancaster defense that utilizes 4-3 and 4-4 schemes.
Running back Connor Jones rushed for 197 yards against Olentangy, but was limited to 28 yards against the Wildcats.
Other key players on offense for the Panthers are quarterback Jack Stultz and wide receiver Kris Day.
Darby and Lancaster last met in the 2015 postseason, with the Panthers winning 17-10 in a Division 1, Region 2 first-round game.