The Hilliard Davidson High School football team is the top seed in the Division I, Region 3 playoffs, but coach Brian White knows the Wildcats do not hold a distinct advantage over their first-round opponent.
Davidson plays host to eighth-seeded Huber Heights Wayne on Friday, Nov. 2, with the winner facing fourth-seeded Springfield or fifth-seeded Kettering Fairmont in a regional semifinal on Nov. 9.
"They're not like a No. 8 seed. They're pretty impressive," White said. "They're really good. People see (the No. 1) seed versus the (eighth) seed and they're going to think that it's a deal where that team is not as good, but on film they're probably the best team we've seen all year, including Pickerington Central."
The Wildcats, who locked up the outright OCC-Central Division title with a 49-13 win over Westland on Oct. 26, are 9-1. Their lone loss came against defending state champion Central, 17-14 in overtime Sept. 21.
After seeing its nine-year playoff streak end last season, Davidson was eager to return to the postseason this fall.
"It was a pretty big letdown last season," senior center Chase Miles said. "We just had to keep working in the offseason and we can see the result paying off because we have a really tight-knit group of seniors. We're leading the team pretty well. We've been faced with a lot of challenges all year, so this is just another challenge coming up."
While Davidson was a lock to make the playoffs entering Week 10, Wayne faced a must-win situation in its regular-season finale. The Warriors got it, beating Trotwood-Madison 41-35 in overtime on Oct. 26 to improve to 7-3.
Davidson and Wayne have met three previous times in the postseason, with the Warriors winning two of the matchups.
The teams last met in 2015 in a Division I, Region 2 final, which Wayne won 20-6. Davidson defeated the Warriors 37-7 in the Region 2 final in 2013, but Wayne won 28-14 in a state semifinal in 2010. That season, former Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller started behind center for the Warriors.
Wayne is winless in four state final appearances, while Davidson won state titles in 2006 and 2009.
"They're very impressive and they're obviously a playoff-experienced team," White said. "They know what it takes to win at the highest level."
Jordan Hicks leads a balanced ground attack for the Wildcats with 576 yards and 16 touchdowns on 139 carries, followed by Christian Sweet with 575 yards and four touchdowns on 123 carries and Kalib O'Connor with 404 yards and one score on 115 carries.
Quarterback Carson Felicetty has passed for 443 yards and has rushed for 231.
Wayne quarterback Rashad McKee has completed 136 of 231 passes for 1,738 yards with 14 touchdowns and eight interceptions.
Running back Devin Nelson has rushed for 1,098 yards and 18 touchdowns on 166 carries, and wide receiver Steven Victoria has 39 receptions for 621 yards and eight scores.
Linebacker Otis Allen leads the Warriors' defense with 68 tackles, followed by defensive backs Justin Harris and Jaden Hurd with 61 apiece.
"Our game plan is not going to change," said White, whose team finished 5-0 in the OCC-Central. "We're going to do what we do and if it's good enough to win, we'll move on to the next game. It's not like we're going to install a spread offense and try and chuck it up against them. We're going to do what we do and hopefully we can do it well enough."