At 5-foot-8 and 180 pounds, Bobby Smith isn't your prototypical defensive tackle.

But what the senior for the Hilliard Davidson football team might lack in stature, he makes up for with two key intangibles: heart and soul.

Unfortunately for the Wildcats, they lost those key intangibles on the field when Smith suffered a season-ending ACL injury in his left knee during a 30-14 win at Darby on Sept. 6.

"He literally is the heart and soul," coach Brian White said. "You can look on the field and see some bigger guys. You can see some guys that might get their name in the newspaper more than what he did last year and obviously for a little bit of this year, but every player on our team was devastated when he got hurt. Even the coaches."

"Coming from him, that's the greatest thing to hear," Smith said of White's praise. "I love him. He's the best coach I've ever had. All the coaches impact us on the field and throughout life. I love playing here.

"You hear all the time, it's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's about the size of the heart in the dog, and I truly believe that."

Smith will undergo surgery Tuesday, Oct. 8, with his recovery time expected to be approximately six months.

"When I felt the pop, I knew," Smith said. "I thought, 'I tore my ACL.' In the beginning when it first happened, thoughts just started coming into your head like 'why me?' I'm really sad. I'm still bummed that it happened to me, but I just have to get over it and recover as soon as I can."

Smith hopes to attend the Wildcats' game at Upper Arlington on Oct. 11, three days after his surgery.

While his football career is over, Smith has remained a big part of the team, serving as another assistant coach and providing support and guidance for his teammates.

Smith has tutored his replacements on the defensive line, offering instruction on playing the team's complicated shade 50 scheme.

"I go to all the practices, I go to all the film (sessions) and try to coach up the people stepping in for me," Smith said. "I tell them not to take a rep off and give 100 percent every play because you don't know when it's going to be over."

Last season, Smith finished with 59 tackles, six sacks and one fumble recovery and was named special mention all-OCC-Central Division. In one-plus games this season, he recorded eight tackles.

"That kid has poured so much of his life into football," said White, whose team is 3-2 entering its OCC-Central opener Friday, Oct. 4, at home against Central Crossing. "His character is so high. His production level last year was as good as anybody we had on our defensive line."

Smith hopes to be ready to play for the boys lacrosse team in the spring.

"Bobby is an amazing kid," lacrosse coach Adam Beasley said. "He picked up a stick for the first time two weeks into (last) season and was our fifth defenseman on varsity last year. We graduated two defenseman, so Bobby is going to be fighting for a starting spot as a second-year player. He has a work ethic that is contagious."

Beasley is impressed with Smith's commitment to return to the field.

"There are very few guys I have ever coached in my career that work as hard as Bobby does," Beasley said. "When Bobby says he will be back for lacrosse season, I have a lot of faith that he will be back because of how hard he will work on his rehab."

With Smith watching from the sideline Sept. 27, Davidson lost its second consecutive game, falling at Pickerington Central 28-7. The Wildcats managed just 130 yards of offense, with Jonathan Weir scoring on a 2-yard run in the closing seconds.

Central Crossing improved to 2-3 with a 49-0 win over Newark on Sept. 27.

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekFrank