Upper Arlington athletics director Tony Pusateri wasn’t sure what to expect when he met with several of the Golden Bears football team’s seniors Jan. 23, one day after coach Jeremey Scally left for the same job at Hilliard Davidson.

“That could have gone a million different ways,” Pusateri said. “But what they talked about was building something so the kids in the elementary and middle schools can come in here and just continue what we’ve started. It wasn’t about ‘this is our senior year, why did this happen to us?’ To me, that’s a key thing.”

Scally’s only season at UA was memorable, as the team went 6-4 overall, defeated Davidson for the first time in 12 years and finished 4-1 in the OCC-Central Division to share the program’s first league championship since 2008 with its two biggest rivals, the Wildcats and Dublin Coffman.

But when Brian White stepped down as coach at Davidson on Dec. 9 after 21 successful seasons with the Wildcats, the lure of a place Scally called “home” in a Hilliard City Schools press release announcing his hiring proved too strong to ignore. Scally was an assistant coach under White for 12 seasons before being hired at UA last January and also had served as an assistant principal at Davidson.

“I don’t think anyone, other than my wife (Kasie), truly understands how much I agonized over the gravity of a decision which affects so many people,” Scally said. “I’m full of gratitude towards the players, parents, and school community at UA. They took a risk on an unproven assistant coach and gave me an opportunity to lead one of the great programs in central Ohio.”

Whomever UA hires, the process will run well behind the Bears’ previous two coaching searches.

Joel Cutler was announced as Bears coach on Jan. 6, 2014, after two seasons at Ready and several years before that as a UA assistant, and Scally’s hiring was announced Jan. 8 of last year.

Still, Pusateri was adamant that UA is not in a hurry to name Scally’s successor, although he has a timeline in mind.

“We will hire the best person and we won’t be in a hurry,” Pusateri said.

The job was posted internally Jan. 24 and Pusateri expects to accept applicants through at least Friday, Jan. 31. He hopes to have two rounds of interviews completed within the next two weeks and potentially make a job offer by Feb. 14.

Pusateri and principal Andrew Theado announced the news of Scally’s interview to football families in a letter provided to ThisWeekSPORTS.com on Jan. 18 by someone outside the UA and Davidson programs.

“Coach Scally has been a great addition to our football family, and we hope he will be with our team for many years,” the letter read in part. “That being said, we respect the decisions he needs to make for himself and his family.”

UA assistant athletics director Spencer Smith, who coached tight ends last year for the Bears and played the same position at Ohio State from 2007-11, credited at least some of the players’ outlook for next year to Scally.

“Everything was about the team with him,” Smith said. “We need to give a lot of credit to coach Scally for creating that culture within our kids, for being resilient and taking whatever comes.”

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave