In what he called the most difficult decision of his professional career, Jeremey Scally is returning to a familiar setting.

Scally, 38, has been named football coach at Hilliard Davidson, replacing Brian White, who resigned Dec. 9 after 21 seasons. He had served as an assistant under White for 12 seasons before coaching Upper Arlington last fall.

“For many, including myself at times, the equation doesn’t make sense,” said Scally, whose hiring was approved by the school board Jan. 27. “It takes a tremendous amount of faith. … 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.”

Under Scally, UA went 6-4 overall and 4-1 in the OCC-Central Division to share the league title with the Wildcats and Dublin Coffman. The Golden Bears defeated Davidson 10-7 for their first win over the Wildcats in 12 years.

Davidson will play host to UA in Week 10 of the 2020 season.

Athletics director Nathan Bobek said there were several quality candidates interested in the position, but Scally emerged as the choice.

“I have known Jeremey for over 13 years,” Bobek said. “I have seen him as a coach, an educator, an administrator and a colleague. He is a leader. His leadership is proven, and he is a kid magnet. He prides himself on the relationships that he builds with people. He believes in culture and what that means, not only to our football program, but also to our athletic department and Hilliard Davidson.”

Scally attended a team meeting with Davidson’s expected returnees Jan. 22 to provide an update and discuss his plans for the program. Among the players in attendance was junior linebacker Kyle Pepera.

“Obviously, coach White retiring is pretty tough,” Pepera said. “We all love him here, but Scally is a great man. I’ve gotten pretty close to him the last couple of years, so we’re pretty excited to have him back.”

Scally said one of his top priorities is to assemble a coaching staff.

White is the program’s all-time winningest coach, having compiled a 199-58 record. He guided the Wildcats to 17 postseason appearances, including Division I state championships in 2006 and 2009, and 12 OCC titles.

“It’s a storied program, so I’m certainly humbled to be entrusted in helping write the next chapter of it,” Scally said. “It’s exciting. It’s home. It’s literally close to home. My wife is here. Our family is here, so it definitely feels good to be back. I’m not ignorant to the fact that things are different, too, which is not a bad thing.”

Davidson finished 7-4 overall in White’s final season, losing to Groveport 18-17 in the first round of the Region 3 playoffs.

A 2000 graduate of Sandusky Perkins, Scally joined Davidson’s staff in 2004 while he was a senior at Ohio State, coaching the wide receivers in his first season before overseeing the running backs from 2005-13.

Scally stepped away from the program for three years while serving as ninth-grade principal at Davidson. He returned in 2017, coaching the tight ends, before coaching the quarterbacks in 2018 when the Wildcats went 11-2 overall and 5-0 in the OCC-Central and lost to Pickerington Central 20-13 in the Division I, Region 3 final.

“In the last year, I’ve learned that nothing is smooth,” Scally said. “Transition is always difficult on various fronts. I’ve learned to just try to win each moment, one at a time. It certainly helps to have familiarity with the people, facilities and (school) district as a whole. However, I’m not walking into this opportunity expecting anything to be smooth or easy.”

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekFrank