Jeremey Scally is a first-year coach for the second consecutive season, but unlike a year ago, he's not looking to this week's opposing coach for advice.
When the Hilliard Davidson coach was a first-year coach at Upper Arlington last fall -- his initial season leading a varsity program -- he made a phone call to an old friend to bounce around ideas.
That friend will be on the opposing sideline Friday, Sept. 4, when Scally's Wildcats visit Zebb Schroeder's Olentangy Orange squad in the OCC-Central Division opener for both teams.
"Coaching circles can be really small," Scally said. "When I took the job at (UA), Zebb was the phone call I made for advice and to talk through some things. They don't come any better than Zebb, and he helped me so much."
After guiding UA to a 6-4 finish, Scally started with a win at Davidson. The Wildcats edged Hilliard Darby 17-13 on Aug. 27 as Leo Nixon scored on a 3-yard run with 1 minute, 19 seconds to play.
The junior running back rushed for 147 yards on 29 carries and caught a 36-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Blake Pettit.
"We have to be ready for Davidson," said Schroeder, whose team lost 7-3 to Olentangy on Aug. 28. "We had better figure out our pad level in a hurry. Their pad-level height is under the kitchen table. We have a lot of work this week to get ready for that."
Orange played a bend-but-don't-break defense in the opener, allowing only a first-quarter touchdown. The Pioneers' only score was a 22-yard field goal by junior kicker Jack Behre with 11:14 left.
"I thought our kids had a phenomenal week of practice and they were ready to go from the get go," Schroeder said. "We have some basic football things that we have to evaluate as coaches. Our pad level and our take off at the line of scrimmage isn't where it needs to be.
"But give credit to (the Olentangy) kids. They were pretty strong (in the opener). Some of that's on us. We were pretty clean, but we made some timely errors that helped them. As coaches and players, we have to own this."
Pettit was 5-for-6 passing for 73 yards and rushed for 57 yards on 11 carries against Darby. The Wildcats had a 29:41 to 18:19 edge in time of possession.
"I saw that we had a lot of things that we could clean up, and it's better to clean them up after a win," Scally said. "When you win, you definitely have a bounce in your step when you come to work the next day.
"We're young and inexperienced, and there is no substitute for experience. You have to live it and go through it, and our team rose to the occasion. We didn't play clean, but we got that experience."
Senior quarterback Josh Laisure paced the Pioneers against the Braves, completing six of 10 passes for 77 yards and rushing for 76 yards on 16 carries. Senior running back Luke Applegate had 38 yards rushing on 16 attempts, senior wide receiver Caden Konczak had four receptions for 52 yards and senior linebacker Colin McNay had an interception.
"You could tell our kids had some pep in their step, and maybe there was some tightness because they were so amped up to play," Schroeder said. "This is a season like no other and we have to be at our best in the middle of October."