Football: Hilliard Davidson Wildcats determined to put losing season behind them

Frank DiRenna
ThisWeek group
Kevin Roberts, a tight end/defensive lineman and one of 20 seniors, was first-team all-league as the Wildcats finished 2-7 overall and 0-5 in the OCC-Central Division.

Just days after completing his first season as football coach at Hilliard Davidson, Jeremey Scally already was looking forward to next year as his team will seek some redemption. 

The Wildcats finished 2-7 overall and went 0-5 in the OCC-Central Division to finish sixth behind champion Dublin Coffman (5-0). 

“What is what we expected, no? But there’s been a lot of things that people haven’t expected,” Scally said. “The biggest thing that’s been clear to me, regardless of what the program has done previously, is it really is a new timeline when you have that change in leadership and some change in staff. It really is a brand-new program, and it really is a big building process.” 

Scally replaced Brian White, who stepped down after 21 seasons that included state titles in 2006 and '09. 

Scally was an assistant coach in the program before taking over for one year at Upper Arlington in 2019. 

The Wildcats’ wins were 17-13 against Darby in the opener and 35-24 over Grove City on Oct. 24 in a game added after Davidson was eliminated from the postseason. 

Seeded 15th in the Division I, Region 3 playoffs, Davidson lost 35-22 at second-seeded Pickerington North in the opening round Oct. 9. 

The Wildcats also were competitive in losses to Olentangy Orange 20-7 on Sept. 4 and Bradley 22-17 on Sept. 11. 

“It was disappointing and, at times, embarrassing,” Scally said. “There’s definitely a lot to learn, but definitely one I want to move forward from.” 

Kevin Roberts (TE/DL), who was one of 20 seniors, was named first-team all-league. 

“It definitely wasn’t what we expected,” Roberts said. “It was hard going through losing and everything, but we’re just glad that we were able to be together at least. Things weren’t perfect, but we still made the most of it and did have some fun with my guys. … The senior class was really tight. The underclassmen, too, especially with the juniors, we’re all really close.” 

Junior Leo Nixon (RB/DB) led the team in rushing with 1,006 yards and seven touchdowns on 167 carries, and was second-team all-league and special mention all-district. 

Kaden Miller (OL/DL) was second-team all-league, Kyle Pepera (LB) was special mention all-league and Owen Savage (OL/DL) was honorable mention all-league. All three are seniors. 

A competition developed in the preseason at quarterback, with junior Blake Pettit (QB/DB) getting the nod over Pepera. 

Scally noted that Pettit developed throughout the season. He completed 26 of 53 passes for 373 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions, and rushed for 238 yards and three touchdowns on 69 carries. 

Junior Jonathan Weir (RB/DB) was second on the team in rushing with 360 yards and three touchdowns on 73 carries. He also led the team in receiving with eight catches for 109 yards. 

Pepera led the team with 100 tackles followed by seniors Will Riffe (98, RB/LB), Cody Hummell (80, RB/LB) and Jayden Humphrey (68, WR/DB). 

Scally noted that other key returnees should be juniors Brady Abele (OL/DL/LS) and Aiden Ighnat (K/P). 

Also expected back are juniors Anthony Carey (OL/DL), Carson Coles (OL/DL), Will Knapke (OL/DL), Zach Kosikowski (TE/DL) and Nicholas Monroe (OL/DL). 

Roberts is confident the program will turn around. 

“They’re already getting stuff set up for offseason lifting,” he said. “I know everybody is going to show up and work their tails off every single day. I can tell that the (rising) seniors are extremely motivated. They’re all excited. I know coach Scally is going to be able to work them hard. I’m confident they’ll be able to improve from this year.” 

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com 

@ThisWeekFrank 

•Record: 2-7 overall 

•OCC-Central standings: Dublin Coffman (5-0), Olentangy Liberty (4-1), Olentangy Orange (3-2), Upper Arlington (2-3), Hilliard Bradley (1-4), Hilliard Davidson (0-5) 

•Seniors lost: Anthony Alatalo, Cole Coppess, Ben Curry, Aidan DeCarlo, Jack Fantin, Cy Hess, Cody Hummell, Jayden Humphrey, Jordan Lyles, Tyler Jones, A.J. McCoy, Jacob Miller, Kaden Miller, Kyle Pepera, Will Riffe, Kevin Roberts, Owen Savage, John Thomas, D.J. Thornton and A.J. Zody  

•Key returnees: Brady Abele, Anthony Carey, Carson Coles, Aiden Ighnat, Will Knapke, Zach Kosikowski, Nicholas Monroe, Leo Nixon, Blake Pettit and Jonathan Weir 

•Postseason: Lost to Pickerington North 35-22 in opening round of Division I, Region 3 playoffs