Boys Lacrosse: Hilliard Davidson Wildcats, new coach Dave Ames already on same page

Frank DiRenna
ThisWeek group
Dave Ames is in his first season as Davidson boys lacrosse coach, but he's familiar with most of his players from previous coaching stops. “More than half of these kids played for me in their youth, so from a cultural and chemistry perspective, things have kicked off really well,” he said.

First-year Hilliard Davidson boys lacrosse Dave Ames believes a smooth transition in his new role will be a key to the team’s success this season. 

Ames replaced Adam Beasley, who stepped down in September after coaching the Wildcats since 2017 and is now an assistant at Dublin Coffman. 

Ames has coached at the high school, club and youth levels, and helped form a youth program — the Hilliard Predators — in 2015. He believes that experience gives him a familiarity with the Hilliard lacrosse community. 

“More than half of these kids played for me in their youth, so from a cultural and chemistry perspective, things have kicked off really well,” said Ames, whose team opened with a 21-4 loss at Dublin Jerome on March 23. “The kids know the expectations and they’ve been working extremely hard. It’s one of the more focused teams I’ve ever been around. Their commitment has been excellent.” 

Leading the defense should be junior goalie Kaiden Roche, who made a team-high 115 saves in 2019. 

Other key players include seniors Ryan Koenig (midfielder), Will Riffe (midfielder) and Dom Trager (defender) and sophomore Noah Dodgion (midfielder). 

“We’re excited about the season,” senior midfielder Hayden Van Vleet said. “Coach Ames coached me in sixth grade and now he’s up at the high school level, which is nice. Back then is when I really turned and started trying hard in lacrosse and now I’m ending my lacrosse career with him. We’re doing good things. We’re really getting after it and trying to progress.” 

Davidson is competing in the OCC-Central Division with Bradley, Coffman, Olentangy Liberty, Olentangy Orange and Upper Arlington. It opens league play April 6 against visiting Coffman. 

INSIDE THE WILDCATS 

Coach: Dave Ames, first season 

Next game: April 1 at Darby 

Key athletes: Noah Dodgion, Ryan Koenig, Kaiden Roche, Dom Trager and Hayden Van Vleet

Young Panthers

looking to grow

Darby has just two seniors, but 11th-year coach Rob Schmeling believes his team has the potential to mesh into a strong unit for the postseason.

“We only have two players with any varsity experience — senior defender Bradley Weaver and junior midfielder Miguel Sayers,” said Schmeling, whose team finished 7-10 in 2019. “As a freshman, Miguel accumulated 28 points for us.”

Darby lost its opener 6-5 at Bexley on a last-second shot March 23.

Midfielder Matt Rex and Weaver, who recently won the Division I state wrestling championship at heavyweight, are the only seniors.

“Bradley and Matt are expected to lead a fairly young team this year,” Schmeling said. “Bradley provides us with that innate leadership daily. He has a strong work ethic that our program is looking to take on early in our season.

“Matt’s an inexperienced senior on the field for us, but he’s very coachable. He works extremely hard and looks to improve every day.”

Schmeling said sophomore midfielders Ben Krumpe and Jacob Norris and freshman midfielder Connor Burke are scoring threats. Sayers and freshman Maguire Link hold down the midfield.

Weaver and sophomore Cade Galko are defensive leaders along with junior Tyler Kline and his freshman brother, Logan Kline. Sophomore Wes Reasinger and freshman Will Hoshak are in goal.

“Early on, our strength has been the willingness of our young players to learn and get better,” Schmeling said. “Many of them look to put in the extra work to help us be successful.

“In order for our team to reach that success, their desire to become a student of the game will be important. Our guys need to be open to learning the game in different ways. This consists of film room work along with digging in deep and committing to the game.”

INSIDE THE PANTHERS

Coach: Rob Schmeling, 11th season 

Next game: April 1 vs. Davidson

Key athletes: Connor Burke, Cade Galko, Ben Krumpke, Maguire Link, Jacob Norris, Charles Reichman, Miguel Sayers and Bradley Weaver

—Scott Hennen

Senior attacker Max Williams is one of the top players for the Jaguars and first-year coach Jalen Jackson, who is a 2012 Bradley graduate.

Jackson eager

to lead Jaguars

First-year coach Jalen Jackson, a 2012 Bradley graduate, will be looking to build up a program that finished 3-13 in 2019 and 5-11 in 2018.

“It was a dream come true,” said Jackson, who played at Wittenberg. “After playing here, I always wanted to come back because lacrosse has helped me out a lot in life. It’s really a family environment, and I want to bring that here.”

The Jaguars started 0-2, losing 13-3 to Pickerington Central on March 20 and 15-1 to Watterson on March 22.

Jackson points to seniors Nathan Atling and Max Williams as being strong in the attack along with freshman Mason Miller, while junior Andrew Burnett and freshman Samuel Green will play key roles in the midfield.

Senior Zach Lehman and junior Hunter Stickler are top performers on the defensive end, and the goalie will be senior Liam Kennedy.

“We really want to work on getting more shots,” Jackson said. “We have to be more patient. We’ve been going too fast, and hopefully we can slow things down and get some good shots.

“Our defense has been a strong point for us. They’re playing well together and communicating. ... Our goalie saves our defense’s backs, and our defense saves our middies’ backs. It’s really a team effort.”

INSIDE THE JAGUARS

Coach: Jalen Jackson, first season 

Next game: April 2 at Olentangy Berlin

Key athletes: Nathan Atling, Andrew Burnett, Samuel Green, Liam Kennedy, Zach Lehman, Mason Miller, Hunter Stickler and Max Williams

—Scott Hennen

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