Hayes and Davidson to meet for the first time in the Game of the Week


Kody Akers (left) of Hayes and Jake Trubiano of Davidson are the catalysts on offense for their teams, respectively

Hayes and Davidson will meet for the first time Friday in a matchup that features one program on the rise in Central Ohio and another that is well-established. 

We have everything you need to know for the Game of the Week in this preview.

There is a first time for everything.

And for the Delaware Hayes football program, the firsts keep
on coming.

The Pacers made the playoffs for the first time in school
history last season under first-year head coach Mike LoParo winning seven games
for the first time since 1996.

“That was a great step for the program, the school, the
community and all that really did was raise expectations for this year – which
is exactly what we wanted,” Hayes head coach Mile LoParo said. “It has done
wonders for the program but at the same time there is still a lot of work that
needs to be done to continue to build upon what we achieved last year.”

Hayes (2-1) stumbled last week falling to Olentangy Liberty
31-0. LaParo hopes to get his squad back on track this week.

“Early on I felt like we got out of the gates pretty well
offensively but we’ve seemed to regress a little bit as the season has gone
on,” he said. “So, we’ve kind of reduced and reorganized trying to get
ourselves back on track.”

The option offensive attack is paced by senior Kody Akers,
who was just one of two returning starters on offense coming into the season.
Akers started under center as a sophomore for then head coach Jami Massi but
then moved to a slot position last season before moving back to quarterback
this season.

“(Akers) still has a learning curve,” LoParo said. “It is
not like he can just jump in and grab the reins like he had them before but
he’s coming along. We’re just trying to get him to settle in and play within
himself and do what he is able to do and not put too much pressure on himself
to be the sole provider of offense.”

Boasting eight returning starters on defense entering the
season, LoParo points to that side of the ball for Hayes’ success early on.

“Defensively, I feel like that has been the staple of our
team all year long. Our defense has been very stout,” he said. “We put them in
some bad situations last week, which made the score look as it looked. But
overall I have been pretty pleased with how our defense has performed and I
think our special teams have been solid all year.”

Hayes has another program first on tap this week as the Pacers
will host Hilliard Davidson in the first-ever match up between the two schools.

“(Davidson head coach Brian White) is an outstanding coach
and he does a tremendous job with that program winning a state title and being
one of the premier programs in Central Ohio
over the last decade,” LoParo said. “It is quite a challenge and we’re real
excited about having the opportunity to play them and try to bring our program
onto the map a little bit.”

Though both schools have never met on the grid iron, both
teams field similar style programs.

“It’s going to be like looking in the mirror. We do a lot of
the same things as them in all three areas of the football,” said LoParo. “It
is going to come down to who limits the mistakes. If we can limit our mistakes
the way (Davidson) has a tendency to do, well be able to play with them.

“If not, we’ll struggle to contain them because they don’t
make many mistakes. They’re fundamentally sound in all they do. We’re going to
have to play really well to make sure we can stay in the football game and have
a chance to win.”

Leading the Davidson triple-option offense this season has
been quarterback Jake Trubiano and running backs Rico Butler and Spencer Delande. 

Davidson (2-0) has had two weeks to prepare for Hayes. The
Wildcats had Grove City on the schedule for Week
3 but the failed levy on Aug. 4 in the South-Western City
School District

eliminated all sports for the Greyhounds athletic program until the levy is voted
on again in November.

But the team has battled illness the past two weeks, including
Butler, who is
questionable for Friday. White is obviously concerned with the health of his team for
Friday’s match up.

“We tried to get a little bit of rest last week and for
whatever reason it didn’t really work out because we’ve had so many kids sick,”
said White. “We’ve been trying to find some consistency and continuity everyday
at this point with all of our units but hopefully, come Friday, we’ll be a little
bit better than the last time we were on the field.

“It has kind of been a patchwork situation for us where even
in practice it prevents you from developing the continuity we’re looking for on
offense. I think you can piece people in on defense because there is a little
bit less continuity that comes into play on defense in terms of having to be
exactly on the page as it does on offense.

The last time Davidson took the field was resulted in a 22-13 road win over
Columbus Brookhaven where the defense capitalized on some mistakes to make up
for some shortfalls on offense to lock up the victory.

“I think the defense is starting to figure some things out
but we’ll know more on Friday night,” White said. “We put our defense as our
number one priority and the improvements we can make there with our personnel
and our scheme.

“Offensively, we’re just not quite where we need to be but
we’ve made some improvements over the last couple of weeks. But we’re just not
clicking yet and haven’t found the right ingredient to get us going. Hopefully,
that would come about this Friday night.”

Without a game on the schedule last week, White and his
staff took the opportunity scout Hayes in the loss to Olentangy Liberty.

“I think they made a few mistakes that got them in the hole
a little bit but, obviously, we have respect for them,” said White. “We really
think (Akers) is a pretty good player. He runs the option really well and we
look at him and see a kid that could definitely play in our offense with skills
he has as a quarterback. So, we think he is the key that makes their offense

“If you look at their roster, you see some kids that have
some physical size as well.”

Despite facing the new kids on the block in the Ohio Capital
Conference, White and Davidson are not taking Hayes lightly.

“We see a team that we feel like is pretty good,” he said.
“They made the playoffs and they are Division I school and I don’t care what
Division of the OCC they play in. They made the playoffs last year and they
know how to win and we’re as concerned about them as we are with any of our
other opponents.

“That’s for sure.”

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Official Fantastic 50 prediction: Hilliard Davidson (Hilliard) (2-0, D1 R3) by 16 (88%) at Hayes (Delaware) (2-1, D1 R3)

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Special thanks to Mark Freado Photography and CapCityPreps.com for contributing art for this story!


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