Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
CHILLICOTHE — Heading into last week’s contest at Southeastern, Dayton Christian boasted a scoring average of 31.6 points per game.
But Friday night, the Panthers’ defense derailed that train rather quickly.
In a dominant 40-3 victory, Southeastern kept giving its offense chances to score while the defense stifled any of the Warriors’ plans to get into the end zone.
Quarterback Lane Ruby scored twice, running back Mikey Nusser scored two more times, Jarrett McWhorter got into the end zone from a yard out, and Dalton Thurston converted three two-point tries.
But in every single postgame interview coach Evan Gallaugher participated in, he mentioned a name that never graced the scoring breakdown.
“I think Aarick Hill played a whale of a game for us tonight,” Gallaugher told WKKJ after Friday’s game. “[Dayton Christian] came in being a predominantly jet-oriented team. I think maybe one time they ran that successfully. Aarick did a great job from his outside linebacker spot.”
Hill led the Panthers with 10 tackles on the night. It was a blockbuster performance for the junior but not one he isn’t used to. Quietly, he’s been turning in solid performances all year long.
“In practice, we worked on stopping the jet sweep. That’s what Coach Gallauagher told me I needed to do,” Hill said. “They tried that and that was a big part of their offense. I got a lot of tackles from it, them running that play to my side.”
It’s as simple as that.
It’s also an answer that pins Hill’s personality perfectly. For him, it’s never about how many tackles he makes or how many touchdowns he scores. He cares about winning and winning only, doing whatever he’s told to do and whatever’s best for his teammates.
Scratch that last word … he wants to do whatever’s best for his brothers.
“We don’t care about ourselves or individual accomplishments,” Hill said. “We just want to win. Period. We all make the team what it is. We’re always with each other. We’re just really close. We’re like literal brothers and we fight like they do sometimes. But at the end of the day, we love each other. We’re family.”
Hill’s favorite moment this season came in one of the Panthers’ biggest wins this fall. Less than two weeks ago, in a 66-37 victory over Adena in Frankfort, Hill’s 6-foot-5 frame allowed him to be a weapon in the Panthers’ passing game.
The Gold Ball that Southeastern secured that week was the icing on the cake.
“That catch against Adena, a 50-yard pass, I jumped over two guys and got it,” Hill said. “That night was special. We really wanted to win a Gold Ball for our senior class. They’ve all worked so hard … we’ve all worked so hard for that. We wanted to send them out on top.”
Look at any history book and you’ll know how special this year’s Southeastern team is. The Panthers are 11-0, they’ve won their second-ever Gold Ball and their fourth-ever SVC title, and they’ve now won the program’s second-ever playoff game.
If the Panthers can win this week, it would mark the first time Southeastern has ever played in Week 13.
Standing in their way of that accomplishment is a Covington team that sits at 9-2. The pair will meet in a Division VI, Region 24 Semifinal at 7 p.m., Friday at Xenia High School.
Hill will be ready to play, as always.
“We just have to go out and be aggressive. We’re really good when we do that,” Hill said. “[Covington] is a really aggressive team, too. Teams like that … you just have to want it more than they do.”