Scott Abell, Head Football Coach & Quarterbacks Coach
Scott Abell enters his sixth season on the Wildcat sideline after being named the program’s 28th head coach in January 2018.
In Abell’s fifth year at the help, the football program went 8-3 in regular season play, 6-2 in the PFL and made a third consecutive NCAA playoff. Abell’s prolific offense once again finished atop the country in rushing yards per game, averaging 331.5 per game on the ground. It marks the fourth time in five years that Abell’s teams have led the country in rushing.
Abell's fourth year leading the football program saw the first ever back-to-back Pioneer Football League (PFL) Championships and a second trip to the FCS Playoffs in as many years. The 'Cats posted an overall 8-3 record and finished 7-1 in conference play, featuring Abell's second nod as PFL Coach of the Year. Over the spring and fall seasons of 2021, the Wildcats went 11-2 in PFL play, the best record of any Pioneer Football League team over that time.
The Wildcats finished the regular season ranked first in the country in rushing offense (348.4 ypg) and 3rd down conversion percentage (54.3%). The 'Cats rank second in time of possession, ninth in passing efficiency and tenth in the country in total offense (460.4 ypg).
After finishing the regular season against Drake, Abell became the tenth head coach with 40 career games at Davidson. His career winning percentage of .650 ranks as the best among head coaches with 40 career games and is the only one in the group with a winning percentage above .500. Additionally, he is the only HC in Davidson football history with a win percentage over .600 who has coached more than 10 games.
In his third year at the helm, Abell led Davidson to its first conference crown in over 50 years, winning the PFL and earning the programs first postseason berth in 52 seasons and a trip to the FCS Playoffs.
In the unorthodox 2020-21 season, Abell and the ‘Cats faced the most daunting schedule in the modern era, opening at nationally ranked Elon and facing top-25 foe San Diego, where he earned the school’s first ranked win on the road in Southern California, snapping the Torero’s FCS record-tying 39-game conference win streak.
Davidson earned a record 11 All-PFL Team honorees, including four first-team selections. 20 ‘Cats were recognized in all. Abell was also named the PFL Coach of the Year.
In his second season at the helm, Abell led the Wildcats to its best season in nearly two decades, guiding the team to an 8-4 finish, recording the most FCS wins in program history along the way (6).
In his first season, 2018, Abell’s offense ran away from the competition, but the 2019 ‘Cats featured a balanced attack, ranking among the top FCS programs nationally in rushing (2nd), total defense (4th), and led the nation in third down percentage.
In year two, Coach Abell’s squad earned eight All-PFL selections, including three first team honorees. Among those first teamers was Davidson’s all-time leading rusher, Wesley Dugger. Dugger reset the program’s rushing benchmark in just his third season, another 1,000-yard season, his third in as many tries. He also set the single season touchdown record, rushing for 22 and led the nation in scoring (12.0 PPG).
Additionally, four ‘Cats earned Academic All-PFL honors including Ethan Steinbacher, a National Football Foundation William V. Campbell Trophy semifinalist, making him one of the top seniors academically in all divisions of the NCAA (FBS, FCS, DII and DIII).
Another important piece of Coach Abell’s culture is service and no one exemplified that more than 2020 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team honoree, George Hatalowich. Hatalowich, the fourth Wildcat to earn this honor and first under Abell, was honored at halftime of the Allstate Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. Hatalowich was instrumental in starting the Davidson chapter of Uplifting Athletes, work that will be carried on by future Wildcats for years to come.
In his first season in the red and black, Abell led Davidson to its first winning record since 2007, directing the ‘Cats to a 6-5 mark that concluded with a heroic goal-line stand on the final play of the season to secure the winning campaign.
Coach Abell helped lead the Wildcat offense to NCAA FCS statistical championships in total offense (561.9) and rushing offense (442.9), while directing the ‘Cats to top-five statistical categories in third down conversion percentage, offensive red zone and scoring.
The 2018 Wildcats snapped a 17-game Pioneer Football League losing streak with a 40-35 road victory at Valparaiso and earned national attention for a 91-61 Thursday night shootout victory over Guilford.
Abell’s squad rewrote the NCAA FCS history books with a trip west to PFL power San Diego, steering Davidson to a 789-yard rushing performance, shattering a 30-year record set by Missouri State in 1998 (681). Four Wildcats rushed for over 150 yards including Dugger’s 231-yard output, the fifth-best single game rushing performance in Davidson football’s 117-year history.
The Wildcats reset 10 program records including rushing yards in a season (4765), rushing touchdowns (55) and scoring (494 points).
Prior to Davidson, Abell spent 10 seasons at NCAA Division III Washington & Lee University where he earned three Old Dominion Athletic Conference Championships in six seasons.
The Generals increased their yardage and points per game each season and set conference rushing records with Abell as offensive coordinator. He was promoted to head coach in 2012 and transformed the W&L offense into a national rushing powerhouse, leading the Division III in rushing in three of his last six seasons in Lexington. His 2015 squad went undefeated in the regular season, the first to do so in program history, and set records in total yards (5,439), rushing offense (4,773) and points scored (417).
Abell’s head coaching career started uphill in 1997 at Liberty High School, near Lynchburg, Va., where he turned an 0-10 program into district champions in three years. He moved to nearby Amherst High School, which had not brought home a state championship in a dozen years, and led teams to back-to-back state titles.
He played both football and baseball in high school, but his scholarship opportunity was in baseball at Longwood College. The Kansas City Royals drafted him to their minor league teams, where he spent two years – and hit a home run during his first at-bat – before turning to teaching and coaching football.
|The Coach Abell File|
|Family||Wife: Chrissie, Son: Porter (2017 University of Richmond Graduate), Daughter: Emily (High Point University Graduate)|
|Education||BS in Physical Education & Health (Longwood, '92)
MA in Administration/Supervision (Lynchburg '07)
|Playing Experience||Longwood (1988-1992)|
|2018 - Present||Davidson (Head Coach)|
|2008 - 2017||Washington & Lee (Head Coach, 2012-2017; Offensive Coord., 2008-2011)|
|2002 - 2008||Amherst County HS (Head Coach & Offensive Coordinator)|
|1997 - 2002||Liberty HS (Head Coach)|
|1996 - 1997||Altavista HS (Offensive Coordinator, QB's, & LB's Coach)|
|1994 - 1996||Western Albemarle HS (QB's & DE's Coach)|
|1993||Albemarle HS (Assistant)|