It's on to the final four for the Hartley High School football team and its superb running back and senior, Noah Key. In the first three weeks of the postseason, Key has run for 11 touchdowns and almost 700 yards and has been a major factor in the Hawks' victories over Amanda-Clearcreek, Heath and Ironton, which had beaten Hartley 37-16 on Oct. 15. He will be a point of focus for two-time Division IV state champion Kettering Alter on Friday.

It's on to the final four for the Hartley High School football team and its superb running back and senior, Noah Key. In the first three weeks of the postseason, Key has run for 11 touchdowns and almost 700 yards and has been a major factor in the Hawks' victories over Amanda-Clearcreek, Heath and Ironton, which had beaten Hartley 37-16 on Oct. 15. He will be a point of focus for two-time Division IV state champion Kettering Alter on Friday.

"What an unbelievably exciting way for all of us seniors to end our high school football career," Key said. "This is really a big deal to be playing through the month of November and it is something we will all remember forever. And what makes it even better is that we didn't make the playoffs last year with a 7-3 record and we were so disappointed, so we went out and dedicated ourselves to making this happen this year. We have an 11-2 record right now and I believe that the good opponents that we faced throughout the year have helped prepare us for the teams we are facing now."

Talking about the win last Friday over Ironton, Key said, "Very few times in your life, and even fewer times in football, do you get a chance to beat someone who earlier in the year beat you, and we took advantage of that opportunity by playing really well against Ironton. When we lost to them at Ironton, we were sloppy and had four turnovers and didn't think they saw our best effort. I think that factor motivated us last Friday and we wanted to show them who we really are and how we play football at Hartley. The result of that big win has given us another opportunity and that is to play a team in Kettering Alter that has won the state title two years in a row. It will be important to not be overwhelmed by what they have done in the past. It is a new year and I know we will enter the game with great confidence."

Key was one of central Ohio's leading scorers and rushed for more than 2,500 yards. But he points out that individual statistics are for other sports.

"Football is all about being part of a team. The reason I have been successful this year is because I run behind an offensive line that has five senior starters, each of whom has been a starter for three years," Key said. "I love being part of a team and love spending time with my friends, and my friends are the guys that are my teammates on the football field. Football has taught me countless life lessons. Sure, you get to relieve stress by hitting people, and sure it is great to run for touchdowns, but football has taught me about how to handle adversity. Each game, each quarter, you face challenges, and I believe facing those challenges has helped me and will continue to help me face challenges in life."

Key wears No. 44, the same number his father David wore when he played at Hartley, and he wears that number with great pride.

"My dad has been so helpful to me in the sport of football," Key said. "I have definitely used him as a teaching tool and he has been just like a personal trainer. I am so proud to wear his jersey number and follow in his footsteps at Hartley High School."

I'll see you at a game.

Larry Larson is a former athletics director at Grandview High School. He can be heard as "Mr. High School Sports" on WTVN 610 AM.