Hilliard Northwest News

Football

Jaguars find plenty of positives in season

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

Hilliard Bradley High School football coach Mike LoParo wasn't ready for the season to end.

The Jaguars lost to host Darby 19-16 in overtime Nov. 1 in their regular-season finale to finish 6-4 overall. They were 12th in the final Division II, Region 5 computer ratings, falling four spots shy of a playoff berth.

Bradley would have secured its first playoff berth with a win over Darby.

"Anytime you finish with a winning record, you have had a good season," said LoParo, who completed his third season leading the program. "But I thought we left some opportunities out there to take that next step. This group did a good job of showing that we could play with some of the bigger powers in central Ohio. As much of a disappointment as it is to have not reached your goals, there are still a lot of positives to take out of the season."

Bradley's other major goal was to win the OCC-Cardinal Division championship. The Jaguars went 5-2 in the league to place third, behind Westerville Central (7-0) and Darby (6-1) and ahead of Dublin Scioto (4-3), Westerville South (3-4), Dublin Jerome (2-5), Westerville North (1-6) and Canal Winchester (0-7).

Bradley loses 24 seniors, including two-year starting quarterback Tommy Horn, who completed 59 of 127 passes for 700 yards with five touchdowns and 10 interceptions, rushed for 813 yards and seven touchdowns on 156 carries and was named first-team all-league.

Senior offensive linemen Ryan Beveridge and Skylar Hartley also were first-team all-league, as was senior defensive back Walker Hamilton (87 tackles, 1 interception). Hartley has committed to the University at Buffalo and Beveridge was the league's Ernie Godfrey Award recipient for academic performance and community service.

Senior offensive lineman Zac Davis, senior running back T.J. Martin (718 yards rushing, 146 carries, 10 touchdowns), senior wide receiver Ryan Reffitt (19 catches, 237 yards, 2 TDs) and senior defensive back Daniel Tepe (30 tackles, 5 INTs, including 2 for TDs) were second-team all-league.

Senior Zack Popovec (WR/DB; 1 INT) was special mention all-league and senior Tyler Harris (TE/DL) was honorable mention all-league.

Another key senior was Matt Johnson (WR/DB), who had 14 receptions for 227 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 211 yards and three touchdowns on 23 carries and had an interception on defense.

"The seniors were a great group of kids and very hard workers," LoParo said. "They set the tone for morning (weight-) lifting as well as with accountability and responsibility. They were sophomores when I came in and they raised the expectations of the program that the groups behind them have to carry on."

"Before this year, I was just happy to be on special teams, but these seniors took me under their wings," said junior linebacker Dalton Hatfield, who had an interception. "They helped me gain the knowledge needed to improve my game and get a feel for playing varsity football."

Among others expected to return are juniors Trey Anderson (WR/RB/DL; 596 yards rushing, 47 carries, 5 TDs), Demias Heard (RB/DB; 1 INT) and Kenny Sanford (RB/DB) and sophomores Derek Dunnagan (WR/DB; 6 catches, 70 yards, 1 TD), Chance Levitt (QB/DB; 75 yards rushing, 14 carries, 1 TD) and Chris Wall (RB/LB; 5 TDs).

"Throughout the year, we got some experience for the younger kids on special teams," LoParo said.

"I also made sure they learned from watching from the sideline so they can grow and make the transition to varsity next year.

"We have everything turned in and cleaned up, and (the coaches) had a couple of days off and are ready to get back to work. With a season ending like that (with an overtime loss), you don't want to pause and wait. You want to get back to work."

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