Johnstown Independent

Football

Licking County stars motivated

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Licking Heights High School graduate Taylor Curtiss and Johnstown-Monroe graduate Tyler Thompson play the same position, but the quarterbacks have different motivations for playing in the Licking County- Muskingum Valley All-Star Football Game.

Curtiss, who will be playing for Otterbein University, views the 32nd-annual contest at 8 p.m. Friday, June 28, at John D. Sulsberger Memorial Stadium in Zanesville as an opportunity to help prepare for the start of his college career, whereas Thompson sees the game as a second chance to win his final game as a player.

Both are members of Licking County's roster.

"This helps me get back in the rhythm of football," Curtiss said. "I'm playing with some good athletes, so this will help me get ready for the speed and tempo of college football."

Thompson is getting a second chance to play a final game at Zanesville. Johnstown saw its 2012 season come to an end on the field with a 37-29 loss to St. Clairsville in a Division IV regional final.

"It's definitely going to be fun, but I can't think about the last time I played there," Thompson said. "I just want to go out there, play and have fun."

Thompson will be suiting up with six of his Johnstown teammates from last fall in Daniel-Mark Almendinger (WR/LB), Adam Carter (RB/LB), Dakota Crawford (OL/DL), Justin Mooney (OL/DL), Nick Sadinsky (WR/LB) and Tim Sayer (OL/DL).

Johnnies coach Mike Carter is coaching the Licking County squad, which has lost the past three meetings.

"It's a lot of fun (to coach the game) and it's great to have the opportunity to work with the best players in Licking County," Carter said. "They're good kids, hard workers and great athletes.

"Anytime you get a chance to work with motivated players like this, it's great. Tradition runs deep, and they take a lot of pride in playing in this game."

Muskingum Valley leads the series 17-14 and has won the last three matchups, including a 20-3 win last year at Newark's White Field.

This marks the third time that Carter has been the Licking County coach. He is 2-0 in that role, guiding Licking County to a 13-7 win in 2009 -- the last win for Licking County in the series -- and a 20-14 overtime win in 2003.

"Coach Carter takes us up there (to the game) every single year, and we get to go down and talk to our former teammates about the game," said Thompson, who will be attending Hocking Tech in Nelsonville. "It's a lot of fun.

"And it will be great to be able to have coach Carter coaching us one last time. It's something that I have been looking forward to for a while."

Also playing in the contest for Licking Heights are Willie Carter (OL/DL) and Steve Clum (OL/DL). The only representative for Watkins Memorial on the Licking County roster is Jake Sanders (RB/LB).

"This (game) is new to me, but some of my past teammates have told me how much they enjoyed playing in it," Curtiss said. "I think it's a good opportunity."

Thomas Williams (RB/LB) is the lone Northridge player on the Licking County roster. The contest marks his final game as a player, as he will be attending Ohio University, where he will be a member of the wrestling team.

"I have been working out (for) wrestling, so this is a nice change of pace," he said. "It's one last chance for me to play football, so it should be a lot of fun."

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