Licking Heights Roundup
Volleyball team opens league play with victory
The Licking Heights High School girls volleyball team got a leg up in its bid to earn a second consecutive MSL-Cardinal Division championship when it defeated Harvest Prep 25-22, 22-25, 25-20, 22-25, 15-6 in the league opener Aug. 30.
The teams shared the title last season when both finished 13-1 after splitting their matches. The Hornets won the first meeting 25-18, 20-25, 25-22, 12-25, 15-8 at home but lost 25-15, 25-11, 25-19 at Harvest Prep.
"We beat them in the first league match last year, but that was at our place and then we lost at their place," coach Amanda Mosely said. "So winning at their place in five games to open (league play) is a big plus. We gained some momentum because we've had trouble beating them there in that environment. But we know Liberty Union and Grandview are supposed to be strong this year, too."
The Hornets defeated Grandview 25-11, 25-10, 25-15 on Sept. 4 and played Liberty Union on Sept. 6.
Last season, Fisher Catholic (10-4) was third in the standings, followed by Liberty Union (8-6), Grandview (5-9), West Jefferson (5-9), Berne Union (2-12) and Millersport (0-14).
"We want to win back-to-back MSL championships," said Mosely, whose team will be leaving the league to join the new Licking County League next year. "We haven't talked much about this being our last year or about joining the Licking County League. We're just focused on this season right now."
That doesn't mean Mosely isn't at least thinking about next season, or this postseason.
"We're playing some Division II schools in non-league play to help us prepare for next year and get us ready for the postseason," she said. "One of the problems we've had here is that playing the smaller schools in our league, like Millersport, Berne Union and Fisher Catholic, doesn't prepare us much for the (Division II) district tournament."
Licking Heights played Licking Valley in its opener Aug. 28, losing 25-20, 25-23, 25-19. The Hornets also lost to Fairfield Union 25-21, 25-21, 10-25, 22-25, 15-8 on Sept. 1.
"We played fairly well against Valley. They're just a good team and were better than us that night," Mosely said. "We brought everything we had against Harvest Prep and played very well. Then we didn't play very well at all against Fairfield Union and that was disappointing."
Against Harvest Prep, C.J. Wulf had nine aces and 42 assists and Jemiah Powell had 23 kills. Katie Kenney had 10 kills and Mercedesz Mate had 40 digs.
"Their coach told me afterward how impressed she was by Mate and how she was the glue to the team," Mosely said. "She was getting everything up."
Freshman Michaela Powell had seven kills against Licking Valley. Jemiah Powell had 13 kills against Fairfield Union and Wulf added nine kills.
Football team set for league play
The football team begins MSL-Cardinal play Friday, Sept. 14, as host to Harvest Prep.
Both teams won their first two games. The Warriors defeated Bexley 34-6 on Aug. 24 and Portsmouth Notre Dame 34-7 on Aug. 31. They played Licking Valley on Sept. 7.
"Harvest Prep is real athletic and they have some very good size up front," coach Darren Waters said. "They have a couple of Division I college prospects and an explosive offense. They have the speed to run with us on defense. We're going to have to be ready to play to begin the MSL-Cardinal on a good note."
The Hornets won last season's contest 29-23 in overtime.
Harvest Prep senior tight end and defensive end Ethan Brown (6-foot-4, 225 pounds) has verbally committed to the Air Force Academy. Brown had 90 tackles and 11 sacks last season, and he had four touchdown receptions through two games this season.
Senior Zach Yousey (6-3, 185), a receiver/running back and defensive back, has been offered scholarships from Maryland, Georgia Tech, Arkansas, Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio State. Yousey had touchdown runs of 15 and 62 yards and also returned a kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown against Bexley. He ran for a 61-yard score and passed to Brown for a 13-yard touchdown against Portsmouth Notre Dame.
The Warriors, who often use four-receiver sets but also run from an offset-I formation, are led by senior quarterback Josiah Stacy and linemen Anthony Peoples (6-1, 240) and Blair Clark (6-4, 300). Peoples had 64 tackles at linebacker and defensive end last season and Stacy had 47 at defensive back. Hunter Pharis (LB) is another key player on defense.
The Hornets scored twice in the final minutes of the first half en route to a 21-7 win over Gallipolis Gallia Academy on Aug. 31.
"We just wanted to stay close in the first half and wear them down," said Waters, whose team played Teays Valley on Sept. 7. "They scored a bunch of points in the opener. As it turned out, we led 14-0 at halftime and got up 21-0 in the third quarter and that changed their offensive approach, which was a good thing for our defense. We took them away from the things they like to do."
Taylor Curtiss connected with David Lancaster on a 71-yard touchdown pass with 2:32 left until halftime.
The Hornets forced a punt with 49 seconds left and Jake Foley returned it to the Gallia Academy 16-yard line. Curtiss then threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Douglas Bennefield with 10 seconds left in the half.
"David Lancaster works real hard on our scout team and got an opportunity to make a big play and he did," Waters said. "He ran an out route and Curtiss hit him. It was perfectly timed and a defender broke on the ball and missed it. Lancaster broke one tackle and then got a great downfield block from Bennefield to score.
"On the second touchdown, we were able to isolate Bennefield on the outside and Curtiss threw a nice fade route. We moved the ball and ate up clock in the second half. We scored on an eight-play drive on our third possession when Kendall Bradley ran one up the middle (22 yards)."
Waters credited the defense, which had allowed 19 points through two games, for the Hornets' 2-0 start after opening 0-2 a year ago.
"We've got a special group of kids here; they're coachable and love Licking Heights football," Waters said. "They genuinely care for one another and the coaches are invested as well. The unity of this group began last spring and I hope it continues all season."