Last fall, the Licking Heights High School football team watched MSL-Cardinal Division rival Grandview piece together a perfect regular season en route to a Division V, Region 19 playoff berth.
The Hornets, who went 5-5, apparently took notes.
Licking Heights tried to complete a perfect regular season -- 10-0 overall and 7-0 in the league -- when it played host to Fisher Catholic on Oct. 26.
Licking Heights already had clinched a Division II, Region 7 playoff berth before beating host Berne Union 45-8 on Oct. 20. The game was moved from Oct. 19 because of a power outage in Sugar Grove.
"I found out we had clinched a playoff spot on the way to the school to catch the team bus," coach Darren Waters said. "We didn't tell the boys before the game. We wanted them to focus on getting better and doing the things we worked on (in practice)."
That has been the team's approach all season.
"The thing I like about our team is the focus to detail and mental preparation these kids have exhibited," Waters said. "It's something that will have to carry over into the playoffs because that's a brand new season and you just want to see this thing continue as long as possible."
There were a number of scenarios and opponents the Hornets could play when the postseason begins next weekend at the sites of the top four teams in each region. The pairings will be announced Sunday, Oct. 28.
This is the third time Licking Heights has qualified for the playoffs. The Hornets last made it in 2007, when they competed in Division IV, Region 15. They beat Portsmouth 42-34 in the first round before losing to St. Clairsville 33-17 in the second round.
Their other appearance was in 2001 when they competed in Division V, Region 19 and lost 6-0 in the first round to Woodsfield Monroe Central.
Grandview lost to Ashland Crestview 45-29 in the first round last season.
Although Grandview and Licking Heights compete in the same league, there are a few differences between the schools. Licking Heights felt like it had to go undefeated just to qualify for the playoffs.
"We outgrew our league and did it rather quickly, so we're a bigger school playing smaller schools and the boys knew we pretty much had to be perfect to achieve our goal of reaching the playoffs," Waters said. "The move to the Licking County League (next season) is coming at a great time. Another difference with Grandview is that we don't have a downtown, so we're trying to make the school the gathering point for our community. We're a conglomeration of several smaller, spread out areas.
"I think we're seeing an upswing in athletics, boys and girls, and our schools just got an excellent rating with distinction on our state report card. We want to change the perception here and I think we're doing that. We want to be the centerpiece for the community."
Season ends for volleyball team
The girls volleyball team played well in stretches during its Division II district semifinal Oct. 23 against second-seeded Hartley.
However, the Hawks had too much depth and pulled away to a 25-19, 25-15, 25-12 victory at Worthington Christian Middle School.
"They are a very well-rounded team," said fifth-year coach Amanda Mosely, whose squad finished 17-8. "They had a very good setter, good hitters, were strong at middles and very good at outsides. They had everything.
"They had kills and blocks on us that we haven't seen much during the regular season. We prepared the girls for that and I think we handled that pretty well for not being used to it."
With senior outside hitter Katie Kenney delivering kills and junior middle hitter Jemiah Powell recording kills and blocks, the Hornets stayed close early.
The Hawks broke a 5-all tie in the first game before leading 10-8 and extending the advantage to 16-11 and 21-14 before winning.
"In game one and (early in) game two, we were able to exploit their middle with Katie, our left-handed outside (hitter)," Mosely said. "She caused them a lot of trouble. She and Jemiah caused them to change some things up."
The Hornets led the second game 10-6 and 11-8 before Hartley began a 10-point run that changed the momentum.
"We all started to feel it slipping away when we couldn't stop them there," Mosely said. "The pressure got to us some. It's always nervous time during the tournament and you have to step up to it. We kept working hard and playing hard, but we were making some mistakes that we don't normally make."
The Hornets led 3-1 in the third game, but after it was tied 5-all, the Hawks used a 15-5 run for a 20-10 lead.
Boys soccer team falls in semifinal
The boys soccer team ran into trouble Oct. 23 when it played at second-seeded Watterson in a Division II district semifinal.
The Hornets, after winning their first two tournament games in program history, lost 4-0. Licking Heights had only three shots on goal, while Hornets goalkeeper Abdi Fatah made 14 saves.
Licking Heights finished 11-6-1 for first-year coach Zach Grubb.
The Hornets defeated Jonathan Alder 1-0 in the first round Oct. 16 and beat Beechcroft 3-0 in the second round Oct. 18.
Konich runs at regional
Senior Briana Konich competed in the Division II regional cross country meet Oct. 27 at Pickerington North. The top four teams and top 16 individuals qualified for the state meet Saturday, Nov. 3, at National Trail Raceway.
In the district race Oct. 20 at Watkins Memorial, Konich finished 15th in 21 minutes, 20.45 seconds as the top four teams and top 16 individuals qualified for regional.
Konich was the only Licking Heights runner to advance.
The girls team finished 13th (279) in a 14-team field, as Granville (41) won and was joined at regional by Bexley (109), Caledonia River Valley (115) and London (147).
Also scoring for the Hornets were PyLynne Myers (61st, 24:04.18), MacKenzie Myers (72nd, 24:49.73), Audrey Duke (80th, 25:09.61) and Kacie Solages (81st, 25:15.15).
The boys finished seventh (191) in the 12-team Division II, district 1 race as the top four teams and top 16 individuals advanced. Granville (16) won and was joined at regional by Whitehall (91), Bexley (93) and DeSales (126).
Scoring for the Hornets were Tysson Olverson (20th, 18:29.66), Anthony Haist (33rd, 19:04.86), Vince Masoni (42nd, 19:43.53), Drew Sellitto (44th, 20:01) and Brandon Haist (55th, 20:45.64).