Licking Heights High School boys golf coach Tyler Hennen has modest goals for his team this season as it makes the transition from the MSL-Cardinal Division to the revived Licking County League.
"My goal for this team is to be competitive in every match," said Hennen, who replaced Todd Righter as coach during the offseason. "I want to make the other team play their best and make sure they know we are not some team they can coast through."
Senior John Kenney is expected to lead the Hornets after averaging 78.4 strokes over 18 holes and making second-team all-MSL-Cardinal last season.
"John Kenney is our best golfer," Hennen said. "He will be around par every match. His strengths are consistency and experience. This will be his fourth year as a letterwinner for Licking Heights. I expect him to earn all-league status and reach (the Division I) district (tournament) and possibly state."
Sophomore Troy Hickman is the only other returnee. He averaged 98.0 last season when Licking Heights went 11-7 in the MSL-Cardinal to tie Grandview for third behind Fisher Catholic (16-2) and Liberty Union (15-3).
Hickman is expected to be the Hornets' No. 3 player this fall behind Kenney and junior Clyde Neiswander.
"Clyde Neiswander will step into our No. 2-man role," Hennen said. "He hits the ball a long way off the tee and with the irons. Troy Hickman should feel less pressure this year because he has played varsity. He finds the fairway quite a bit off the tee."
Completing the roster are senior Austin Pond, junior Kenneth Abarra and sophomore Justin Wand. Pond is new to the program and Neiswander, Abarra and Wand played junior varsity last year.
"Austin Pond is consistent off the tee and finding the green in regulation," Hennen said. "Wand and Abarra have improved a lot from last year. You can really tell (Wand) has been working on his game. He is becoming a better all-around player. Abarra finds the fairway regularly off the tee.
"Our weakness as a team, like most teams that are a little young, is consistency around the green, and that is what I am stressing this year. Most of the strokes in a match are around or on the green and, if we can decrease those strokes, we will be in contention in most matches. If we can be solid from 100 yards in, we will have success."
Licking Heights, which finished 11th in the sectional at Granville Golf Course and did not have any individual district qualifiers last season, opened Aug. 9 by finishing last (377) in the 15-team Bulldog Invitational at Burning Tree behind champion Bexley (305).
The Hornets also were last (438) in the LCL Preseason Tournament on Aug. 13 at New Albany Links behind Johns-town (318), Granville (324), Heath (333), Newark Catholic (347), Northridge (359), Lakewood (380), Utica (381) and Licking Valley (388).