The Licking Heights High School football team enjoyed a strong start to the season, and the Hornets hope to continue that through the conclusion of their non-league schedule Friday, Sept. 13, at Groveport.
"One of our goals is to enter the LCL playing well, so the Groveport game will be an important one for us," coach Darren Waters said. "Plus, we added Groveport to the schedule because they are a Division I school and, to prepare for our league, we wanted to play bigger schools."
The Hornets beat visiting Mifflin 40-6 in the opener Aug. 30, scoring two touchdowns in the first minute. Doug Benniefield returned the opening kickoff 81 yards for a score. The Punchers fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Licking Heights recovered. On the second offensive snap, Adrian Myrthil threw a 28-yard touchdown pass to Luke Langkamp for a 14-0 lead. Myrthil, who also ran for two touchdowns, threw his second scoring pass to Adrien Hammonds (39 yards) in the third quarter.
"Myrthil did a nice job in his first start at quarterback," said Waters, whose team played Hamilton Township on Sept. 6. "He managed the game well and threw for two touchdowns on play-action passes. Overall, though, we had some penalties that threw us behind in down-and-distance situations and we put the ball on the ground a few times. I'm hoping that was due to the number of young guys playing under the lights for the first time."
Kendall Bradley rushed for 123 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries.
Except for one defensive miscue late in the first half, the Hornets dominated Mifflin. The Punchers had 12 yards rushing in the first half, but connected for a 63-yard touchdown pass in the final minute before halftime.
"We played very well defensively," Waters said. "Aaron Tiller had a big game at end and Cameron Claborn and Mike Hopewell were very solid at defensive tackle."
Tiller had three sacks and five tackles for loss.
Groveport lost to Westerville South 48-20 on Aug. 30 and played Walnut Ridge on Sept. 6.
The Cruisers scored two offensive touchdowns against South, on a 55-yard pass from Austin Newman to Markel Davis and a 34-yard run by Mecca Swain. Groveport's other touchdown came when linebacker Deshawn Sowell recovered a fumble in the end zone.
The Cruisers allowed 525 total yards.
Boys golf team showing progress
Despite having just one victory before competing against Watkins Memorial on Sept. 5, the boys golf team is showing improvement, according to first-year coach Tyler Hennen.
"Unless you see the boys competing, it's difficult to say because you're just comparing team scores, but they are getting better," Hennen said. "If you look at our team scores, they've come down somewhat. But a lot of it depends on the course you're playing."
With a few exceptions, Hennen has been pleased with the scores the Hornets have posted. One of those exceptions was Sept. 3 when they shot a 202 on their home course, Blacklick Woods, as Newark Catholic won with a 164.
"I am hoping this was just a bad day for all of them, because we were getting better," he said. "Maybe this was just a hiccup, but it was our worst showing by far this season."
Licking Heights' top team effort was a 181 on Aug. 29 at Burning Tree, as Heath won with a 158. The Hornets were 1-4 in LCL duals before facing Watkins Memorial, with the win being against Lakewood 186-188 on Aug. 27 at Blacklick Woods.
Senior John Kenney was medalist against Lakewood (39) and against Utica (41) in a 175-187 loss at The Links at Echo Springs on Aug. 20. Kenney shared medalist honors with Granville's Nick Contini (37) in a 158-184 loss at Granville Golf Course on Aug. 22.
"John has been our most consistent player, but he has also struggled a few times with his putting," Hennen said. "We're focusing on that the rest of the season because he needs to be more consistent there to reach his postseason goals.
"Troy Hickman is a sophomore who is really coming along well. He's hitting more fairways and making a few more putts. He's not long off the tees, but he's accurate."
Hennen also won't determine how successful the team is based on wins and losses.
"Other than John, we don't have much experience," he said. "The goals are to be competitive, improve, have fun and learn the game and proper approach. We're trying to get them to understand that bogeys are good, pars are better and birdies are a bonus. Saving shots is the key. You can't shoot to save par if it leads to a triple-bogey, or worse. Take the bogey and move on."
Girls soccer team earns first victory
The girls soccer team beat Teays Valley 3-2 on Sept. 3 for the program's first varsity victory.
Madison Dixon scored all three goals and Ellie Pastor made 10 saves.
The Hornets, in their first season playing a varsity schedule, were 1-5 overall after losing to Briggs 3-2 on Sept. 5. They are 0-2 in the LCL.
Licking Heights' victory came after it was outscored 39-0 in its first four losses: to Big Walnut (12-0 on Aug. 19), Granville (8-0 on Aug. 22), Watkins Memorial (10-0 on Aug. 27) and Reynoldsburg (9-0 on Aug. 29).