Playing Granville on Oct. 11 and following with a trip to Licking Valley on Friday, Oct. 18, presents a challenge for the Licking Heights High School football team.
The Blue Aces are a pass-first spread team, while the Panthers possess an efficient passing attack combined with a strong rushing game behind a powerful offensive line.
"They come off the line and knock you in the teeth, but they also have the ability to beat you with the pass," coach Darren Waters said of Licking Valley. "They might have the best balanced and effective offense we'll face this season.
"They have a big, strong tailback (Hunter Hartshorn) like all Randy Baughman teams do. Their quarterback (Grant Garber) throws a nice ball and they have some receivers (Ty Griffith and Mason Baker) who make big plays. If you sneak up to the line of scrimmage, they'll attack you on the perimeter and edges and they have a good play-action game."
Licking Valley was 5-1 overall before playing its LCL-Big School opener Oct. 11 against Watkins Memorial. Licking Heights was 6-0 overall and 1-0 in the league before playing Granville.
Licking Valley averaged 37 points through six games and Licking Heights averaged 37.3. The Panthers, using a base 4-3 defense, were allowing 17 points per contest and the Hornets were allowing 6.2.
The Hornets entered the Granville game coming off a 54-6 win over Lakewood on Oct. 4. Tailback Robbie Moore scored four touchdowns, including one on a 45-yard pass from quarterback Martell Davis. Tailback Ron Carruthers-Kimball added a 23-yard touchdown run and a 46-yard punt return for another score.
"Licking Valley is traditionally one of the best teams in central Ohio and we know we'll have to be ready to play the entire game," Waters said. "We came out flat and unfocused against Lakewood and we trailed 6-0 in the second quarter before we had an attitude adjustment."
Waters said the offense has a tendency to "feel the other team out early rather than playing fast and hard." He was pleased after the first quarter.
"The offensive line has played well and that is a credit to coach Kim Waaland," Waters said. "He's got eight guys ready to go at any time with no drop-off. We've had four backs rush for over 100 yards in a game and that's a credit to those linemen and coach Waaland."
Volleyball team suffers setback
After an injury to middle-hitter Jemiah Powell contributed to the girls volleyball team's 0-6 start, the 6-foot senior returned to spark a four-match winning streak.
Now it looks like the Hornets may have to finish the season without Powell.
"She's been out for over a week now and on crutches," coach Amanda Mosely said. "At first we just thought it was a knee strain. But now the trainers are telling me she needs to have it looked at again and that (the emergency room) may have missed something because she's still really struggling.
"When I went (to the Division I district tournament draw Oct. 6), I thought it was best to take a bye in the first round to give her a little more time to recover no matter what happened after the first round. But I think now that she's not going to make it back anyway."
The Hornets have had a number of injuries and illnesses that have made continuity within the lineup difficult.
"It's been a very strange year," Mosely said. "We've had so many different lineups. I didn't think there were that many possible combinations."
The Hornets are seeded 39th for the tournament and play at sixth-seeded Westerville Central or play host to 42nd-seeded Delaware in the second round Wednesday, Oct. 16. Licking Heights has not played either team this season.
The winner advances to a district semifinal Oct. 24 at Bloom-Carroll against Worthington Kilbourne (fifth seed), Teays Valley (41st) or Watkins Memorial (44th).
The Hornets split with Watkins Memorial in the LCL this season, winning 25-16, 25-13, 22-25, 25-21 on Sept. 5 and losing 28-26, 25-18, 26-24 on Oct.1. They have not played Kilbourne or Teays Valley.
Licking Heights was 5-13 overall and in the LCL after losing to Northridge 24-26, 25-20, 25-18, 25-23 on Oct. 10. The Hornets closed the regular season by playing in the Tourney for the Cure on Oct. 12 at Pickerington North.
Cross country teams get set for district
The boys and girls cross country teams will compete in the Division I district meet Saturday, Oct. 19, at Watkins Memorial.
Both will compete in district 2, where the top five teams and top 20 individuals advance to the regional Oct. 26 at Pickerington North.
Both teams completed the regular season in the Johnstown Invitational on Oct. 5 before competing in the LCL meet Oct. 12 at Watkins Memorial.
Despite a runner-up effort from Paige Hartley (22 minutes, 26.07 seconds), the girls team finished last (123) in a six-team field in the Johnstown Invitational as Westerville South (58) won. Tessa Kenney (25th, 25:33.79), MacKenzie Myers (41st, 27:19.6), Rachel Shemenski (45th, 27:46) and Kirsten Reed (47th, 27:54.09) followed.
The boys team was fifth (109) of seven teams in the Johnstown Invitational as Westerville South (22) won. Anthony Haist (10th, 19:09.83) and Vince Masoni (25th, 20:17.18) led the way, followed by Brandon Haist (35th, 21:13.58), Alex Wilcox (37th, 21:17.73) and Ethan Myers (74th, 23:55.47).
Girls soccer team 38th seed in district
The girls soccer team is seeded 38th for its first Division I district tournament and has a first-round bye. The program played a junior varsity schedule last season.
The Hornets open the postseason Tuesday, Oct. 15, at fifth-seeded Westerville Central. The winner advances to a district semifinal Oct. 22 against Kilbourne (14th), Gahanna (18th) or Teays Valley (34th) at the home of the higher seed.
Licking Heights was 2-14 overall and finished 1-6 in the LCL after losing to Lakewood 4-1 in the regular-season finale Oct. 10.
Boys soccer team has first-round bye
The boys soccer team is seeded 42nd and has a first-round bye in the Division I district tournament.
Licking Heights plays at fifth-seeded New Albany on Saturday, Oct. 19. The winner advances to a district semifinal Oct. 23 against sixth-seeded Hilliard Davidson, Reynoldsburg (28th) or Briggs (34th) at the home of the higher seed.
The Hornets are 3-13 overall before concluding the regular season Oct. 10 with a 5-2 loss to New Concord John Glenn. They finished 0-7 in the LCL.