New Albany High School football coach Pat Samanich begrudgingly lived with the Eagles' 35-28 season-opening loss at Reynoldsburg on Aug. 26.

New Albany High School football coach Pat Samanich begrudgingly lived with the Eagles' 35-28 season-opening loss at Reynoldsburg on Aug. 26.

The manner in which the Eagles lost 28-7 at Hilliard Bradley on Sept. 1 to drop to 0-2 not only irked Samanich, but it backed his team into a corner as it prepared to play host to Licking Heights on Friday, Sept. 9.

A 0-3 start would deal even more of a blow to New Albany's hopes of returning to the playoffs for the first time since 2013.

"(Losing) the first one is a little different (from the second game) because it's the first game. Bradley is a big, physical team with a lot of weapons, and we hurt ourselves when we couldn't afford to," Samanich said. "Now, we have to stand in and respond. This was a barometer. It would have been nice to get a win, but (Licking Heights), that is one we have to get. It's time."

"It will be a playoff football game (Sept. 9). We have to stand up to the challenge."

New Albany committed three turnovers against Bradley, including two fumbles in its first four offensive plays, and ran only five plays in Jaguars territory in the game's first 42 minutes, 30 seconds.

"We were earning every single yard, and when we finally got something going, we put two balls on the ground or we'd get a dumb penalty," Samanich said.

"Fourth (down)-and-short becomes fourth-and-6, and then we'd drop a pass. It's us, us, us, and that is not to take anything away from Hilliard Bradley. They are a really good team but we are better than that, and we are going to show it (Sept. 9)."

Victor White ran for 106 yards on 10 carries. Sixty-one of those yards came on his second-quarter touchdown run.

"Their touchdown run was a missed alignment and a missed assignment. That's where they popped one," Bradley coach Mike LoParo said.

Robert Hyrmer rushed for 90 yards and two 2-yard touchdowns on 26 carries to lead the Jaguars, who improved to 2-0. Will Phillis threw touchdown passes of 32 yards to Daevon Anderson and 44 yards to Trey Warner.

Licking Heights was 1-0 before playing Hamilton Township on Sept. 2.

The Eagles and Hornets, former MSL-Cardinal Division rivals that are separated by only about eight miles, haven't played since a 42-14 New Albany win on Sept. 2, 2005. That was the Eagles' final year in the MSL before heading to the OCC.

Licking Heights' defense limited Westland to 120 total yards in a 31-0 season-opening victory Aug. 26. Ke'Shawn Moore and Brandon Smith had interceptions that led to the Hornets' first 10 points, and Tyre Brewer caught a 10-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter.

Licking Heights is seeking its second consecutive trip to the playoffs and fourth in five years.

Other top players for the Hornets include safety/fullback Joey Harrell and two-way lineman Quintin Payton.

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave