After getting back to its winning ways last week, the New Albany football team hopes to get back to normal this week as it prepares for a Friday, Sept. 13, visit to Licking Heights.
With coach Bubba Kidwell watching from the press box as he recovers from a heart attack, the Eagles scored 14 fourth-quarter points Sept. 6 to edge visiting Dublin Scioto 28-24 and improve to 1-1.
Kidwell's son, Brody Kidwell, helped set the tone defensively with six first-half tackles and then caught a 56-yard touchdown pass from Brock Tibbitts early in the fourth quarter. After a bad snap on a punt to end Scioto's next possession, the Eagles took over at the Irish's 8-yard line and got the winning touchdown pass on third down from the 20 -- after two penalties -- as Tibbitts found a leaping Owen Wilcox on the left side of the end zone.
"Playing with heavy hearts and practicing with heavy hearts all week long with coach Kidwell being on the mend, nothing made him feel better than us finding a way to win," said offensive coordinator Brian Finn, who was named interim coach in Kidwell's absence. "As long as we can control the line of scrimmage, rush the ball because that's what we do and stop the run because that's what we need to do, we can continue to get better each week."
Coach Kidwell was hospitalized after the Eagles' 48-21 loss to Westerville South on Aug. 30 and tests the next day confirmed a heart attack. He said before the Scioto game that pending a doctor's order, he hopes to be on the sideline at Licking Heights.
New Albany gained 277 of its 362 total yards against Scioto on the ground. Reed Hall rushed for 192 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries and Mechi McCaulley added 13 attempts for 66 yards.
Licking Heights fell to 0-2 under first-year coach Kele Waaland with a 41-7 loss at Reynoldsburg on Sept. 6.
Cody Wilson's 1-yard touchdown run with 12 seconds left ended the shutout as the Hornets were outgained 374-114.
Waaland took over for Darren Waters, who left to become an assistant coach at Otterbein. Waaland was on Waters' staff for his entire 14-year tenure.
New Albany has lost its past two games against Licking Heights, 27-24 last year and 35-30 in 2017, after winning 24-23 in 2016.
"We're finally starting to put all the pieces together," Tibbitts said. "Reed is stepping up big time. Our line is stepping up. So is Mechi. Everyone is filling the roles of last year and picking up right where we left off."