PATASKALA — Growing up, Tyler Lopinto heard a lot about Licking Heights’ current sophomore football class, which includes his younger brother Jake.
Tyler Lopinto and his senior classmates, however, make a pretty final statement. The older Hornets (5-2, 2-0) lead their teammates in Friday’s showdown at Watkins Memorial (6-1, 1-0).
“We were even arguing a few weeks ago about who was the better class, but we all work together,” Tyler Lopinto said. “We have a goal, and it’s good that we have multiple classes contributing to it and not just one.”
A victory in the latest installment of the Battle of Broad Street would allow Heights to secure at least a share of the Licking County League-Buckeye Division title and solidify their position in the Division II playoff race.
The Hornets weren’t shy about aiming for their goals. Thanks to recent back-to-back wins over then-undefeated Newark Catholic and Granville, they have managed to control their destiny.
“This senior group has had its ups and downs, but since the end of last season they have been really focused on wanting to leave their mark and be the ones people are talking about in five, 10, 15 years. “, said the coach. says Kele Waaland. “Our goal is to win championships and do things that this school and this program has never done before.”
The sophomore trio of Reese Powell, Jake Lopinto and Josiah Ayers featured in five of Heights’ first six scores in last week’s 64-13 Homecoming win over visiting Zanesville. Senior quarterback Deuce Caldwell opened the scoring with a 1-yard TD run.
Caldwell joined Tyler Lopinto three times for a team-best 61 yards. Caldwell leads Licking County in rushing with 868 yards, but that fell back as he completed an effective 8-for-10 pass for 99 yards.
“Obviously we won. It’s more important, but it’s nice to be able to contribute a bit,” Tyler Lopinto said. “We have to be two-dimensional. We managed to get the pass because our line played really well. We ran the ball, so it was good to have some repetition while passing the ball.”
That aforementioned offensive line continues to be led by the senior trio of Bobby Ruh, Andrew Schmitz and Logan Keller. The defense led by senior emotional leader linebacker Grant Hoff and defensive back Jonah Hane also flexed its muscles, holding Zanesville scoreless for three quarters and forcing two fumbles.
“These guys are here to try and hang a banner and put their legacy on it,” Waaland said. “Guys like Tyler are a big part of it. They might not be in the news every week, but he’s a kid who’s there every day and always asks, ‘What the hell am I doing? can do better?’ It’s weird how the football gods reward people like that.”
Watkins will be Heights’ fifth opponent with zero or one loss at kickoff. Waaland called the expected atmosphere “circus-like”, but the Hornets have prepared for big games and have the experience to control their emotions.
“Going to Granville definitely helped. They have a chaotic crowd,” Tyler Lopinto said. “There was a lot of energy there, so it helps to understand that. We also had close games. We know how to do it. We just have to execute and get the job done.”