HEATH – Two things will stick with the end of the season for coach Mark Collier’s Bulldogs.
They might be the best 5-5 football team in the region after all things are said and done, and Heath’s opponents next season better remember how to spell the name of emerging all-purpose sparkplug Aaron Latiolais.
Heath quickly worked its way out of mediocrity this season and was close to making the transformation from a two-win team in 2013 to a playoff squad in 2014. The Bulldogs lost by nine to playoff-bound Granville, fell in an epic, three-overtime battle with postseason qualifier Licking Valley, and was beaten 24-14 by yet another team playing in Week 11, Watkins Memorial.
Along the way, Heath notched a rare win against Newark Catholic and crushed Northridge, 49-0, to end the season.
“We can’t linger on those close losses, so we should celebrate the hard work we all put in this season to get moving in the right direction,” Collier said after the season finale.
The coach also wasn’t mentioning a series of injuries that kept key players out, or far from their potential, this season.
The end of the season was emotional for the Bulldogs.
“(Friday’s) game was a bittersweet ending,” senior Donny Bestiel said after the Bulldogs brushed aside the Vikings. “Football is all about learning; moving on when things don’t go exactly the way you wanted them to be.”
Latiolais had a sensational game to close the season, and next year Collier will have a difficult decision. Should Latiolais play quarterback or tailback? Latiolais had 188 rushing yards against the Vikings and also passed for 141 as Heath rolled up 488 yards of total offense.
“We had a good season; not quite what we wanted but good just the same,” said Latiolais, a sophomore.
He was especially happy for 11 seniors who led the team down the field for 2014’s final touchdown on senior night.
The Bulldogs’ defense got stronger as the season progressed and, among the standouts back next year, will be sophomore named Daulton Brown. He was a leading tackler for most of the season as a freshman linebacker.
The biggest parts to replace next year will be the dual deep-ball threats of Bobby Kazar and Jackson Kaiser. Kazar had a 32-yard TD reception against the Vikings.
Aug. 29: Heath 31, Bloom Carroll 30
Sept. 5: Granville 21, Heath 12
Sept. 12: Licking Valley 42, Heath 36, 3 OT
Sept. 19: Licking Heights 47, Heath 13
Sept. 26: Heath 37, Lakewood 11
Oct. 3: Heath 17, Newark Catholic 16
Oct. 10:Heath 27, Utica 0
Oct. 17: Watkins 24, Heath 14
Oct. 24: Johnstown 27, Heath 7
Oct. 31: Heath 49, Northridge 0