HEATH — To beat Licking Valley for the first time since 1990, Heath had to control the clock, and the Bulldogs’ offensive line more than did its part.
Heath put together drives of 74 and 76 yards in the 20-3 victory, and the line cleared the way for quarterback Aaron Latiolais to run for 207 yards on 38 carries with three touchdowns.
Elijah Senior at guard is the only senior in the group, which also features juniors Alex Bradley (center), tackles Kyle Yoho and Daulton Brown, along with guard Dillon Gemmell.
“Senior leads by example, because he always practices hard, too,” coach Mark Collier said. “Sometimes, we even have to dial him back a little. When we have to have it, we run behind him. When Latch (Latiolais) is carrying it, Senior is the guy he’s usually running behind. In crunch time, you follow your senior lineman.”
Despite the loss at Granville, Collier said the line played pretty well.
“We just got too far behind,” he said. “Our pass protection has been good, and we need it to be good with the schedule we have coming up.”
Licking Valley coach Randy Baughman praised the Bulldogs for their physical play, especially in the trenches.
“Our physicality has picked up a lot, and they (Valley) are a hard team to be physical with,” said Senior, who also recovered a crucial fourth-quarter fumble in the end zone from his defensive tackle slot, preventing a Panthers’ touchdown.
He said the line loves blocking for Latiolais.
“I love his work ethic,” Senior said. “The line is the motor for our offense, and he feeds the engine.”
Latiolais said, “He (Senior) is the leader of this line, and the leader of this team.”
When the Licking County League re-formed, Collier wanted Heath playing its traditional rivals. After several years of not playing Valley, he made sure the Panthers were on the schedule.
“We had to play Granville, Valley and Lakewood,” Collier said. “We respect those programs so much, and they’re our rivals.”
The Bulldogs (3-1) had little time to enjoy their big win. Road games loom against Licking Heights and Newark Catholic, also both 3-1.
“We haven’t played well against Heights,” Collier said. “We somehow have to turn that around.
“The big thing is, we have our confidence back, after laying an egg against Granville.”
Aug. 28: Heath 42, River View 0
Sept. 4: Heath 25, @Highland 9
Sept. 11: @Granville 42, Heath 20
Sept. 18: Heath 20, Licking Valley 3
Sept. 25: @Licking Heights, 7 p.m.
Oct. 3: @Newark Catholic, 7 p.m.
Oct. 9: Utica, 7 p.m.
Oct. 16: Northridge, 7 p.m.
Oct. 23: Lakewood, 7 p.m.
Oct. 30: @Johnstown, 7 p.m.