HEATH — Kordell Wiley wishes he could take just one thing back from this past Friday’s home finale.
Well, actually two things. In the first quarter, Wiley was unable to hold onto an interception, which was thrown right to him. He might have been able to return it for a touchdown.
In the fourth quarter, Wiley did get the elusive interception, but he lost his balance, again robbing himself of a chance to score.
“It was amazing, but I would have loved to take the first one back,” Wiley said. “I have been struggling with it for weeks now and I had my shot, but I blew it. But I did get an interception at last.”
Of course, most everything else went right for the Bulldogs, who celebrated their small senior class with a rout of Lakewood and now play at Johnstown on Friday with a Division IV playoff spot likely on the line.
Wiley was a part of a defensive effort that sacked Cole Glaub three times, intercepted him twice and stopped two Lakewood threats in Heath territory.
Wiley said much of the credit has gone to the underclassmen who have done their part to get the Bulldogs ready each week.
“I owe them every single thing that we do on that field,” Wiley said. “It reflects on the underclassmen. On scout team, they for the most part gives us a good look. … I know they don’t get their whole (credit) when they are doing good, but they definitely deserve it.”
With sophomores and juniors receiving valuable experience for the second consecutive season, it has been easy for people to look ahead to 2016. The seniors, however, have been able to keep focus on the present.
Elijah Senior has been an impact player on both lines, Avery Hogue has made clutch plays as a blocker and receiver for Aaron Latiolais and Wiley has shored up the perimeter for a defense that quietly has become one of the area’s best.
A sure highlight from Friday was Rahli Khaliq’s first touchdown reception. Late in the game, Latiolais hit him with a perfect pass over the defender for a 31-yard score.
The juniors have shown their appreciation in the best way they know. Adryn McCoy had two touchdowns and 151 yards of offense on 12 touches against Lakewood.
“I have been with them since we were in biddy football,” McCoy said. “I love that senior class.”
A season ago, Heath played Johnstown for a share of the Licking County League-Cardinal Division title in Week 9. This season, the postseason remains in reach in Week 10.
Coach Mark Collier sees a common denominator.
“It’s a small group, and to be honest with you, they had some guys bail on them,” Collier said. “These guys held together, stayed positive and worked with the young kids to bring them along. I think they learned a lot from last year’s seniors. We have had two solid groups in a row kind of setting a precedent.”
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 52, Heath 13
Oct. 3: @Newark Catholic 10, Heath 0
Oct. 9: Utica 21, Heath 15
Oct. 16: Heath 31, Northridge 0
Oct. 23: Heath 53, Lakewood 27
Oct. 30: @Johnstown, 7 p.m.