PATASKALA — Licking Heights coach Darren Waters warned his team at the end of practice Monday the next day would be one of the most difficult of the season.
The Hornets had to work double time to get their game plan installed for Thursday’s showdown with Hamilton Township. Nobody seemed to mind the idea of having to work a little bit harder.
“You have to practice like you are playing every day,” said senior linebacker Cameron Malicoate, who had one of four Heights defensive touchdowns in a 69-7 rout of Westland in Week 1. “You have to have a sense of urgency every day. Every chance you get, you have to do your best in practice.”
The Hornets play at Hamilton Township at 7 p.m. in a game to be televised on Time Warner Sports Channel (channel 311/1311). It will be broadcast live in central Ohio and shown on tape delay in the other parts of the state.
Heights’ 2012 playoff game against Marion-Franklin was shown on Time Warner. The Hornets, however, watched rival Watkins Memorial play on a Thursday night as a part of the CW’s local Thursday Night Lights package a season ago. The Warriors appear on that again this season against Licking Valley in Week 9.
“We have kind of formed that rivalry (with Hamilton Township),” Heights senior quarterback Gabe Caldwell said. “It is kind of a back-and-forth series, and I think it is a great opportunity for us to be able to play on TV. We’re excited.”
While Heights has a chance to showcase its program, first and foremost, the game is an opportunity to take a step toward a Division II playoff berth. Each of the past two years, the visiting team has won the game and then used that momentum to eventually reach the postseason.
“There is a sense of excitement for this game because the Hamilton Township game means a lot to me because I think we are similar programs,” Waters said. “It’s good measuring stick for both of us as we get closer to league play. We both count on each other to get some wins down the stretch.”
Hamilton Township blew out Belmont 41-8 in Week 1. Jacob Long, a transfer and West Virginia commit as a cornerback, scored four times for the Rangers.
Watkins welcoming northern neighbor
Watkins hosts East Elgin (Canada) at 7 p.m. Friday for the second consecutive season. The Warriors beat East Elgin 49-0 a season ago. East Elgin later won three games to help Watkins gain valuable computer points.
East Elgin will encounter an improved passing attack from the Warriors. Westley Brandon was as good as advertised, throwing for two scores in a 52-13 victory against Whetstone.
One of the scores covered 21 yards to junior Garth Medors. Medors was impressed with the way Brandon took charge of the offense during the offseason.
“Ever since our last game last season, he has been in the weight room and putting in the work,” Medors said. “The kid is the hardest worker I have ever seen. We come out here after practice and throw an extra 30 minutes just to get that relationship. That’s what he has been doing so far, and that’s why he’s been doing so good.”
Steve Helwagen contributed to this report.