PATASKALA — London Pearson admitted taking a back seat in the backfield was an adjustment a season ago.
Pearson has been starring at Licking Heights since his days on the youth fields, and he spent most of his junior season playing mostly just defense while watching two prolific seniors carry the ball. Now, it is Pearson’s turn, and he is making the most of his opportunity.
“It was hard, and I took it to heart,” Pearson said. “But now I get to play, so I’m OK.”
Pearson had four of his six rushing touchdowns in this past Friday’s 48-26 victory against Newark. The Hornets still have an embarrassment of riches behind quarterback Gabe Caldwell, so Pearson piled up 138 yards on just 11 carries.
Junior Keshawn Moore took his turn, too, running for scores of 41 and 76 yards during the second half. His 135 yards came on just seven carries.
“One of the neatest things for me is to watch our backs on the sideline,” coach Darren Waters said. “You don’t get a guy who feels like he is not getting enough touches. It made me proud to watch them cheering each other on.”
A huge chunk of the credit for an unstoppable running game against Newark goes to the offensive line. Heights scrapped the spread and went to the stack-I.
“This is the Licking Heights offense I am used to,” Waters said. “With the rain and the weather, we thought it would be easier for our kids to kind of settle into what our kids kind of know best.”
The Hornets did most of their damage running left behind Jacob Dalton, Quintin Payton and Josh Martin. All three are first-year starters at the varsity level.
“Jacob Dalton has stepped up big time,” senior center Zach Sims said. “He is one of reasons why we are doing well.”
To win a Licking County League-Buckeye Division title and return to the Division II playoffs, Heights likely will have to continue to develop its spread offense. No question, however, which scheme the biggest Hornets prefer.
“It just shows whose the better Joe,” said Sims, of Stack-I.
It was a thing of beauty against the Wildcats. Trailing 19-13, Heights used up nearly all of the final four minutes of first half, driving 80 yards to take the lead.
The Hornets used three ball carriers to carry the ball 12 times. When the Heights offense gets rolling, it does not matter who is lined up behind the front.
“I believe and trust in every one of my backs Nos. 1 through 4,” Sims said.
Aug. 28: Heights 69, Westland 7
Sept. 4: @Hamilton Twp. 30, Heights 13
Sept. 11: Heights 48, Newark 26
Sept. 19: @Newark Catholic, 7 p.m.
Sept. 25: Heath, 7 p.m.
Oct. 2: Watkins Memorial, 7 p.m.
Oct. 9: St. Charles, 7 p.m.
Oct. 16: @Lakewood, 7 p.m.
Oct. 23: Granville, 7 p.m.
Oct. 30: @Licking Valley, 7 p.m.