Peyton Wheeler takes on a heavier load for Northridge football

JOHNSTOWN — After missing part of his youth soccer season due to injury, Peyton Wheeler will happily play as much as he can handle this fall.

The Northridge senior recognizes that pulling double duty is a challenge, but he worked through the offseason to take advantage of this opportunity. Wheeler, already a standout inside linebacker for the Vikings, is now the offense’s starting running back.

“It’s definitely a bit of a change to play both ways, I’d say. It’s a lot more tiring, but pretty much everyone plays both ways,” Wheeler said. “We’re in great shape, and we’re always going and ready to go. Our summer weight room set us up and set us up. A lot of guys got a lot stronger.”

Wheeler is not being asked to duplicate the production of All-Ohioan graduate JD Miller. Instead, he has been a complement to veteran Lane Hess in Northridge’s quarterback-centric system.

Hess, playing with a heavy heart on the Friday after the death of his father James Hess, a dedicated Northridge supporter, has emerged as one of Licking County’s top dual threats with the Vikings (0-3) adding a major pass element. Wheeler added 32 yards on 11 carries in last Friday’s 20-13 loss to Grandview Heights and caught his fifth pass of the season from the backfield.

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