Regardless of when or where the DeSales High School football team needed a big play, it turned to senior Josh Kusan time and time again.
Kusan, the district Defensive Player of the Year at linebacker, had perhaps his biggest clutch performance Nov. 14 in a 38-21 victory over Louisville in the Division II, Region 7 final at Arlin Field in Mansfield.
Also the team's No. 1 running back, the 6-foot, 210-pound Kusan had 211 yards and three touchdowns and had a sack and a tackle for loss as the Stallions avenged a 25-20 loss to Leopards in a regional final last year.
Through 13 games, Kusan had 1,502 yards and 24 touchdowns on 193 rushes. Defensively, he led the Stallions with 123 tackles (96 solo, 54 assists) and also had two interceptions, three tackles for loss, seven sacks, four pass break-ups and two forced fumbles.
The Stallions were 13-0 before playing Cincinnati Anderson last Friday in a state semifinal.
"He's a great player," coach Ryan Wiggins said. "I'm very pleased. It's really hard in our style of play to play running back and linebacker. He's a warrior who wants the ball in his hands if the game is on the line. That's the sign of a great player."
One of the biggest plays Kusan made on defense came in a 21-17 win over Watterson on Oct. 3 in Crew Stadium. He intercepted a pass by Watterson's Pat Nester at the 13-yard line with 38 seconds remaining.
Kusan was a standout throughout the postseason as well, finishing with 135 yards and one touchdown in a 20-17 win over Watterson in a regional quarterfinal Oct. 31 and rushing for 125 yards and two scores in a 31-23 win over Marion-Franklin in a regional semifinal Nov. 7.
Kusan saw his first action on varsity as a sophomore at running back and linebacker but battled injuries throughout his sophomore and junior seasons.
"I didn't think I'd get the ball so much, so it's been surprising," he said. "It's great to get that opportunity. The seniors have all stepped up this year and I think we all worked hard in the offseason. It's been exciting being out there."
Kusan has received interest from Air Force as well as schools from the Mid-American Conference and Ivy League. Former DeSales starters Justin Moore and Chris Thomas are key players for Air Force.
"Too many schools recruit guys that look good on paper," Wiggins said. "This kid has been playing against some of the best teams in the state and has been starring every game."
Past captains include Hilliard Darby's Jeremy Ebert (2007), Westland's Kasey Wendal (2006), Kilbourne's Jordan Gafford (2005), Davidson's Christen Haywood (2004), Coffman's Jack Rafferty (2003) and Brady Quinn (2002), Davidson's Erick Phillips (2001), Brookhaven's Maurice Hall (2000), Grove City's Nathan Poole (1999), Upper Arlington's Kyle Slager (1998) and Jesse Kline (1997) and Grove City's Derek Combs (1996), Westerville South's Andy Katzenmoyer (1995) and Dublin Scioto's Nick Goings (1995), Goings (1994) and Hilliard's Steve Baird (1993).
Delaware Hayes High School's Taylor Wood has been named to ThisWeek's Super 25 football team.
Taylor, a senior quarterback, adapted to an option offense for first-year coach Mike LoParo and led the Pacers to their first playoff appearance. Delaware finished 7-4 after losing to Pickerington Central 38-21 in a Division I quarterfinal.
After throwing for nearly 1,500 yards in a pass-oriented attack as a junior, the 6-2, 210-pound Wood became a dual threat this year. The first-team all-district pick and co-Player of the Year in the OCC-Capital led the team in rushing with 798 yards and seven touchdowns and was among the area's leaders in passing yards with 1,827 as he completed 100 of 184 passes with 18 touchdowns and six interceptions.
"Taylor had a fantastic season running and throwing the ball and was great in a leadership role, all of the things we needed to get into the playoffs," LoParo said.
PLAYER TEAM YR. POS. HT/WT
Tyler Backstrom Hilliard Davidson Sr. TE/DE 6-5/216
Brandon Bargar Hilliard Darby Sr. QB 6-0/155
Cory Becher Granville Sr. QB 6-2/205
Zach Boren Pickerington Central Sr. RB/LB 6-1/240
Devin Clodfelder Independence Jr. RB 5-10/190
Tommy Farwick Upper Arlington Sr. RB 6-0/210
Wallace Hale Beechcroft Jr. RB/LB 5-11/215
Ricky Harris Westerville South Sr. OT 6-3/295
Andrew Herrell Brookhaven Sr. RB 5-10/190
Zach Kerin Olentangy Sr. C/DT 6-5/267
Aaron Kingcade Worthington Kilbourne Sr. QB 6-3/195
Storm Klein Licking Valley Sr. RB/LB 6-3/230
Josh Kusan DeSales Sr. RB/LB 6-0/210
Tyrell Massey Marion-Franklin Sr. RB/DB 5-11/185
Keith Moore Grove City Sr. DB 6-2/192
Roosevelt Nix Reynoldsburg Jr. NT 5-11/240
Brandon Rice Walnut Ridge Sr. RB 5-9/182
Drew Ryan Licking Valley Sr. QB/DB 6-0/165
Dan Sprague Worthington Kilbourne Sr. LB 6-3/255
Will Studlien Big Walnut Sr. LB 6-3/225
Josh Suchecki Hilliard Davidson Sr. C 6-2/265
Patrick White Pickerington Central Sr. WR/DB 6-1/180
Seth White Bexley Sr. QB/DB 5-10/185
Jamie Wood Pickerington Central Sr. WR/DB 6-2/190
Taylor Wood Delaware Sr. QB 6-2/210
PLAYER TEAM YR. POS. HT/WT
Adam Alderman Granville Sr. WR/DB 6-1/175
Jeremy Althouse Whetstone Sr. OL 6-1/240
Blake Annen Upper Arlington Sr. TE 6-4/225
Ike Ariguzo DeSales Sr. WR 6-6/200
Jessie Barns Grove City Christian Jr. RB 5-8/160
Alex Bayer Pickerington North Sr. TE 6-4/226
Jake Brandt Bexley Sr. OL/DL 6-6/240
Jairus Campbell Pickerington North Sr. OL/DE 6-5/246
Will Carter Johnstown Sr. RB 6-0/220
Tyler Collins Ready Sr. DL 6-3/265
Mark Crawford Upper Arlington Sr. LB 5-11/230
Davon Custis DeSales Sr. DL 6-5/225
Jay Dingess Marion-Franklin Sr. OL 6-2/260
Larez Harper Beechcroft Jr. DB 5-10/200
Tyler Harrell Dublin Scioto Sr. DL 6-3/230
Nick Heiden Big Walnut Sr. WR/DB 6-0/185
Michael Hilty Olentangy Liberty Sr. DL 6-4/240
Jason Hoar Utica So. QB/DB 5-9/155
Kevin Jackson Dublin Jerome Sr. QB 5-10/160
Noah Krimm Upper Arlington Sr. DB 5-11/180
Chris McCluney Westerville North Sr. DB 6-1/195
Wes McKeever New Albany Sr. LB 6-1/190
Steve Mehrer Dublin Jerome Jr. LB 6-0/205
Evan Mulkey Dublin Coffman Sr. LB 6-1/210
Kevin Obyc Watterson Sr. RB/LB 5-10/193
Dan Pennington Licking Heights Jr. RB/LB 5-10/215
Victor Rodriguez Eastmoor Sr. LB 6-2/230
Harrison Rosch Canal Winchester Sr. LB 5-9/180
Aaron Shook Newark Catholic Sr. RB/LB 6-0/200
Jake Smith DeSales Sr. OL/DL 6-1/260
Jeff Stone Gahanna Sr. LB 5-11/197
Nathan Weeks Marysville Jr. RB 6-2/230
Evan Welsh Delaware Sr. OL/LB 6-2/215
Geoffrey Whiteside Hartley Jr. RB 5-10/170
Darryl Wood Eastmoor Sr. OL/DL 5-11/250