With his team getting ready to play its second preseason scrimmage, Gahanna Lincoln High School senior Collin Blaney got a phone call from football coach John Snoad asking him what he thought about making a position change.
While there's nothing unusual about getting moved to a spot that could increase a player's value to his team, it doesn't often include switching from a number usually set aside for a wide receiver to one typically given to a lineman.
Blaney's seamless ability to move from wide receiver to left tackle has been among the biggest positives of the early season for the Lions, who defeated Upper Arlington 45-7 on Sept. 7 to close the non-league schedule 3-0.
"We run a straight spread, so basically I would go where the play was going and they saw that I was a good blocker," Blaney said. "Coach Snoad called me right before the (Dublin) Coffman scrimmage and asked me if I'd like to switch my number from 17 to 77. I played receiver (in a scrimmage Aug. 10) against Lakewood St. Edward, but I didn't have any catches.
"We're pretty close as an offensive line. It's different than other positions in that you're in it together. If the guard makes a bad block, they don't say that the guard made a bad block but they say it came from the offensive line."
The 6-foot, 196-pound Blaney also showed his versatility during the preseason by winning the Lions' place-kicking job.
Although Gahanna had a field goal blocked during a 13-10, triple-overtime win over DeSales on Aug. 24, Blaney made his first four extra-point attempts.
Blaney, who started at fullback a year ago but didn't score any touchdowns, also starts at defensive end.
"I like (the offensive line) a lot better," he said. "Every play is up to you. You are accountable for every single play. ... Last year I started at fullback, so I would just throw my head into the pile when we'd score a touchdown.
"(Kicking is) exciting. It's probably the most nerve-wracking thing. We have to make sure it doesn't get blocked like it did in the first overtime against DeSales."
Gahanna opens OCC-Ohio Division play Friday, Sept. 14, against visiting Groveport, which defeated Walnut Ridge 21-20 on Sept. 7 to improve to 1-2.
Blaney has been on an offensive line that also includes seniors A.J. Butler, Mitchell Farkas and Brock Frentzel and juniors Frog Fenton and Ben Foley.
"(He's a) tough kid (who) battles every play," Snoad said of Blaney.
Blaney's experience competing in wrestling and lacrosse also is something he believes plays to his advantage.
He made second-team all-region in lacrosse last spring, and coach Brett Dillon said he was "probably the best defensive player to come through Gahanna."
With his eye on possibly playing lacrosse in college, Blaney isn't sure whether he'll return to the wrestling team this winter. He went 18-15 last season and was a sixth-place sectional finisher at 182 pounds.
"The footwork and the body control from the other sports have helped me," Blaney said. "The toughness from wrestling also has helped."
Hughes leading girls golf team
Sophomore Emily Hughes has settled into the role of No. 1 player for the girls golf team.
A year ago, Hughes helped the Lions win their second OCC-Ohio title in three seasons and carded a 171 in the Division I state tournament to tie four others for 43rd.
She consistently has shot in the low 80s in 18-hole matches this season, according to coach Patty McQuirt.
On Sept. 5 in the third round of the league tournament at Cooks Creek, Hughes shot 82 to tie three others for medalist honors as Gahanna shot 422 to place sixth behind co-champions Pickerington North and Upper Arlington (344).
"She's been very steady, although she's not happy with the way she's been putting," McQuirt said. "I think her strength is that she's very good and consistent off the tee. She can be really aggressive. She doesn't think she's a good putter, but I think she's a much better putter than she gives herself credit for."
After going 27-1 in league play a year ago, the Lions were 10-11 in the league heading into the final round Sept. 12 at Oakhaven.
Gahanna had five freshmen competing for spots during the preseason, including Alyson Johnson who recently broke 100 in an 18-hole match for the first time, according to McQuirt.
Seniors Sadie Farley and Natalie Nix also have been regulars. Senior Rachel Russ, who was the only other returnee along with Hughes, has been battling an injury.
"It's tough when you have a group that doesn't have much experience," McQuirt said. "They've been really good off the tee and struggled on the greens. I have some freshmen that have stepped up to the challenge. They're a great group of girls."