Olentangy Liberty High School boys soccer coach Rick Collins thought he had his lineup figured out before the start of the 2011 season.
Entering his first year after serving as an assistant in 2010, he expected then-junior Sam DeRoy to contribute off the bench.
"But from the moment practices started, he was everywhere," Collins said. "He provides such a presence on the field no matter where he is. I had thought about bringing him off the bench, but he gave me no choice but to start him."
A midfielder, DeRoy proved his worth, recording 17 goals and eight assists to earn first-team all-district and second-team all-state honors as the Patriots lost to Cleveland St. Ignatius 4-2 in the Division I state final.
As a senior, he had 14 goals and 11 assists and was named Super 12 captain. Liberty finished 22-1 after beating Sylvania Southview 2-0 for the state title Nov. 10.
"Sam would be the first person to say our team isn't a one-man show," Collins said. "He's relentless. He never quits."
DeRoy, the Player of the Year in the district and OCC-Central Division, had two three-goal games and a pair of two-goal games. Despite his offensive skills, the Wright State recruit considers himself a multi-faceted player as well as a leader.
"Scoring isn't my sole purpose," he said. "I'm just there to control the midfield and distribute the ball to (forwards) Kyle (Baum), Zach (Matheny) and Jared (Robinson) and be a leader on my team."
Collins lauded DeRoy's physical nature and, almost in the same breath, said he can be a calming influence, citing one of DeRoy's two goals in a 5-4 win over Hilliard Bradley in a district final last year.
"We were going for our first district title and we went in feeling some pressure," Collins said. "He scored from about 25 yards on a one-time shot. ... From then on, we felt like we were going to win that game."
DeRoy showed his toughness by continuing to play in a 3-1 win over Dublin Coffman in a regional final Nov. 3 despite cutting his right ear when he went up for a header. The injury required stitches.
"Mentally, I feel like I know a lot more about the game and how to help this team get far in the tournament," he said.
*PAST CAPTAINS -- Worthington Christian's Brett Elder (2011); Gahanna's Wil Trapp (2009-10) and Michael Lavric (2006); Worthington Kilbourne's Matt Wiet (2008), Jeff Rusch (2004), Chris Wolever (2001), Danny O'Rourke (2000) and Matt Salmon (1997); Hilliard Davidson's Colby Catlett (2007); Big Walnut's Braden Fleak (2005); Westerville North's Jeff Lenix (2003); Reynoldsburg's Tony Labudovski (2002) and Thomas Worthington's Troy Perkins (1999) and Andy Rutledge (1998).