Casey Calhoun loves when "Eagle D" is summoned during a Watterson High School football practice.

That's the nickname for the team's first-team defense, and it also signifies to Calhoun the need to play with "attitude and swagger."

That mentality is something Calhoun has tried to instill in the Eagles as one of their five captains.

"(As) free safety, I like to see everything and make sure we're all on the same page," Calhoun said. "We come out there and we know that this is what Watterson football has been built on, and we take a lot of pride in that. As a captain, we've got a big focus on our overall atmosphere and attitude throughout the practices and lifting. Overall with our attitude, I think coach (Brian Kennedy) does that for us, and we just have to enforce that."

With Calhoun leading the defense and also serving as a wide receiver and kick returner, the Eagles are 1-2 after losing to Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit 37-34 in double overtime on Sept. 8.

Watterson travels Friday, Sept. 15, to face perennial small-school power Wheelersburg, which has made nine playoff appearances in the past 10 seasons and has reached the postseason 28 times overall.

The Pirates, who were Division V regional runners-up last season, improved to 3-0 with a 41-0 win over Heath on Sept. 8.

Through two games, Calhoun had four tackles and one pass breakup on defense, three receptions for 24 yards and one kickoff return for 22 yards.

He has learned leadership skills by watching others in his family, including his older brother, Cody, and his parents.

Cody, a 2014 Watterson graduate who helped the boys basketball team win the Division II state title in 2013, is a senior for the Case Western Reserve football team as a strong safety.

Casey, who is 5-foot-10, 165 pounds, also has a twin brother, Connor (6-0, 200), who is a defensive lineman for the Eagles and had one tackle through two games.

"(Casey's) a good leader," Kennedy said. "Of our captains, he's the leader of the leaders. He thinks big picture and is a team-first guy. He can do a lot of things and is basically the leader on the defense. On offense, we can put him in the slot or put in the backfield. He can kind of do everything, like Cody."

The Calhoun brothers' grandfather, Norb Ranz, played baseball for Ohio State and minor league baseball in the early 1950s.

Ranz's daughter and the Calhoun brothers' mother, Molly, is the associate vice president in the office of student life at Ohio State, while the Calhoun brothers' father, Tom, is a lieutenant colonel inspector general for the Air Force.

Casey doesn't plan to play a sport in college but is considering studying business.

"I look at my dad in the Air Force and my mom works at Ohio State, and I've learned a lot of leadership from them," Casey said. "Learning how to lead a business is really inspiring to me, just seeing my parents lead (in their jobs)."

A member of the business club, the investment club and the sportsmanship committee at Watterson, Casey also has competed in basketball and track and field at the school.

This fall, he's hoping to help the Eagles bounce back after finishing 3-7 last season and undergoing a coaching change during the offseason.

"We should be humbled a little bit (after a 22-0 loss to) Olentangy Orange (on Sept. 1), but our heads are still up and we're looking to improve every day," Casey said. "We still have our goals throughout the year, and those haven't changed. Losing is an opportunity to learn and improve.

"(Offensively) we put in about 80 percent of our playbook in the first couple weeks, and that gives us some confidence in us knowing what we're doing. We're going into Friday nights knowing we've practiced this against multiple sets and we know it works."

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek