When quarterback Hayden Schell was injured during the second quarter of a 28-7 loss to Hilliard Bradley on Oct. 13, Dublin Jerome High School football coach Bob Gecewich called on his all-purpose leader, Robert Cope, to take over under center.
Cope, a senior running back and defensive back, has proven over the years to be a dependable and versatile player for the Celtics.
"I'll do anything that gives our team a chance to be successful," he said.
Cope's determination and dedication are evident, as he missed just two games after injuring his left shoulder during the fourth quarter of a 31-7 loss at Olentangy Orange on Sept. 8. He finished the game against the Pioneers.
"When I hit the ground, it hurt pretty bad, but I didn't think it was too serious," Cope said. "I just kept it to myself. It hurt, but I figured it wasn't a good enough excuse to come out of the game."
Cope, who was honorable mention all-OCC-Cardinal Division last season, said he tore the muscle that connects the collarbone to the shoulder.
"The muscle basically ripped straight through," he said. "Over time, it will heal. It won't need surgery unless it gets much worse."
Despite the injury, Cope has remained in the lineup and leads the Celtics in rushing with 662 yards and seven touchdowns on 88 carries.
"He's a tough-nosed kid who works extremely hard," Gecewich said. "There's certain kids that fit certain communities and with Robert you could drop him into Marion Local, you could drop him into a lot of places and he would just fit in because he's a football player. He's going to work really hard and he's going to do everything the coach asks him to do and he's going to compete like crazy."
Cope, who has 20 tackles and one sack on the season, has seen limited action at strong safety since the injury. Gecewich also has limited his time in practice.
Schell suffered a head injury against Bradley and, according to Gecewich, is questionable for the Celtics' home game against Watterson on Friday, Oct. 20. If he can't play, he will be replaced by Cope or Nick Kirk, who also saw time at quarterback against the Jaguars.
Jerome saw its four-game winning streak come to an end against Bradley and dropped to 5-3 overall and 4-1 in the OCC-Cardinal. The Jaguars improved to 8-0 and 4-0.
The Celtics were projected to be eighth in this week's Division I, Region 2 computer ratings. The top eight teams qualify for the playoffs.
Watterson is 2-6, but ended a six-game losing streak with a 31-7 win over St. Charles on Oct. 13.
Cope plans on playing football at the next level and made his first college visit Oct. 14 when he attended Saginaw Valley State's homecoming game against Ferris State.
"I really enjoyed myself," he said. "The coaches were really nice. Coach (Jim) Collins, the head coach, is a great guy and the running backs coach, Dan Fodrocy, was a really nice guy, so it was a great place to go to."