Matt Smith is not afraid to do the dirty work on and off the field.

Matt Smith is not afraid to do the dirty work on and off the field.

A senior who plays linebacker and guard for the Grandview Heights High School football team, Smith also runs a landscaping service with two teammates. That work ethic has helped keep him in the center of things for the Bobcats, who are 5-3 overall entering their home game Friday, Oct. 21, against Grove City Christian.

Despite missing three games because of an appendectomy, Smith has 46 tackles, three fumble recoveries, two forced fumbles, one safety and one interception.

"I have a landscaping service and have two teammates, Hunter Holland and Patrick Taylor, working with me to do around 40 yards in the area," Smith said. "In the summer, we fit it around our workouts, but in the fall we mostly do (the yard work) after (the football team meets) on Saturdays or on Sundays. It keeps us busy."

Coach Jason Peters wasn't surprised Smith ran the business because of his workmanlike effort on the field.

"That work ethic has helped him become a good football player," Peters said. "He's not afraid to work hard to succeed. Whether he's cutting grass, making a tackle or whatever he does, he drives for perfection, and it shows."

Smith has been slowed by injury during his prep career. In addition to having his appendix removed, he missed all of his sophomore season after breaking a leg during the summer.

He said missing time made him realize how much football meant to him.

"I had a pain in my side, so we got a CT scan and found out that I needed surgery (to have my appendix removed)," Smith said. "We weren't sure how long I would be out, but I missed games against North Union (32-22 loss Sept. 9), (Columbus) Academy (41-21 loss Sept. 16) and London (27-21 win Sept. 23). You never know when you might be playing your last game."

Smith had a big game Oct. 14 as the Bobcats improved to 3-2 in the MSL-Ohio Division by defeating Madison Plains 46-6. He recorded 15 tackles and was on an offensive line that helped amass 337 yards rushing and 431 total yards.

The 5-foot-10, 215-pound Smith played running back in his first three seasons, but Peters said he was a good fit at guard.

"Matt isn't big or flashy, but he does what he is supposed to do," Peters said.

"We're not deep up front and he adds depth that we desperately need there. We really missed him on both sides of the ball when he was out (after his surgery)."

Smith also has a twin sister, Molly, who is a standout in soccer, basketball and track and field at Grandview. He said the two have the usual bond between twins and might attend the same college.

"I'm looking at Wittenberg to study business and possibly play football, but I like the school," Smith said. "It's one of Molly's top schools as well. It's close to home, but not too close. We'll wait and see what happens."

Right now, Smith is focused on the remainder of the season as the Bobcats push for a third consecutive playoff appearance. They were projected to be 11th in Division VI, Region 23 this week, with the top eight teams qualifying for the postseason.

Next up is Grove City Christian, which is 1-7. In a 55-0 loss to Harvest Prep on Oct. 14, Caleb Sullivan was 5-for-19 passing for 44 yards with two interceptions, and Kent Writesel ran for 48 yards on eight carries.

The Eagles surrendered 315 yards rushing and seven touchdowns to Harvest Prep's Daniel Bangura.

"We started (the season) slow, and we found out things weren't going to be super-easy for us," Smith said. "We just have to continue to work together and build on what we have done the past few weeks. We want to keep the season going."

shennen@thisweeknews.com

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