Ty Van Fossen could feel the DeSales High School football team's season begin to turn around during the second half of its game Oct. 6 at Trenton Edgewood.
Needing a strong finish to the regular season to keep its Division III, Region 11 playoff hopes alive, the Stallions bounced back from a 3-0 halftime deficit to blow past the Cougars 28-3.
"I saw some things I really liked," Van Fossen said. "We had guys playing with emotion, getting excited, and that's what we knew we had to bring our last three games. We were playing good teams, and you have to have that type of energy and execution to beat teams like that."
The Stallions fell to 5-3 overall and 1-1 in the CCL with a 23-21 loss to Hartley on Oct. 13 in a matchup that had a major impact on the league title race.
Before playing the Hawks, DeSales had won back-to-back games after getting blown out by Indianapolis Chatard 42-7 on Sept. 15 and Covington Catholic 35-7 on Sept. 22.
On Friday, Oct. 20, the Stallions will play host to Cincinnati Winton Woods, a Division II, Region 8 team that fell to 7-1 with a 35-34 overtime loss to Cincinnati Elder on Oct. 13.
Being back in playoff contention after beating St. Charles 31-0 on Sept. 29 and Edgewood is something that Van Fossen is focused on in his final prep season.
The 6-foot-2, 210-pound senior, who plays inside linebacker on defense and sees time at slotback, tight end and fullback on offense depending on the formation, has gone to great lengths to be a part of the program.
Living in the Northridge school district, Van Fossen drives about 45 minutes every day to get to school.
"My local school had some levies fail and was thinking about canceling sports for a while," Van Fossen said. "My parents thought it would be best, so I got into (St. Matthew School in seventh grade) and met a lot of great guys there. On my DeSales visit, I ended up falling in love and it's been good for me."
The feeling has been mutual from a program perspective, according to coach Ryan Wiggins.
"Ty's as important to our team as anybody," Wiggins said.
Van Fossen plays weak-side linebacker on defense and through seven games was leading the team in tackles (62) and tackles for loss (12.5) and also had one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
Offensively, Van Fossen had rushed for 74 yards and had six receptions for 132 yards.
"My role as a leader has really stepped up this year with us losing a lot of great seniors last year," Van Fossen said. "I'm aggressive and I like to play downhill. I like to get out and run and guard some passes. I'm just thinking, 'I've got to do my job.' With our base defense, we all have a job and a tackle will come your way because other people are doing their jobs.
"Coach Wiggins moved me to linebacker for my sophomore year. I was like, 'Am I big enough?' I was a skinny little sophomore, but it ended up working out pretty good for me and I had some good sophomore film. I just do whatever needs to be done to help the team."
Van Fossen's father, Doug, was an outside linebacker for Bowling Green and his paternal grandfather, Jessie, played for Ohio State.
Van Fossen will continue the family tradition of playing college football, as he has committed to play for Cincinnati, which is coached by former DeSales and Ohio State standout Luke Fickell.
During his final few weeks as a prep player, he's hoping to help the Stallions solidify a postseason berth and make another long playoff run after reaching a Division III state semifinal last season.
"We've really kind of put our heads down and gotten back to work," Van Fossen said. "There are always a lot of things we still need to correct and work on. The two games we lost (to Chatard and Covington Catholic) we let in 42 and 35 points, and that's not how we do things here. If we play sound football, we'll make plays."