With Jaelen Gill concluding a stellar football career at Westerville South High School last fall, coach Matthew Christ knew he would have big shoes to fill on offense this season.
To replace Gill, who now is a freshman H-back at Ohio State, Christ has turned to a committee approach.
Quarterback Jason Penn has been a dual threat, passing for 502 yards and five touchdowns and rushing for 228 yards and three scores. Ta'Veon Falls also has stepped in as a key contributor, rushing for 305 yards and one touchdown on 57 carries.
Jaylen Norwood has 220 yards receiving and one touchdown, Manny Sunnyway has 192 yards receiving and two scores and Michael Mansaray has rushed for 144 yards and three touchdowns.
"Offensively, Jason Penn is an explosive threat," Christ said. "Mansaray (has contributed and) Kaden Saunders has stepped up as a freshman. Ta'Veon has been running the ball pretty well. Norwood and Sunnyway outside are catching the ball well. I feel almost better offensively than we did at times last year."
Gill rushed for 735 yards and 10 touchdowns on 114 carries and had 20 receptions for 357 yards and three scores last season. He shared OCC-Buckeye Division Player of the Year honors with Olentangy Liberty's Johnny Wiseman and was first-team all-district and third-team all-state in Division II.
The Wildcats are 2-2, including a 37-29 loss to visiting Upper Arlington on Sept. 14. South committed three turnovers to none for UA, with one of the turnovers resulting in a fumble recovery in the end zone in the third quarter.
"We battled to the end when people counted us out when we were down two TDs, but we strung together a lot of offensive plays," Norwood said. "We made a bad turnover."
Junior lineman Pat Peterson credits South's start to the coaching staff stressing the importance of team unity.
"The coaching staff has been a big help this year," he said. "They're helping us improve. We're more of a family this year. It's improved from last year."
South faces another test Friday, Sept. 21, when it visits Reynoldsburg, which improved to 4-0 with a 48-7 rout of Central Crossing on Sept. 14.
Michael Whatley threw for 196 yards and one touchdown and James Dean had five receptions for 98 yards and a score for the Raiders, who amassed 469 yards of total offense.
"They're good, but I feel we can compete with them if we do what's necessary during practice this week," Norwood said.
The Wildcats and Reynoldsburg have one common opponent this season in UA. The Raiders beat the Golden Bears 17-14 on Aug. 24.
"We're doing a lot of good things, " Christ said. "We're progressing week to week, but playing good teams, you have to put it together. ... In order for us to reach our full potential as a program, there has to be more ownership of the guys (in terms of) the way that we practice throughout the week. We ebb and flow at times when things start to go south."