Central Crossing High School football coach Trevor White still was getting to know his players as they traveled to perennial power Hartley, then coming off its second consecutive Division IV state championship, for the second game of last season.
Despite a 31-6 loss, White saw all he needed to see of defensive back Anthony Lowe to know he had a potential game-changer on his hands.
"He was one of those question marks we had on defense, starting a young guy, and he came downhill and just came up and ripped the ball right out of a guy's hands," White said. "It was a huge play, and it was right at that second that it hit me that 'man, this kid's a football player.'
"That's tough for a sophomore, being on that kind of stage against that kind of team. But I don't think I've seen that kid rattled yet."
The 5-foot-10, 160-pound Lowe has made himself indispensable on offense, defense and special teams this season. He has caught seven passes for 229 yards and four touchdowns at halfback, made five interceptions and 15.5 total tackles -- 13 solo -- at safety and has returned six kickoffs for 212 yards and a touchdown.
Lowe also has seen time at quarterback from the wildcat formation as the Comets are 3-2 entering their OCC-Central Division opener Friday, Sept. 28, at home against Hilliard Davidson.
"This is what I expected out of myself," said Lowe, who started at cornerback as a sophomore but embraced the move to safety. "(Playing safety) just means more coverage. You know you have to watch out for everybody. Corner is just one side of the field. (At) safety, you have to make those plays everywhere.
"It's fun to have that kind of an impact; it means a lot to me to be able to play on both sides."
Arguably the best game of Lowe's career came in a 38-14 win at Grove City on Sept. 6. Lowe returned the opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown, caught a 53-yard pass for a score and ended the Dawgs' final drive with an interception.
"He's football-smart and really, he blows my mind every game with the stuff he does," Comets linebacker Aaron Reasoner said. "You can't ask for much more than that, than a guy who makes that kind of impact both ways."
Lowe overcame two injuries within the past four months. He broke his left ring finger playing tug-of-war in June and tore a ligament in his right thumb during the week of the season opener against Marion-Franklin.
"I tried to deflect a ball in practice and my thumb went backward," Lowe said. "It motivated me to get better that much faster. It gave me more respect for the game. I wanted to be out there with my family."
Central Crossing's defense had a banner night in a 30-0 win at Newark on Sept. 21, recording six sacks and posting its first shutout since 2014 and the fourth in the program's 16-year history. Lowe caught two passes for 78 yards and a touchdown and made one of the team's three interceptions. Quarterback Kameron Peck completed six of 12 passes for 134 yards and rushed for 61 yards on nine carries, and Pierre France, Javion Ross and Jahaan Upchurch each ran for a touchdown.
Davidson is 4-1, coming off a 17-14 overtime loss to defending Division I state champion Pickerington Central on Sept. 21 in a showdown between undefeated and state-ranked teams. Central was third and Davidson was fifth in last week's state poll.
Davidson has recorded three consecutive wins over Central Crossing and outscored the Comets 67-0 in their past two meetings.
Considering 10th-ranked Dublin Coffman follows Davidson on the schedule, Lowe and the Comets are embracing the challenge.
"There's always room for us to improve. My job is not done," Lowe said. "I still need to go out on the field and make plays. I have to trust my team and my coaches and we all have to get the job done."