Second-year coach Hank Patterson admits it took him some time to become familiar with his players after he was hired as Grove City Christian School football coach.
Patterson, however, quickly sensed the ability of Brett Baker, who was a junior two-way player at the time.
"I didn't know who he was," Patterson said. "I had no idea, (but) I could tell he was a player. He was heads and shoulders above everybody when we did drills the first day. He ran through the drills 100 percent. I was wondering if we had 20 of him."
It's not surprising that Baker has continued to star for the Eagles this season.
"It makes me feel confident that (Patterson) feels so confident in me and also that the other players on the team feel confident in me," Baker said. "It makes me play harder for them."
After seeing limited time as a freshman and sophomore, Baker blossomed last season, completing 69 of 162 passes for 868 yards and seven touchdowns. He was named first-team all-state and all-district in Division VII at safety and first-team all-MSL-Cardinal Division.
This season, Baker has completed 68 of 142 passes for 961 yards and 12 touchdowns. He also has seven interceptions -- two shy of the program record set by Tre Roberts in 2014 -- and is the Eagles' punter.
"He does everything and more than what a coach would ask to do," Patterson said. "Just as a leader, I knew he was going to help me. He pushes the guys to the limit and I wish all of them were like him. We're not the greatest, but he makes them better by being a great leader."
Baker would like to play in college, and Patterson believes he has the potential to play linebacker or strong safety.
"It all depends on what offers I get from schools," Baker said. "I've thought about it, but it's never been a major dream or goal. I just enjoy playing for Grove City Christian."
Baker also excels in the pole vault and holds the track and field program's record of 12 feet, 4 inches. He qualified for the Division III regional meet last spring, but could not compete because of a hamstring injury.
Grove City Christian fell to 2-4 overall and 0-3 in the MSL-Cardinal with a 23-6 loss at Fisher Catholic on Sept. 28.
The Eagles will look to bounce back Saturday, Oct. 6, at Fairfield Christian, which they defeated 28-13 last season. The Knights are 0-6 overall and 0-2 in the league.
Christian Lautenschleger has been another key contributor for Eagles, rushing for 743 yards and nine touchdowns on 117 carries.
Baker credits his grandfather, Mack Bottoroff, and his uncle, Ed Honabarger, for introducing him to the sport. Honabarger is the football coach and principal at Danville.
"I try not to think about it too much because it's a hard reality," Baker said of his prep football career winding down. "I'm going to miss all my brothers in the locker room, seeing them every day (and) working out together."