It didn't take long for Olentangy Berlin High School football coach Mark Nori to see the leadership skills of Noah Dursik.
A 6-foot-3, 260-pound junior lineman, Dursik entered the season with the most varsity experience on the Bears' roster, having seen playing time with Olentangy last year before suffering a knee injury in Week 8.
That experience has made a big difference for the first-year Bears, according to Nori.
"Between his experience and his maturity on and off the field, Noah is a great person to have, especially in the situation that we have when you have guys from three different schools," Nori said. "He understands the varsity game and what it takes to be great at that level."
Nori wanted to better take advantage of that knowledge, so he moved Dursik from guard to center early in the season.
"Noah has the unique ability to be able to play all three positions - guard, tackle or center - on the offensive line," Nori said. "I started him out at guard and moved him to center a couple of games in so we can have an elder statesman in there.
"We moved him (to center) to make the calls and make sure everyone is on the right page and in the right place up front. He can communicate with both sides of the line and is a pretty good snapper. I probably should have made that move earlier."
The offensive line helped the Bears produce 251 total yards in a 38-20 loss to Dublin Scioto in an OCC-Cardinal Division contest Oct. 12.
Johnny Spinner rushed for 108 yards and a touchdown on 32 carries and quarterback Jake Moeller was 10-for-20 passing for 173 yards and two touchdowns. Jalen Weitzel had four receptions for 38 yards and two scores.
"I feel like this experience has taught me how to be a good leader," said Dursik, who has a 4.25 GPA. "Last year, we had a strong senior class at Olentangy, so I feel like I have had to learn how to adapt this year.
"We had to learn how to lead and learn how to overcome situations that seniors normally pull you out of. We're all kind of learning firsthand. ... Kind of a trial by fire."
Berlin definitely has taken its lumps in its inaugural season. The Bears won their opener, beating Briggs 53-22 on Aug. 24, but are 1-7 overall and 0-5 in the OCC-Cardinal entering a home game against Dublin Jerome on Friday, Oct. 19.
"It's something we have to overcome, and it has made us a stronger team," Dursik said. "We have all gone through this together and no one else in the state of Ohio has gone through this because we're the only school to open in the state this fall. I like that leadership role that has come with this."
Even though Jerome fell to 3-5 overall and 2-3 in the OCC-Cardinal with a 38-7 loss to Hilliard Bradley on Oct. 12, Dursik knows the Bears are facing yet another challenge. However, he also knows the game represents a chance for his team to learn and continue to improve.
"The toughest thing for all of is adjusting to a new system," Dursik said. "Some of the guys are coming from eighth-grade football and some are coming from j.v. and freshmen. I feel like we have handled that transition very well and we have bought into what we are trying to do.
"We're the only team to go through this because we have no seniors. Next year, we're the only team to have everyone back, so I'm excited about that."