Luke Muter has been a quarterback for all but one season since he began playing football in elementary school, but that did not exempt him from some readjustment when he took over the position for the New Albany High School football team before this season.
"It was a little slow at first," Muter said. "I just had to get better and focus on little things, like remembering how to throw the ball. That was a big thing I struggled with at the beginning of the year. That and learning all the plays was a lot of hard work."
That the senior's passing yards through nine games exceeds his two predecessors understates his progress and the trust he has gained from his coaching staff and teammates.
Muter has completed 55 of 100 passes for 763 yards with 11 touchdowns and two interceptions, leading New Albany to a record of 6-3 overall and 3-1 in the OCC-Capital Division entering what probably will be the Eagles' final game of the season Friday, Oct. 26, at Groveport.
Muter was New Albany's top wide receiver last year, catching 29 passes for 444 yards and six touchdowns -- all team highs -- as the Eagles were a Division II regional runner-up for the second consecutive year.
"He was too good of an athlete not to be on the field (last year)," coach Bubba Kidwell said. "We knew what we were getting (with Muter as a) quarterback. He could have started sophomore year. We knew we had a strong leader, a very good athlete and somebody who could throw and run the ball. We knew we would be in good hands."
Last year, quarterbacks Paxon Hunter and Jalin Jackson combined for 1,090 passing yards, 725 of which came from Jackson in the season's final nine games. New Albany had 633 total passing yards in 2016.
Muter also has rushed for 183 yards and two touchdowns on 38 carries, a part of his game he embraces because of its physical nature.
"Whenever I run the ball, I try to be as tough as I can," said Muter, who also is a defender on the boys lacrosse team and hopes to play that sport in college.
"When I get a chance to run, I will run. When I'm needed to pass, I'll pass. We've had a lot of different guys step up that I've been able to connect with."
Offensive guard Jack Wilson said Muter's toughness is perhaps his top attribute.
"Luke is a running back playing quarterback. He is a tough guy," Wilson said. "He is not hesitant to take the ball up the middle. He won't try to force something deep or go for the showy play. He will pick up the five yards himself or however much we need."
New Albany is averaging 33.3 points per game and allowing 19.6. The offense has committed only seven turnovers, five of which were fumbles.
The Eagles assured themselves of a winning season with a 32-6 rout of Franklin Heights on Oct. 19 and stayed alive for at least a share of the OCC-Capital championship. Muter threw touchdown passes of 8 and 19 yards to Brody Kidwell in the second quarter to make it 20-0, Michiah Burton rushed for 164 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries and Alex Cox added 12 carries for 101 yards and a touchdown.
Burton now has 1,140 yards on 166 carries.
Despite having won three consecutive games, New Albany probably will not make its third consecutive postseason appearance.
The Eagles were projected to be 14th in Division II, Region 7 this week, six spots shy of a playoff berth.
New Albany and Groveport are tied for second in the OCC-Capital, one game behind Canal Winchester at 4-0. Both teams need a win and an Indians loss to Big Walnut on Oct. 26 to earn a share of the league title.