Despite suffering a season-ending injury during a preseason practice, Nate Samblanet of the Dublin Scioto football team has tried to remain upbeat.
The 6-foot-1, 270-pound senior was expected to anchor the Irish's offensive line at center but was lost for the season after tearing the medial patellofemoral ligament and dislocating the kneecap in his left knee during a one-on-one blocking drill Aug. 3. It was the first day the team wore pads for practice during the preseason.
"I know I'm not going to play this year, but I'm going to try to help my guys as much as I can," Samblanet said.
Samblanet underwent surgery Aug. 9 and continues to undergo physical therapy. His doctors told him that the recovery would take four to six months, but he plans to be back at full strength in closer to four.
"I've been making so much progress, so if it goes to six months, I'll be shocked," he said.
Despite being sidelined, Samblanet has remained a big part of the team, essentially serving as an additional assistant coach in the eyes of coach Karl Johnson.
"He's an awesome young man," Johnson said. "He's an appreciative kid, loves playing, loves being around the team. He was a returning starter and was going to have a great year. He had a bad circumstance and he wants to do whatever he can to help the team. He's here every day."
Samblanet watches games from the press box with some of the assistant coaches, charting plays and offering support for his teammates.
"I want to show them that I'm still part of them, I'm still here," Samblanet said. "I make a showing at each practice. I'm there for gamedays. I try my best on Saturdays, but with the recruiting, it gets hard. I want to show them I still care. This is still my team."
With Samblanet out for the season, the coaching staff moved senior Alex Mar from right guard to center. Samblanet, who had planned to pursue a coaching position after college prior to his knee injury, has worked with Mar to help him adjust to his new position.
"This is a bad way to start my coaching career, but it's been cool that the coaches have allowed me to help," Samblanet said. "It's been sweet."
Samblanet still plans to play in college while pursuing a degree in education.
"He wants to teach and coach, so we're giving him opportunities to work and learn and do some of the things that we do behind the scenes," Johnson said. "I love that kid."
Scioto fell to 1-3 overall and 0-1 in the OCC-Cardinal Division with a 25-17 loss to visiting Jerome on Sept. 20.
Playing in his first game of the season, quarterback Chad Ray completed 18 of 34 passes for 155 yards and a touchdown. Ray missed the first three games with a leg injury suffered during the preseason.
Tobias Thomas had five catches for 62 yards and a touchdown.
The Irish will look to bounce back when they visit Delaware on Friday, Sept. 27.
The Pacers fell to 2-2 overall and 0-1 in the league with a 32-21 loss at Olentangy Berlin on Sept. 20.
Quarterback Blake Eiland rushed for 91 yards and passed for 73 yards and a touchdown to lead Delaware. Corey Hill had three catches for 45 yards and a touchdown.