Dillon Ysseldyke's role with the Hilliard Bradley football team has changed this season, but he has taken the change in stride.
The senior has moved from tackle to end on the Jaguars' defensive line with Michigan State recruit Chris Mayfield sidelined because of offseason surgery to his right knee. Ysseldyke's experience playing baseball has helped him adjust to his new role.
"Mostly in the interior, you are catching bodies and filling in the gaps, but as a defensive end, you have to use your mind more," said Ysseldyke, a defensive tackle the past two seasons. "You have to read the situations and know what's coming and when it's coming.
"When I play baseball, it's more of a mental game. You use your mind a lot and you have to stay focused. That helps keep me going in football. I have to use my mind a lot more as a defensive end and baseball has helped prepare me for that. It helps keep my mind open and being aware of things coming at me."
With 23 tackles, two tackles for loss and two tipped passes on the season, Ysseldyke has become a crucial member of Bradley's defense.
"Dillon has been a monster for us," coach Mike LoParo said. "He has a dirty job. He's a defensive end and he does everything we ask him to do and does it in a physical manner. We move him around."
The Jaguars are 0-4 overall and 0-1 in the OCC-Cardinal Division and are coming off a 13-7 loss to Darby in their league opener Sept. 20. That loss snapped their 16-game league winning streak, with their previous league loss coming against Dublin Scioto, 20-6 on Sept. 30, 2016.
"We have had a rough start, but we're supporting each other and working together," Ysseldyke said. "We're working on getting better.
"Coach LoParo has been preaching staying together as a team. We have been off to this rough start and all we can do is work harder in practices to get better. If we start blaming other people, we're not going to get better. If the team stays together and stays strong, we will get better."
Bradley will play host to Thomas Worthington on Friday, Sept. 27, in an OCC-Cardinal contest. The Cardinals are 2-2 overall and 1-0 in the league after defeating Worthington Kilbourne 20-13 on Sept. 20.
Against Darby, junior quarterback A.J. Mirgon was 9-for-18 passing for 100 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 77 yards on 18 carries, and Tayshaun Mayfield had seven receptions for 88 yards.
The Panthers had the ball for 33 minutes, 24 seconds as compared to 13:00 for Bradley.
"Every week we keep getting better," Ysseldyke said. "We watch film every Saturday and I see a difference every single week, every single play, actually."
Ysseldyke said his role had not only increased on defense this season but also one the sideline with a young group of players.
"We have a ton of sophomores playing this season and I have to be more of a leader to them," Ysseldyke said. "Last year, I was just a follower, doing what the seniors told me to do. This year, I try to lead by example because I'm not the kind of person to speak out and say things. I try to show my leadership with my hard work and effort on the field and in practice."
Ysseldyke, who has a 4.2 GPA, would like to play both football and baseball in college. Last spring with the baseball team, he batted .287 with two home runs, 15 RBI and 20 runs scored while playing first base and in the outfield.
"I like both baseball and football. That's why I play both," said Ysseldyke, who plans to study business in college. "I'd like to keep doing that as long as I can."