Having been the Canal Winchester football team's starting quarterback for three seasons, Jack Beeler is accustomed to being a leader.

He knew that would be the case during his senior season with the boys basketball team, but also that everything else about his role would be a drastic change from previous years.

After coming off the bench as a backup forward last season, the 6-foot-1 Beeler has seized an opportunity to be the Indians' starting shooting guard. While his offense continues to improve, his defense and leadership have helped Canal Winchester's veteran forwards dominate the scoring.

The Indians are 7-2 overall and 3-1 in the OCC-Capital Division entering a key league game Friday, Jan. 10, at Newark, with which the Indians are tied for first place.

Beeler was the only new starter this season for Canal Winchester, replacing 1,367-point scorer Brady Snyder.

"Brady was our spark plug, the guy who if we were down five would come and hit a big 3-pointer and everybody would know we still had every chance to win," Beeler said. "I knew I had to fill that role and not necessarily as the guy who made all the big shots he did, but just (as) the guy who could get the team going, make a 3 if we need it and do what is asked of me."

Twenty-five of Beeler's 39 points came in a 55-49 win at Dublin Scioto on Dec. 3 in which he hit seven 3-pointers.

Beeler has remained the same height since his freshman season, which allowed coach Lyndell Snyder to use him as a backup forward last year but move him to shooting guard this season based on need.

"He is a 'yes sir, coach, whatever you need me to do' sort of guy," Snyder said, calling shooting guard a natural position for Beeler because he can come off screens and find space to shoot. "He knew he had big shoes to fill. He had to be that leader, that floor general we were missing on the court. That's where the quarterback background really comes in handy. He knows how to lead a team. He is a vocal leader on the court, which is a great, great attribute."

Bilal Sow's basket from close range with one second left Jan. 3 gave the Indians a 62-61 win over New Albany. That same night, Newark lost 68-56 at Groveport to create the first-place tie.

Beeler completed 338 of 584 passes for 4,316 yards, 30 touchdowns and 16 interceptions as the football team's quarterback, leading Canal Winchester to a 24-8 record, two Division II playoff appearances and league championships each of the past two seasons.

"When it comes to leadership, the biggest thing is just focusing on the next play," Beeler said. "I tell my linemen that if you get a holding call for 10 yards, hey, we'll move on to the next play and forget about (the penalty). Just do your assignment.

"It's the same thing with basketball. If a guy drives by you and gets a layup, go get a bucket on offense and then we'll get back on defense and fix what went wrong."

Point guard Avery Musick also was one of Beeler's top receivers in football, and he said that relationship easily transitions to basketball.

"I always know where he'll be and when to look for him," Musick said. "His role last year was (to be) more of a passer and hit a shot here or there. Now teams are playing him as a shooting threat. He's actually getting face-guarded because he can knock down shots."

Beeler was held scoreless in three consecutive games before Jan. 3, but Snyder said that is not indicative of his abilities.

"Teams are face-guarding him and not helping off him. Jack has accepted that and turned his attention to the defensive end, begging me to let him guard the other team's bear player," Snyder said. "It just shows what kind of leader he is for this team, doing whatever it takes to help the team win."

Girls basketball coach seeing progress

The girls basketball team finished the first half of OCC-Capital play Jan. 3 with a 57-35 win at New Albany, continuing a solid stretch that saw the Indians win four out of five games to finish December.

Canal Winchester was 8-3 overall before playing Lancaster on Jan. 7 and is 3-2 in the OCC-Capital.

Entering the week, the Indians' only loss since a 43-35 setback at Big Walnut on Dec. 6 came to perennial power Reynoldsburg, 55-52 on Dec. 17.

"We're still learning. They work hard every day. They are a great group of girls. It just takes time when you change a coach and you put in different things offensively and defensively and have different expectations," coach Mark Chapman said. "(The first week of December, in which Canal Winchester lost two games) wore us down, but we have really bounced back. We've had some energy and fresh legs again."

The Indians' loss to Big Walnut came on the heels of a 67-32 setback at three-time defending OCC-Capital champion Newark on Dec. 3. Those two teams meet again to begin the second half of league play Friday, Jan. 10, at Canal Winchester.

Over the holiday break, the Indians defeated host Bloom-Carroll 59-48 on Dec. 28 behind 14 points from Shalea Byrd and 11 from Amanda Rarick.

Against New Albany, Byrd had 15 points and Amanda Rarick scored 14.

"I think we are learning, too, as we go," Chapman said. "The film time we are putting in and how we're developing mentally is really important right now."

Swimmers prep for Northeast Classic

Eight swimmers -- four boys and four girls -- will represent Canal Winchester in the Northeast Classic on Friday, Jan. 10, and Saturday, Jan. 11, at Branin Natatorium in Canton.

Boys swimmers Lucas Elizondo, Blake Fry, Adam Moneypenny and Connor Turney will compete in the 200-yard freestyle and 200 medley relays, and both Elizondo and Fry will swim in the 100 breaststroke and 200 individual medley.

From the girls team, Merideth McFarland, Lauren Stone, Grace Terflinger and Mikaela Vojacek will comprise the 200 free and 200 medley relays, while Terflinger also will compete in the 100 breast.

Swimmers must meet time standards to qualify for the Northeast Classic.

Branin Natatorium will play host to the state meet for the 41st consecutive year from Feb. 19-22.

Boys, girls soccer coaches named

Cody Thomas and Larry Sullivan will be the school's next boys and girls soccer coaches, respectively, pending school board approval.

Thomas comes to the Indians from OCC-Capital rival New Albany, where he was an assistant the past five seasons. He succeeds Erik Feinstein, who resigned in November after 22 seasons in which he led the Indians to eight league championships and two Division I district titles.

Sullivan succeeds Alex Wentz, under whom he served as junior varsity coach the past four seasons.

"Talk about somebody who is an up-and-comer," athletics director Pat Durbin said of Thomas. "He has created a vision for the program that aligned with our vision of the program. We're very excited to have him.

"(Sullivan) has a lot of energy and a lot of ideas and a lot of experience. He knows our young ladies very well. He was a great mentor to (Wentz) and I think he'll step right in and do a wonderful job."

In four seasons, Wentz went 45-18-10 overall and 14-2-4 in the OCC-Capital with two league championships and a Division I district runner-up finish in 2017.

Thomas is the third former New Albany assistant since 2017 to become a head coach, after Adam Gatton (Big Walnut) and Noah Davidson (Westerville North).

Last season, the boys team went 5-9-3 overall and 3-2 in the league, finishing third behind champion Groveport (5-0), and lost to Dublin Scioto 3-0 in the first round of the Division I district tournament.

The girls team went 9-5-5 overall and 4-0-1 in the OCC-Capital, tying Big Walnut for the league title, and lost to Gahanna 1-0 in a district semifinal.

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave

Schedules

Below are the coming schedules for the Canal Winchester boys basketball, girls basketball, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:

BOYS BASKETBALL

*Jan. 10 -- At Newark

Jan. 11 -- Home vs. Briggs

GIRLS BASKETBALL

*Jan. 10 -- Home vs. Newark. The Indians lost to the Wildcats 67-32 on Dec. 3.

SWIMMING & DIVING

Jan. 10-11 -- Northeast Classic at Branin Natatorium in Canton

WRESTLING

*Jan. 9 -- Home vs. Groveport

Jan. 10-11 -- Perrysburg Invitational

*League contest