Ben Nettels has normally been a part of Wheeler's offense, but now the Bearcats senior is scoring goals -- not just assisting on them.
Nettels has five goals and two assists in five games for the Bearcats (3-2), including his first prep hat trick in a 5-2 win over Kouts last Saturday.
Nettels is a three-year, full-time varsity player, and he was a part of last year's Class A sectional championship squad -- the first postseason title in program history. A majority of that offense came from prolific goal scorer Gavin Voss, who graduated last spring.
"I definitely knew (my role) would be different (this year)," Nettels said. "Gavin was our main scorer, and I did have a good number of assists to him.
"The (hat trick) definitely surprised me. It let me know that I could score, and my teammates can feed me the ball. After the third goal, I just wanted to keep scoring."
Nettels has played soccer since he was 7 -- mostly at midfield.
"It's kind of come naturally for me," Nettels said of that position. "I've always had good ball control and footwork and never really thought of myself as a scorer."
With Voss' graduation and some new wrinkles by first-year coach Dave Bock, Nettels sees himself in a different way.
The Bearcats now run a 3-5-2 set, based mainly on creating more ball possession with another midfield in the formation. Also, Nettels plays a hybrid spot of center midfield/forward.
"His confidence on the ball helps us the most," Bock said of Nettels. "He's willing to take chances on plays without losing the ball, leaving the defense confused.
"He's got great speed, and that allows him to have the freedom to move up the field and attack."
Nettels admits that this transition wasn't totally smooth, but he's become used to the changes. He doesn't really regret not having these types of opportunities before, mainly focusing on his new freedoms.
"I love trying a new position," said Nettels, one of four senior captains on the roster. "It's a fun adjustment for me. It's kind of a good way to go out. I feel like a leader."