It was a bittersweet moment for Ben Buchanan.
As he hobbled off the field with an ankle injury, the kicker had just converted the biggest kick of his life to that point. His 25-yard field goal with 11 seconds remaining in the game against the Olentangy (Ohio) Braves gave Westerville Central a victory that clinched an Ohio Capital Conference championship.
But immediately after connecting on the kick, an Olentangy player who had knifed into the backfield took Buchanan down.
"My freshman year when I kicked that game winner at Olentangy, I had a headhunter that came in and hit me on the same play," he told BSB. "It was kind of bittersweet. I broke my ankle and kicked the game winner in the same night."
The diagnosis was a hairline fracture in his planting – left – foot. Undeterred, Buchanan – who stood 5-7, 135 pounds as a high school freshman – taped the ankle and resumed his kicking duties the following week.
When the season ended, Buchanan was a second-team All-Ohio member, and his career had begun.
Now, midway through his senior season, Buchanan is enjoying the tail end of a high school career that has carried him to a scholarship offer from Ohio State.
For Buchanan, who now stands 6-0, 185, it all began when he started working out with a former first-team All-Big Ten kicker when he was just a sixth-grader.
Buchanan, then a soccer player, began working out with former Buckeye kicker and punter Dan Stultz.
"Watching him really not even have any idea about kicking other than really kicking a soccer ball when he was in sixth grade, he just took what I said to heart and really just did what I asked him to do on his own," Stultz said. "I think he's so far ahead of where I was as a high school kicker. He's got an amazingly strong leg."
While taking part in a kicking competition at OSU during the summer, he surpassed that mark and took home top honors after nailing both a 58-yarder and a 63-yarder. Both kicks came at the end of a two-day camp.
The 58-yard kick won the competition. The 63-yarder was just showing off.
"To top it off they said, ‘Just put it wherever you want it,' " he said. "I just plopped it down at 63 and booted it right through. I think it probably would've been good from 65 or 66."
While he was turning heads at the OSU camp last summer, Buchanan also received word that he had been selected to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, an annual all-star game that features some of the nation's top prep talent.
"I was down at the Woody Hayes center with Coach Tressel and I found out," Buchanan said. "I was obviously really excited and I knew Jake (Stoneburner) and Mike (Adams) were going to get to play in it, and having some other Buckeyes that are going to play in it I'm just really excited about it.
"Actually Terrelle Pryor was in too. He was in for that day and a bunch of us were talking about it and I told them I just got selected for the game and our families were starting to make plans, reserve hotel rooms and it's been great to get in close with those guys. It's been a lot of fun."
When he gets to OSU, Buchanan will work toward assuming both the kicking and punting duties for the Buckeyes. During his freshman season, both starting punter A.J. Trapasso and starting kicker Ryan Pretorius will be seniors.
The plan is to learn under both of them and try to take the starting spots upon their graduations, although the Buckeyes also have kicker Aaron Pettrey, who will be in his junior season.
"I'm definitely going to go in there and compete, but I'm really excited to learn under two of the best," he said. "A.J. and Ryan, they do such a great job of handling the pressure and I can't wait to learn under those guys in the ‘Shoe."