PALO ALTO — The moment Tony Kelly accepted the job as football coach at Gunn High, he gained a confidant in senior Andy Maltz, a three-sport standout for the Titans.

“Andy, him and I always had an open line of communication and he always gave me the pulse of the team,” Kelly said. “He’s just one of the type of kids who gets it.”

The 17-year-old was a four-year starter on the football team, a heavyweight wrestler and is currently preparing to compete at next week’s Central Coast Section track and field trials.

“I’ve got a couple of different kinds of goals,” said Maltz, the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League De Anza champion in the shot put with a throw of 46 feet, 9 inches. “Obviously, some of them are qualifying for the CCS and state championships. While that may or may not come true, there is no stopping me from working as hard as I can to make that a reality. That’s the light at the end of the tunnel, that’s the ultimate goal, that’s what I’m trying to strive for the next couple of weeks.”

The 6-2, 290-pound Maltz arrived at one of the biggest decisions of his life almost two weeks ago, when he opted to play football as well as track and field for the next four years at Claremont McKenna College, a Division III program located 35 miles east of downtown Los Angeles.

“Once it got into the track season, I was still talking with a couple of coaches, particularly the track coaches, about how me potentially playing for them would influence my decision where to go,” Maltz said.

“I know Andy Maltz is going to have a bright future in anything he does,” said Kelly, who sees the potential of a coach in the future. “Andy wanted to make a difference in his career, he wanted to make a difference at Gunn, so he changed the way he did things.”

The decision was made on April 29, the same day his older sister, Casey, who graduated a week earlier, culminated her four-year softball career at University of Redlands.

It was not an easy choice, which meant he sought advice from multiple sources.

“Especially because I’m going to Claremont McKenna, and that’s a very expensive school, I also had to talk a lot with my parents about if it was going to be worth it in the long run,” Maltz said. “And that was really the discussion for all the schools I was looking at. I had to get some outside opinions from everyone I knew, so my parents, my coaches, staff at Gunn, a couple of my friends who were in college, a couple of my friends who were outside of college. Just getting a lot of outside opinions and trying to formulate the decision partially based on that.”

The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps football team went 7-2 this past season, which is almost double the amount of wins for Gunn the past four years.

After going winless in 2015, Kelly was brought in to change the culture. He relied heavily on Maltz, a two-way lineman, and quarterback Edmond Wu, who is bound for Carnegie Mellon University, a Division III program in Pittsburgh.

The Titans went 2-8 during the fall, with Maltz shifted into the interior as the center on offense and nose guard on defense.

“As the season wore on and the numbers diminished, it was a battle of attrition,” Kelly said. “But at the end of the day, he was there and he battled every down.”

Which position he plays in college remains a mystery, with the plan to report for training camp on Aug. 15.

“I don’t really know where they see me playing,” Maltz said. “But, realistically speaking, I am more than happy to play wherever the coaches want to put me, or whenever they think I’m going to have the most success and where I’m going to help the team most.”

Then, it’s a matter of unlocking his potential at the next level.

“If you can shoot a double leg (takedown) and be as agile as he can be on the mat, that translates to football,” Kelly said. “Problem is, I got him too late. If I would’ve gotten him when he was a little younger, we would’ve done things differently in his core to where he’d be throwing the shot put 60 feet, probably. I’m serious. And he’d be killing people in the CCS wrestling.

“Somebody is going to get this diamond.”

Both on the gridiron and the track.

“I think I’ve shown everyone what I can do,” Maltz said. “And it really comes down to whether or not they like it. I’m willing to put in more work and more effort to get better, obviously. But, at the same time, the work I’ve put in has equated to the results I’ve gotten out of it.

“And it’s been a lot of good results from my four years of high school.”