Long lasting relationships are synonymous with sports. When you see the relationship Zach Savage has with his teammates on the football field, the passion this young man brings to the gridiron is crystal clear.
“I haven’t missed a season since I’ve been six years old,” Savage said. “But, it’s because I have the friends I have made throughout my life. They got me to play football when we were younger just playing in buddy league basketball. Caleb (May) and some of my other buddies were constantly on to me about playing. So I did, and haven’t looked back since.”
Savage comes from a family where not a lot of his family had played football before him. Also if you ever go to a Tug Valley basketball game, you’d think that he doesn’t look like a typical basketball player. Then when football season rolls around and he dawns his shoulder pads and helmet, you see what everyone that sets in the bleachers sees. An absolute savage.
Savage was one of last season’s breakout talents for the Panthers. He showed he had the physical makeup to handle a ton of carries at the running back position and even played defense as well. He was the team’s leading tackler last season.
Savage is always working to improve his game.
“I knew coming from last year to this one, I needed to get faster and stronger,” Savage said. “It was the pace and speed of the game that caught me by surprise my freshman year, but lifting is only one part of it. We have gotten in a lot better shape thanks to coach Ford.”
Savage is also the type of player that knows he has an advantage playing two positions (running back/ linebacker) that are closely related.
“When I get a handoff through whatever hole it may be, I imagine the linebacker is as good as me and I walk through their steps in my head,” Savage said. “I know where they are going to be and I try to beat them to the spot. I think about our blocking scheme and what my path needs to be to get the most yards I can.”
Savage is wise beyond his years, but what shines through is just his natural ability on the field and his nose for the ball.
He also knows that just on his abilities alone he wouldn’t be able to do a lot of the things he does on the field.
“Coach Ford works our linemen’s tails off,” Savage said. “They will work, work and work. We’ve (the backs and receivers) already gotten two water breaks and they are still working. But, with Jared (Webb) and the other guys up front, I feel that we have a pretty solid line. Also if there is a play made by a defensive lineman you can bet it’s going to be Aaron White. Eight out of 10 times he will make a play.”
Savage and the Panthers play the Hurley Rebels on August 30th at 7:00 p.m. and whether most realize it or not this is somewhat of a rivalry.
“I think it really is a rivalry because they are a lot like us,” Savage said. “They love to hit and are a very physical football team just like us. The biggest similarity they have with us is that they just want to win. Going to play there is just like home. Their fans like to get rowdy just like our fans here.”
Savage likes to laugh and cut up with teammates, but he can flip the switch when it’s game time as he wreaks havoc on the field as soon as his cleats touch the grass.
“I’ve got my headphones in, a hoodie on and constantly going over my job in my head,” Savage said. “Knowing where I have to be on certain plays, even seeing plays happen in my head before I go out there, I’m anxious. It’s like that every game day and as soon as I hit the field its on.”
Savage and the Panthers look to prove their new coach right and all their doubters wrong. In order to do that it will take a team effort, heart, and of course a little savagery.