A pair of late-season losses and an offensive switch in philosophy were two of the critical components to the Barnesville Trojans’ run to the Prep Bowl in 2018. Another one of the keys to the season was the play and…
A pair of late-season losses and an offensive switch in philosophy were two of the critical components to the Barnesville Trojans’ run to the Prep Bowl in 2018. Another one of the keys to the season was the play and versatility of junior Hunter Zenzen. His nearly seamless move from one position to another not only helped the Trojans’ run through the playoffs but also helped his college prospects.
“We had a couple of key players out early in the season, but we got things rolling after the first few games,” Zenzen said. “We lost the last two (regular season) games by a total of two points. The losses motivated us, and we got to the Prep Bowl.”
Running the ball on offense and the defensive line and linebackers were what Zenzen felt were the team’s strengths.
“Our linebackers were unbelievable. We put a lot of film work in, and when we started to put things together on defense, we played well. On offense, later in the season, we went exclusively to a Power T. That offense fit us well.”
Later in the season, Zenzen also went through a change and showed his leadership by taking a position change in stride.
“As a junior, I was selected as a captain. I played tight end and defensive end. The season went well. Towards the playoffs, I got moved to an outside linebacker/flex defensive end position. That was new for me. I had never played linebacker. All I kept hearing was how well that position fit me. Next year I will probably play middle linebacker.”
The junior wasn’t sure about moving to linebacker – at first.
“The transition was different. It fit our team best. Right away I was hesitant and didn’t want to screw up,” Zenzen admitted. “The hardest thing for me was the fear of screwing up. I got a lot of help from other players, and eventually, my steps started coming naturally. I started flowing and reading my keys and was full go. I had a lot of fun with it.”
With the offense the Trojans run, Zenzen – who likes to fish, hunt, snowboard and ride snowmobiles – knows what his role is.
“Getting downfield to block and executing a double team block I think are my strengths at tight end. I think I am good at hooking the defensive end to set the edge. We don’t pass much, but I was good on short pass routes.”
Even with a position switch on defense, Zenzen still had success.
“I am good at reading the play. If there is a trap coming my way, I feel like I pick it up quick. At linebacker, I think my movement and my vision are my strengths.”
This winter, Zenzen nearly made a second trip in as many seasons to a state tournament.
“I play basketball, was a captain, and I would say I am a stretch five,” said Zenzen whose team went 18-10, falling one game short of State. “I feel I am a good leader and understand my role. I don’t handle the ball much, but I will go inside and hit some outside shots.”
While his workouts have been limited because of basketball, they will increase soon.
“I will be doing a lot of strength and conditioning work,” Zenzen told northstarfootballnews.com. “I really am working on lowering my forty time.”
While continuing with his regular workout routine, he is going to add a speed training component this spring. He usually plays outfield in baseball and runs hurdles in track but is still undecided on if he will compete in either sport this year or focus on football.
Zenzen is already getting interest and offers from Division I programs in the Midwest.
“This summer I will be attending at least two, maybe three camps,” Zenzen said. “North Dakota State, Minnesota and Iowa State are camps I am considering right now. NDSU, Minnesota, Iowa State, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming have been looking at me.”
He has offers from NDSU, ISU, North Dakota and South Dakota. At this point, the junior expects the defensive side of the ball will be where he ends up in college.
“The coaches I talk to are all a bit different. I think most of the schools see me as a linebacker.”
Although the coaches like him on the defensive side of the ball, they also like that the 6’3″ 220-pound junior can play both ways.
“They like that they see I play both sides of the ball,” Zenzen said. “They see a lot of guys who only play one side of the ball. I have been told they like the way I hold myself together after the play and compose myself.”
Zenzen composed himself nicely during his junior year. With a full offseason to prepare to play linebacker as a senior, he is set to help his team and his college opportunities even more.