|Zach Burg has lined up in a variety of positions for Righetti High School in Santa Maria. The incoming senior has started to gain interest from the Ivy Leagues for his versatility and high grade point average (photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna).|
Zach Burg of Righetti High School in Santa Maria describes himself as a quick learner on the football field – and his grades in the classroom helps explain his rapid way of thinking.
Burg holds a 4.8 grade point average, which makes him the smartest Righetti football player according to his coaches. During the Warriors’ non-league slate last season, Burg fired off from his three point stance on the defensive line and used his speed, hands and hustle to disrupt plays against opposing offenses. As the season winded down, Burg lined up at two unfamiliar spots: linebacker and fullback.
Burg, however, didn’t look like a lost soul on Friday nights despite having to learn two new positions. His brain cells and athleticism enabled him to adjust right away.
At linebacker, he showed his closing angles and aggression, as he emerged as one of the Warriors’ top run stoppers. Offensively, the 6-foot, 215-pound Burg plowed through opening holes with the ball in his hand or created running lanes by charging at a linebacker and removing him from the play.
Burg is now entering the 2015-16 campaign as not only the Warriors’ most movable player, but also their fastest thinker.
“He’s a team player. And, intellectually, he gets it,” his head coach Ed Herrmann said. “That really helps his football IQ because he plays multiple positions. A guy like that is very valuable to the team.”
Herrmann, who’s entering his third season of coaching at RHS, said Burg reminds him of former Tampa Bay Buccaneer fullback Mike Alstott and a former Righetti star: Tim Carroll, who bullied past defenses as a Warrior fullback during the 2000 and 2001 seasons.
While Burg doesn’t hesitate to take on multiple tasks on the football field, he admits he’s not the most athletic guy on the RHS practice field. However, he still takes pride in his work ethic and “team first” mindset.
“I may not have the overall speed and quickness, but with my aggression I just do whatever it takes to help my team win,” Burg said.
As RHS opened spring practice during the week of May 18, Burg was seen lining up in the I-Formation at fullback or in a two-point stance as an inside linebacker.
His role for both positions is simple: be more physical than the other guy.
But for someone who’s used to being a moving chess piece on the field, does he prefer offense or defense?
“I probably prefer defense because of the physical aspect. But also, playing defense is more congruent,” Burg said. “Everyone really works together and you’re closer as a group. Everyone works together to just get that one tackle.”
Burg’s versatility and academics have turned him into a potential NCAA Division I prospect for RHS. Burg said Dartmouth, Princeton, Brown and Cornell of the illustrious Ivy League are four schools asking about him. He said out of all of them he “really likes” Brown.
Burg describes his class load and football life as challenging but not overwhelming. His ability to manage his class schedule teaches him to be organized and ready to take on several duties on and off the field.
“They’re definitely pretty hard (his classes). For some people, there’s a common assumption that there’s a ton of homework and you have to sacrifice some things. But it’s all manageable. You can balance it,” Burg said.
He adds that he’s energized about this year’s Warrior team, as they look to build off of their 4-7 season from a year ago.
Said Burg: “This year, we have more talent and more hard working guys.”