A Project for Better Journalism chapter

Feature: Zach Billings

The Titans varsity football team is home to a player well worth noting. Zach Billings is a junior and he plays linebacker. As the quarterback, I get firsthand experience with the linebackers around the region. What separates Billings from the competition is his size. He is not the tallest or biggest backer by any means. He shines with how he uses his abilities. He is able to move quickly and hit hard. A big part of being a linebacker is being fearless and intelligent. A linebacker needs to be able to read run or pass and then potentially run full speed into a cluster of people and be the hammer and not the nail.

“Zach is a game changer. At the linebacker position, a player needs to be a leader. That player needs to emit energy for the other players to feed off of. Zach is a thermostat, he sets the temperature of the situation,” Linebacker Coach Danny Young said.

Billings is a respected leader. Prior to football games, in the team meetings, he sets the tone for the evening. He gets up in front of everyone and puts fire in their veins. Being the guy that leads the team into battle is a big job that can’t be taken lightly.

“Some people try to take charge in the huddles and they try to inspire but when Zach speaks, everyone listens. Everyone is engaged and locked in on what he has to say,” senior guard Jake Ruppert said.

In the classroom, Billings also gets the job done. He takes pride in his work and gives his best in the classroom as well as on the field. The good players understand that what happens off the field is more important than what happens on the field. Football only goes so far. The classroom and social aspects of a high school career will stick to a player long after football. He knows that every player hangs up the cleats at some point. Having the drive and ambition to get good grades and contribute to society is essential in being successful.

Billings has shined on the field because of how versatile he is on the field. He is athletic at the point of contact and doesn’t miss. He brings force to the opponent and tries to plant them in the ground. When in practice, I throw to the other side of the defense because of how quick he is. He is a player that definitely needs to be accounted for on the front line. Whether it is in the flats, the hole, or the voids on the right and left sides of the ball, he is a threat to any offense.

As a freshman he played on both sides of the ball. He is incredibly athletic and has a wide range of skills. He is a very talented runner. He is a threat to any side of the ball he is playing against. He played quarterback as a freshman and ran the ball with authority. Next year when he is a senior, I would expect him getting some carries here and there to pick up some yards.

“Zach does a great job getting everyone where they need to be to prepare for the play ahead. In our style of defense, the middle linebacker needs to be aware of everyone’s responsibility in order for the defense to be effective,” senior defensive back Chance Dollard said.

Billings is an exciting player to watch and a great player to have. His skillset outside the white lines allows him to exceed expectations day after day. His drive allows him to achieve his goals regardless of what lays in his path. He is a great example of what it means to be a student athlete. The sky is the limit for Billings and what he hopes to accomplish in his future.