LAKEWOOD RANCH — About 18 months ago, Lakewood Ranch’s coaching staff asked Zack Larson — who had played his freshman year as junior varsity quarterback — to move to the other side of the ball as a safety on varsity.
“The coaches saw something in me — I don’t know what it was,” Larson told The East County Observer at the time.
And in his first action on defense, Larson picked the ball off twice in the fourth quarter to give the Mustangs a 20-14 win in their spring game that year.
Fast-forward one season, and the Mustang coaches again came knocking. With starting quarterback Reggie Lindsey and backup Jeren Kowalewski both out with injuries, Lakewood needed a QB.
And again, Larson was ready.
Since assuming signal-calling duties, Larson has helped lead the Mustangs to two victories — a 34-20 victory over East Lee County Sept. 18 and a 35-14 beatdown of Ida Baker in Cape Coral Sept. 24. In both contests, Larson showed leadership and poise in the pocket, while the Mustangs’ powerful rushing duo of Taryn Laws and Harrison Skokos kept opposing defenders honest.
Even with a perfect 2-0 under center, Larson remains humble and said he hopes to be able to help his team in any way he can.
“It’s a bit of an adjustment,” Larson said of the switch. “Basically, it’s a lot of learning the offensive plays.
“In practice, coaches are throwing so much stuff at me, and I’m just trying to keep it all in my head,” he said.
A native of Virginia, Larson’s athletic career started on the baseball field and began playing football at 8 years old. After moving to Florida, he joined the Police Athletic League’s youth football program. Now, he’s an integral part of both Lakewood’s football and baseball programs.
Larson is the only student who has won The East County Observer’s Athlete of the Week honor twice — once for football and a second time for baseball.
And, with his chameleon-like ability to adapt to any position his coaches throw at him, he may soon earn a third.
“I’m not sure how long (I’ll be playing quarterback),” Larson said. “It may be four or five weeks; it maybe to until the end of the season.
“It feels natural,” he said. “We just need to play hard, and we can’t take anything for granted.”
Contact Michael Eng at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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