camper keeps his eye on the ball during the Bay Rocket youth
football camp last week. (Photo by Larry Bennet)
glad to be back home
By Zachary Dzurick
Published July 26, 2006
here for an archive of West Life Sports Editor Zachary
Dzurick's "Red Right 88" weekly columns.
Bay High School
head football coach Gary Sherwood takes no credit for one of his
protégées, Dave Zastudil, making it to the NFL.
ask me all the time if I had any idea that Dave was that good of
a punter," Sherwood said. "I was the offensive coordinator
and he was the quarterback so we were both ticked every time we
punted the ball. I never watched him punt in high school. People
know him now as a punter but he is a great all-around athlete. Besides
being our quarterback, he punted, he kicked and played some safety
when we needed him. He was the first baseman on the baseball team
and the center on the basketball team. It was only when he got to
college that I really watched him punt. And I was like, I guess
he is pretty good."
good” translated into Zastudil being named a four-time All-MAC first
time punter, an All-American his senior year and then drafted in
the fourth round by the Baltimore Ravens.
four years for the hated Ravens, Zastudil was one of several Cleveland-born-and-bred
NFL players to sign a free agent contract with the Browns. But Zastudil
did not only return to play football, he intends to become an active
part of the community where he grew up. Last week, he spoke at the
Bay High football camp. He talked to the campers about how it was
important to play not only for yourself and your team, but also
for the players that came before you and that it was important to
play for fun. The biggest cheer of the talk was when Zastudil said
he would soon replace the signed Ravens jersey on the wall of the
high school with a Browns jersey.
new free agent punter Dave Zastudil poses with campers after
he spoke during the Rocket youth football camp. Zastudil was
a three-year starter at quarterback and led the Rockets to their
last conference championship in 1996. (Photo by Larry Bennet)
"Baltimore is a great organization," Zastudil
said. "But when it came to picking between the Browns and the
Ravens, there was no decision."
Is there added
pressure playing in front of the home folks?
is always pressure in the NFL, whether you like it or not you want
to play for your friends and family but you are really playing for
the city and the coaches," he said. "If you don't play
well, you are going to get fired. That I get to play in Cleveland
is a bonus. Everyone would love to play for their home team. If
I can come home and play well and help this team then I will be
on all-time high."
it was a great experience for the campers to listen to Zastudil.
Bay High quarterback and current Cleveland Browns punter Dave
Zastudil spoke to campers at the Rockets’ youth football camp.
(Photos by Larry Bennet)
"Kids need to see people who are rock solid,"
Sherwood said. "As good as he is as a player, he is better
as a person. He has never forgotten where he came from. He always
comes back. As I always say good things happen to good people who
work hard. Dave has such a strong core and basic value system even
though, even with the success he has had, he is the exactly the
same guy. Obviously he is an adult now but he goes about his business
the same way."
Zastudil said he wants to be active in the community
he grew up in.
like to help in any way I can," he said. "With the football
team doing things like I did today or helping out at the high school
in any way they need, whether it is to talk or they have an auction
or need help to raise money. When I get together and talk to my
old high school friends, we say if we could get one more chance
to put the pads on for one last time, it would not be in the pros
or college, we would be in our high school uniforms because that
is where it all started."
He still has
many close ties to the Bay football program.
the current coaches, Chris O'Brien I played with," Zastudil
said. "Coach Sherwood was my quarterback coach and I still
talk to my head coach , Coach Kaiser, who is an all-time legend.
I had a great experience here and I was surrounded by great coaches
and great people. It is fun to come back because of the great memories."
a three-year starter at quarterback for the Rockets, but it is his
senior year that remains one of the most memorable Bay football
seasons of all time.
a very good football team that year and won the conference,"
Sherwood said. "Benedictine knocked off St. Edward the last
week of the season and if they don't we make the state playoffs."
so hard and we knew that our class once we were seniors was going
to be a good team," Zastudil said. "We lost two close
games but still won the conference. If the system was like it was
now, we would have been in the playoffs and who knows how far we
would have went."
One of the most
memorable games came in week nine. Bay was 6-2 (4-1) and a game
behind undefeated Olmsted Falls. The Rockets trounced the Bulldogs
27-7 to gain a share of the conference title.
are fun memories," Zastudil said. "We always joke about
how we beat them 27-7 and to still not get in the playoffs how the
system was kind of wrong. "
he still runs into his former rivals from high school including
fellow NFL player Kevin Houser. In high school, Houser was a Westlake
defensive end trying to sack Zastudil the quarterback. Now Houser
is a long snapper and Zastudil is a punter.
saw Kevin on the golf course," Zastudil said. "We still
talk about the high school days. It is fun to get together and talk
about high school football."
Both also give
back to the community. Houser has his Life's A Snap foundation.
While in Baltimore, Zastudil was a part of Kick for Cure that helped
raise money for cancer research.
it was a cool idea," he said. "Every kick inside the 20,
a certain amount of money was donated to fight cancer. I would like
to start a foundation here and I have an idea of what I want to
do. I just have to take the next step."