Bay Rocket Dave Zastudil takes the field as Browns punter. (Photos
by Larry Bennet)
SWC rivals match up at Browns Stadium
By Zachary Dzurick
Published Sept. 13, 2006
here for an archive of West Life Sports Editor Zachary
Dzurick's "Red Right 88" weekly columns.
Orleans Saints long-snapper Kevin Houser is entering his eighth
season in the NFL. He has played in 112 games. His job is one of
the most pressure packed in football as any mistake costs his team
points. But for the Westlake High School graduate, this particular
game brought out the nerves more than any other.
“This was my first time playing in Cleveland,” Houser
said. “I will be honest with you. I was nervous. It was my first
time back and it is the most nervous I have been in a long time
for a game. A lot of it was obviously friends and family being there,
but Cleveland is my hometown. You always want to do good and play
well in your hometown. It was emotional and just a great, great
game. We had a lot of fun, and it is great to walk away with a win.”
Normally the long snapper is only noticed when a mistake
is made, but Houser was literally the center of attention before
and during the game.
“Every time I looked around someone was yelling my
name,” Houser said. “People I haven’t seen since high school. It
was really neat. On top of everyone that has season tickets for
the Browns and everyone that found their own tickets, I had to get
44. So there were quite a few friends and family members in the
The former Demon played a big part in the victory
as he made solid snaps on all four Saints field goal attempts.
Browns punter Dave Zastudil. Above: Saints longsnapper Kevin
“To be honest, I had forgotten about this Cleveland
wind. John (Carney) and Jamie (Martin) did a great job,“ Houser
said. “But as tough as the wind was, it was sure nice to play in
70 degrees again. We are not afforded that opportunity that often.
It was nice.”
Houser is also an Ohio State graduate. He skipped
watching his Buckeyes defeat Texas on Saturday night because he
had something more important on his agenda.
“I have not seen my wife or kids since before training
camp,” Houser said. “I got the chance last night. I ran after my
kids (Julie, 4, and Michael, 2) for two hours. We made meetings
and I went to bed. I woke up this morning and read the paper that
Ohio State won. Obviously it is great they won, but I needed to
spend that time with my kids.”
Because Hurricane Katrina damaged the Superdome, Houser
and his teammates are looking forward to their first game there
in over a year on Sept. 25.
“It will be nice,” Houser said. “Obviously last year
was a little different, but it was something that made us as a team
more adapt to preserving and being able to win. It will be nice
to get back in the dome against Atlanta on Monday night.”
Houser was not the only former Southwestern Conference
player on the field. Former Bay Rocket Dave Zastudil made his regular
season debut as the Browns punter.
“It was great to see Dave out there,” Houser said.
“We had a nice talk before the game. He was the first one to welcome
me home in pregame warm-ups, which was neat. He is a great pickup
for Cleveland. I am glad he is here. I hope he has a great season.”
Zastudil was disappointed in the loss, but admitted
being in a Browns uniform in front of the home crowd was an overwhelming
“It was awesome,” Zastudil said. “It was more than
I anticipated. The crowd was unbelievable. It felt like a playoff
game. I wish we could have won and I wish I could have done a couple
of things better. But there are 16 games in season and with 15 to
go, anything is possible.”
Zastudil and Houser were rivals in high school as
Houser the linebacker chased the Zastudil the quarterback. Still
opponents in the NFL, they are also now friends.
“We talked for a while before the game,” Zastudil
said. “Kevin is doing well. He has a house in Westlake, so we are
going to make sure we get together in the off-season