ELMWOOD PARK — Guerin quarterback Richie Zacharias had plenty of reasons to be nervous as he prepared for Friday night’s Metro Suburban East road game against Elmwood Park.
Just a sophomore, Zacharias was making his first start at quarterback after senior Tyler Flynn broke his collarbone last week. Zacharias also lives in Elmwood Park and played in the town’s youth football program.
None of that seemed to matter as Zacharias was able to shake the butterflies in his stomach and throw for a pair of touchdowns to lead Guerin to a 14-13 win.
“I’m not going to lie, I was pretty nervous,” Zacharias said. “I did make some mistakes but I kept on going and that’s the key. I had to lead the team and get a win.”
Both of Zacharias’ TD passes came with the Gators (2-4, 1-1) trailing. His first, a 27-yard strike to Keith Franklin, tied the game at 7-7 early in the second quarter.
With Guerin down 13-7, Zacharias hit Nick Corona for a 4-yard score with 31 seconds left in the second quarter and Elmwood Park (1-5, 0-2) would never lead again.
“Before the game I told him to keep his composure and stay with the game plan and if he did we could win this game,” Franklin said. “He stayed calm and collected even though we were down. He came up big and showed a lot of heart.”
While Zacharias threw for two touchdowns and completed 11 of 20 passes for 158 yards, he was picked off by Elmwood Park three times.
“I knew we could beat them,” Zacharias said. “They’re kind of like our team. We’re not that big and we’re not that strong but we stay together as a team and that’s all that matters.”
Zacharias has been playing football since seventh grade and was a tight end in his first year. He transitioned to quarterback in eighth grade for the Elmwood Park Rush. He’s made a lot of progress over the last two years and he credits attending a camp for helping his develop.
“I’ve been going to this quarterback camp, Throw it Deep, in Lake Park every Sunday and I’m just getting better and better,” Zacharias said. “All the work I’ve put in, it shows. You can see the difference.”
At 6-2, Zacharias already has the frame for a quarterback and Guerin coach Glen Kozlowski made a stunning comparison after Friday’s game.
“His size, his arm strength, he’s going to be something special when it’s done,” Kozlowski said. “He looks like a 15-year-old Tom Brady.”
- The Tigers wasted a tremendous effort by senior Yamill Matos. The two-way starter rushed for 198 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries and also had an interception.