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Highlands linebacker Mazur hopes to duplicate strong 2011 season

Jason Bridge | Valley News Dispatch
Highlands' Zach Mazur runs the ball during practice at Golden Rams Stadium on Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2012.

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Name Pos. Class

Jerrell Allen T/DT So.

Justin Anuszek C/DE So.

Rob Aretz QB/S Jr.

Alex Bates K/P Jr.

Weston Bernath RB/LB So.

Stone Bollinger T/ Fr.

Mike Brell T/DT Jr.

Wil Burris WR/CB So.

Michael Calfe G/DT Jr.

Jacob Carney C/DT So.

John Coward III RB/S Fr.

Allan Cratsenberg TE/LB Jr.

Rob Cravner WR/S Sr.

Jarret Crowell FB/LB Jr.

Adam Ekas T/DT Fr.

Sam Elliott K/P So.

Ben Fertig T/DE Jr.

Chris Fick WR/CB So.

Deion Flecther WR/S Jr.

Julian Flenory FB/DE Jr.

Sean Frantz T/DT Jr.

Isaac Gillette FB/LB Fr.

Thomas Grates TE/DE Jr.

Kalvin Hines G/DE Sr.

Richard Holmes G/DT Fr.

Jacob Hughes TE/DE Fr.

Vaughn Hunkele G/DE Fr.

Elijah Jackson RB/CB So.

Sean Jackson G/DT Jr.

Brendan Kovel FB/LB Fr.

Brady Lee WR/LB So.

Blake Leri QB/S So.

Jordan Lineburg WR/CB Fr.

Robert Love G/DE Jr.

Lavontae Martin TE/LB Jr.

Michael Masarik K/P Sr.

Zach Mazur RB/LB Jr.

Derrick Mazur T/NG Jr.

Damen McDermott WR/LB Jr.

Nathan McKinney RB/LB So.

Jake Mehal T/DT Jr.

Kendrick Moore RB/CB Jr.

Dylan Nolan T/DE So.

Aaron Pierce RB/LB Fr.

Jimmy Reesman TE/DE Sr.

Ryan Richards WR/LB Jr.

Jorge Rivera WR/CB Fr.

Ricky Saffer WR/CB So.

Austin Schwartz T/DT Fr.

Nick Shook FB/LB Jr.

Alex Steffy WR/LB Fr.

Marquise Turner WR/CB Jr.

Billy Wagner T/DT Jr.

Shane Wicks T/DT Fr.

Nolan Wise QB/S Jr.

Top high school sports
By George Guido
Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2012, 11:36 p.m.

On a team loaded with question marks, few are asking about the strength of Highlands' linebackers.

With Valley News Dispatch Defensive Player of the Year Allan Cratsenberg, junior Zach Mazur and sophomore Weston Bernath returning, Highlands looks set to repeat last year's solid defensive performance.

The Golden Rams gave up just 91 points in six Greater Allegheny Conference games. Even in their opening-round WPIAL playoff loss, they held a Ringgold team that was averaging 32 points to two touchdowns in a 14-10 setback.

Mazur, who was selected to the conference's first team, blossomed into a top-notch defender last year.

He grabbed attention as a 13-year-old eighth-grader with a five-touchdown showing Oct. 24, 2009, in a youth league football championship game. The Highland Hornets defeated Kiski Valley, 39-14, at Deer Lakes.

He earned a high school varsity spot as a freshman before last year's breakout season.

“The team helped me come along last year,” Mazur said. “It makes it easier on you when everybody helps out.”

Even before last season, Golden Rams coach Sam Albert had a high opinion of Mazur.

“He reminds me of Billy Devlin,” Albert said, referring to a key member of the 2008 Highlands team that earned a spot in the WPIAL semifinals. “He's a little bit bigger than Billy, but he's the same kind of player.”

Highlands, with just three seniors, will look for juniors like Mazur to be leaders.

“We're so young, and in a conference that's so loaded, we have to have people like Zach guide us,” Albert said. “He's in the National Honor Society, a straight-A student and a leader.”

Said Mazur of his fellow classmates: “We expect to have to step it up. Most teams around here have about 20 seniors; we've got three. But we'll be all right.”

Most Highlands players will play both ways, but Albert will use Mazur on offense sparingly.

“We told him there would be a little offense, but he's so important on defense, we need him to be healthy, ” Albert said.

George Guido is a freelance writer.

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