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Gorman: The 8-touchdown game no one talks about

| Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015, 9:27 p.m.
Jim Ference | Trib Total Media
California High School's Casey Zajicek juggles two football on Friday, August 14, 2015, during California's media day.
Jim Ference | Trib Total Media
California senior Casey Zajicek gives his mother Kelly a kiss on Friday, August 14, 2015, during the Trojans' photo day at California Stadium.

As soon as Casey Zajicek entered California's locker room, teammate Colin Phillips told him about this score: Meadville 107, DuBois 90.

Just his luck.

“Those are the exact words that came out of my mouth,” Zajicek said, “but not in a bad way.”

Zajicek knew the incredible feat he just accomplished — scoring eight touchdowns in a game — would be overshadowed by the record performances of Meadville running back Journey Brown and DuBois quarterback Matt Miller.

“It's pretty impressive.” California coach Darrin Dillow said. “I never heard of anybody around here scoring eight touchdowns in one game.

“I didn't hear about (DuBois-Meadville) until Saturday. My brother was telling me, ‘That's great, but did you see the game in Meadville?' That's insane.”

What's really crazy is that Zajicek went from being shut out in Week 1 to leading the WPIAL in scoring with 50 points (only nine less than he scored all of last season) in Week 2.

And he wasn't even the Trojans' top rusher. Zajicek scored eight times while rushing for 139 yards on 16 carries. Jonathan Wood ran for 204 yards on 23 carries but scored only once.

“Jonathan had an amazing night,” Zajicek said. “He's the reason I got eight touchdowns. If it wasn't for him having such a great night, it never would have happened. It was just a big night for both of us. We didn't care who got the touchdowns.”

What they did care about was redeeming California after its 72-0 loss to top-ranked Clairton in the season opener.

“After Clairton, we asked ourselves, ‘Where do we go from here? Up or down?' ” Zajicek said. “We took it as a challenge. Let's look at it as there is no playoffs at this point.”

That's Zajicek's primary motivation. The 5-foot-9, 175-pound senior is a three-year letterman who never has participated in the postseason despite a willingness to play any position. He lines up at receiver, running back, quarterback in the wildcat and outside linebacker.

“We put him all over the field,” Dillow said. “That's tough because you've got to learn a lot of stuff.”

Somehow, Zajicek kept ending up in the same place: the end zone.

Zajicek scored on runs of 1, 2 and 4 yards, along with an 80-yard kick return, in the first half. Yet California trailed by two. He added second-half scoring runs of 52, 3, 8 and 5 yards in the 61-42 victory.

Dillow doesn't know if it's a school record, but no one can remember a Trojans player — let alone anyone in the WPIAL — scoring eight touchdowns in a game. Not to mention a 2-point conversion, to boot.

“Casey's a ballplayer. He's a game-time player,” Dillow said. “He's excited. He loves it. You ask him to go through a wall, and he'll try for you. He did have a really good game. He ran hard.

“It was awesome.”

It paled in comparison to Meadville's Brown running for 722 yards and 10 touchdowns or DuBois' Matt Miller passing for 787 yards and 10 touchdowns.

But Zajicek is grateful nonetheless for his eight-touchdown game that made his season.

“It was something, I'll tell you what,” he said. “I try to make my parents (Dana and Kim) proud as much as possible.”

They were, eight times over.

Kevin Gorman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at kgorman@tribweb.com or via Twitter @KGorman_Trib.

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