This has been a tough year for our Clopton-Elsberry IndianHawks and with so many seniors leaving to embark on the next chapter of their lives it’s only natural for fans to wonder who will fill the void and lead the team into a new era.
One potential team leader is Dillon Zumwalt, a sophomore whose strength, determination and will to win have earned him the respect of his coaches and fellow players this season.
“Dillon is a great player and could really be something special as long as he works hard and keeps a good attitude,” said IndianHawks Head Coach Mike Scheibel. “This season has been a little rough on us but Dillon has come out and improved his attitude and his work ethic. I hope that carries over into the off season. If it does, I know he can be something special in the future.”
In addition to his attitude and work ethic, Zumwalt also possesses some natural physical abilities that distinguish him on the field.
“Dillon is very athletic and fast and he will be able to fill several running back positions for us next year,” said IndianHawks wide receiver Raheim Porter. “He’s got strong legs and he knows how to dip his head and run people over. I think he’s really going to help us out a lot on defense. He can really get in there and make some tackles.”
Zumwalt isn’t shying away from the burden that will likely be placed on his shoulders next year.
In fact, he seems to be embracing it already.
“Next year I want to take Rheed Leake’s place and lead us to a district title,” said Zumwalt.
These aren’t just idle words spoken by a young player with dreams that outweigh his potential.
On the contrary, Zumwalt is very serious with regard to his football goals and already has a plan in place to improve his skills during the off season.
“I’m going to play basketball during the off season,” said Zumwalt. “I’m also going to lift weights and participate in track to help improve my strength and my speed for football.”
As far as Scheibel is concerned, Zumwalt’s off season plans are just what the doctor ordered.
“I’m a big proponent of athletes playing multiple sports and I try to encourage that in my players,” said Scheibel. “Dillon needs to participate in a lot of other sports during the off season and be a leader in those sports as well. That way he doesn’t lose his competitive edge.”
That competitive edge is something that Scheibel has respected in Zumwalt for some time.
“Dillon’s not afraid of anything and he hates to lose,” said Scheibel. “I love that kind of mentality because it’s the kind of mentality that I have as well.”
Scheibel is also on board with Zumwalt’s plan to be in the weight room on a consistent basis during the summer.
“Dillon needs to be the new face of the weight room and set the bar for the other guys,” said Scheibel. “He needs to lead by example.”
Filling Rheed Leake’s shoes isn’t just a personal goal for Zumwalt, it is a team goal as well.
“The team is looking to Dillon to step up and take that leadership role,” said Scheibel. “He needs to take Rheed’s place as the center of our defense.”
That is an awesome responsibility and one that Zumwalt may not be quite ready for yet, but Scheibel has no doubt that the off season will change that.
“Leaders are really born during the summer and I think Dillon will take what he has learned during the season from guys like Rheed [Leake] and Devon [Linton] and then carry those things over into next year,” said Scheibel. “He’s starting to show some leadership qualities and to season himself a little bit and I think as he grows and matures during the off season he will be able to step into the leadership role more naturally.”
Scheibel is also confident that the rest of the team will fall in line around Zumwalt’s leadership when the time comes.
“Once he grabs the bull by the horns and runs with it the other guys will follow him,” said Scheibel. “They know that he has the capability to be the best player on the team.”
Having Zumwalt in a leadership role this early in his high school career is something that Scheibel is looking forward to.
“If he can step up into that leadership role now then I will have him as a leader for the next two years,” said Scheibel. “That’s something special. You usually don’t get that as a coach. I’m excited to see what happens in the future.”