The Boss of Block
Winning a state championship at West Fargo would be a football dream realized for Zach Willis. It would be the second fulfillment of a lifelong gridiron goal for him this year. The first was checked off the list in July when he committed to play football for the NDSU Bison.
“I’ve been going to Bison games since I was barely able to walk,” says Willis. “It’s a dream come true to have the hard work pay off and get the opportunity to play there.”
Over the past two years, Willis has packaged a tireless work ethic and commitment to detail into his 6-foot-5, 290-pound frame. He has blossomed into one of the most ferocious, technically-sound tackles in the state of North Dakota.
“Zach Willis has been a treat to coach. He is a big guy and is extremely agile,” says 25-year head coach Jay Gibson, who also coached Willis’ father at West Fargo. “He is our right tackle and is a big reason why most of the plays go to the right. Zach is a natural leader and is a captain for the team.”
With Willis and fellow road-paver Brandon Metz leading the way, the Packers rolled to a perfect 7-0 record in East Region play while running back Chase Teiken, another returning starter, rolled up 21 rushing touchdowns. Despite having the No. 1 seed in the East, the Packers faltered in the state semifinals to Bismarck Century by a score of 28-25.
On the offensive side of the ball, one of Zach’s biggest thrills is to watch his running backs roll up yardage and find their way to paydirt. It’s something he hopes Teiken can do with just as much, or more, frequency in 2016.
“As an offensive lineman, who doesn’t love seeing their guy get into the end zone? If we get some chemistry going, we’ll be tough to beat,” says Willis.
Willis just might be correct about that chemistry thing. The Packers return four of five offensive linemen this campaign, including Metz. If all goes as planned, it just might lead the Packers to the result Willis has put in the sweat, tears, and long training hours to achieve.
“I love winning. There’s nothing more fun than that and I know we’re capable of doing that, but you can’t take anyone lightly,” cautions Willis. “Everybody is dreaming of a state title, but maybe not working for it. We’re working for it at West Fargo.”
We have four of our five offensive linemen returning. Also, RB Chase Teiken returns after 21 touchdowns last year. On defense, there are three returning starters in the secondary. We will need to replace three all-state players from last year’s team in Ben Dirks, Alex Talley, and Creighton Pfau.