DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Zac Sakaria, Belton
The strands of braided Samoan hair that dangled from his helmet never stopped flopping. That's because Zac Sakaria never stopped moving on the football field.
With overwhelming strength and instinctual quickness off the ball, the Belton senior tackle was a nightmare for offensive linemen to block.
And that's why Sakaria is the Telegram's 5A/4A Defensive Player of the Year.
"He's just relentless," Belton coach Rodney Southern said. "In my years of coaching he's one of the toughest kids I've coached."
The 5-10, 242-pounder registered 77 tackles - 29 of them for loss with seven sacks - and 15 quarterback hurries. He was named the unanimous District 12-5A Defensive Most Valuable Player and led the Tigers to a 10-2 record and a share of the league championship with College Station A&M Consolidated.
Sakaria's signature performance came against Consol when he played 23 of 28 snaps and recorded 11 tackles - four for loss - during Belton's 28-0 victory.
He displayed his versatility against Temple when he switched from the strong side to weak side to help slow down the Wildcats' Wing-T running attack. He had 11 tackles, three for loss, and forced a fumble in that game to help the Tigers clinch their first playoff berth since 2003.
Some coaches use their defensive linemen to occupy lanes while the linebackers make the tackles. Not Southern, who allowed Sakaria the freedom to engulf ballcarriers and disrupt offenses.
"We turned him loose if he didn't get doubled," Southern said. "When we went to gameplan every week, we knew he'd be a factor on every play."