South Walton Star Inspires With His Play and His Story

Santa Rosa Beach, FL---The South Walton High School football team is certainly enjoying a successful season so far this fall. A big part of that success, a young man by the name of Zach Reese.

And though he's excelling on the field in a variety of ways, Zach never gets to hear the cheers of an appreciative crowd on Friday nights!

You see Zach is deaf, due to a birth defect. So Zach's world is silent, but he makes a lot of noise on the field.

"He leads the team in rushing." says head coach Phil Tisa. "He leads the team in return yards. He's averaging 25 yards a return. So, I mean, you can't ask for more of a kid than what he's given."

While Reese let's his game do the talking, there's never a drop in communication with his teammates.

"He's just one of the guys." says teammate Zach Lance. "He's completely normal. He messes with us. We mess with him. Messing around in the hallways at school, I mean it's completely normal. He's funny and we get along good."

Zach first picked up football in 6th grade at the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind. Playing for the Seahawks was different, but nothing he worried about.

"No, I'm never nervous and it wasn't a challenge." Zach told us through his sign language interpreter James Burns. "I'm just ready to get the ball and go. I work hard and it shows."

The play calls are delivered to Zack through Burns, who works the sidelines every game and practice.

"James is always right next to the coach so he knows what play to signal to me and I know to look right at James."

As for anyone who ever questioned Reese on the field,

"Well it upsets me cause I know I can do it."

Yet for his supporters.

"I just want to make them proud of me."

Zach and the Seahawks back into district play Friday at Holmes, a win there keeps them in good position for a postseason berth.


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