Zak Bauer To Continue Athletic And Academic Career At Dickinson (06/17/18)

Clarion Area Bobcat All-State linebacker, Zak Bauer has decided to continue his academic and athletic career at Dickinson College, in Carlisle.

Zak, flanked by parents Todd and Milissa Bauer with Clarion Area Head Football Coach Larry Wiser

The Red Devils, an NCAA Division III program, under second year coach Brad Fordyce, compete in the Centennial Conference. Prior to taking the position at Dickinson, Coach Fordyce was an assistant coach and defensive coordinator at Bucknell University and coached the linebackers. Earlier, he was the strength and conditioning coach for the U.S. Naval Academy.

Coach Fordyce said Dickinson recruited Zak to play on the defensive line. He mentioned, “Watching the film we were impressed with his athletic ability as it relates to his size, he is strong with his hands, and a physical player.  We feel that Zak has the ability to come and become a contributor as a freshman. His ability in high school has put him in that position. As he enters college he will have to validate that through his performance and production in camp.”

He likes the fact Zak has a well thought-out plan for his future. “Throughout the recruiting process he displayed great maturity and vision. He seems like a kid that has goals, has a plan, and is committed to that plan. Those are the types of players we want involved in our program. We talk a lot about process, belief, and accountability. I think Zak is a perfect fit in that regard.”

As to his road map for the future, Zak said, “Academically, they are one of the best schools for doing what I want to do, which is Law. I’ll be majoring in either psychology or philosophy, with a plan to go into law school.  My future plan is be to be a lawyer.”

(Photo by Bri Nellis – Bri Nellis Photography) Zak stopping Karns City player dead in his tracks

As for football, a big selling point for Zak was the side of the ball they are looking to use him at. “They were one of the only colleges that wanted to keep me on defense and play me there. I’ll be playing somewhere on defense. They have plans to see where I fit, at linebacker, defensive end and defensive tackle, anywhere they need me. So they see me as kind of a wild card, to play anywhere I can. (Maybe a combination of all three.)”

Coach Fordyce’s background working with linebackers was another selling point. Zak shared, “They just got their new head coach. This is his second year. He was the linebackers coach at Bucknell. So for me personally that was a big selling point, coming in being an All-State linebacker. He really knows his stuff.”

He also likes the group of incoming players he’s with and their potential, “They’ve got a really good crop of rising sophomores, when I get there. And my class, I met most of them. The freshmen are really talented. We think we can make a very good run. They basically reset their program for the last three years. I think it is something very promising. It’s something I want to be a part of.”

(Photo by Bri Nellis – Bri Nellis Photography) Zak and other members of Bobcat O-Line blocking against Wilmington

And the coaches and alumni involvement is something Zak really took notice of.  He mentioned, “The coaches really made a lasting impression on me. They had a really good alumni network that reached out to me, pretty heavily. They recruited me through them. Those are the biggest reasons (for choosing Dickinson).”

Coach Fordyce feels Zak’s family will be a great help in his fitting in at Dickinson. “It was great getting to know his family as well.  He has a great support network at home and certainly has people around him to give him great guidance.”

The Red Devil coaching staff is also there for support. “Coach Swett and coach Jazwinski, along with coach Quattrone and Bornman have done a great job within the recruiting process,”said coach Fordyce. He added, “As staff we try to identify difference makers, and feel it is important for our prospects to develop a relationship with our entire staff.  They have all been thorough and energetic within the process.  We are excited about the direction of Dickinson Football and excited to see how Zak impacts our team this coming fall.”

(Photo by Gary Wiant – Vinyl Graphics Unlimited) Zak (#53) and rest of the offensive line paving the way for a touchdown against Brookville

Zak shared some of his thoughts on his Bobcat playing career, “First, obviously I can’t say enough about the coaches. Coach Wiser, coach Weber, Scooter Miller, Nate McClaine and coach Ammo (coach Amoroso) all did amazing jobs for us. You cannot put into words. We would not have been nearly as successful, missing any of those guys.

“And for me specifically, Jesse Kelly from the YMCA helped me a lot, to get me into a position where I can be successful.”

He added, “Then, of course, all my teammates. Everyone had a tremendous impact on the team. Without any one of them we wouldn’t have been as successful.”

Two of Zak’s top memories were from the post season during his senior year. “My favorite memory was winning the District Nine Championship, coming back after losing it last year. We felt we should have won, not having Spencer (Miller) that year. And coming back and getting it from the team (Kane) that we felt took it from us.

“My favorite game was actually the Chestnut Ridge game, the game after that (in the first round of the PIAA State Playoffs). Coming back from down 14-0, in a state playoff game was one of the craziest experiences of my life.”

The Bobcats were undefeated in conference play, claiming the KSAC Large School crown with a 9-0 record, the District Nine Class-AA title and made it to the PIAA State quarterfinals. The team finished the season with a 12-1 overall record and was ranked 8th in the final state rankings in Class AA.

(Photo by Bri Nellis – Bri Nellis – Bri Nellis Photography) Zak expressing his joy after he and his teammates defeated Kane for the District Nine Class AA Title

Zak thanked some of those who helped him along the way, including family and his coaches. “I’d really like to thank my parents, especially my dad, Todd Bauer. He helped me a lot. He was my main route for playing football. He supported me and he helped me in kind of getting better at the game, in ways I didn’t look at.

“Other people I’d like to thank: the coaches. Specifically Lee Weber helping me out on defense. Him being my defensive coordinator was absolutely amazing. He gave me a lot of freedom and he respected my input on playing defense, specifically for each team. That really gave the rest of my team a lot of confidence in what I had to say, because I was an extension of him on the field.

“And coach McClaine for offense was a fantastic coach. He gave our offensive line a lot of freedom, in how we could block. We could change blocks to make things better. We only really had five true linemen that we could play. So him being the coach, where if we had injuries or something, where we needed to take it easy for practice and stuff like that. He really looked out for us. That was incredible to have someone like that in your corner.”

Bobcat Mentor Larry Wiser said, “Zak is both a gifted athletic and an outstanding student. I am very proud of Zak and his many accomplishments, and look forward to watching him at Dickinson.”

Coach Weber, who directed Zak in his linebacking duties said, “Zak is a hard working student/athlete on and off the field. He is coachable and a very smart football player.  You just have to say it once. He has quick feet, soft hands, high football IQ, and good size! As a high school football player, he did very well for us as a first year middle linebacker in our 4-3 defense. He made most of the calls and stunts for us and led our team in tackles.  Our defense was the toughest in our district and we were the top 8 teams in AA football.

“As good as he is defensively, he is equally strong offensively. He was named outstanding defensive player for our league and he was also All-KSAC award winner on the offensive side. I strongly believe that Zak Bauer will be an asset to Dickinson.  He will make Dickinson proud just as he has made Clarion Area High School proud.”

Todd’s mother Milissa mentioned that she and husband Todd “…always felt that Clarion Football created – A sense of team. When each player does their job to best of their ability  they could win and accomplish their goals.

“We want to thank Larry Wiser, Nate McClaine, Lee Weber and Scott Miller for coaching Zak and helping him become a better player and person.”

And speaking of Zak’s classmates on the team, she said, “Zak was very fortunate to be part of this group of seniors this year.”

Zak put up some impressive numbers this past season, with 133 tackles, 41 of them for loss, 8 sacks and two interceptions. He is credited with 50+ pancake blocks on offense.

Zak was named to the Pennsylvania Football Writers All-State Team, Pennsylvania Football News All-State team and the All-Western PA squad. He was named to the All-KSAC Large School Team as a linebacker and offensive lineman and was the KSAC Large School Defensive MVP. He was also named to the Eric Shick Agency/ All-District Team and was named Defensive Player of the Year and was named to the Tri-County Sunday/Courier Express All-Star Team.

Zak has been selected to play in the Central Pennsylvania Football Coaches Association (CPFCA) Lezzer Lumber Classic, at Mansion Park in Altoona, on June 22nd and the Frank Varischetti Classic, at Varischetti Field, in Brockway, on June 29th.

There was also a major honor just eluded Zak. He just missed out on being only the sixth player in Bobcat history to be named to one of the two State-wide All-Star games. Zak who was nominated for both the Pennsylvania Scholastic Football Coaches Association (PSFCA) Big 33 Classic (Pennsylvania vs Maryland) and the East/West Game (Eastern Pennsylvania vs Western Pennsylvania), was the First Alternate for the West Squad for the East/West Game.

(Thanks to Bri Nellis – Bri Nellis Photography and Gary Wiant – Vinyl Graphics Unlimited for their photos. CONGRATULATIONS TO ZAK AND HIS FOLKS, AND BEST WISHES FOR A GREAT CAREER AT DICKINSON!!!!)