By Matt Nestor
Prep Sports Reporter
Rockford Boylan linebacker DJ Zimmerman almost changed the entire game on the first play from scrimmage against Rockton Hononegah Aug. 26. When quarterback Justin Studler fumbled the snap, Zimmerman was inches away from wrestling the ball away for the Titans.
Two plays later, Zimmerman was there again, this time picking up the loose ball Hononegah had put on the field, changing the game early on.
Later in the game, Zimmerman picked up another fumble, this time taking it all the way to the end zone to give Boylan their fourth, and final, score in the game, en route to a victory.
“He was excited,” teammate Dean Lowry said of Zimmerman’s touchdown. “He’s a great player, and it’s good to see him have a great play like that.”
When people look at the Boylan defense, they see Lowry, Theo Parthenios or Adonis Brown. But Zimmerman is the quiet leader of the defense, and around the ball at all times.
“DJ is really instinctive,” Boylan Head Coach Dan Appino said. “He finds the football, and he can strike when he gets there.”
Zimmerman leads a talented, athletic group of linebackers that could hold the key for Boylan’s repeat hopes. The playmaking abilities of their linebackers was a key to the defense last year, and they appear to be picking up where they left off.
“We always try to put our really athletic guys on that side of the ball to give us opportunities to get better, to grow our offense,” Appino said. “Our linebackers, with our two really good kids up front, who draw a lot of attention, our linebackers get to come free a lot.”
From the Aug. 31-Sept. 6, 2011, issue