Batavia football coach Dennis Piron knew what Zach Strittmatter was in for this season.
Strittmatter had an inkling himself and did a fine job adjusting.
As one of the top wide receivers in the state and one of the top offensive weapons for the Bulldogs coming into the season, Strittmatter saw all kinds of coverages meant to stop him.
“I wouldn’t say every team, but most of them would have a linebacker drop underneath the cornerback or have a safety play over top of the corner,” the senior said.
A lot of good that defensive game planning did. In three fewer games, Strittmatter had five more receptions and nearly twice as many touchdowns as he did during his junior season. He finished with only 58 fewer receiving yards this year and was named to the Class 7A all-state team.
“Last year people weren’t able to adjust to him because of our other weapons,” Piron said. “This year, everyone knew who he was and they had to change and adjust to try and stop him.”
(Meet the other members of the 2012 Republican all-area football team).
Adapting to the special defensive schemes was made a little easier for a couple of reasons. One, Strittmatter worked tirelessly in the offseason and in practice to get better. And two, the valedictorian candidate studied the game as much as he did his textbooks and understood how he could beat the coverages he saw.
“His understanding of the game, his route-running, his hands, those were helpful,” Piron said, “but he worked so hard and put in so much time conditioning, weight room, strength training and working to get on the same page with our quarterbacks.”
“Working with the quarterbacks, even for 15 minutes after practice, or getting together on off days running routes and throwing passes, all that helped,” Strittmatter said. “Being my senior year, I wanted it to be a big year and I wasn’t going to stop for anything.”
Strittmatter helped the Bulldogs pull off back-to-back 9-0 regular seasons with a pair of Upstate Eight River titles. While the 2012 campaign ended a little earlier than expected in the first round of the playoffs, Strittmatter was 21-2 as a varsity starter the last two years.
“I wish it could have ended differently, but to be part of something special like that again was a great feeling,” he said.
His classroom intelligence (4.48 GPA on a 4.0 scale; a near-perfect 35 ACT score) coupled with his football ability ensures Strittmatter’s football career will continue for a few more years. Ivy League and Patriot League programs are a likely landing point as he has had contact with Harvard, Princeton, Brown and Georgetown in addition to some local collegiate programs.
No matter where he ends up, that team will be getting a special football player and person.
“He’s a three-sport athlete, a top-notch student, he’s good in the community, and he’s good working with our youth program,” Piron said. “He’s highly respected by our teachers, faculty, players and coaches, and he’s one of the finest student-athletes we’ve ever had at Batavia High School.
“He’s the epitome of what a good high school football player should be.”
A dangerous target for the Bulldogs’ state semifinal team last fall, Strittmatter took it to another level this season. In three fewer games this fall, he had more receptions (52) and nearly twice as many touchdowns (13) despite being a focus of opposing defenses. He was named Upstate Eight River offensive MVP and Class 7A all-state. “He was double-covered, pressed, hit, rotated to in coverage and generally blanketed by the best players of our opponents,” Batavia head coach Dennis Piron said