Hike! Azle long snapper succeeds under pressure

Senior Zach Edwards makes the job easier for Azle coaches when it comes to special teams.
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Senior Zach Edwards makes the job easier for Azle coaches when it comes to special teams.
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High School Football

This football specialist is among the best in the nation

By Brian Gosset

bgosset@star-telegram.com

October 18, 2017 01:55 PM

AZLE

It’s the most under-appreciated job in football.

No media attention and no one talks about them.

But it might be the most important position on the field.

The long snapper isn’t an easy job. This specialized duty requires the center, in full pads, to bend at the waist and throw a football between his legs, either 7 yards to a kneeling teammate or 15 yards to a punter that’s standing. Oh, and get it there in less than 1 second.

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It can take time to master, and everybody on the football field notices when you fail, but Azle’s Zach Edwards picked it up quickly and now he’s being rewarded.

Edwards, a senior, is ranked among the best in the nation – No. 4 on the Korn Blue Kicking Fab 50 and No. 19 out 336 by Rubio Long Snapping.

Both rankings are two of the top systems when it comes to the most specialized of football players: kickers, punters and the guy that gets them the ball.

“It means everything,” said Edwards, a two-year starter at long snapper for the Hornets. “To be ranked that high, it’s a relief to know that my work is paying off.”

A first-team all-district selection in 2016, Edwards tried out at the position when he was in the eighth grade – following in an older brother’s footsteps.

He “showed me how to snap in our driveway,” Edwards said. “I kept snapping, got my form down and went to my first camp. It took me awhile to get my form, but once I got it, it just came easy.”

Alex Edwards, Azle’s long snapper from 2014-16, is a redshirt freshman at the position for Northwestern Oklahoma State.

“He’s an inspiration to me,” Zach Edwards said. “It took him awhile to get the whole thing down and I just took that as motivation for me to get better.”

Linebacker and special teams coach Christian Davidson has also played a key role in Edwards’ success. Davidson was a long snapper at Houston Klein Oak, and lettered at UNT from 2007-09.

His father, Greg Davidson played in the NFL for the Houston Oilers in the 1980s.

“With Zach, I don’t have to worry when he goes out there. I don’t have to close my eyes and pray that it’s going to get there,” Davidson said. “I already know he’s going to get the snap off.”

Last season, Edwards did so well that coach Devon Dorris put in a good word during all-district meetings. He was named first team all-district defense as a deep snapper – something that doesn’t happen often.

“Zach is probably the most talented long snapper I’ve ever been around,” Dorris said.

College plans

Besides the Northwestern Oklahoma State offer, Alex Edwards was also offered by Tarleton State and Southeastern Oklahoma State.

“No doubt Zach’s an excellent snapper,” Azle coach Christian Davidson said. “Whoever takes him is going to be very happy.”

Zach doesn’t have an official offer, but he went to a camp at Purdue last summer and had unofficial visits to Houston and TCU. He’s visiting Stephen F. Austin this weekend.

“I’m very proud of them. Being a snapper has been a tool to help them get to the next level,” their father Jeff Edwards said. “Zach’s mentality and work ethic is off the charts. He’s humble and a great kid, and he’ll do anything for anyone.”

Zach finished as one of the top athletes during the Rubio Long Snapping Vegas XXIX Event in January. He also attended a Korn Blue camp at Arlington Martin this year and heads back to Las Vegas in November for another Rubio event.

“He puts in the work and deserves the recognition,” Dorris said. “Anything that he can get and bring a good name to Azle football, I’m certainly proud of.”

$napping $ucce$$

Long snapping may be a thankless job, but there are college and NFL players that have succeeded while doing it.

TCU’s Lucas Gravelle, Oklahoma’s Wesley Horky, Texas Tech’s Kyle Heffron and Texas A&M’s Austin Frey are a few players on scholarship.

Dallas Cowboys’ L.P. Ladouceur has been the long snapper since 2005. He makes $1.22 million annually - third behind Charley Hughlett (Bengals) and Zak DeOssie (Giants).

“I think it’s more noticed in the pros and more under-appreciated at high school, but making it to the pros is my long-term goal,” Edwards said.

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WEEK 8 PREDICTIONS

(winners in bold)

Thursday

Timber Creek vs. Haltom

Colleyville Heritage vs. Polytechnic

Trimble Tech vs. Southwest

Kennedale vs. Diamond Hill-Jarvis

Trinity vs. LD Bell

Martin vs. Sam Houston

Friday

Abilene vs. Weatherford

Keller vs. Central

Bowie vs. Arlington

Mansfield vs. Lamar

Paschal vs. North Crowley

Byron Nelson vs. Lewisville

Marcus vs. Carroll

Hebron vs. Flower Mound

Eaton vs. Aledo

Saginaw vs. Azle

Northwest vs. Boswell

Brewer vs. Chisholm Trail

South Hills vs. Western Hills

Wyatt vs. YMLA

Eastern Hills vs. Birdville

Dunbar vs. Carter-Riverside

Richland vs. Grapevine

Centennial vs. Burleson

Cleburne vs. Seguin

Crowley vs. Joshua

Everman vs. Granbury

Lake Ridge vs. Midlothian

Lancaster vs. Timberview

Waxahachie vs. Legacy

Summit vs. Red Oak

Lake Worth vs. Castleberry

Springtown vs. Mineral Wells

Midlothian Heritage vs. Alvarado

Life Waxahachie vs. Godley

Paradise vs. Brock

Temple Christian vs. Colleyville Covenant

Grace Prep vs. Fellowship Academy

Coram Deo vs. Pantego Christian

Southwest Christian vs. Midland Christian

Trinity Valley vs. Casady

Oakridge vs. Cooper

Country Day vs. St. Mark’s

FW Christian vs. Greenhill

Grapevine Faith vs. Legacy Christian

St. Puis vs. All Saints

Nolan Catholic vs. Prestonwood Christian

Midland Trinity vs. Trinity Christian

Saturday

North Side vs. Arlington Heights

Glen Rose vs. Benbrook

Last week: 43-6

Season: 251-102 (71.1 winning percentage)