Prairie grad Zalk wins player of week honor
This report is from Central Washington’s athletic department, which also mentions Battle Ground’s Kevin Haynes …..
Good things seem to happen whenever Central Washington University wide receiver and kick returner Jesse Zalk (5-8, 160, So., Battle Ground-Prairie) gets his hands on the football.
In Saturday’s 61-34 Wildcats’ victory at South Dakota Mines, Zalk touched the ball eight times, recording 210 all-purpose yards and a touchdown. Asked to rate his performance, Zalk admitted, “It was one of the good ones. This one was fun.”
For his exploits, which included kickoff returns of 62 and 32 yards, Zalk was named a Great Northwest Athletic Conference Special Teams Player of the Week.
“We had blocks on the first one, ” Zalk pointed out about the longer of his two kickoff returns. “The second one, I just didn’t see anything to the right, so I cut back left and just tried for follow [CWU wide receiver] Greg Logan. It worked out good.”
First-year CWU head coach Ian Shoemaker added, “Jesse was great. He’s been playing great on that end, on both kick and punt returns. He’s having a pretty nice season.”
That’s something of an understatement. Following last Saturday’s outburst, Zalk now leads the GNAC in average this year at 32.4 yards per kickoff return. He first showed his kick return capabilities as a true freshman last season, when he averaged 31.0 yards on his kick returns, which included a career-best 75 yarder for a touchdown.
With Zalk’s aid, the Wildcats also lead the GNAC this season in kickoff return yardage, at 25.9 per return. In addition, Zalk ranks fourth in conference punt return average, at 12.0.
Zalk also made a game-high six receptions for 116 yards in Saturday’s victory.
“A lot of times they were leaving Jesse uncovered, so we were flipping the bubble [screen pass] out to him and taking advantage of it,” Shoemaker pointed out.
Zalk’s reception total included a 23-yard scoring grab, his team-leading fourth receiving TD of the season.
“We had our two outside guys coming in and bringing in the other defenders,” Zalk noted of the scoring play. “I just made a move to the post and then back to the corner and he [quarterback Jake Nelson] ended up making a good throw.”
Zalk is now 10th in the conference in receptions per game, averaging 3.4.
Based on their play in the victory at South Dakota Mines, Nelson (6-2, 210, So., Lake Stevens), who threw for a career-high 310 yards and three touchdowns, while rushing for two additional scores, and redshirt freshman middle linebacker Kevin Haynes (6-0, 230, Battle Ground), who picked up his third interception of the season and is second in the conference in tackles, also received GNAC honorable mention honors this week.