Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

ALBANY -- Every week, Tony Zenon returns home from one his many football practices at Deerfield-Windsor and sits down to start his homework or study the gameplan.

It is almost always interrupted by a telephone call.

On the other end is a college football coach. It could be an assistant from one of the schools that have already offered the 5-foot-8 senior running back a scholarship: Georgia Southern, UAB or Central Michigan.

Other times, it's somebody new, checking up on a player that, at one time could have been considered a secret in recruiting circles.

But no more.

The word is out.

The highlight video of his journey to a school-record 5,360 career rushing yards and 4.38 40-yard dash time is beginning to make the rounds now.

"Central, I hadn't talked to them at all," Zenon said. "One week I talked to them, next week they offered me. I was like, 'Wow.' "

An official visit to the Chippewas' campus is scheduled for December, but no sooner. In between talking to coaches, considering his college future and keeping his great academic standing in order, Zenon is trying to lead the Knights to a second consecutive GISA Class AAA state title.

That quest continues tonight when the Knights host Pinecreast in the Final Four.

Zenon, meanwhile, has battled the temptation of worrying about his college future throughout this season, yet still came away with 1,940 yards and 23 touchdowns on the ground.

"I think he has handled it fine," DWS coach Allen Lowe said. "I think it hasn't been a real distraction. He is just enjoying playing the game of football. Hopefully we are going to have two more weeks for him to build on."

As good as the moves Zenon put on the original highlight reel were, the development of his game during the past 11 weeks created a sequel that accomplishes the rare goal of topping the original.

Last week, in a second-round win against FPD, Zenon took a pitch to the left side and, facing a wall of blockers and defenders, dipped in toward the line just beyond the hash mark to draw in the linebackers. As quick as he dipped in, he popped out around the edge where nobody was home for a 48-yard touchdown run.

It was the type of move that showed off the maturation of this former Hurricane Katrina victim, who relocated to Albany after the storm, in his fourth year as a starter. It was the type of move that keeps the phone ringing during study sessions.

"You get one like that very seldom," Lowe said. "It's been a pleasure to coach him for all these years. He's grown into a fine young man. I have no doubt he is going to succeed on the next level because he has the character to do it. He also has the God-given athletic ability and he has the work ethic."

Zenon doesn't know where he'll sign, but expects other schools to jump in the sweepstakes once the season is over.

It seems about the only event that could derail Zenon's path to Division I success at this point is an injury. Zenon places that concern in the same pile with stacks of discarded recruitment letters.

"Everything happens for a reason," Zenon says with a maturity twice his age. "I think God has a plan for me. If it is meant for me to be hurt, then fine. Football's not my main focus. It is one of my main things, but anything can happen to me. That's why I am going (to college) for engineering and architecture."

As has been the case during every step of the Knights' 10-game win streak, tonight the possibility of injury and essentials of his recruitment fade into the background of the gameplan for Pinecrest.

Zenon may have a bright future, but it won't overshadow his passion for the present.

"We just got to win (tonight); once we win we'll worry about next week," Zenon said. "We win, we get the ring. That's all that matters. I'll worry about everything else when the year is over."