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Pepsi-Cola Student Athlete of the Week: Zac Smiley

Published: Feb. 11, 2021 at 6:56 PM EST
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Zac Smiley has been playing football since he was a young preschooler and hasn’t stopped scoring touchdowns and winning with his teammates since.

“It‘s really great,” Smiley said. “We’ve had a lot of the same guys together from the time we were in flag. It’s pretty cool.”

“He’s the guy that you hear about all the time,” Riverheads football coach Robert Casto said. “The guy that works harder than everyone else and he’s the best player. He puts in the most time and it’s no wonder that he’s successful.”

He flourishes on the football field, and in his school’s community.

“Riverheads truly is about community,” Smiley’s English teacher Heather Durham said. “Riverheads football is our community. Zac embodies that.”

Leading by example, Zac proves to be a model for his peers.

“He works hard,” Casto said. “Everybody follows him. He’s certainly a good football player and he’s also a great student. He’s fun to be around. He’s got a great work ethic in the classroom.”

He’s a part of a football family. His older brother used to play on the offensive line for the Gladiators, while his younger brother, Noah, is the team’s fullback.

“It’s amazing having Noah on the team,” Zac said. “You can tell just the overall motivation, like just having someone else with you is great. I love it. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

Smiley shows how humble he is by bringing up the success of others, instead of himself.

Close to another record, Durham asked him about his accomplishment.

“He said ‘yeah but did you see Noah score that touchdown?”

Smiley is a perfect example of a leader for the Gladiators squad.

“You’re going to get 100% out of Zac,” Casto said. “He’s going to do everything you ask of him. He’s going to work hard. He’s going to lay it on the line. Here’s a kid, we’re in a shortened season and he’s still going to break every rushing record here at Riverheads as long as he stays healthy.”

Zac has his sights set on one simple thing for the upcoming season.

“State championship. That’s the goal every year.”

Following graduation, Zac plans to continue playing football and hopes to become a physical therapist.

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