Well-armed to lead way

With his quarterback skills and calming influence, Greg Zingler has Severna Park confident it can make a run in the postseason.

October 26, 2005|By LUKE BROADWATER | LUKE BROADWATER,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Going into the final quarter of their Oct. 14 homecoming game against favored Old Mill, the linemen on Severna Park's football team were in disarray on the sideline.

The team had squandered a 14-3 halftime lead and now trailed Old Mill, 17-14, causing the line to become "livid," with its members yelling at each other, center Ethan Vidal recalled.

At that moment, quarterback Greg Zingler did what a leader is supposed to do in times of panic: He took charge.

"Greg turned to us and told us to calm down, to keep our cool," Vidal said. "He told us, `We can beat these guys. We played with them in the first half.' He knew at that moment we didn't need to be riled up. He got our team where we needed to be."

The firm talk worked. As Severna Park's offense returned to the field, Zingler and a newly refocused line engineered a 12-play, 88-yard touchdown march that gave the Falcons a 21-17 lead, which they would never relinquish.

"It was the best game I've ever been a part of," Zingler said afterward. "There were so many Severna Park fans there, it was just electrifying."

Under Zingler's leadership, the Falcons (6-1) have won six consecutive games. And Zingler's leadership qualities do not stop when he walks off the football field. They extend to nearly all aspects of his life, including academic achievements and career ambitions.

"He is without a doubt the consummate leader," said Vidal, who captains the team along with Zingler, running back Tom Massie and wide receiver Dave Horn. "All the other captains take our lead from him. We call him Coach Zingler because he's basically another coach out there."

Said Severna Park head football coach J.P. Hines: "He's smart. He's determined. He's respectful. He's the kind of guy I would want my daughter to marry. That's how much I think of Greg."

Zingler, who carries a 4.2 grade point average and a 1,290 SAT (verbal and math) score, is an excellent student on a football team packed with them. Seven Falcons, including Horn and Vidal, carry GPAs above 4.0.

Zingler and Vidal often study together for their Advance Placement Physics, AP Calculus and AP Psychology tests.

"Whether it's the weight room, the football field or the classroom, Greg approaches it with the same intensity," Vidal said.

Bolstered by strong grades, Zingler wants to play football at either Navy, Air Force or Army.

Hoping to become a pilot, Zingler said he would like to major in aeronautic engineering or another physics-related field.

He said he doesn't mind that a military career could potentially put him in harm's way on a battlefield in the future.

"That's not a negative to me," Zingler said. "There have been so many people who have fought and died so I could have a future and I could do the things I want to do. Serving in the military would be something that I would be truly proud to do."

In Zingler's immediate future, his coaches and teammates believe the 6-foot, 180-pound senior has what it takes to become a college quarterback.

"As a quarterback, Greg's the complete package," Hines said. "He's tough. He's fast. He knows when to hand the ball off. He knows when to throw. He can read the defense. I trust him completely. I think he's going to make some coach very happy at the next level."

His wide receivers agree.

"Greg is an all-around great quarterback because he can run when he needs to and he can make the pass," said Horn, an outside linebacker and receiver, who also wants to attend West Point. "He has good speed and a good arm."

Hines has so much trust in Zingler that he allowed the quarterback to call plays at the line of scrimmage against Old Mill.

"It's pretty rare for a coach to give that much freedom in play-calling to a quarterback," Hines said.

The Falcons run a triple-option offense - modeled after Navy's scheme - in which Zingler rolls out from the pocket to either side, then can choose to hand off the ball, pitch, pass or keep it himself and run.

In the upset of Old Mill, Zingler's keen decision-making - including calling multiple plays at the line of scrimmage - was pivotal.

"The offense controlled the clock, which is a big part of why we won that game," Horn said. "Greg would decide at the line of scrimmage which way we were going to run the option. He would call `orange' if we were going to change the way we were going. He really found the holes in the defense."

With Zingler at the helm, the Falcons say they are confident that they can qualify for the playoffs and make a strong postseason run.

"There's no one I would rather have back there in a tight, clutch game than Greg," Vidal said.

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