Bowers Stadium was used to ringing the names of graduated running back Timothy Flanders and graduated quarterback Brian Bell for the past three years. Sam Houston State was expected to hear the likes of senior running back Keshawn Hill and sophomore quarterback Jared Johnson making the first touchdown of the season at the stadium.
However, the first touchdown of the season for SHSU at Bowers Stadium came from the Bearkats’ junior center Zachary Stevens.
In the opening drive against Alabama State on August 31, Hill ran the ball into the end zone but fumbled, and Zach recovered the ball with one hand.
“Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the ball pop out and went straight in the endzone, and I just took off,” Stevens said. “That’s every lineman’s dream to score a touchdown.”
His reaction was priceless as he made his way out of the pile and ran up the sideline to celebrate with his teammates. As he was holding on for dear life with one arm, he heard the referee telling people to “get up and get off, [Stevens] got it. It’s a touchdown.”
Stevens started all 14 games at center last year and has started all of the games this year so far. He has lettered twice as a reserve offensive lineman and a special teams player in 2012 and 2013.
In spring, he underwent surgery on the labral in his left shoulder and came out feeling great.
“This year, I’m more confident in myself and don’t have worry about my shoulder,” Stevens said.
With a brand new system intact for the Bearkats, the entire offense has transitioned from a man-to-man blocking scheme to a zone team. The Kats have passed a lot more often than last year and they have been able to keep the defense on their toes.
“The offensive line has taken on more of a leadership role and become more vocal as a unit,” Stevens said.
The offense did not see too much success Saturday against Division II Colorado State-Pueblo. The Kats dropped their 23-game win streak to the ThunderWolves 47-21.
“It’s on us, it’s not on anyone else,” Stevens said. “We didn’t play to our best ability. [We’re] using that as motivation going into our next game.”
Starting conference play next week in Beaumont against Lamar, the Bearkats are looking to push pass a tough non-conference season.
“We’re looking to go 1-0 and we’re not looking at anyone else,” Stevens said. “We need to go out there and play to our full potential.”
As the Southland Conference has gotten stronger each year, the Bearkats look for a looks to fight with everything they have in a conference full of ranked FCS teams.
Stevens said that with this face paced offense head coach K.C. Keeler has installed the Kats are bringing their ‘A’ game this fall for the Southland.
“Look for the explosiveness in the offensive both in the running and passing game,” Stevens said.
The Bearkats have a bye week this weekend but will be back in action next Saturday in Beaumont to take on Lamar at 7 p.m.