Zach Delucco has always had a knack for catching the football.
And at 6-foot-6, the Tumwater senior proves to be a difficult matchup for almost any defender.
As a tight end in the Thunderbirds finely-tuned wing-T offense, however, Delucco is asked to do more than just haul in passes.
“You have to be able to block,” Delucco said. “And the truth is, last year I felt I got pushed around a little.”
Delucco was listed at 210 pounds last season. The reality was quite different.
“I was maybe 185 pounds. Maybe,” Delucco said. “The tight end position plays a big role in our offense and I knew if I wanted to be successful, I had to get stronger.”
Delucco spent the offseason dedicated to that goal.
Countless hours in the weight room, and 25 pounds later, he has achieved it.
“You can see the improvement in his play,” said Tumwater coach Sid Otton. “With Christian Cummings and a couple other
backs returning from last year, we should be a very good running team. Teams are going to have to focus on our run, and that should open up our passing game. Zach’s going to be a big part of that.”
Delucco caught 12 passes for 187 yards last year, helping Tumwater advance to the Class 2A state championship game.
One statistic that was missing was touchdowns.
“It seemed like I had a lot of catches where I was tackled close to the end zone last year. I just needed a yard or two extra,” Delucco said. “ I don’t want that to happen this year.
“I just feel so much stronger and comfortable out there. The added strength has actually improved my speed as well.”
Unlike the majority of his teammates, Delucco didn’t grow up dreaming of being a T-Bird.
Born in Aberdeen, Delucco spent his youth in Grays Harbor County before his family moved to New Jersey. It was in the Garden State where he first started playing football.
Following middle school, his family moved to Tumwater.
“I was a little skeptical at first about football in this area,” Delucco said. “There is a lot of talent in the area of New Jersey I was at, and I thought it might be a step below. I was way off. It’s as good if not better here.”
Delucco admits he knew nothing about Tumwater’s storied football history prior to arriving at the school.
But after talking to his uncle, Donnie Marbut, a 1992 Aberdeen graduate and current head baseball coach at Washington State University, he got clued in on some of the backstory.
“Right after I told him where I was going to go to school he starting talking about all the games he had lost to Tumwater,” Delucco said. “It wasn’t just football. He was a three-sport athlete and he said he never could beat them in anything. That got me pretty excited about going here.”
Once enrolled at Tumwater High School, Delucco was quickly embraced by the football program.
“I didn’t know anyone at Tumwater,” Delucco said. “And this team immediately took me in as family. It’s just been the best time of my life playing here. It’s not even about football really. We are learning things we will use for the rest of our lives. I couldn’t have asked for a better situation.”
The T-Birds opened the 2012 season with a non-league loss to Shelton before finding their stride and winning 12 consecutive games.
A disappointing 41-7 loss to Lynden in the state title game capped Tumwater’s spectacular 2012 campaign.
“At the time (losing to Lynden) was difficult. It was very hard to take,” Delucco said. “But looking back you realize just how much we accomplished as a team. No one expected us to have the season we had. And there’s a lot of doubters this year, but the goal remains the same – get back to the Dome. If we get there, this team will be 10 times hungrier than we were last year because we got so close.”
About the Thunderbirds
Coach: Sid Otton, 40th year
2012: 12-2, won 2A Evergreen Conference; lost in 2A state final
Offense: Coordinator (set) — Jamie Weeks (wing-T); returning starters — 6
Top players: QB Jayden Croft, 6-0, 180, sr.; TE Zach Delucco, 6-5, 210, sr.; RB Christian Cummings, 5-9, 180, sr.; RB Tyrus Snow, 6-2, 195, jr.; OL Nathan Padgett, 6-1, 195, sr.; OL Hunter Moore, 5-11, 170, sr.; OL Dayton Newell, 5-11, 190, sr.
Defense: Coordinator (set) — Pat Alexander (multiple); returning starters — 6
Top players: DB Gabe Gleizes, 5-10, 175, sr.; DL Korye Trejo, 6-0, 240, sr.; DB Logan Schiendelman, 6-0, 175, sr.; LB Trevor Davis, 6-2, 190, sr.; DL Nick Foerstel, 6-2, 220, sr.
Outlook: Is a third state title game appearance in five years on the horizon? The T-Birds, winners of three consecutive 2A EvCo titles, have the skill-position players and quick defense to make another deep postseason run. ... Foerstel, who had a team-high seven interceptions in 2012, already has scholarship offers from Northern Colorado and Eastern Washington. ... Otton, the state’s all-time winningest coach, is four wins away from career win No. 350.
All games at 7 p.m
Friday, Sept. 6 — SHELTON
Friday, Sept. 13 — at Timberline
Friday, Sept. 20 — at Inglemoor
Friday, Sept. 27 — CAPITAL *
Friday, Oct. 4 — at W.F. West *
Friday, Oct. 11 — BELLARMINE PREP
Friday, Oct. 18 — at Centralia *
Friday, Oct. 25 — RIVER RIDGE *
Friday, Nov. 1 — at Black Hills * * Denotes 2A Evergreen Conference game; home games in CAPS firstname.lastname@example.org