Zak Acuff ready to rise past another challenge


Besides running the offense, reading the defense and completing passes, top flight quarterbacks have to be able to overcome adversity.
Zak Acuff is up for the challenge – again.
Two years ago, Acuff broke his collarbone in the second game of the season and was sidelined for the rest of the year.
Off to a great start this season with the Hardin Valley Hawks in Knoxville, Tennessee, Acuff suffered another collarbone injury.
The good news? X-rays revealed only a minor fracture and he can return to the field in two weeks. Still, it is a setback that needs to be handled.
“It’s Passio,” Acuff said. “I have been through this type of injury before. Last time, it made me appreciate how lucky I am to be able play football. I came back even more determined to be the best quarterback I could for my team. I will be back for our last two games and the playoffs. This is a setback, but my goals have not changed.”
Much like two years ago, Acuff is attending practices while he recovers from the injury and doing all he can to help his teammates win games.

Fast start

In Hardin Valley’s first two games, the seventh grader led the Hawks back from a 2-touchdown deficit in the opener while completing 77 percent of his passes for 2 scores. He also connected on a pair of key extra-point conversions to seal the comeback.
In his second game, a 40-0 romp over the rival Central Bobcats, Acuff was a perfect 10-for-10 passing for 170 yards and 4 touchdowns while playing three quarters.
Next season, he’ll return to the Christian Academy of Knoxville Warriors, who won the Tennessee Valley Athletic Middle School Championship in 2014.
Wheh he reaches high school, Acuff is looking forward to playing in CAK’s explosive offense.
Training with NFA and being a Blackshirts member has helped Acuff continue to develop his game for tougher competition. “I practiced a lot on my accuracy in the off-season,” he said. “I’ve always been very dedicated to working on everything, rollouts, handoffs, faking handoffs, even things we don’t do. I am always working and trying to get better.”

Duel champion

In July, Acuff finished first at the Duel and was also the Top Shot and Fastest Man champion at NFA’s showcase eventh in Massillon, Ohio.
“Doing so well at the Duel gave me confidence that I can do good things for my teammates and I can help the team by being a more accurate passer,” he said.
Acuff has been attending NFA camps for five years in addition to being a Blackshirt.
“Every time I go to a camp, I always learn something new,” he said. “NFA has always helped me become a better quarterback so I can be better for my team.”
When he returns from the injury, Acuff looks forward to using his standout speed to make plays while remaining a dangerous passing threat.
“I like to move in and out of the pocket,” he said. “If there is a lot of pressure coming or something breaks down and there is no play there or I can’t find any open receivers, I like running the ball and I try to make something happen.”

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Scot Gregor is an award-winning sportswriter for the Chicago Daily Herald. In addition to writing about Big 10 and Notre Dame football, Gregor has also covered the White Sox, Bears, Blackhawks, Bulls and college basketball. He grew up in Pittsburgh and watched the Steelers rise to prominence in the 1970s. Gregor has a B.S. degree in Journalism from Ohio University