Alaskan Standout Lujan Hopes Third Season is a Charm

South Anchorage QB Zach Lujan
South Anchorage QB Zach Lujan

South Anchorage (AK) senior QB Zach Lujan is entering his third year of varsity football in the Cook Inlet League, arguably the toughest in the state. The Wolverines finished last season ranked second in Alaska, and only two losses to top-ranked Service stood in their way of a state title.

Regarding the cross-town Cougars, Lujan told me, “Service are our main rivals, and actually I hate that team and I can’t wait to play them again.”

Listed at 6’2 and 180 pounds, Lujan describes himself as primarily a pro-style QB. The video below displays his comfort firing passes across multiple routes, and Ivy League schools including Dartmouth, Harvard and Princeton have him on their radars.

During our interview, he filled me in on some of the special circumstances faced by Alaskan football players as a result of their geographical positioning. “We start our season much earlier in August, because the snow starts falling towards the end of October. We’ll play three games before most other schools play their first.”

As the thermometer drops up north this season, the Wolverines will travel south for a game against Vista Murrieta in California’s Riverside County. The Broncos are one of California’s top teams but were left out of the state bowl picture in 2011, likely a result of having to forfeit five non-league wins due to a roster violation.

For Lujan and the Wolverines, it’s a trip they are ready for.

Last season, they flew down to play Placer (CA) and struggled with a 36-8 halftime deficit. As Lujan put it, “We were nervous at first and wanted to see what kind of style we’d be dealing with. But then we had a strong second half and made a comeback.” Despite the 65-40 loss, Lujan engineered that comeback with 233 yards, two touchdowns and one interception as the Wolverines returned with 32 second-half points.

The bounce back was indicative of the adversity this young man had to rise above for a second straight season. He played all of 2011 on a fractured hip sustained on the first play of the season, but that didn’t stop him from throwing for 1,517 yards with 17 passing touchdowns and five rushing.

In 2010, hand surgery kept Lujan out of action to start the season but he still finished with 577 yards, six touchdowns and three interceptions in four games of action.

Now back on track for a healthy senior season, Lujan is taking advantage of the training he’s received from NFA. “I first met Coach Will (Hewlett) at a camp in Seattle in the Spring of my sophomore year. He’s been working on my throw and has me on a special meal plan.”

His typical five-meal day consists of foods rich in protein and carbohydrates, and one stands out above the rest: reindeer sausage. With enough snacks like that and a focus on winning that was truly evident over the phone, expect Lujan to lead the sleigh successfully over the course of a full season.