Flashback to last season’s Clear Lake vs. Webster City football game when Zach Lester, then a junior, picked off four passes in a single half.
Lester, a solid quarterback for the Lions the year prior, was in the middle of transitioning to playing wide receiver and picking up defensive back on the side. He was always a good player, but that game provided him the numbers to catch some eyes.
By the end of the season, Lester turned into a first-team all-state defensive back, and was an all-district wide receiver. Knowing all this coming into this season, teams have to be sure to mark No. 2 wherever he is on the field, but the pressure of being “that guy” is nothing to the Lions senior.
“I can deal with pressure,” Lester quipped.
With the eyes of every opposing team on him, Lester hasn’t missed a beat through three games.
On the second play of the season, Lester, who had eight interceptions a year ago, picked off his first pass. He added another in Friday’s 48-14 win over Garner-Hayfield-Ventura.
Offensively, he’s been hard to contain.
He opened the season with two catches for 59 yards vs. Mason City, had three receptions for 132 yards and a touchdown vs. Webster City, and on Friday the Cardinals had no answer for Lester and the Lions’ passing game as he hauled in nine catches for 150 yards and two touchdowns.
As the clock was winding down in the third quarter, a series of two plays showed all one needs to know about the Lions’ prized receiver.
On a deep pass down the left sideline, Lester jumped up to pick off a pass by GHV quarterback Ryan Meyers. The very next play, Lester got behind the Cards’ defense for a 58-yard touchdown.
“He competes in football and he competes in everything in life,” Clear Lake coach Jared DeVries said. “If there’s somebody jumping higher than him in high jump, he’s competing to beat that, he competes on the basketball floor, on the baseball field, and I’m sure he competes in the classroom, too.”
Perhaps what’s set him apart so far this year is the pieces Clear Lake has around him.
Sophomore quarterback Jaylen DeVries looks like the Lions’ next big star. Junior receiver Drew Enke is a playmaker opposite Lester with big-play ability, and sophomore Nick Danielson is an up-and-comer who has a handful of big catches as well.
“Who are you going to double in the group?” Coach DeVries said. “They’re just a talented group of guys.”
Added Lester, “They look up to me kind of. We all have different talents so it’s a good core.”