Size didn't stop Loveland football's Zack Rakowsky from packing a punch

Loveland Palmer Ridge football

(PaulDiSalvoPhotography.com)

Loveland running back Zack Rakowsky doesn't fit the stereotypical build of a standout football player.

His measurables according to the team's roster on MaxPreps has him listed at 5-foot-10 and weighing 150 pounds.

Rakowsky isn't a physically imposing kid — at least until it's game time. He shined for Loveland all year, eventually taking Class 4A player of the year honors. And when watching him on the field, it's clear that he's example No. 1 that it's not about the size of the dog in the fight, but rather the size of the fight in the dog.

"What most people don't realize is how well he runs the ball inside the tackles," Loveland coach Jeff Mauck said. "He initiates contact. Even though he has a small frame, some people just pack punch or a thud when they hit, he initiates contact and takes it to the defensive player."

Opposing defenses aren't dealing with a scat back who works well in open space when Rakowsky gets the ball. His physicality ranks up there with any large-frame back in the state. Combined with his competitiveness and overall toughness, Rakowsky was one of several factors that led to Loveland's 42-6 win over Palmer Ridge in the 4A state championship game.

Loveland's goal was simple on the very first drive: establish the tone and run as many plays as possible to try and get a gauge on how the Bears were going to attack defensively. Eighteen plays and two 4th-down conversions later, Loveland had a 7-0 lead and never looked back.

"After we scored the touchdown I remember looking over at their defense and they had no idea what just happened," Rakowsky said. "They were exhausted and really frustrated. After that (first) touchdown, I was very confident that it was going to end in our favor."

Rakowsky ended the night rushing for 169 yards and three touchdowns. He also picked off two passes to help on the defensive side of the ball.

He erased any doubt that size in his case mattered in how he plays the game. His mindset on how he approaches the game has been far more vital to his success at Loveland it will be every bit as vital to his success at the college level.

(Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

"I've been around sports a lot in my life and it causes everything in my life to be competitive," Rakowsky said. "I think that drive that gets you to want to win; there's nothing like it."

And he wants to win.

It was clear in the regular season finale, a de facto win-or-go-home game against Skyline, that he wasn't ready for his season to be over.

That translated directly into the playoffs where he rushed for at least 180 yards against both Broomfield and top-seeded Dakota Ridge. Heading into the state championship showdown with Palmer Ridge, Mauck was comfortable singing Rakowsky's praises to anyone who would listen.

"I told everybody and I told (the staff at) CSU-Pueblo that he would be the best player on the field," Mauck said. "He has a giant chip on his shoulder and he's going to prove to everyone what he can do. He's electric."

When it comes to electricity, Rakowsky may look like just a spark. But he'll provide a jolt that opposing players will feel long after the game has ended.

(PaulDiSalvoPhotography.com)