Editor's note:This is the second in a series of seven feature stories on CBBN 3A-4A Tri-City football players that will kick off the 2011 high school season. The Tri-City Herald will present one story a day until its prep football preview Friday, Sept. 2.
PASCO -- Zach Kreider definitely is not one of the oldest kids on the Pasco football team. He also isn't the biggest.
But what he took upon himself this past offseason has his coach raving and Kreider and his teammates thinking big.
The junior left tackle and linebacker, with the help of fellow returning O-line starter Michael Hale, got the offensive line together once a week to go over plays and practice blocking as well as hit the weight room consistently.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Tri-City Herald
"It's just something we kind of started this year," Kreider said. "I kind of like that responsibility. It will help get me ready for my senior year, and for a lot of guys who have to play both ways this year."
That kind of leadership is needed these days at Pasco.
The Bulldogs will feature a new quarterback after last year's starter, freshman Zack Whitby, transferred to Richland.
Add in that the Bulldogs are still trying to create a new identity after the program was ripped apart by the opening of Chiawana, and any leadership Pasco can get is welcomed.
"A lot of leadership out of those two returners this year," Pasco coach Dustin Lamb said. "It is as good of leadership that I've seen since I've been at Pasco. They really decided -- all of them -- to get into the weight room and not miss any days.
"We don't really look at grade levels. We look at how kids act, and (Kreider) is definitely one of our main leaders."
It's a lot of responsibility for a player who is the first in his immediate family to play football, but he surely isn't lacking in confidence.
Which should help on the defensive side of the ball, where he is making the switch from defensive end to linebacker.
The coaches think Kreider's speed can create some havoc from the outside linebacker spot, plus it should be a somewhat smooth transition because of his work on offense.
"Playing tackle on offense and then playing outside linebacker will help him with his reads," Lamb said. "It's like playing free safety and quarterback -- it is a really natural transition. It will definitely help him."
It also doesn't hurt that Kreider is matched up with Hale in practice. Going against a quality offensive lineman day in and day out surely will help him improve.
"It's kind of hard, because I still want to go after the QB," Kreider said. "I'm learning to keep to my responsibilities as a linebacker, though."
Despite all the change on offense and defense, Kreider and his teammates are ready for the new season.
"We look at it as a challenge," he said. "Not one person can make a team. I think we'll be a smashmouth defense and a run-hard offense.
"I think we'll have a pretty good season overall. We have a lot of young guys that need to step up and the older guys are competing harder than last year."
All of that is possible, of course, when you have good leadership at the top.