Football: Holy Family’s offense rolling with a balanced attack

Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer
Holy Family running back Michael Zeman sits at 2,001 yards with at least one game remaining this season.

BROOMFIELD — So you think Holy Family is purely a pass-happy football team?

Well, you wouldn’t necessarily be wrong. The Tigers have racked up about as many passing yards as any team in Colorado over the past few years. But slinging the ball all over the field is not the only thing the Tigers do well. In fact, not only do the Tigers have a more balanced offense than people think, they have the state’s rushing leader in senior tailback Michael Zeman.

That’s right, Zeman is Colorado’s leader in rushing yards and that’s regardless of classification.

“It’s been pretty special,” Zeman said. “I have an experienced line to run behind so that’s definitely helpful. They know where to go and what to do so we work great as a team to move the ball down the field.”

Now in the final months of his prep career and with his last shot at the state playoffs beginning this weekend, Zeman has steadily improved over his four years at Holy Family. From when he gained 65 yards on 13 carries as a freshman in 2013 to now, when he sits at 2,001 yards with at least one game remaining, Zeman has essentially doubled his output from the previous season in each of his four years.

Speaking to his big-play ability, Zeman also leads the state in rushing average per game. Among the top five rushers in the state, he leads with an average of 11.1 yards per carry. He has 202 more yards than Delta’s Damon Jensen, the state’s second leading rusher, and has built that lead despite carrying the ball 17 fewer times.

“I really devoted my time to the weight room and getting stronger after my sophomore year,” Zeman said. “The coaches kind of got on my about that. I took it to heart and it has made a big difference.”

With recent players like 2015 graduate Chris Helbig, who was on pace to demolish the statewide single-season passing records before getting injured last season, it’s easy to understand why the Tigers have developed a reputation for throwing the ball a lot. But while he may have taken the numbers to a new level, Zeman’s season is hardly an aberration for an offense that has produced seven 100-yard rushers in the past six seasons.

“I think it’s been a misconception that we’ve always been a passing team but in reality we’re closer to 50-50 or favoring the run,” Holy Family coach Mike Gabriel said. “Michael lets us do that. What he’s been able to do is a tribute to the offensive line and his toughness.”

The seventh-seeded Tigers (8-2) and their high-powered offense will play host to No. 10 Rifle (8-2) in the first round of the Class 3A state playoffs on Saturday.

“Rifle is a traditionally strong playoff team,” Gabriel said. “We’re happy to be playing at home but we’re definitely expecting a really tough opponent.”

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