Editor's note: This story is featured in the Daily Citizen-News' weekly high school football Touchdown! section. Grab an issue in papers on Fridays during football season, or stop by our office for a copy.
TUNNEL HILL -- It's not a glamorous job, but Zach Costlow is just the man to do it.
The Northwest Whitfield High School senior has become a steadying force for the Bruin defense at his nose guard position on the defensive line. While fans might not notice what Costlow is doing since other teammates are making plays, he's perfectly fine with his duty of occupying as many blockers as possible. That frees up teammates to make tackles.
"My role on the team is I've got to go out there and get as many dudes on me," Costlow said. "I"ve got to take away two or three blockers each play and I've still got to try to make the tackle from C gap (outside of the offensive tackles) to C gap."
Being out of the spotlight is just fine for him.
"It's just being a leader," Costlow said. "You've just got to go out there and do what they need you to do and make things happen for your teammates. It's tough, but I've adapted to it over the years."
The 6-foot, 270-pounder had a successful season in 2018. He finished the year with 64 tackles, six tackles for loss, three sacks, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and eight quarterback hurries. He was selected to the Daily Citizen-News All-Area first team and received first-team all-region honors in Region 6-4A.
Costlow has come a long way since he was a first-grader who didn't want to play football, but did so because his dad encouraged him to play. He spent his freshman season at Northwest on the junior varsity team, then moved up to varsity for his sophomore season. He's been a starter for the past two years through "hard work, going out there and giving it my all," he said.
"He was really physically dominant as a younger player, but he had to learn how to play the game the right way," head coach Josh Robinson said. "He got tremendously better each year and that leap has continued this year. He's always been a really good player, but he's figured out how to play hard all the time, play with technique, how to turn it loose."
The Bruins head into tonight's game against Gilmer at 5-2, 2-1 in the region, and are positioning themselves for a run at the playoffs. Costlow has been pleased with the season so far, especially since many people were skeptical about how Northwest would fare.
"It's been a pretty good season from my perspective," Costlow said. "The biggest part for our team is we just need to go out there and do what we need to do. We can't mess up on either side on the ball. I think it's exceeded my expectations. Everyone's been saying Northwest isn't going to be good this year, we lost all of our big players. We came out here and proved that we're still one of the teams to beat."