VENTURA, Calif. -- It appears to be a typical afternoon of football practice over at St. Bonaventure (Ventura) and the first player to emerge from the locker room is Zachary Green. The senior running back makes a beeline toward the adjacent field where the workout is about to take place. His teammates follow suit, albeit at a much more leisurely pace.
Right then and there, you get the sense things are far from normal. There's work to be done and Green is intent on being first in line for reps, apparently.
"It's time to take care of business,'' Green said.
The sense of urgency is warranted given the fact he's waited three-plus years for the opportunity to be the featured back. The time is now for Green.
A particularly grueling session ensues. The drills are seemingly never-ending. Too many to count. More than three hours later, practice is finished and the once unrelenting sun is finally beginning to set in the background. Most of his peers are long gone at this point. Green is at midfield however, doing his best to perfect his craft with a group of assistant coaches.
"He's had to wait in the wings for a while, there were other players ahead of him, a few great seniors here in the past,'' St. Bonaventure coach Todd Therrien said. "No one on this team works harder than Zachary Green now. Everyone everyone looks up to him.''
Green is the unquestioned leader for the Seraphs (1-0 overall) heading into Friday night's nonleague showdown against budding rival Centennial (Corona)
The Huskies (0-0) are traditionally one of the premier programs the Inland Empire has to offer. This year is no different. MaxPreps ranks them No. 20 in the Golden State. They are also No. 2 in the most recent CIF Southern Section Inland Division poll.
St. Bonaventure is no slouch. Far from it. MaxPreps ranks the Seraphs as the state's No. 19 team. They are No. 10 in the Pac-5 Division rankings, which is home to Southern California's top programs and is arguably the toughest division in the country.
Centennial will also have a bit of revenge on its mind after losing to St. Bonaventure, 29-27, in the season-opener right around this time last year. The Huskies are well aware of the potential threat Green poses, mind you, and figure to focus their efforts on stopping the 5-foot-10 and 217-plus pound prospect who committed to Arizona back in early April.
Green has not always been the first option for the Seraphs.
He played at Cathedral (Los Angeles) as a freshman and sophomore. Buried on the depth chart there, Green decided a change of scenery was in order and transferred.
After arriving at St. Bonaventure, he learned senior Shaun Wick was entrenched as the starter. Green, of course, was forced into a backup role. Nevertheless, he did well when given playing time during his junior season and finished with more than 1,000 yards rushing. A capable pass-catcher, Green had close to 400 yards receiving. All told, he scored 17 touchdowns.
"We know all about Zachary Green, he's a handful to deal with, one of those tough players to stop once he gets rolling in one direction,'' Moorpark coach Tim Lins said.
Wick recently moved on and is playing at Wyoming nowadays.
Green, on the other hand, did well in his debut as the primary ball-carrier in last week's season-opener for the Seraphs. He rushed for 90 yards on nine carries and scored on a 52-yard run in a 48-0 victory over Garfield (Los Angeles). His totals might have been more impressive had the opponent from the CIF Los Angeles City Section kept the score somewhat close.
"Zachary has some fresh legs and is ready to run,'' Therrien said. "Thing is, he has an NFL-type of body and speed. That's a scary combination at this level.''
Green also possesses an unwavering desire to be the best around. That much has been blatantly obvious during St. Bonaventure practices in the past when he was the first individual to arrive and the last one to leave. Not many players are willing to make the sacrifice.
Given his work ethic, it appears as if Green is on the verge of having his name mentioned in the same sentence as some of the state's more high-profile recruits at his position, players such as Craig Lee
from Redlands, Justin Davis
from Lincoln (Stockton), Terrell Newby
from Chaminade (West Hills) and Khalfani Muhammad
from Notre Dame (Sherman Oaks).
In the meantime, expect a no-nonsense approach from Green.
"I feel like this is my time. Finally,'' Green said. "I'm ready for a bigger role. I want to go out and show people what I'm capable of doing. When I step on the field, whether it's practice or a game on Friday night, it's time to get serious. The fun and games stop.''
Sean Ceglinsky has covered preps and college sports in Southern California for the better part of 15 years. Follow him on Twitter: @SeanCeglinsky