Case returns to Cajun Country with Northwestern State

THIBODAUX — Northwestern State offensive lineman Zach Case isn’t used to sitting the sidelines, but right now, he doesn’t have a choice.

The Demons senior center and former Central Catholic High School standout, who has played in 30 of Northwestern’s 34 games throughout his career, has been sidelined since he tore his medial collateral ligament, a ligament on the inner part of the knee, in Northwestern State’s matchup with LSU on Sept. 10.

Case, one of numerous Northwestern State offensive linemen who has been sidelined with injuries this year, said he hopes to return to action in two weeks when the Demons play Lamar in Southland Conference play.

Until then, the high expectations for his senior season — he was a pre-season All-Southland Conference second team selection — will have to be put on the backburner.

“It’s my fourth year here,” he said. “I’m kind of a leader of the team now. It’s tough watching your guys battle when you ain’t out there, but you know what? I’d sit out every game if we come away with a ‘W’ every game. As long as we win, it don’t matter to me.”

On Saturday, the Demons won big, 34-0, against Nicholls State University in both team’s SLC opener.

“It’s great … to be back down in the south, get a little Cajun Country,” Case said. “I love it. Nothing beats south Louisiana. Coming down here and beating Nicholls is just awesome. We (haven’t) beat them in two years. My freshman year, they came up to Natchitoches, and we beat them, and it’s been a long time (since). It’s just a sweet revenge, a great victory.”

During the weekend, Case also got to return to Morgan City and visit with family.

While relegated to the sidelines, Case said he has been rehabbing his knee as much as he can to try to get back as soon as possible.

He also has been tutoring the offensive line, particularly his replacement at center, John McLendon.

“He’s a sophomore. He’s a young guy but he’s been playing well,” Case said. “(I’ve been) just trying to help him as much as I can.”

Throughout his career, Case has played multiple positions on the offensive line, first starting at tackle in the second half of his freshman season and at guard as a sophomore before moving to center where he played as a junior and again this year.

During the last two years, he has been the Demons’ highest grading and most consistent offensive lineman, while playing alongside All-American guard Michael Booker.

Case attributes his successful line play to spending a lot of time watching film in preparation for the Demons’ opponents as well as studying the game plan and then executing on the field.

“The preparation during the week is the hard part,” Case said. “When you play on Saturdays, that’s the fun part. That’s not work. It’s a game.”

Although he played at a Class A school — the lowest classification for football in Louisiana — Case, 21, knows that doesn’t mean a player can’t be successful on the next level.

“Football’s football,” the 6-foot, 2-inch, 308-pounder said. “You either can play or you can’t play. That’s how it goes.

“I guess it gives hopes to the kids at Central and any small school because people think you can’t make it but you definitely can make it,” he added. “You just have to work hard every day.”

As for his future, Case said he is not sure if a future in the NFL will be in the cards, explaining that it is tough with all of the injuries he has endured throughout his career and his aching knees.

Still, the health and human performance student, who plans to one day teach and coach, didn’t rule it out.

“We’ll see where the road takes me,” he said.

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