Zalenski set for one last football hurrah

Originally, this week was to be a bit of a boot camp for Owen Zalenski, a prep week for his freshman football season at Plymouth State University.

Instead, the 2019 Milford High grad is looking at his time in Castleton, Vermont, with Team New Hampshire as a football celebration, a career capper if you will.

Zalenski will still head up to Plymouth in about a month, but he’ll do it strictly focused on his physical education studies with hopes of someday being a teacher.

“I just couldn’t be totally committed to football, and I wasn’t going to take a spot away from someone else who was,” said Zalenski, who chewed up yards last fall for the 6-3 Spartans as one of Division II’s most reliable running backs. “I did everything I could on the football field in high school. Maybe I’ve played enough.”

Well, not quite.

Zalenski has soaked in one final week of the game he loves as a member of Team New Hampshire.

Saturday at 5:30 on Spartan Field at Castleton University, he and some of the Granite State’s top graduated seniors will tangle with Vermont’s finest in 2019 Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl.

He and Milford High teammate Nik Lapan hit the New Hampshire camp on campus Sunday and have been ripping it up in the summer heat as they prepare for the heavy-duty collision.

“There is such a rich history, it’s a real honor to play in this game,” said Zalenski, who has moved to the defensive side and will start at linebacker in this one.

“It’s a last shot at football for me. And it’s a great reason to play … for those kids in the Shrine hospitals.”

The teams got a chance to meet with some of those children this week, and that can be an enlightening experience, something Zalenski was certainly looking forward to.

After that, though, it’s all football for now.

The good news is that Zalenski didn’t make the choice to not keep playing until recently. Along with his summer job, he’s been working out relentlessly for the fall season, and he’s in great shape.

He’s ready. And the week, while it won’t be preparation for college football, it has helped him adjust a bit for college.

“It’s made me think a lot this week about how things are going to be,” he said. “But for now I’m focused on one thing. Beat Vermont. That’s our only goal.”