Springdale tight end Zack Pianalto finally got back to action on the football football last Friday night and both made an impact and absorbed one in his return.
Pianalto (6-4, 215, 4.63), who is committed to Texas but is still being actively pursued by the University of Arkansas, returned last Friday night from a broken collarbone suffered this summer with 8 catches for 102 yards in his team's 27-22 loss at top-ranked and archrival Fayetteville.
"After 10 weeks of just standing around and watching, it felt great to just get back out there," Pianalto said. "I wasn't sure how much a part of the game plan I was going to be, but they came to me a lot. The only bad part was losing the game, especially to Fayetteville."
Pianalto also got a reminder of just what a physical game football can be when he caught a pass deep in Fayetteville territory on a possible game-winning drive.
Pianalto caught the ball, spun around and got leveled by Fayetteville's Chris Morgan, whose hit dislodged the ball from the Springdale playmaker.
"He caught me with a big-time shot," Pianalto said. "I caught the ball and thought I might have a chance to take it in, but spun around and he hit me from the backside and I never saw it coming. It was a great play by him and obviously not the way I wanted to end things."
Not to mention the fact that it was Springdale's first in-state loss in 18 games.
"We are not used to losing at Springdale, especially to Fayetteville," Pianalto said. "So it was a strange feeling after the game. It was a really weird feeling. Everybody was down and it isn't something we are used to or want to get used to."
The Red Bulldogs (3-2, 1-1 in 7A Conference action) – whose other loss this season was to an out-of-state foe – hope to get right back on the winning track Friday night, but it won't be easy with unbeaten Rogers (5-0, 2-0) coming in for a 7 p.m. game.
Rogers boast one of the nation's top linemen in Lee Ziemba (6-7, 295), who has his college choice down to Arkansas and Auburn, as well as one of the state's top quarterbacks in Cody Kirby.
"We're expecting to see a very good football team in Rogers," Pianalto said. "They are 5-0 for good reasons. It should be a great game and one we hope to get a win out of and get things going the right way again."
Pianalto caught 17 passes for over 400 yards and four touchdowns last season while on the field along with current UA wideouts Damien Williams and Andrew Norman from current Razorback signal caller Mitch Mustain , is hooking up this season with new Springdale quarterback Jeremy Paxton this season.
"Jeremy has done really good this season, especially following in the footsteps of the number one player in the country," Pianalto said. "He doesn't have the cannon for an arm that Mitch does, but he is very, very impressive."
Pianalto got a chance to go down to Austin the second week of September for to see No. 1 Ohio State's 24-7 win over the then-No. 2 Longhorns.
"It was a great atmosphere," Pianalto said. "I don't see how it could get much better. It's a great place and they have a great team."
While Pianalto has made it clear his commitment to Texas is solid, Arkansas is continuing to recruit him with former Springdale head coach and current Razorback wideouts coach Gus Malzahn heading that process up.
"Coach Malzahn has done a great job recruiting me and has called me and texted me a lot," Mlazahn said. "He's made it clear he's not trying to pressure me or bother me, but I love talking to him. He's my old head coach and I have nothing but the greatest respect for him."
He is sure he will be hearing from Malzahn through national signing date, which is still four months away.
"He does a good job at always checking my status," Pianalto said. "He hasn't given up I don't think he will."
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