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Kyrin Zimmerman emerges as leader for Greencastle

Off the field, Kyrin Zimmerman and Demetrius Burton are the best of friends.

But once the Greencastle-Antrim football players take the practice field, all bets are off.

"Offensively, he gives a good move here and there," Burton said with a laugh. "He jukes me out at practice, so we might get into some fights about that. I don't like that. Not too many people are allowed to do that on me, but I guess I'll let him get away with it."

Zimmerman, after all, has taken over a team leadership role for the Blue Devils, who graduated more than 20 seniors last year. This season, Zimmerman, a wide receiver and cornerback, will be a perfect complement to Burton, the team's only returning starter.

"I think this year, I'll get more touches of the ball," Zimmerman said. "We're fast this year, which will spread the defenses out a little bit. They're not able to key in on one guy, like they did with (Burton) last year. They're going to have to be looking at me and some of our other faster guys."

Zimmerman did see some time last year, finishing with 212 rushing yards, 10 catches for 132 yards and three touchdowns.

This year, Greencastle is going to have a whole new look, and as one of the few starting seniors, Zimmerman is happy to step into a leadership role.

"To be honest, I'm not a vocal guy," Zimmerman said. "I'm more of a lead-by-example guy. I try to get the younger guys to understand that as a wide receiver, you're not going to get beautiful balls all the time, so you have to force yourself to catch those balls. If we're struggling with a route, I try to show them how to run it properly and run it faster."

Although Zimmerman isn't too vocal on the field, he does have a calming presence that helps teammates stay focused. For instance, Zimmerman has been working with first-year quarterback Cade McDowell, and said if McDowell is ever anxious, he is quick to step in and try to calm him down.

"Kyrin's a good friend, and that's what we're here to do," Burton said. "Since we're best friends, we can fight a lot, but out there on the field, we help each other out. We just deal with the same stuff; we get frustrated in the same ways, and are always there to calm each other down."

With such a young group of Blue Devils, a comforting, yet active, leader may be just what they need.