A few series into Westlake (Calif.) Oaks Christian’s Friday night home bout with Huntington Beach Edison, Zach Charbonnet looked fairly mortal.
The 6-foot-2, 215-pounder slammed six times into the Charger line for just seven yards, as the visitors devoted vast resources to corralling the four-star Michigan commit.
In a span of two plays, Charbonnet ensured a close match would be a laugher.
Oaks Christian takes down Edison for third straight time | @EdisonSportsNet, @OaksChristian, @EdisonFootball_, @OaksChrstnLions, @EdisonChargers, @oclionsfootball, @ByDCP, @mjszabo, @ProfessorTurner, @samgododge https://t.co/sqqPuC4I5S— Daily Pilot Sports (@DailyPilotSport) August 25, 2018
Up 14-0, Edison seemed poised to slash the lead in half with a redzone drive, but Charbonnet — also a safety for Lions — jumped in front of a post pattern at the goal line and returned the pick 30 yards.
One play later, he turned an Edison linebacker into a pool of goop with a lateral cut upfield, bursting through the secondary for a 51-yard jaunt. Despite the reputation as a power back, he beat a cornerback to the corner, only failing to score after stepping out of bounds around the 20-yard line.
The interception demoralized the Charger offense, as they promptly went three-and-out twice in a row. A punt return by Stanford receiver pledge Bryce Farrell stretched the margin to 24-0, setting the stage for Charbonnet’s first touchdown.
He scored on the play shown in the picture at the top of the page. He absorbed hits from three defenders, including preseason all Orange Country linebacker Luke Hoggard. It mattered not, as he bulled his way for the score, ballooning the margin to 31-0 before halftime.
Charbonnet’s most impressive sequence came on the first drive of the second frame. He flipped field position with a 50-yard run, stiff-arming a linebacker and tussling with a safety for a good 15 yards before the rest of the secondary knocked him out of bounds. After a routine three-yarder, he took the ensuing handoff on a toss to the left side of the field, lowering the shoulder on a box safety and waltzing past everyone else for a 26-yard touchdown.
At 38-0, he sat for the remainder of the night. He finished with 14 carries for 161 yards.
Based on his highlights against Chaminade last weekend, I really shouldn’t have been surprised by his speed.
Oaks Christian vs. Chaminade highlights.https://t.co/ZqSMU6xBJO— eric sondheimer (@latsondheimer) August 17, 2018
He stars for Oaks Christian on the track, winning several 4-by-400 relays and clocking in at an 11.2 100-meter dash. While not elite speed, you can see him creating distance above against a three-star safety in Chaminade’s Chris Rankins.
It can’t be stressed enough that Charbonnet thrived despite Edison throwing all of their defenders at him. If he played the whole game, he might have reached 300 yards.
Some sites see him as a SoCal version of Ezekiel Elliott — I am not predicting he will reach that production — and the physical comparison fits. Charbonnet stands two inches taller, and Elliott is thicker in the midsection, but they both possess equal parts power and lateral agility.
They aren’t jitterbugs — that role is left to fellow four-star Eric Gray — but they make one or two cuts to find room, and accelerate into the open field for chunks of yards.
Once Ben Herbert gets his hands on Charbonnet, expect a physical freak, at the very least.
Speaking of Ben Herbert, I talked to Charbonnet after the game, and he said the weight program contributed heavily to his commitment to the Wolverines.
He also mentioned he is excited to start talking with Gray about how they’ll dominate the Big Ten with their one-two punch potential.
Charbonnet, in short, met the hype with his performances the last two weeks. There’s a reason he jumped this summer from middle four-star territory to near the five-star threshold.