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Staff photo by Patrick MacCoon / Heritage senior linebacker Zach Brown (21) led a 35-7 season-opening rout of Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe in a home game for the Generals on Friday.

RINGGOLD, Ga. — It's not like Zach Brown doesn't enjoy playing defense against spread offenses that sling the football around. It's just that when the Heritage High School senior inside linebacker gets a chance to play a run-first team, well, it's like Christmas morning.

Brown, a three-year starter, took aim at Catoosa County rival Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe's triple-option attack Friday night and led a defensive effort that produced six turnovers and held the Warriors to minus-8 yards rushing in the first half of a 35-7 win.

The 6-foot-3, 230-pound Brown had a game-high 12 tackles, two for loss, forced a fumble and had one of the Generals' four interceptions. His effort is rewarded by being named the Times Free Press player of the week.

"Zach is an anchor for us on defense both as a leader and as a player," Heritage coach E.K. Slaughter said. "When you play offenses like LFO, the Mike backer (middle linebacker) is in a meat grinder all night. Zach came through that test strong. He was physical all night and also ran down plays on the edge, all while being the quarterback of the defense and communicating defensive calls and adjustments. He played great."

The Heritage team captain, who had 15 tackles in last year's win over the Warriors, had 113 tackles, 85 of them solos, with 10 of them for loss in 2019 after accumulating 76 tackles with eight for loss as a sophomore. Brown is one of six returning starters on a Heritage team that has made four consecutive playoff appearances.

"Our defense is really seasoned, and I think we could have one of the best we've had in a while," Brown said after Friday's big win. "We just need to keep it rolling."

Contact Lindsey Young at lyoung@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @youngsports22.

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