Hobart coach Craig Osika looks at Zach Bloom, and the reality barely makes sense to him.
The son of former Hobart star Doug Bloom is nearing graduation.
“It’s kind of hard to even think he is a senior and this is the last year with him,” Osika said of Zach Bloom. “I know his dad is proud. He knows what Hobart football’s about because his dad lives and breathes it, was one of the best running backs Hobart’s ever had. He knows what the expectations are, and he does a good job living up to them.”
Indeed, wide receiver/linebacker Zach Bloom is continuing a family legacy with the Brickies. Doug Bloom was an all-state selection and North All-Star as a senior in 1997, the same season his classmate Osika also earned those accolades.
Osika said he and Doug Bloom, who is Hobart’s running backs coach, were the first two players to start as freshmen under iconic coach Don Howell. They were part of the Hobart team that finished second in Class 4A in 1996.
“The Hobart tradition,” Zach Bloom said. “A lot of stories from my dad, the state stories. It’s something to look forward to at the end of the season and push for. We’re working even harder for that so I can get to experience that as well.
“It’s a cool thing. Our town is a football town. Everybody loves it here.”
Zach Bloom’s uncle Jeff Bloom also was an all-state running back as a senior in 1993, when Hobart won the last of its four state championships.
“Brickie pride,” senior linebacker Bradley Gibson said of Zach Bloom. “His dad and uncle both are legends in Hobart, and he’s really carrying that on. He’s really stepped up.”
Indeed, the 5-foot-9, 180-pound Zach Bloom is starting on both sides of the ball for the Brickies (1-0), who opened the season with a win against Chesterton after having lost to the Trojans in the previous two openers. He also plays on every special teams unit.
“It’s fun,” he said. “I get to run around, be rowdy and play.”
Zach Bloom’s opportunities to make such an impact were limited the past two season because he suffered two collarbone injuries, one to each side.
After he was the quarterback on the freshman team, he earned snaps as a sophomore at wide receiver in the varsity season opener and played quarterback in the junior varsity game the next day. But he said he “shattered” his left collarbone in practice the following week, requiring season-ending surgery.
He started at receiver last season but suffered a fractured right collarbone on a punt return against Kankakee Valley in Week 7. He didn’t need surgery, but his season was over again.
With his senior season remaining, Zach Bloom went all-in this offseason, gaining 20 pounds in the process.
“I grinded it out all winter,” he said. “I was hurt last year, so it gave me even more motivation to push myself harder in the gym. I really focused on football in the offseason.
“I’ve been amped up for this season. I feel very confident.”
In addition to keeping his spot in the slot on offense, Zach Bloom has taken over a position as an outside linebacker. An injury to a teammate created a need, and he has taken ownership, even though his previous practice experience on defense came in the secondary.
“Linebacker is a big change,” he said. “But it’s nothing I can’t do. I’m ready to do whatever my coaches need me to do no matter what. I’ll do my best at it and push myself.”
Zach Bloom’s efforts have not been lost on Gibson.
“That’s hard playing both ways, especially playing at the higher levels, 4A, 5A, 6A,” Gibson said. “He’s getting hit every play at linebacker, and then he’s going over to receiver and not complaining at all.
“He’s a great open-field tackler. Everything he does is textbook. It’s not perfect because he hasn’t played linebacker his whole life. But he’s picking up and learning every single day. He listens to coaching. He’s a great kid. He’s a great friend, a great teammate. I love everything about him.”
Osika probably would agree.
“Doug and I have been friends since high school, so I’ve known Zach since he was born,” Osika said. “He’s been around this program ever since he was a little kid. He was a ball boy, did all of that stuff.
“Unfortunately, the past two years he’s had injuries, but he really put in the work in the offseason, put some more weight on. He got stronger, faster, and now he’s in a position where he’s starting both ways for us. It’s kind of neat to see him come full circle from somebody I’ve seen grow up.”