When Burroughs High football players and coaches talk about Zander Anding, something that is always brought up is the dedication and hard work the senior running back puts in.
But a quip from Indians quarterback Eli Peppmuller best illustrates Anding’s unrelenting drive this season.
“We actually had a team meeting and we were talking about a bunch of stuff. We were trying to figure what we can do to get better, and Zander’s solution was that we need to condition more,” Peppmuller said. “He already puts in a tremendous amount of work, and he wanted to work even more. He is definitely one of the hardest workers I’ve been around. Whatever he needs to do to get better, he’ll do it.”
Burroughs head Coach Keith Knoop said Anding hasn’t always been as dedicated as he has been this season. In fact, in his first two years in the program, football seemed to be an afterthought for him.
“He was into skateboards and BMX bike riding, motorcycle riding and doing all that stuff,” said Knoop, who is in his 15th year. “He just had a lot going on that was kind of occupying him. That was part of it. But he was also always coming late to practices or missing Mondays. I don’t think he started one JV game because he was always being disciplined.”
Knoop said Anding’s grades also began to slip during his freshman and sophomore seasons.
However, the summer before Anding’s junior year in 2010, Knoop said he saw a remarkable turnaround.
“When he got to varsity, he quickly realized that if he wanted to be a part of this, his commitment level was going to have to be much, much different,” Knoop said. “And he has made a very big change. I don’t think he’s ever missed anything for us this year. He’s never late, he goes 100% every day in practices and in the weight room and he has just worked so hard to become better at everything.”
Anding, a 6-foot-1, 175-pound speedster who is breaking records and cementing himself as one of the most successful players in the history of a program that has a rich football tradition, said he has made a concerted effort to change his approach to all that he does.
Motivated by the possibility of playing in college and helping the Indians drive toward a Pacific League championship, Anding is dedicated to succeed.
“It really hit me this year being a senior,” Anding said. “All my friends are seniors and we’ve been playing at Burroughs, most of us, since we were freshmen. I realized that this was it for high school. So, I just wanted to work as hard as I could to try and help out the team.”
Aided by a talented offensive line, Anding has been able to put up big numbers and break records along the way for Burroughs (4-3, 4-0 in league), which sits atop the Pacific League standings with three games remaining in the regular season.
In seven games, Anding has carried the ball 154 times for 1,883 yards (12.2 yards a carry) and 19 touchdowns. He also has two receiving touchdowns and has returned two kickoffs for touchdowns for a total of 23. He is just 118 yards shy of breaking the single-season record of 2,001 set by Dominique Barnes in 2008.
Anding broke Barnes’ single-game mark of 304 — also set in 2008 — when he rushed for 326 yards Sept. 30 in a league game at Pasadena. A week later, Anding again topped the 300-yard mark when he ran for 319 against Arcadia. But that was only a prelude for his best performance of the season Oct. 10 against Glendale. Despite playing sparingly in the second half, he broke his own record by gaining 393 yards in 22 carries and six total touchdowns.
Last week, Anding continued his onslaught, gaining 368 yards against Crescenta Valley. It was his fourth straight game in which he gained more than 300 yards.
“Sometimes it’s surprising to me when I find out after a game how many yards I’ve run for,” Anding said. “When they have told me that I’ve rushed for 300-something yards I’m usually like ‘Wow.’ It’s hard to believe.”
Although Anding admits it takes a great deal of work to churn up the amount of real estate he’s run for this season, he is modest about the reason for his success. He credits the work of linemen Gus Ferrat, Forrest Stevens, Daniel Marbach, Paul Martinez and Thomas Liro for paving the way for him.
“Honestly, I make all of my runs because of them,” said Anding, who also gives credit to Burroughs running backs coach Earl Hollingshead. “Without them I know that I wouldn’t be that much at all and I wouldn’t have been able to do what I’ve done. Those guys are amazing and they do so much hard work. Even the receivers are out there working hard to help us out.”
Ferrat said the linemen appreciate the praise, and that recognition makes them work harder to help Anding pick up his yardage.
“He does respect us a lot and he tells us that,” Ferrat said. “He gives us props in practice and he picks us up when we’re tired or down. We know he doesn’t have to do that, but that’s just the kind of person he is.”
Said Knoop: “Some running backs we’ve had in the past never gave credit to the line for their success. But Zander is always quick to thank his lineman and give them their props. He knows where his bread is buttered. Without them up front, he’s got nothing.”
Not a particularly bruising running back, Anding uses his athletic ability to frustrate opponents. Knoop said Anding is remarkably quick and has been clocked at 4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash.
Some of his talent surfaced last season when Anding was a backup to starting running back Tadeo Zuniga. Anding carried the ball 70 times for 659 yards and nine touchdowns. He also had a 9.4 yards-per-carry average.
“He just has exceptional speed,” Knoop said of Anding. “He’s also big and strong; he’s not a little guy. He’s got the strength to break tackles and he has great moves. Also, he has great hands and he’s a great receiver. On defense, he’s a super corner. Any time we get into a situation where we need to cover their best guy, we put Zander at corner.”
With Anding leading the way, Burroughs — which shared league titles in 2009 and 2010 — is attempting to win its fourth league crown in six years. However, the Indians want to capture the outright title this season, something they haven’t accomplished since 2006.
“We definitely don’t want to share it this year,” Anding said. “We are really working hard to get the championship and not lose a game in league. We are all dedicated to making that happen.”
With a new-found dedication and an impeccable work ethic, Anding wants to be at the forefront of that title push.