Dylan Zerki K’16 and Octavius Sanders K’16 were both selected to the Tazón de Estrellas (Bowl of the Stars) after concluding each of their stupendous seasons in the fall. This season Zerki had a conference leading 106 tackles and added three sacks for the Hornets, while Sanders had a conference leading five interceptions, including three that were returned for touchdowns.
Following both of their stat-sheet loaded seasons, the pair were both selected to the All-MIAA defensive team, and Sanders was also selected as All-Region. Neither player knew in advance that the invitation to play in Mexico was coming, until one day they were selected and got a letter inviting them to play in the game.
The game took place in Baja, Mexico on December 19. It featured a team of American All Stars, selected from Division III schools across the country, against a team of Mexican All Stars selected from private universities across Mexico.
“We were there for seven days total, had about a week of practice and then the game,” Zerki said.
Both Zerki and Sanders said the practice was fun because they got to play with new people and make new bonds.
“It was really cool meeting and playing with new people. Working hard helped us make some bonds,” Sanders said. “I met some new brothers down there.
Sanders in particular had a unique experience in the Tazón de Estrellas as he played as a receiver instead of his normal defensive back position. The decision to play receiver came when the team realized they could use some more help in the position, and Sanders felt he was more than equipped for the job.
“I’m an athlete. I can play both sides. Plus I always wanted to play receiver,” Sanders said.
The receiver experience was a huge success as he led the team with eight receptions for 88 yards. Zerki also experienced success; playing in his normal linebacker role, he led the team with nine tackles, including one for a loss. Both of their efforts were essential to the closest victory in Tazón de Estrellas history, a 15-14 victory decided by a late fourth quarter two point conversion to seal the win.
Following their football experience abroad, both Zerki and Sanders are focused on chilling out now, taking in what Kalamazoo College has remaining to offer, and of course finishing their Senior Individualized Projects. Zerki is a business major and one day may want to work in finance, but at the same time he’s considering opportunities to keep playing football, maybe even somewhere overseas. Sanders is an anthropology/sociology major, who is strongly considering a graduate school program in Mexico where he can play football and get his MBA in two years. Whatever the future holds, both players know this experience was worth all the hard work and two-a-days during their lifetime of playing the sport they love.