Lynden senior Zach Vis didn't do a whole lot of sitting around during his junior year.
A three-sport athlete, Vis played as long as he possibly could - quite literally. During the football and boys' basketball seasons, he helped the Lions win the Class 2A state title in both sports, and during the spring he was a big part of getting the baseball team to into the 2A state championship game for the first time in the program's history.
And when he wasn't playing games, he was practicing.
So that's part of the reason it was so hard for Vis on Aug. 16, during the Lions' second official football practice session of the summer, when he dove for a ball and broke his collarbone.
"We didn't think it was broken initially," Lynden coach Curt Kramme said in a phone interview.
But Vis, who comes from family filled with athletes and knows his body inside and out, knew something wasn't right.
"I was just scared," Vis said in a phone interview. "I didn't want my season to be over, and I was concerned that it could be, for sure. We went to the doctor and got the bad news. It was tough, but I kept looking for way to get back out on the field. I just tried to keep positive and do the best I could, making sure nobody was slacking off."
Vis, who was selected an all-state receiver by the Associated Press as a junior after catching 77 passes for 1,227 yards and 14 touchdowns and also earned honorable mention all-state as a safety, ended up opening his senior season in the coaches' booth at King's, helping the Lynden assistants chart plays.
"That was brutal," Vis said. "Going up to the booth, walking past all those fans and climbing the stadium steps. Everyone was saying, 'Good to see you Zach,' and 'We're pulling for you Zach.' It was great to hear, but I just wanted to be out there on the field. It was frustrating."
But not so frustrating that Vis didn't keep his head in the game.
"It was a completely different experience," Vis said. "I learned a lot being up there, watching how the coaches keep track of the down and distance and what plays should work and how they call stuff. It got me to look at the game differently."
And appreciate being out on the field even more.
Vis used the opportunity to help give little tips to Dak Shagren, who replaced him at safety, such as teaching him how to stay low and read the quarterback's eyes.
"In a weird way, losing Zach may have ended up helping us in the secondary," Kramme said. "We needed to develop another secondary guy in case somebody got hurt down the line, and Dak definitely improved while Zach was out, so now we have a very capable fifth guy back there."
But Vis admits he was anxious to get back out on the field.
After missing the first five games, he got to take the field for first time in 2012 in an Oct. 5 game against Bellingham.
"That was awesome," Vis said. "I knew I didn't have many opportunities left, so I wanted to get back out there and make the most of it. I couldn't wait to get back out on the field."
Vis, admittedly, started out cautiously - wanting to test out the shoulder to make sure everything felt right.
"It took a little while, to be honest," Vis said. "Putting on the pads that first day of practice, I was a little nervous to hit somebody. It was a little nerve-wracking to lay a shoulder into somebody. ... That first week, I had a couple of dropped passes. Last year, I had almost none, so that was pretty uncharacteristic of me. It's tough to pull the pads on and go flying around, especially when you haven't done it since the summer. But slowly I got back, and now, I feel like my old self."
That's been bad news for opponents.
In the seven weeks since his return, Vis has already grabbed the team lead with 37 receptions for 554 yards and seven touchdowns. In Lynden's two state playoff wins, alone, he's caught 19 passes for 238 yards and three TDs.
He hopes to add to that total at 1 p.m. Friday, Nov. 23, when the Lions play Capital in the 2A state semifinals at the Tacoma Dome.
"It feels great to know that I can make big plays to help my team out," Vis said. "Obviously Josh (Kraght) sets it up for me to make a big play."
But his impact hasn't been limited to offense.
Sounds of Vis' bone-jarring hits on defense can again be heard reverberating throughout the county, as he's laying his now healthy shoulder into ball carriers.
"He is an impact player on both sides of the ball," Kramme said. "He has great ability to time out hits, and when he makes big hits, it's the type of thing that is contagious for other players on the team. Other guys start flying around in the secondary, and I'm sure subconsciously it's because of Zach's big hits.
"He is such an athlete. He makes things look easy that really aren't. Last week you might not have noticed, but he made several what we call cleanup hits, where a back might squirt free and get and extra 3 or 4 yards. But Zach would stone them and drive them backwards."
Making those hits is something Vis is known for since he was a sophomore starter.
Needless to say, opposing running backs have worn the bruises showing how effective he is at doing it.
"John Shine (Lynden's other starting safety) and I take a lot of pride in making sure running backs don't get any extra yardage after our defensive line and linebackers stop them," Vis said. "Our coach told us that if a running back runs 20 times a game, and he falls forward for 2 extra yards every time, that's 40 yards. That's a big difference. John and I want to make sure he's falling backward 2 yards, rather than forward. We come in, and we clean it up."
And after what he's been through this year, Vis is enjoying cleaning up even more.
He's enjoying making the big hits even more, the big catches even more and even the routine plays.
Even though he's a standout in all three sports, Vis said he likes football the most because he has more teammates to enjoy the experience with.
And with Lynden's strong group of seniors, he's getting to enjoy that experience even more.
"It's awesome playing with these guys," Vis said. "I enjoy it so much, especially now. You never know when it will be your last time. It's such a privilege to play with them. They're like family."
Reach David Rasbach at email@example.com or 360-715-2286.
LYNDEN VS. CAPITAL
Time: 1 p.m. Friday, Nov. 23
Site: Tacoma Dome
TV: ROOT Sports
MOUNT BAKER VS. MONTESANO
Time: 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 24
Site: Tacoma Dome
LUMMI VS. NEAH BAY
Time: 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 24
Site: Tacoma Dome
Reach DAVID RASBACH at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 715-2271.