Facing the best: American Fork’s Zach Bezzant honored as 2022 Daily Herald Boys Lacrosse Player of the Year
To non-lacrosse fans, it might not be easy to understand precisely how vital the contribution of senior Zach Bezzant was to his American Fork team.
After all, he didn’t tally tons of goals (that was seniors Camden Oswald and Noah Fisher and junior Tate Fisher), nor was he brilliant in defense (that was senior Jacob Cline in the net with guys like seniors Austin Vitkauskas and McKay Lock and junior Ethan Genessy).
No, all Bezzant did was get the Cavemen the ball — again and again and again.
“Winning face offs are honestly the only way you get the ball,” Bezzant said in a phone interview last week. “If you get the ball, you can score more goals. Each one of those face offs gets those extra possessions which become those extra shots on goals and then more are going in. So the more possessions you have, the more goals you can put in.”
No one in the state was as good at winning face offs as Bezzant. His percentage of 81.2 percent (336 wins out of 414 face offs) was more than seven percentage points better than the next athlete.
That’s why American Fork head coach Tyson Poole said Bezzant was the most valuable player for the Cavemen this year.
“Every Coach deserves to have a Zach Bezzant on their team,” Poole said in an email. “What I admire most about Zach is his never-ending grit. The kid has worked his tail off to become one of the most dominating FOGOs (Face Off Get Off player) this state has ever seen. To have 81% success at the X in the hardest region with one of the hardest schedules this season, that is absolutely insane.”
Poole explained that Bezzant had to be ready for different tactics but always found ways to succeed.
“His speed is unmatched,” Poole said. “His toughness allows him to take the most brutal hits. It wasn’t uncommon for Zach to see poles at the faceoff. Teams knew that in order to stop Zach they would have to make it a physical battle to the ball. Zach was adaptable and resilient in finding ways to stay dominant at the X.”
Those traits helped American Fork be the 6A runner-up and earned Bezzant the honor of being the 2022 Daily Herald Boys Lacrosse Player of the Year.
“In my previous years, I was never into lacrosse,” Bezzant said. “These past few years are the first years were where I actually got into it. So seeing how the hard work pays off is just nice. Getting all this recognition is super cool.”
He explained that his lacrosse journey began around third grade.
“My mom just saw that we were sitting around the house,” Bezzant said. “We didn’t like soccer or baseball. She saw an ad for lacross up in Cedar Hills. She was like, ‘Oh, what better sport is there for kids than to hit each other with sticks?’ So I got into it that way.”
But although he was playing the sport, Bezzant said he had a tough time finding his niche.
“It was just a long process from there because when you are young, it’s hard to figure out a position you like,” Bezzant said. “I played every single position there is to play in lacrosse. It was when we got into eighth or ninth grade that we really started to enjoy it. I finally found my position which was the face off and I got real good at it junior year. Then it just carried over into senior year.”
That success put him in a key role for the Cavemen, who had a number of gifted players surrounding him.
“We knew we had a good squad,” Bezzant said. “It just took us awhile to figure out how to click. But our squad was great. I loved all the players but it took time to actually be working well with each other. Once we got there, it was a good year.”
He said his favorite part of the game was seeing all the pieces fall into place and the team see the success from that.
“When it clicks and you are winning games, it’s so fun,” Bezzant said. “When we bonded and it just worked, it was such a fun time.”
That propelled American Fork to a great year in 2022, including reaching the 6A championship game against powerhouse Corner Canyon. The Chargers had defeated the Cavemen twice during the season, but Bezzant did his part to give American Fork a better chance.
“Their face off guy is so good,” Bezzant said. “In our last game, he won 60% of the face offs. It was so nice for me to win 60% this time because it was a huge mental game but it favored my side.”
The Cavemen weren’t quite able to pull the upset but it was still an excellent season for American Fork and Poole wanted Bezzant to know that a big part of that was because of him.
“Zach, thank you for being a great leader (as a captain), a great athlete, and a coachable player,” Poole said. “We will greatly miss Zach’s skill next season. On behalf of our AF staff Zach, congratulations! You definitely earned this.”
While Bezzant now plans on moving on to play on the UVU club lacrosse team, he said he feels proud to have been part of the high school boys lacrosse fraternity.
“A team doesn’t play by itself,” Bezzant said. “American Fork supports Lone Peak. Everyone is connected. We have club teams that we play on in the summer and I was able to connect with so many players from Westlake and Lone Peak and other schools. There is a connection in the sport. There are heated moments in games but at the end of the day, we are all brothers who play lacrosse to play lacrosse. It’s just fun.”
His advice to the next generation of high school lacrosse players is to enjoy the opportunities.
“It moves fast,” Bezzant said. “I feel like last week was my freshman year when I was getting ready to play against all the big boys. It was so nerve-wracking. I would advise them to not let the emotions take control. It’s going to be a roller-coaster ride, but as long as you focus on you and your position, what you want to do with your high school career, it will work out.”