APACHE JUNCTION — After two seasons of playing varsity football for the Prospectors, Zachary Langenbach is glad his football career won't end after high school.

The linebacker signed Wednesday to play football at Monmouth College in Monmouth, Illinois.

"I'm pretty excited to be able to play again; I didn't want to finish my career in high school," Langenbach said. "The coach (at Monmouth) is really nice, and he helped me make my decision. It's an older-looking school, it's not every big and that's what I wanted, the class sizes are small."

Langenbach's coach for the past two seasons, Vance Miller, said that it's a special moment to have one of his former athletes continue on to play college football.

"Knowing that you had an impact on him, an influence and had a small part in what they were doing, it just means the world to me," Miller said. "I've known Zach since he was in seventh grade, and he has always worked so hard, and he's respectful. He has a great family, and they've always helped the program out. Every bit of contribution that he's put into the program, he's now reaping the rewards from that."

Langenbach is looking forward to his college experience in Illinois.

"I want to become a physical therapist, so I'm hoping that school can help me become that," he said.

He added that although he will be moving away from his parents, he'll still be close to relatives.

"Well, I have family in Illinois, so I won't be that far, but I'll miss them a little bit," Langenbach said.

Miller said it's a big deal for a kid to move out of state, but he said Langenbach has been nothing but smiles and added he did his homework in selecting Monmouth.

"Academically, he's a straight-A student," Miller said. "He's a leader, leads a great example, always mentoring younger guys and helping out the community. His mom is the director of parks and rec in AJ, so he's always involved out in the community and just helping out."

Langenbach said he will continue carrying on the lessons Miller taught him at Apache Junction.

"Coach Miller, he's really helped me become better," Langenbach said.  "How to be a hard worker and really take pride in the community."

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Maria Vasquez is a reporter covering Eloy, Arizona City and sports. She can be reached at mvasquez@pinalcentral.com.

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