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Zach Gadbury has been busy since graduating from Unity High School in 2016.

He was an accomplished football player for Scott Hamilton’s Rockets, serving as a captain on their 2015 Class 3A state runner-up squad.

Now, Gadbury is preparing for his fourth campaign with St. Ambrose University football in Davenport, Iowa. That includes his fourth year as a starter on the offensive line and third as a team captain.

Being selected by his teammates to a leadership position as a college sophomore was not something Gadbury previously had considered.

“I was shocked,” he said. “A lot of guys said that they had voted for me, but I kind of thought it was a longshot, and I didn’t really care. Being a sophomore, I still had a lot to prove. But when I heard my name called, it was pretty cool.”

Gadbury has one additional number of intrigue next to his name, in that he’s started in all 30 of St. Ambrose’s football games during his time with the NAIA program.

“I started all 10 my freshman year, and I started all 10 my sophomore year, and I started to think — this was kind of when (former NFL offensive tackle) Joe Thomas was retiring and how many snaps he played in a row,” Gadbury said. “I was like, ‘Well, it would be pretty cool if I could play 40 out of 40 games in college.’ That definitely is a goal right now.”

Gadbury doesn’t expect that mission to be hindered by an injury that sidelined him for spring ball earlier this year, either.

The Fighting Bees have improved with Gadbury in the mix, jumping from 4-6 campaigns each of his first two seasons to a 6-4 record last year.

Simultaneously, Gadbury earned all-Midwest League second-team honors as a junior, serving as both guard and center. It was his second time achieving that status, the first coming in 2016.

“The biggest thing (from high school) has been more the X’s and O’s,” Gadbury said. “The technique, I’ve definitely become better in the passing game considering we didn’t throw the ball near as much as we do in college, when I was at Unity.”

Speaking of the Rockets, Gadbury is far from the only former Unity football product to arrive on St. Ambrose’s campus in recent years. Gadbury currently is teammates with linebacker Ethan Miebach, a 2018 graduate. Others who have preceded both of them out of Unity are Mitch Negangard, Conner Grace and Taylor White.

“There’s a pipeline there,” Gadbury said. “It all started with Mitch. Mitch was such a great player and such a great leader that he set a good example of what Unity football is when he got to Ambrose.”

Gadbury still keeps an eye on what’s going on with his hometown team as well, including Hicks Field getting turf this summer as part of a renovation.

“I had some memories on that old grass field out there I’ll never forget,” Gadbury said. “It stinks that it’s gone, but I’m happy that they got (turf).”

Prep Sports Coordinator

Colin Likas is prep sports coordinator at The News-Gazette. His email is clikas@news-gazette.com, and you can follow him on Twitter (@clikasNG).