Ringgold's Zach Shahan, Tried by Fire and Still Standing

Tigers Play in Ga. State Semis Tonight

Friday, December 6, 2013 - by B.B. Branton

“It’s do or die on Friday night and we want to win a state title for our community as we have all been through so much due to the Tornado of 2011. We want to make history for ourselves and Ringgold football.”

 --  Ringgold senior offensive lineman Zach Shahan


Fire can destroy and fire can be used to strengthen and make tough.

For Ringgold senior offensive guard Zach Shahan, he has experienced both.

Devastating electrical fires destroyed the Shahan homes in Rossville when Zach was in the sixth grade and in the Ringgold area two years later, followed by a near community-destroying Tornado in 2011.

 “Our school and community have been through a lot with all the loss due to the Tornado so our goal is to win the state football title for them,” said Shahan, a 6-0, 340 pound guard.

Tonight, Ringgold (11-2) travels south to Washington County (12-0) in a Georgia AAA state semifinals game. The winner will play for the state champ next Friday in the Georgia Dome.

Radio Broadcast: The game can be heard on 94.7 FM at 7:30 p.m.

“My family has suffered a great deal of sadness due to losing our homes and just about all our possessions, but thanks to the people at the Red Cross along with friends and family we have been able to get back on or feet more than once,” stated Shahan.

One friend who has been there through all the tough times is fellow teammate and offensive guard Bryan Derben.

“We have been good friends since we played rec league football together as kids,” said Derben a 6-2, 280 junior guard.

Through all the adversity, Shahan smiles when he and Derben talk about football championships.

While the Tigers are within two wins of the high school brass ring, Shahan and Derben already know what it means to win it all.

“Bryan and I are always together,” Shahan stated. “If you see one of us the other one is close by.”

They led the Chargers to a rec league Super Bowl crown in 2007, beating a team from Alabama for the title.

“We had a real good team that year (current Ringgold quarterback Slade Dale was a running back) and went undefeated,” Derben stated.

“The final game was crazy as we played in rain, sleet and snow all in the one game,” Shahan said with a laugh. “That’s the coldest I have ever been.”

The best friends continued their winning ways in the fall of as Ringgold Middle School won the north Georgia league in 2009 when Derben was a seventh grader and Shahan in the eighth (the year of the second fire), and Derben captured a second trophy the following fall.

While Shahan has gone through a couple of devastating fires in his personal life, leaving him with almost nothing, he, his friend Derben and the rest of the Ringgold Tigers have to be tested by two more fires (i.e. opponents) before being crowned the toughest, strongest, most resilient team in all of Georgia AAA.

contact B.B. Branton at william.branton@comcast.net



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