Va. football

Top WR Zanellato poised to transfer from Robinson to Lake Braddock

By Preston Williams
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 24, 2010; 10:00 PM

Robinson junior receiver Matt Zanellato, a first-team all-Northern Region pick last season, is transferring to play for rival school Lake Braddock, the reigning Virginia AAA Division 6 runner-up.

Zanellato hopes to transfer by late March. His parents, Tim and Christine, said they are selling their home and will move into the Lake Braddock school district. Zanellato likely will be a focal point in the Bruins' spread offense that averaged 31.5 points per game last season, and the family hopes that playing in that offense will improve Zanellato's skills and college marketability.

"The whole move to Braddock isn't about . . . making sure he gets a ton of catches," Christine Zanellato said. "We looked at prep schools and realized that really close to home there is another high school that is comparable academically, athletically and has a program that would be a good fit for Matt at the position he's going to want to play in college.

"The skill work that he has to develop is pretty specific, and looking at Braddock, it looks like a really good opportunity for him to go there. It's not about not liking Robinson. Robinson's a great place."

In other football news:

South Lakes has hired longtime Park View coach Andy Hill for its football opening and Woodgrove, a new school in Purcellville set to open in the fall, has hired Potomac Falls defensive coordinator Jerry Gordon to be its first coach.

Meantime, the 6-foot-4, 180-pound Zanellato is poised to team with junior quarterback Michael Nebrich, the 2009 region offensive player of the year, to give the Bruins a formidable attack next season. Nebrich threw for 3,289 yards and 22 touchdowns last season in leading Lake Braddock to a 12-3 record, including a win over Robinson in the region semifinals.

"I'm pretty excited," Zanellato said, "as excited as any receiver would be to move to a spread offense. When we first considered leaving, I told my mom it would be crazy going to Lake Braddock. I said, 'That's the rival school, mom. There's no way I'd ever leave Robinson to go to Braddock.' But we realized it was the best thing for me to do."

Robinson Coach Mark Bendorf declined to comment on Zanellato's transfer.

It's an interesting move on several levels. Zanellato will leave Robinson, which is coming off its best season since 2004 and which has not posted a losing record since 1989, for what has traditionally been the Rams' main rival. The schools are 4.5 miles apart.

Then there's the pairing with Nebrich. Although Zanellato caught 40 of Robinson's 55 completed passes last season, three Lake Braddock receivers caught 40 or more passes in 15 games, including 73 for senior Brandon Johnson, another all-region selection.

Then consider that Robinson, which had beaten Lake Braddock every season for a decade before the 38-7 playoff loss, in recent years has sent several players to Division I schools, including Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, Virginia, Notre Dame and Navy. Tim Zanellato teaches math at Robinson and coaches freshman basketball there. And when the family moved to the area five years ago, the homes they considered were in the Robinson and Lake Braddock attendance areas.

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