Another season, another record-setting year for Zack Page.

Fairmont State’s diminutive, but ultra-talented return man is like a fine wine. He just gets better and better with age.

In a season chalked full of disappointment for Fairmont State’s football team, the play of Page week in and week out was like a breath of fresh air.

For the third straight season Page established school records this fall for kickoff returns (43) and kickoff return yardage (1,221). No player in NCAA Division II this season returned more kickoffs or compiled more kickoff return yardage. He also ended the regular season ranked ninth in the nation with an average of 28.4 yards per return.

And the good news for Fairmont State fans is Page, a 5-8, 175-pounder from Plain City, Ohio who returned two kickoff this year for touchdowns, will be back next fall to write a final chapter in the record books — not only Fairmont State’s, but the NCAA’s.

Page currently has 105 career kickoff returns for 2,628 career yards. He needs a mere three yards to pass Winona State’s Dave Lundy (2,630) for the all-time NCAA Division II lead in career kickoff return yardage and 12 more kickoff returns to top Fort Lewis’ Johnny Cox (116) for the all-time D-II lead in career returns. Lundy set his mark from 1991-94, while Cox established his national record from 1990-93.

“I’m not going to lie,” said Page with a grin. “I do look at the records. I strive to beat those. I think that’s what you should do. It motivates me. If I break the records or not it doesn’t really make a difference to me. I just love playing football and I try to give 100 percent every play.

“I had a good year, but I’ve always been a player who feels like every year I can get better and I can do better. You can never be satisfied with what you did the previous season. You have to work to get better and this off-season I’m going to work harder than ever to get stronger and faster.”

Page has indeed done that in his three seasons at FSU. As a freshman he returned 26 kickoffs for 600 yards. Last fall he finished with 36 returns for 807 yards and this season he demolished his previous records with 43 returns for 1,221 yards and a pair of TDs.

Page, who runs the 40-yard dash in 4.5, will be the first to tell anyone one of the big keys to his success is the players who surround him on the Falcons’ kickoff return team.

“The guys have done a great job of blocking for me all year long,” he said. “I mean really they do a phenomenal job of blocking. Heck, half of the time I don’t even get touched.

“To be honest the records really aren’t mine. They’re ours. They open the holes and all I have to do is run. As a return guy, that’s all you can ask for. I can’t complement them enough.”

Despite his individual success, Page was still visibly upset Saturday afternoon following the Falcons’ 27-19 loss to West Virginia State which ended the Falcons season at 3-8 overall and 3-5 in the West Virginia Conference.

“You know it seemed like the whole story of our season was that nothing really bounced our way this fall,” said Page. “All of us who are returning need to learn from this year, build off of it and make ourselves better. We need to all remember how this feels. We were 3-8 and for me personally I don’t feel too good about that. How can you?

“We need to file this away, remember it and work our butts off in the off-season in the weight room, in spring ball and over the summer.”

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