AOTW SPIKES MM 01

Zakoiren Spikes had two touchdown catches and returned an interception for a score last week for Yoe.

CAMERON — Zakorien Spikes is hard to overlook during a Cameron Yoe football practice. With a big smile and infectious laugh that can be heard from one end zone to the other, Spikes stands out as one of the larger personalities on the Yoemen’s roster this year.

He’s equally as prominent on Friday nights. At 5-foot-11 and 145 pounds, the junior wide receiver can often be found hauling in long touchdown passes thanks to his combination of size and speed that helped Yoe (4-1, 0-1) — which travels to Jarrell (3-3, 0-2) tonight for a District 10-3A-I contest — to four victories in its first five games.

And while he’s still learning on the fly midway through his first varsity season, Spikes has taken it upon himself to become his teammates’ greatest source of encouragement and comedic relief.

“I feel like my attitude is contagious. I try to build people up and make them feel good,” said Spikes, who has 469 yards and five touchdowns receiving this year. “When we play around, I feel like it helps everyone get up and not be down. I like smiling and making people laugh. I like making people happy.”

Perhaps Spikes’ uplifting nature comes from his time spent as a big brother. With a busy working mother, Spikes does a lot of babysitting of his younger siblings, including two sisters who are 4 and 5 years old. Spikes is the second-oldest of seven siblings, some of which live with him in Cameron while the others live in his hometown of Houston.

“We moved to Cameron when I was little because my mom got a job in Bartlett and we already had family here,” Spikes said. “I like having a big family. There’s always something to do.”

When Spikes isn’t watching his younger siblings, he spends his time around sports. Along with being on the football team, Spikes plays basketball for the Yoemen and represented Yoe at the UIL Track and Field State Championships the last two years. He was part of Yoe’s 4x100-meter relay team in 2017 and made it to Austin last season in the 200-meter dash.

“He does so much for us in so many different sports,” Yoe head coach Tommy Brashear said. “He’s a great athlete and his speed makes him very dangerous. He’s a deep-ball threat and that’s huge because it opens up our offense in a lot of ways.”

Of the three sports Spikes has stayed with, football used to rank at the bottom of the list. As a freshman, his fear of contact fueled his desire to avoid tackling at all costs. According to his logic, if he didn’t get the ball, he wouldn’t get tackled.

“I wouldn’t run my routes because I knew I would get hit,” said Spikes, who added it would have taken a plate of his mom’s tacos or a steak from Texas Roadhouse for him to take a hit back then. “I would lightly jog so I wouldn’t get the ball, but I embrace it now.”

Brashear and his coaching staff were hopeful at the start of the year that Spikes could become the quick, big-play receiver they knew he was capable of being. Spikes wasted little time in proving he belonged by catching three passes for 91 yards, including a 68-yard touchdown pass in Yoe’s season opener.

Spikes also spends time at cornerback and recorded his first interception last week. He picked off a pass and returned it 76 yards for a score to go along with touchdown catches of 66 and 14 yards, giving his teammates and coaches yet another reason to smile.

“He’s a very fun-loving kid and loves to joke around,” Brashear said. “He’s got a big smile and sometimes he’ll get to talking fast when he’s joking around and I’ll just think, ‘Wait, what did he say?’ He enjoys football, sports and life in general and it’s fun to have those kids around.”