Zack Baun walks the hallways at Brown Deer high school like any other senior student.
The Falcon quarterback and Now Newspapers Football Co-Player of the Year looks down at his phone, picks his head up to say 'Hi' to friends and acquaintances, hustles off to class, and worries about that next exam or project.
He moves easily with the grace that an elite athlete like himself frequently does, but he does not lord it over anyone as he disarms everyone with an easy and sincere smile and manner.
In other words, he's at home in the school that became his adopted home two years ago when his family moved from West Bend. After that, he proceeded to turn the school's athletic world, particularly its football team, into his own personal entertainment empire with his repeated long touchdown runs that often began slowly and then ended quickly with the roar of the crowd carrying him home and astounded opponents pounding the turf in frustration.
412 combined yards and six TDs rushing and passing in 51-14 rout of Milwaukee Lutheran.
In short, he put up numbers that old pinball game addicts would be jealous of as he earned Wisconsin Football Coaches Association (WFCA) State Offensive Player of the year honors and was also named Dave Krieg state quarterback of the year
'I was amazed when that happened,' said Baun of the state honors. 'I was worrying whether I would make all-state at all because there were just so many outstanding quarterbacks out there (including fellow co-player of the year Josh Ringelberg of Greendale).'
Baun laughs and says his mom still wants to run onto the field everytime he's tackled hard, but that hasn't happened too often in the past two years as he led Brown Deer to a 15-7 record in that time.
There's a highlight video from the thrilling 49-40 state playoff win over Pewaukee where Baun rushed for 402 yards and six TDs that coach Rob Green will happily share with you. State Hall of Fame coach Dan Brunner called the game and you can almost hear his jaw drop in amazement as Baun makes one big play after another.
386 combined yards and five TDs in tough, 41-35 loss to Woodland East champ South Milwaukee
Baun also was a key component in the Falcons' run to the Division 3 state basketball championship last March and was a state qualifier in track, but it's football and the ridiculous 94 combined touchdowns (passing and running) he accounted for and the shattered Brown Deer record books that people will remember.
'You don't think he's as fast as he is,' said Shorewood/Messmer coach Drake Zortman. 'You try to tell your kids 'get to a spot, find an angle, here's where you need to be,' but after trying to defend him twice (in 2013 and 2014), if I was running after him I wouldn't take a very good angle, either.
'If he was heading north to south, I think the best bet would be to get a running start from Oak Creek.'
Zortman added that even when he had two Now All-Suburban-level defensive ends in Jonathan Carson and Tywan Ramsey in 2013, defending Baun was a difficult proposition at best.
349 combined yards and seven TDs in a 56-26 defeat of Shorewood/Messmer.
Even Rob Stoltz, coach of two-time Woodland champion Greendale, whose team stymied Baun's Falcons three times in the last two seasons, said he had many sleepless nights trying to prepare for the 6-foot-3, 203-pound fleet-footed nightmare.
'Zack Baun has been as scary of a player as we've played in recent years,' he said. 'He has a strong arm, but his running ability is what separates him. His speed and strength are impossible to replicate in practice.'
And to think, it almost all didn't happen for Baun and Brown Deer as many people know the story about Baun almost not coming out for football shortly after arriving in the village in the summer of 2013.
'I came in as a wide receiver, I wasn't comfortable with myself and I wasn't sure if I wanted to play football,' said Baun. 'When I decided I would it turned out to be the decision of my life.'
As Falcon coach Rob Green is fond of saying: 'I think he's glad that he took a chance on us and that we took a chance on him.'
391 combined yards and seven TDs in 48-21 regular season closing win over Pewaukee.
The football part of his Brown Deer career was enhanced by coaches such as Green and his offensive coordinator brother Andy Green who re-wrote the entire offense with Baun in mind starting last year. Offensive linemen and receivers learned quickly to stay active when he was on the move because there was no telling when Baun might cut back in their vicinity.
He got enormous help in the passing game this year from fellow Now All-Suburban choice receiver Nyles Williams, who finished with 40 catches for 927 yards and 11 TDs this season. He helped Baun improve from 7 TD passes a year ago to 20 this past fall.
'Nyles can do just about anything,' said Baun. 'We can have him run it on the sweep and I can throw it deep and he'll always go get it. I made it a goal to improve my passing. It was something I knew I had to do if I didn't want to see eight, nine, 10 guys in the box.'
The football story at Brown Deer ended with a heartbreaking 31-28 Level 2 playoff loss to eventual Division 3 state champ Wisconsin Lutheran. The Falcons had a lead on the Vikings going into the fourth quarter but couldn't quite hold on. Wisco would not be challenged anywhere near as seriously the rest of its title run.
Baun rushed for 108 yards and two TDs that game to finish with 1,837 rushing yards and the second-best rushing TD total in the state with 39. He also completed 6-of-13 passes that contest with a score and an interception.
'If it had to end, I was glad it was against a really good team, a team that won state,' said Baun. 'That game was very intense.'
Basketball has started, track will come later. Wisconsin has extended him a gray-shirt scholarship offer, to be of all things, an outside linebacker. At some point you have to believe the Badgers will have to get the ball in his hands, just for the thrill factor.
'I trust they'll make the best decision when it comes to that,' Baun said. 'It's all up to them.'
But there's still time to ponder all that.
Right now, the truly most important thing about his time in Brown Deer, he will tell you, is that he found friends. He found a way to be accepted and he found a school that welcomed him.
'Sports really helped me here. When I got here last year, I was the quiet kid,' he said. 'I knew I had to make some connections (if school was going to work). This year we all knew each other and we knew what we were after.
'These were good years, and we really came together as a team this season and that counted for a lot more than any personal success that I had.'
'Zack just brought anyone and everyone around him to a higher level,' said Rob Green.