ZACHARY — If there was a formula to calculate how a teenager becomes a major impact player on a high school football team, the book about it might be a best seller.

Zachary High defensive end Charles Selders defies any formula. He is undersized and was supposed to be sidelined for the Broncos’ entire 2018 playoff run to a second straight Class 5A title a year ago.

Stories about athletes who overcome adversity are some of the best. The difference for Selders is this — he didn’t just survive misfortune, he uses it as a catalyst to thrive and function as an undisputed leader for the Zachary High defense going into Friday’s semifinal game at top-seeded Acadiana High (13-0).

“When you realize something you love can be taken away from you at any moment, things change,” Selders said. “I was happy to be in the game and just make some plays without making mistakes when I was a sophomore.

“But it was different when I found out I could come back and play last year. I was determined to go all out on every down. It was important for me to make the most of every play and do the most I can for my team.”

A nonfootball-related surgery sidelined Selders after the final regular season game of his junior year. He was told his season was over. Given the chance to play in the Broncos’ semifinal game at Destrehan, Selders responded with emotion, intensity and physicality.

The 5-foot-11, 220-pound senior is not at the top of any recruiting lists. That hasn't kept Selders from continuing to elevate his game. And to motivate teammates.

Through 12 games for fifth-seeded Zachary (10-2), Selders has 99 total tackles, seven sacks, 16 tackles for loss and 34 quarterback hurries. He has played a key role in ZHS' 10-game winning streak.

Zachary coach David Brewerton is familiar with the term “program player.” Brewerton believes Selders transcends that label.

“Charles has brought a sense of stability to our defensive line for quite some time,” Brewerton said. “He shows tremendous leadership and was voted one of our four captains. He keeps these guys in line. He understands what this program is built on and based on.

“He is one of those kids you have to have in order to challenge for championships. He’s not big, but he’s incredibly athletic and uses what God gave him to cause serious problems for offenses. And he loves to play.”

Brewerton said the ZHS coaches sensed the change in Selders in the semifinals and title game a year ago.

“I think Charles turned the corner and became a big-time player for us was after that surgery,” Brewerton said. “When he was told he could come back after he thought he couldn’t, you could just see it. He had always been a good player, but all of a sudden he became a big-time playmaker for us. He’s been instrumental in everything we’ve done since.”

Though his size might seem to dictate otherwise, Selders would love to entertain the chance to play on the college level. As one of only four returning starters for Zachary, he focused on his role and the Broncos.

“My job is to make sure everybody is where they are supposed to be and that they know their assignments,” Selders explained. “And then you go all out.”

Email Robin Fambrough at rfambrough@theadvocate.com