Salamanca’s Shinners wins top award for Big 30 linemen
The hard-nosed, tough defense and running game identity of the Salamanca Warriors over the last two seasons owed a lot to the young man wearing No. 77 on both lines.
For the last four years, the Warriors could count on Kody Shinners up front and his presence only grew with age until his senior year. Last spring, Shinners made the Olean Times Herald’s New York All-Star team. This year, after a full season for both New York and Pennsylvania, Shinners earned a Big 30 All-Star spot on the defensive line and topped it off by winning the committee’s vote for its lineman of the year.
“Kody has kind of been the face of our identity the last few years,” third-year Warriors coach Chad Bartoszek said. “A lot of that has to do with his play going back to 2019. He started when he was a freshman (in 2018), which was just out of necessity and then my first year in '19, he was a sophomore, really good, just really raw, still just trying to muscle through everybody and just use his size and speed. What he came into in the spring and then into the fall was more of a polished football player.
“His identity along with a few other of our big kids has kind of made us who we've been: just big, tough, physical up front and we've really controlled the line of scrimmage for two seasons now, really making things tricky for opposing offenses and our run game saw the benefits this year offensively with a 1,000-yard rusher in Jesse Stahlman.”
Named in honor of James Russell and E.B. Fitzpatrick, the Unsung Lineman of the Year award aims to recognize one of the big men up front who pave the way for the players who get the headlines and other accolades. After the award’s inception in 1980, Salamanca linemen had won the honor five previous times, but not since Jeremy John in 1992.
Shinners said he and his fellow linemen enjoyed making the way for Stahlman, even if their position doesn’t always get the recognition.
“We like to see Jesse do good,” he said. “We wish we could get a little bit more credit, but it's the name of the game.”
The Warriors used their size to an advantage in a 7-2 season, often able to impose their will on fellow Class C South teams or non-league opponents.
“I feel that we were one of the biggest lines in the league,” Shinners said. “We'd use it to our advantage in bad weather games when we could ground and pound. Not only we'd use our size for running, we'd use it for passing to give our quarterback enough time to throw the ball.”
Over the course of his career, Shinners worked to become a leader for his teammates and improve his sportsmanship on the field.
“We tried to stay classy and just win the game in between the whistles,” Shinners said.
Shinners said on defense he was happy to play the run or the pass, but he got more chances to put up numbers against the latter.
“I feel I do a little bit of both. More of a pass rusher because when it's like a rush situation I usually get double-teamed, so it's a little bit more work to get to the ball. But usually a pass-rush situation is just one-on-one and I can usually beat that guy.”
Salamanca's Kody Shinners (middle) chases down Southwestern quarterback Aidan Kennedy (18) for a sack, one of eight the defensive lineman produced this year. - Press file photo
Shinners made 58 tackles and eight sacks. He brought constant pressure up the middle and attracted multiple blockers in the run game.
“He's kind of got a rare combination of that speed and strength where he not only gets penetration but he's lateral and side to side,” Bartoszek said. “He led our team in tackles, he was right up there with our middle linebacker. Jesse had more combined tackles as a middle backer but Kody had the most solo tackles on the team and that just shows he was getting a lot of tackles for losses, getting a lot of tackles down the line, he had six sacks, which he could probably have had a little more but people run so much spread offense, you don't know if they're running or passing.”
Bartoszek commended the senior for his maturity and leadership over the last three years.
“He became a leader, a captain, he hasn't missed practice in the three years I've been here, so he's kind of become a part of our identity,” Bartoszek said. “It's going to be hard to lose him. We're going to have to adjust because we always knew those gaps were taken care of with him and offensively he was always finishing blocks and really I think that just got to people and other teams after quarter after quarter.”
Sam Wilson, Salamanca Press