Facing the gauntlet of rushers, the Shady Spring defense has struggled against Class AA foes this season.
As a whole, they’ve given up over 350 yards per game on the ground in contests against Westside, Independence and Nicholas County.
Knowing Wyoming East would try to exploit that in a sloppy, rainy game, the Tigers were prepared. Led by senior linebacker Bryson Pinardo’s 16 tackles, the Tigers shut out the Warriors in a 6-0 win that kept their playoff hopes alive.
In addition to Pinardo’s 16 tackles, five of which were for a loss, he came away with one sack and forced two fumbles, recovering one.
For his efforts, Pinardo has been named the Week 7 Lootpress Players of the Week by the Lootpress sportswriters. The award is sponsored by Bodyworks and the Law Offices of Brandon Steele.
Pinardo was tied in the fan vote with Independence standout Judah Price as both garnered 3,475 votes.
“Our goal was to keep calm and keep playing,” Pinardo said. “We know where our weaknesses are. Really we were just trying to keep everybody’s heads up coming in with that loss against Westside and then won. Everybody kind of had their heads down, especially publicly speaking with people looking at us and we just wanted to prove everybody wrong. That’s our goal this season – to prove everybody wrong and make the playoffs.”
While the numbers on defense stand out, the performance against East isn’t an outlier for Pinardo.
Through six games the senior has racked up 114 tackles, averaging an astonishing 19 per game. He’s been the rock for a defense that’s struggled at times this year, but willed the Tigers to a win on Friday as they fight for their playoff lives.
“Bryson’s biggest thing is he doesn’t give up on plays,” Shady Spring head coach Vince Culicerto said. “A lot of kids, if they’re over on one side or they feel like they’re behind it, they’ll give up. He never gives up. He chases that ball down the field. Whistle to whistle, he is looking for tackles. A lot of times he does read it and makes big plays – he’s got a lot of tackles for a loss too. But majority of his tackles are because he does not give up. He always gets after it.”
For Pinardo that’s a mindset that’s been passed down. If there’s still a sliver of a chance he can make a play to help his team he’ll go all out. It comes from the values instilled in him by his parents who have pushed him.
“Me and my dad just always say ‘Never give up,'” Pinardo said. “And my mom too. She coaches volleyball and it was always ‘never give up’ and ‘whistle to whistle.’ So just having them in the back of my head and having their support just kind of makes me want to do more and always push to do better.”