It wasn’t a typical season for the Stewartville Tigers’ football program. They have made deep runs in the playoffs most seasons over the past five years; the 2017 season did not go as planned. Although they still won five games, they will be looking to bounce back this season better than ever.
One of the building blocks of the Tigers’ football foundation in 2018 will be senior to be lineman Shane Byrne.
“We had a lot of injuries last year,” Byrne said. “One game, all three of our captains were out. We lost our quarterback for the last six games of the season. We played good at some points but lost to some teams we shouldn’t have.”
Despite the injuries, Stewartville still won five of its first seven games.
“We are a spread offense, but when our quarterback went down we had to switch to more of a run offense,” Byrne explained. “We limited our plays with a freshman quarterback. It allowed us to get really good at a few plays instead of having a ton of plays and only being decent at all of them.”
After spending last season as a guard, Byrne switched to left tackle before his junior season. When the team turned to a run-first offense, it played right into the junior’s hands. Run blocking is what Byrne feels is his strength.
The switch from guard to tackle was something he saw coming and was one that Byrne handled easily.
“A buddy of mine started at left guard when we were sophomores,” Byrne told northstarfootballnews.com, “so I knew I could play tackle and knew I might make the switch. Making the switch to tackle – there are faster guys on the outside. You have to stay square, or they will make you look bad on film.”
The Tigers played a base three-man front. Byrne played the nose tackle primarily and felt his quickness and his ability to stop the run are his biggest strengths.
“It was our second year in our new defense,” Byrne explained. “We had fast linebackers and strong defensive linemen.”
This winter Byrne was in the weight room working on both conditioning and strength building. The team focused on low rep, high weight workouts utilizing mainly bench, clean, squat and deadlift. In the spring Byrne carried on the tradition of skilled throwers in track and field.
“Stewartville is known for their throwers,” said the avid deer hunter and snowmobiler. “We have sent a thrower to State for the last seven years. I advanced to State in both shot put and discus. At State, I earned fifth place in the disc.”
This summer Byrne is back on a lifting program that focuses on the same lifts but with an emphasis on lower weight and higher reps to work on stamina. He also works construction with his father – pouring concrete.
Despite being named All-District after the season, Byrne has not received any significant recruiting interest, but with the team ready to bounce back from a – for them – below average season, Byrne could be seeing more time in the playoffs and be seeing recruiting interest pick up.