Shippensburg through Cody Gustafson's eyes (column)
All season long, Cody Gustafson has brought a show to Shippensburg's football team.
With his unlikely catches, his breakaway speed and his hawk-eye on defense, Gustafson has wowed the Greyhound faithful in one way or another.
He also wowed me.
After discussing the details of Gustafson's recruiting process - one that still leaves a lot of questions - he opened up more and more about the storybook season for Shippensburg this year.
Gustafson told of talking with PSAC schools, picking out Shippensburg University as a place he'd be eyeing. (The first day official contact is allowed for Division II recruits was Dec. 1, and who wouldn't want him to stay close to home?)
Then, question by question, Gustafson revealed his journey as a Greyhound. Below is what the Public Opinion Football Player of the Year story missed.
Q: How have you seen Shippensburg develop from a run-heavy offense to a scheme that catered to a record-breaking wide receiver?
A: I've been in the program since I was in like third grade. My dad was a coach, and I was a ball boy. I think our coaches saw what we had back in the day. We had some huge guys back then. Cary (Hess) and Austin (Horst), those guys were some monsters. (Our coaches) adapted our offense to what our skills were. Lately, we've had some pretty good athletes coming through at the wide receiver and the running back positions, and we've done some things to get the ball in space.
What's it like to be named Player of the Year the season after your brother, Tyler Gustafson, earned the award?
It was really awesome that I could get that award, too. I texted Tyler when I found out, and he was really happy for me. It's a neat thing to have in the family.
What is the pressure like for younger brother, Nick Gustafson, to follow in your footsteps?
He's a really relaxed guy, and he definitely doesn't let the pressure get to him. Whenever it's his turn, I think it'll be a really smooth transition for him. He's getting close to 6-foot-5. He's a quarterback, but I'd like to see him get a little split end time. He's so tall. If he could use that height to his advantage, phew.
What was your best memory from this season?
Definitely the (Bishop) McDevitt game. That's a game that's going to be remembered forever. The comeback at the end of the game, and being able to celebrate with everyone - Tyler was home for that game, so it was even more special. It was an awesome game, and being able to come through like that, we made so many big plays to win that game.
How did you feel about another receiver having the spotlight?
Ah, that was awesome. Clayton (Stine) and I are really good friends, and we've been talking all year. We kept saying, "It's your turn, man, you're gonna get one." Then all of a sudden, against McDevitt. I was on the sideline, and I was probably red-eyed, I'm not gonna lie. But he was on the sideline saying, "Let's go. We got this, we got this." Then he got the first touchdown, and it was like ... all right ... then the second one, it was awesome.
Describe the feeling on the field when Cameron Tinner scored that two-point conversion.
It was pretty incredible. When he scored, though, I just thought, "We have to stop them. There are 13 more seconds." But then once that happened, it was an overwhelming feeling.
The Shippensburg football team managed to eliminate a 14-point deficit against Bishop McDevitt in the District 3 Class 4A semifinal, Friday. Watch each play of the final 1:26 to see how they did it.
The District 3 Class 4A Championship didn't end in your favor, but what did it mean for the program to get there?
It was really awesome, and hopefully that can set new goals for our team and the program in the future. Hopefully we can take that next step farther and actually win one, but it was really awesome for us to make it there.