Meet the guys who’ve helped No. 4 Shadle Park football to a 9-1 season and a trip to the Round of 16: junior quarterback Brett Rypien and senior wide receiver Tanner Pauly.
Back toward the end of October, I made a trip home to Spokane. That weekend, I drove out to Shadle Park High School to talk to the guys who are making quite a splash this year.
Earlier this season, Rypien broke his own record for passing yards in a game. He became the first football player on an 11-man roster in Washington state to throw for over 600 yards in a game – he threw for 613.
Rypien also broke the state record for pass completions in a game with 44, made the record list for passing touchdowns in a season with 46 in nine games and made the list for passing touchdowns in a game with eight.
Rypien led the GSL this season with passing yards (3,266), passing touchdowns, completions (253), completion percentage (67.6%), passing yards per game (362.8) and total offense (3,258).
Pauly made the record list for receiving touchdowns in a season with 19 touchdowns in nine games.
Pauly led the GSL this season with receiving yards (929), receiving yards per game (103.2), receiving touchdowns (19), yards per catch on at least 20 catches (18.58), scoring (161 points) and most extra points made (47).
Shadle Park led the GSL this season with pass offense per game (371 yards) and team total offense per game (474.3 yards).
Nick Kiourkas also helped out, leading the GSL with receptions (55).
OK, enough of stat overload.
Rypien, Pauly and I sat inside Shadle Park on a Sunday afternoon – the day after their Homecoming. There was a lot of laughter and a lot of story-telling.
Here’s some of that conversation:
Q: How’s this season been going for you guys?
Rypien – “It’s just really nice to see that our school community is just kind of changing. The attitude of the entire school has just changed because we went 0-9 my freshman year, 4-6 last year and now 6-1 (as of this writing, Shadle Park is 9-1) and we’re at the top of the GSL standings right now and it’s just really nice to see the teachers, the students, everybody just starting to get excited about our football team, which hasn’t happened here in awhile, but it’s just been a really fun season. These guys are really hardworking, every single kid has really worked hard to get to the point that we’re at right now and we’re just playing really well as a team.”
Pauly – “The whole Shadle Park community, like parents, teachers, students, even people from other schools are kind of getting behind us and it’s nice to see because we haven’t had that in so long and all of our guys have worked tremendously hard to get where we’re at right now.”
Q: What’s it like going from 0-9 to 6-1?
Rypien – “Just to see the work that we put through the offseason, we were constantly getting together, throwing with each other, me and Tanner and our other receivers Nick (Kiourkas) and Alvin (Welch), Skyler (Kelley), everybody showed up to offseason workouts and those I think are what really set us apart – just being together as a team.”
Pauly – “Even the 7-on-7s that we did at Joe Albi, and our defensive guys would come and play against us, and so it just challenged us both ways, on both sides of the ball, and just made everyone better.”
Q: You broke your own passing record this year. Did you even know you did it when it happened?
Rypien – “I didn’t really realize it until I came off the field after the last play because we were up by like 22 I think with four minutes left, and then our backup came in and I came off the field, got a drink of water and somebody told me that I threw for 600 yards and I was just kind of shocked. I knew we had had a lot of success at throwing the ball, I mean we put up 63 points, but it didn’t really feel like we’d thrown for that many yards. That was a huge day for us and just a huge ode to our receivers because what they were trying to do is they were trying to play most of their guys one-on-one in man coverage with our receivers, and it just shows that all the hard work that they put into the offseason, you can’t cover them one-on-one, so it was just really fun.”
Pauly – “I remember Coach Christensen told me at the beginning of the third quarter. He told me not to say anything, but you were like 15 yards away from breaking your record…and then I was just kind of waiting on it.”
Q: How hard was that to keep a secret?
Pauly – “It was pretty hard because I wanted to start telling people, but I just kept it quiet.”
Q: What’s it like having (Rypien) as your quarterback?
Pauly – “Just because he works so hard to improve his game and help us improve ours…he helps us a lot with seeing the defense and how we can exploit their disabilities with everything, and so it’s just great because he’s the smartest quarterback I’ve ever seen in my life.”
Q: Those are some nice things said about you. What’s that like to hear from him?
Rypien – “I think it kind of goes both ways. People say Brett wouldn’t be Brett without Tanner and Tanner wouldn’t be Tanner without Brett. I think when you hear those comments, you think it’s not true at all. We’ve both worked extremely hard to get to the points that we’re at, but at the same time, it’s a team effort and it’s true, though. We need each other to have success, and just the things that we’ve done to this point in our season, it’s a huge reflection on how hard we’ve worked.”
Q: What’s it like having (Pauly) on the offense?
Rypien – “It’s huge. Just knowing I can trust a guy. If I’m going to put it up for him, a lot of times then I know he’s going to win the battle, or I can just throw a quick route to him and I know he’s going to make a move and he’s going to get extra yards is what I think his best strength is. He obviously has a lot of them, but open field, all of our receivers, especially Tanner, are just really good at making moves and getting yards after the catch.
Q: How much do you guys work together outside of practice?
Rypien – “I can’t tell you how many times over the summer we would just call each other up and, ‘hey, you want to throw right now?,’ and then we’d get a couple other guys to come and a few more guys would start coming. By the time late August rolled around, we had 16 to 18 guys out there…it’s huge to know I can call Tanner up whenever and he’s going to be there and he’s going to be able to throw, and that’s what’s really set us apart is being on the same page because I know I can trust him and he knows he can trust me to put the ball where he needs it to catch the ball.”
Q: What’s your favorite part of playing football?
Pauly – “This season, my favorite part is just when we get a win, after the win, when we go up and do our fight song with our fans and our students and everything, that’s probably the best feeling in the world because everybody’s just so excited and freaking out and yelling…(after beating North Central) when our fans stormed the field and then we all sang it together and everybody was just so happy for us, that was probably the best feeling in the world.”
Rypien – “I think the best thing about playing football, obviously besides winning, there’s so many things that you’re learning every day. There’s new things that you’re learning about defenses and there’s things that you can learn when you’re watching film, you’re scouting your opponent, you’re looking at techniques and things that you’re going to be able to expose when you a play a person or play a team, and that’s what I think is so fun about it…The team aspect of it I think makes it really fun, and learning together. Learning from bad experiences and good experiences, as well.”
Q: You guys just really like exploiting defenses, don’t you?
Pauly – “That’s kind of our thing.”
Q: What’s a pre-game ritual?
Rypien – “Tanner and I sit next to each other on the bus every game.”
Pauly – “Same seat. I’m by the window and he’s on the inside.”
Rypien – “We’re in the far back right of the bus…every single time.”
Q: What would happen if someone sat in your seat?
Rypien – “That happened once this year and it was just like, ‘dude, you got to get out’.”
Q: When did you start this?
Rypien – “(Pauly’s) sophomore year, my freshman year.”
Pauly – “People kind of just respect that, too. They know that we always sit back there.”
Q: Did you guys know each other before?
Rypien – “We’ve been playing with each other since I was in sixth grade, he was in seventh.”
Q: What’s your favorite sports movie?
Rypien – “Rocky IV is by far my favorite sports movie…(Also) I watched 42 this summer and I loved that.”
Pauly – “I would probably say Air Bud. I love Air Bud. That was such a good movie. I mean, Air Bud, he could drain those shots!…I also like Coach Carter.”
Q: Who’s your favorite professional football player?
Rypien – “Payton Manning, by far…I just like the way he carries himself on the field. I like the way he runs the offense. That’s what I watch most when I watch him. I pay attention to his mechanics, just how he kind of manages the game.”
Pauly – “I like Andre Johnson…He’s a great receiver. He’s getting old, but he’s still amazing.”
No. 4 Shadle Park plays No. 7 Mt. Spokane (8-2) to be the last team standing from Spokane today (Friday) at 6 p.m. at Joe Albi Stadium.
The winner will play the winner of the Columbia River vs. Kamiakin game.