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Football: On defensive line, he’s a ‘pit bull’ among giants

11/10/2016 12:00 PM |

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Ethan Wiederkehr, Shoreham-Wading River’s towering two-way lineman and three-year varsity starter, paused for a second and laughed after hearing the question posed following the Wildcats’ opening-round playoff victory Friday night.

“How would you describe Logan Snyder?”

Wiederkehr repeated the question to himself, composed his thoughts and said: “He definitely lightens the mood, really gets everyone going … He’s a nut, basically.”

The Wildcats’ defense has allowed the fewest points of any football team in Division IV and only Sayville in Division III has allowed fewer among the rest of Suffolk County. A large part of that success can be attributed to the defensive line, led by the Northwestern-bound Wiederkehr, who’s listed at 6-foot-6. But also consider the Wildcats, when healthy as they are now, can also roll out 6-3 Dean Stalzer, 6-4 Daniel Curtin, 6-5 James Logan and 6-4 Liam Mahoney, among others.

And then there’s Snyder, a defensive end who’s listed at 5-8. On most plays, Snyder, a senior, lines up at the right end while Wiederkehr anchors the opposite side. When an offense is given the choice of which direction to run, it’s no surprise the choice is often toward Snyder.

“They may find out they got a little more than they bargained for with Logan,” said Shoreham coach Matt Millheiser. “He’s a pit bull over there.”

On the field and off, Snyder is all energy, the kind of player who looks like he just chugged three Red Bulls. He’s relentless on every play, almost to a fault at times.

“When he’s got his head screwed on right and he’s focused, he’s real tough to deal with,” Millheiser said.

Snyder is in his second year on the varsity team and has seen his role increase this year. The Wildcats have used him on offense at times in addition to special teams. But his main role is at defensive end, where’s he charged with chasing after quarterbacks and running backs with reckless abandon.

In his younger days in football, Snyder said he would often carry the ball on offense. It may have been a more glamorous position, but on the varsity he’s found a prominent role as a defensive player.

When he’s making a tackle, he always hears encouragement in the stands from his biggest supporter: his mother.

“Whenever my mom comes, she’s always screaming,” he said.

Snyder isn’t exactly quiet himself. He can often be heard directing orders to teammates on the field or cheering from the sideline. It’s part of the reason he became one of the team’s captains this year.

Millheiser said Snyder spent the offseason refocusing his priorities and came into this year a different person, both on the field and in school.

“He has changed himself as a person and a player and he’s seeing the benefits of that,” Millheiser said. “He had some issues here and there and we got him headed in the right direction. He bought in, started wrestling and did spring track. We’re really proud of how far he’s come.”

While players like Wiederkehr have an imposing presence with their size, Snyder’s quickness is equally as valuable.

“He definitely wants to make every play and he wants to make a big hit every play,” Wiederkehr said. “Us being big guys, you have a quick guy at the end who can really contain the edge and avoid blockers. So he’s a really big part of the defense.”

Snyder said he never really thinks of himself as undersized when he’s on the field. The player he’s tasked with beating off the line of scrimmage may be bigger, but he never really notices, he said.

His focus is on making a play.

“Whenever I come down here, I’m always hungry,” he said. “I’m really fired up all the time.”

For a team coming off back-to-back Long Island championships, the Wildcats faced some considerable pressure throughout this season as the team everyone is trying to knock off the pedestal. Two losses in the regular season could have compounded that pressure.

Before every game, though, the Wildcats can count on Snyder to do something to lighten the mood.

“You got the nerves, stress, butterflies, and then there’s Logan, who’s loose, cool and relaxed,” Wiederkehr said. “He rubs off on you and you’re ready to go, too.”

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