Friday Night Hero: East Rowan’s Tyler Bumgarner
By Ronnie Gallagher
GRANITE QUARRY ó If Brian Hinson points to a Mustang who typifies the resurgence in East Rowan football, it might be outside linebacker Tyler Bumgarner.
Bumgarner is just like his team: a big surprise to coaches and foes alike. No one knew what to make of the senior when the season started. He has given them much more than expected.
West Iredell will certainly remember No. 11 after East’s 17-14 win. He ripped through the Warrior offense to get in on 11 tackles, eight solo. He also recorded a sack.
“To me, he’s really been one of the biggest surprises,” Hinson said. “Tyler has overachieved and I’m excited in the way he’s been playing for us.”
Together with fellow outside linebacker Quentin Sifford, they have been the perfect compliment to inside backers Sam Edmonds and Jordan Hopper.
“I kinda liken Tyler to an old man playing golf, who hits it down the fairway 200 yards and then knocks it on the green,” Hinson said. “It’s nothing flashy but it gets the job done. That’s Tyler. He’s steady-Eddie.”
In fact, Bumgarner is the third leading tackler after those two inside linebackers. That’s pretty good, considering he had always thought of himself a wide receiver.
“I liked catching the ball and running with the ball,” Bumgarner said. “It’s an adrenaline rush.”
He didn’t think it would be that way on defense, that is, until he moved over. With the help of assistants Piotr Kalinowski and position coach James House, he learned his reads. On the field, he can count on Edmonds for advice.
“It was different learning all the new stuff,” Bumgarner said. “At first, it was a little complicated because of the plays.”
Why move him from offense?
“We had always played him at receiver because he’s got really good hands,” Hinson said. “But with his athletic ability we moved him to outside linebacker.”
Hinson said his player didn’t oppose the move.
“We didn’t hear much out of him,” Hinson said. “He’s a kid who bought into the system and bought into the team philosophy.”
Speaking of team philosophy, Bumgarner is like the rest of the Mustangs, many of whom suffered through a 1-10 season last year.
“We’ve stepped it up,” Bumgarner said. “We didn’t want to go 1-10 again. We’re showing we can do something instead of being the lowest-ranked school in the county.”
Hinson said Bumgarner has been in the program four years but his season was cut short last year. He had to overcome a broken wrist. But on Friday, there he was, messing up many of the Warriors’ offensive plays. It was a good thing, too, because Hopper was injured in the first quarter.
“Tyler was in the backfield quite a bit,” Hinson praised. He redirected some plays.”
East’s fifth win in six games had a lot to do with Bumgarner’s play.
“He’s the man who just does his job,” Hinson said.
After Andrew May kicked the winning field goal on the game’s last play, Bumgarner was in the middle of the postgame celebration.
“It’s fun,” Bumgarner said with a grin. “I like being 5-1.”