Burrell senior tackles dissimilar positions
Wide receiver and inside linebacker are an unusual combination of positions, but Burrell senior Tyler Reifschneider seems like a perfect fit for those roles.
On defense, Reifschneider aims to punish running backs and stop short passes over the middle. On offense, he is expected to use his size, speed and ... soft hands?
From Reifschneider's point of view, his offensive and defensive roles aren't that different.
"I see myself running smaller routes, the stuff over the middle to get quick yards," Reifschneider said. "I hope to be able to hold up over the middle better and grind out short yards and get a lot of first downs."
Wherever Reifschneider lines up, he'll be expected to help set the tone for the Bucs with physical play. New coach Dave Heavner sees him as one of Burrell's top receiving targets and the probable starter at the most important linebacker position.
Last year, Burrell went 6-1 in the Class AA Allegheny Conference and 9-2 overall and advanced to the WPIAL quarterfinals.
Reifschneider is the top returning tackler with 45 1/2 total tackles, including 20 solo stops. He will move from the weak-side to the strong-side inside linebacker position in the 4-4 defense.
Reifschneider looks forward to being one of the defensive leaders for Heavner, who was the defensive coordinator at PIAA Class AAA champion Franklin Regional last season.
"On the strong-side, you're making more calls and making sure the line is doing what they're supposed to do," Reifschneider said.
The 6-foot-1, 190-pound Reifschneider also is tied with Cole Taylor as the leading returning receiver with three catches.
"Tyler's a big target with a tight end's body and a wide receiver's feet and hands," Heavner said. "We hope to put him out there and have a height advantage. He's surprising with his speed. He gets up field and runs precise routes."
Reifschneider has started in basketball and baseball, but he hopes to play football in college. His brother, Bob, was a standout pitcher at Burrell and helped guide the Bucs to the state Class AA championship game in 2001. Bob completed his career at Duquesne in 2005.
Burrell's football team had significant graduation losses during the offseason, and Reifschneider is looking forward to his new leadership role.
"I hope to do a good job," Reifschneider said. "Hopefully, the younger kids will follow."