On the line: Snyder making her mark for Eagles

  • Franklin Tech’s Brianna Snyder (58) huddles up with her teammates during action earlier this season against Mohawk Trail. The junior is a two-way starter in the trenches for the Eagles this season. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Franklin Tech’s Brianna Snyder (58) lines up at defensive tackle during season-opening action against Mohawk Trail earlier this month. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Franklin Tech’s Brianna Snyder (58) blocks for quarterback Owen Bashaw during season-opening action against Mohawk Trail earlier this month. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Staff Writer
Published: 9/26/2019 9:10:02 PM
Modified: 9/26/2019 9:58:24 PM

(NOTE: This is the first in our new weekly series, On The Line, which will highlight offensive and defensive linemen on high school football teams throughout the Recorder area this fall.)

Brianna Snyder’s first season as a cheerleader did not go well.

“When I was young, I wanted to play football,” Snyder said. “But I was too young, so I was a cheerleader that year.”

The 6-year-old Snyder did not take well to pom-poms, nor the coordinated cheers in unison in support of the players for a Mohawk pee wee league football team.

Instead, her attention was intently on the field, with a burning passion to play.

“I wanted to be out on the field,” she said. “I would yell like a coach and I wouldn’t really pay attention to the cheers.”

That next season, Snyder traded the pom-poms for a helmet and shoulder pads. For the first time, she was going to be on the field, participating as a player in the world of youth football.

“I haven’t really stopped playing football since,” Snyder said.

Fast forward a decade, and Snyder now plays along the offensive and defensive lines for the Franklin County Technical School football team.

She spent time her first two years playing junior varsity, but this season, she is in the trenches with her Franklin Tech teammates as a starter.

“I just love the contact,” Snyder said. “My dad always loved watching football with me. He got me started real young.”

As a freshman for the Eagles, there was a major size differential between Snyder and her teammates.

“I learned a lot from the seniors,” Snyder said of that season. “They helped me a lot. Becoming a junior and starting on varsity now, I can match up with the players more like any other game of football that I’ve always played.”

With the graduation of four starting linemen from last year’s team, Franklin Tech head coach Joe Gamache thrust Snyder into duty this fall. She earned the starting left tackle job on offense, along with the nod at defensive tackle.

“We’ve always had some older, more experienced linemen,” Gamache began. “She stepped right in on day one. She has been super dedicated. She’s always given solid effort in practice and in games, but she next level-ed it this year. She is bringing it to the table on a daily basis.”

Snyder has fit in since the beginning with the Eagles, showcasing a combination of work ethic and determination.

“As coaches, we just treat her as a football player,” Gamache said. “It doesn’t matter if you are a man, woman or a vegetable. She is tougher than most of the guys on the field.”

On the field against opposing teams, Snyder said she does not get trash-talked. She does, however, notice players expecting that they’ll be able to key on her and take advantage of the matchup.

“I’ve noticed starting on varsity, a lot of the guys pick on me,” Snyder said. “They will target me more. But I use my pads and not my words.”

Snyder’s preference on the field is to be the aggressor, whether that comes as a pulling offensive lineman on running plays or attacking the ball as a defensive tackle.

There is always joy in finding an opponent to “light up.”

“I prefer when I pull with run blocking,” she said. “Then I go and light up the first person I see. I am really good at finding the ball. So I can see where it’s going when it’s still in the backfield. That helps a lot on defense.”

As a female football player who starts on the varsity team, Snyder has experienced a bit of notoriety in the classroom. Other students certainly know who she is in the hallways of Franklin Tech.

“Some people will say ‘hi’ to me and I will have no idea who they are,” Snyder said of the reception.

There are plenty of young girls who want to play football. Snyder offered some advice for potential pigskin participants.

“You have to keep your head up,” she said. “If people bring you down, you just have to keep pushing. You are always going to run into difficulties.”

Snyder fractured her thumb in the Eagles’ game against Chicopee last week, forcing her to miss practice heading into tonight’s game against Monument Mountain (7 p.m.).

The original plan was to wrap the thumb and play through some pain if she could get clearance from her doctor by today.

But Snyder received word on Thursday that she would not be able to get a doctor’s appointment and will miss tonight’s game. She is hopeful for a return to action next week.

“I don’t like missing games,” Snyder said. “I wanted someone to notice the publicity, look to take advantage of me and then ‘BAM.’”

Snyder will get that next opportunity for people to take notice, when Franklin Tech travels to Easthampton for an Intercounty League North game on Oct. 4.

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