Shelton High School football coach Matt Hinkle talks about the crop of players he usually gets. For decades, it’s been a steady stream of homegrown running backs who have propelled the Highclimbers’ ground-and-pound offense.
“Historically, we’re off-tackle power — forever,” said Hinkle, now in his 22nd season at Shelton.
“Coach (Jack) Stark did a great job of that back in the day, and we’ve just tried to perpetuate that a little bit. It’s kind of in the DNA of the kids around here.”
Perhaps something was a bit different about Tyler Giraldes.
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Growing up, Giraldes scaled the stands at Highclimber Stadium on Friday nights, clad in his Shelton Kings Youth Football jersey, along with his father, Chris. He saw former all-state running backs such as Kyle Burbridge and Ralph Kinne (now a tailback at UW) hammer the grass play after play.
“I watched a lot of them,” Giraldes said.
But, seeing how the offense ran, did it deter his decision to play quarterback?
“It really didn’t,” he said.
Now a senior, and a second-year starting quarterback, Giraldes has been a cog in adding a new element in Shelton’s offense — the pass. Not that Shelton hasn’t thrown the ball in the past, but the last time it emphasized the passing game?
“Oh, boy,” Hinkle considered. “Never.”
The new experiment, centered on Giraldes — 6-foot-5, and the best decision-making quarterback Hinkle said he’s had recently — and a handful of upperclassmen receivers, started last year, but it wasn’t the focus.
Giraldes said the development of the passing game correlated with his development as a player, and that of his receivers, but Hinkle knew the talent was there.
“We knew he was going to be pretty good last year,” Hinkle said. “He started all of last year as a junior, and he had the desire. He went to camps starting sophomore year — went to one in California this last year. It shows his desire to be above average.”
In Shelton’s final game last season — a week after Capital squashed its playoff hopes — Giraldes served up three touchdowns (two passing) against Yelm.
Since then, he’s been a lot busier than past Shelton quarterbacks.
“Even when you’re getting plays from the huddle, or even before the snap, you’re always thinking,” Giraldes said. “You’re always having to do something, because, if you don’t, you’re not going to be reading the play right or the defense. It’s a very busy position.”
This season, Giraldes is 42 of 76 passing for 603 yards and seven touchdowns, and has helped the Highclimbers to a 2-1 (1-0 Class 3A South Sound Conference) start.
“I’ve gotten stronger,” Giraldes said. “I can throw a lot harder and farther, and my pocket awareness is better.”
Giraldes has at least one touchdown pass per game, and has connected with three receivers — Kyle Kimball (three), Marshall McCullough (three) and tight end Taylor Toney (one) — for touchdowns.
“He sees (the field) well,” Kimball said. “He watches film a lot. He knows the game very well, and he knows defenses. He can just see what’s going on.”
Hinkle said the air raid has flourished, in part, because of Giraldes’ aptitude at the position. Giraldes likes the extra layer it adds to the offense.
“Generally, when you run the ball, you’re not going to be breaking off huge runs every single time,” Giraldes said. “I feel like, with the pass, we’re able to add a component where there’s going to be big plays this year that can give us big touchdowns.”
Kimball agrees that Giraldes’ freedom to sling the ball around had added excitement.
“It really boosts all of us, too, knowing we can drive — knowing we can do everything,” he said.