First he hit the weight room. Now he’s hitting opponents.
Injuries had something to do with it. Then again, there was also the understanding that he had a senior season ahead of him and that was motivation enough for Kyle Schultz to commit to weight training and begin working out like a madman.
“Every day after school from the end of the  season to the start of [this] season I was in there every day,” Schultz said of his weight-room sessions.
What a difference all that work has made for both Schultz and the Greenport/Southold/Mattituck high school football team he plays for. The muscle he has added has translated into performance on the field.
“I assumed I’d be better with the training I’ve been doing, but nothing like this,” said Schultz, who is 6-foot-1, 220 pounds. He added: “Compared to last year, I’m a thousand times better. I’m a lot stronger, faster. I couldn’t be happier.”
Neither could coach Jack Martilotta, who said he has seen a “huge” difference in a player who has transformed himself into a new player.
“A couple of years ago he was skinny,” Martilotta said. “Kyle spent his offseason in the weight room the past couple of years. He’s a big, strong kid. As our center, he’s doing a great job moving people in the middle, and at defensive end he’s strong. You can see he’s strong. He’s able to rush up the field. … He’s playing some great football.”
Schultz’ play has been a factor in Greenport’s 3-1 record. He made a team-leading five solo tackles (two for losses) in a 48-0 blowout of East Hampton/Bridgehampton on Saturday. Schultz recorded a pair of safeties within 1 minute, 48 seconds of each other late in the first quarter of a 38-14 win over Center Moriches on Sept. 16.
Offensively, he has led a line that has enabled the Porters to ring up 134 points in four games.
“Offense and defense, he’s a force on both sides of the ball,” running back/linebacker Keegan Syron said. “He just does everything for us.”
Schultz is coming off an injury-plagued junior season. Halfway through last season he dislocated his left shoulder. As if that wasn’t enough, he tore the ACL in his left knee in the last game of the season.
“He hurt his shoulder like doing nothing,” Martilotta said. “It was a freak injury. I felt awful for the poor kid. If it wasn’t for bad luck last year, he would have had none. He kept getting hurt, just in the silliest ways.”
A stronger, healthier Schultz has made a difference this year. Last season he had five tackles, three assists and two tackles for losses. This season he already has 11 tackles (all solo), including four for losses.
“Working out, training,” Schultz said. “That’s all it really is. Linemen, we’re always going at it so you always have an upper hand being stronger than the guy across from you.”
For all Schultz does on the line, it is his presence on the kickoff coverage team that Martilotta may like best.
“Really, I love him on the kickoffs, to be honest with you,” the coach said. “He gets everybody going.”
Photo caption: Kyle Schultz, coming off an injury-plagued junior season, has had a strong senior season, thanks in part to the work he has done in the weight room. (Credit: Bob Liepa)