Tarpon Springs, January 11, 2019- The Eastlake Eagles closed out a somewhat rough, yet positive 6-5 season, going 3-1 in their district 10 standings (2nd place of 5 teams), taking into consideration the vast, scrappy and stiff competition Class 7A brings to the table. Nonetheless, the bumps smooth out in due time; here’s a BCP insider on the sophomore with a consistently full appetite of grit with the early key to the smoothing process.
From what the highlight tapes illustrate, laterally, he has great hip movement, scanning the field of jerseys for the ball carrier; always one step ahead and striking with his utmost force and precision every down. The 5’9” 170-pound two-way athlete possesses 4.69 40-yard dash speed, aiding his relentless pursuit- just when you think you’ve eluded his grasp. Proceed with caution when jumping through a defensive “gap”; chances are he’ll meet you on the other side with a not so friendly hit stick.
This 2018 season, in 10 games battled according to MaxPreps, Cunningham has collected 40 solo and 19 assisted tackles for 5.9 tackles per game, 1 TFL, 1 INT, deflected 2 passes, ran the rock twice for 28 yards and tallied 47 return yards on 4 kickoff returns.
Ryan’s innate gift for sniffing out offensive schemes listed him 3rd of 22 defenders in solo tackles on East lake’s active roster- the only two players ahead in production are senior linebackers James Mcduffy and Daniel Slaughter, who both have one more game played each (11 GP) than Cunningham (10 GP). He also ranks 2nd among 10 sophomores (leaders who have played at least 5 games) in all of Class 7A in total tackles with 59; only DB Zaequan Gilliespy from Plant has more with 103 total but has two more games played under his belt (12 GP).
If there’s one thing numbers and highlights fail to show, it’s the blood, sweat, and tears that come along with playing in this brutish, man-child sport America so prominently knows and loves.
The leaderboards are just the beginning for upcoming junior, Ryan Cunningham and his inevitably, sky-rocketing stat-line. With his two biggest boom-chance seasons left to leave all on the gridiron, I believe we’ve only observed a tiny taste of his ever-growing capabilities in the royal blue and white.
Vaughan Sixbury, BCP Contributor