Even at traditionally talent-laden football venues like Tyrone Area, small-school athletes are often asked to do everything but distribute game programs and work the concession stands.
Senior John Shaffer has filled that versatile bill admirably for the Golden Eagles, who have now won 32 consecutive regular-season games.
"At a [Class] AA school, so many kids are asked to do so many things, because we don't have the luxury of depth that bigger schools might have,'' Tyrone coach John Franco said. "You're key players have to perform several duties, and John is one of our key players.''
The 6-foot-2, 210-pound Shaffer is a skilled blocker who lines up at tight end, but possesses the pass-catching ability of the best of wide receivers. He's a solid member of Tyrone's defensive line who holds down one defensive end position, and he's also a valuable asset on special teams as a placekicker.
"He's got good speed and good hands, and he's a good blocker,'' Franco said of Shaffer. "We use him in a lot of different positions. He's kind of like a tight end-wide receiver for us. On defense, he's one of our leaders. And as a kicker, he's got very good range [on field-goal attempts]. He works really hard on that skill, and does a really good job there for us.''
Shaffer knows he'll be called on to do plenty for Tyrone, so he keeps himself prepared any time he steps on the field. He's also assumed a leadership role on the team.
"I try to do my best on every single play,'' Shaffer said. "I like to think [my pass-catching ability] helps our offense open up [opposing] defenses, but I definitely put a lot of emphasis on my blocking, because [Tyrone runs] the football more than we pass it. And I've been working on my kicking game in my backyard since I was a little kid.''
Shaffer is also a jack-of-all-trades on the baseball diamond for Tyrone, playing the outfield and first base, as well as handling pitching assignments.
Right now, he's leaning toward a collegiate baseball career at Allegany (Md.) Community College. But he's also getting football feelers from Division I-AA Patriot League colleges like Lehigh, Bucknell and Lafayette.
"He's a good, all-around athlete,'' Franco said.
This fall, Shaffer's main priority will be to help the Tyrone football program extend its successful tradition.
"We haven't lost a regular-season game in three years,'' Shaffer said. "We have a real tough schedule this year, and we want to see what we can do with it.''