Tioga's Tyler Spires has received plenty of accolades for his football career but one of his most prestigious came on Tuesday as The New York State High School Football Coaches Association named Spires the Class D Player of the Year.

"I think it just speaks volumes about him personally as an individual player," Tioga coach Nick Aiello remarked. "I think when you see numbers like he had and that he's a leader on the team. He's our biggest leader on the field."

Aiello felt his senior captain had a chance at this recognition.

"That's why I sent all his stats in, season stats and career stats," he explained. "He had a pretty good shot in Class D, rushing for almost 2,000 yards and 28 touchdown. I think he had a legitimate shot, especially being a 2-time all state linebacker."

However, numbers are only half the stories for Spires who led by example out on the field.

"He was definitely a leader that walked the walk," Aiello explained. "He didn't say much and he didn't need to either. He knew that he had to work hard and definitely set the tone for the other kids. He showed how hard you need to work at keeping on getting better and that's why people followed him."

Those leadership qualities were best exhibited in the sectional semi-final game when Spires' nagging shoulder injury kept him from running the ball. However, the senior stayed out there to block for freshman Jesse Manuel.

"Numbers helped him get this," added Aiello. "But Tyler as a leader, that's going to be the toughest thing to replace."

His coach can only hope that his underclassmen will want to emulate that.

"I think the other kids will step up," Aiello said. "The other kids in our program see how great a leader he was and want to imitate that."