By Justin Rodriguez
Section 9 Football Insider
Bradley Byrnes walked into Monroe-Woodbury coach Ryan Baldock’s office last July and politely told him that he wouldn’t be playing football for the Crusaders as a junior.
By the end of August, Byrnes regretted his decision, but it was too late to come back to the team. He sat out the 2016 season. It’s no wonder that Byrnes is enjoying his breakout year for Monroe-Woodbury this fall.
Byrnes, who is 5-foot-7, 155 pounds, has evolved into the Crusaders do-it-all player. He plays running back, strong safety and returns kicks and punts for Monroe-Woodbury (4-1). Byrnes is also the Crusader’s back-up quarterback and started the season-opener against Warwick under center.
Byrnes sat out Monroe-Woodbury’s game against Middletown on Thursday with an injury for precautionary reasons, but will play in the Crusaders’ showdown against Newburgh on Friday.
“Bradley does it all, but drive the bus to the game,” Baldock said. “Whatever spot you put him in, he excels. Bradley rises to take on every challenge with a positive attitude. He’s a gamer and a fierce competitor. Bradley is just a throwback type of kid.”
Byrnes sat out last season to concentrate on track. He’s a standout in the 400 and 800-meter runs and was part of Monroe-Woodbury’s 3,200 relay team that won a Section 9 championship two years ago. Byrnes played free safety for Monroe-Woodbury as a sophomore and quarterbacked the jayvee team as a freshman.
“I’m having a lot of fun this season,” Byrnes said. “I wish I didn’t leave football last year, but I’m happy to be back. I love this team and we are playing real well right now. I’m happy to be contributing. It always feels good to do your job.”
Due to his positive attitude and work ethic, Baldock welcomed Byrnes back this year, plugging him in at running back. Before this season, Byrnes hadn’t played running back for four years, but he’s made plays for the Crusaders. Byrnes has rushed for 467 yards and five touchdowns for Monroe-Woodbury.
He is considered undersized for his position, but that hasn’t stopped Byrnes from running hard, using his toughness as well as his speed to make plays.
“Bradley has a can’t be stopped attitude that is just inspiring to everyone around him,” Baldock said. “Pound for pound, he is the toughest son of a gun that I have ever seen.”
Byrnes chalks up his toughness to his parents, Brian and Ann, and how they raised him.
“They instilled a tough mindset in me,” Byrnes said. “I’m just going to keep going and never will let the team down. I never give up. I feel like people might just look at me as a speed running back, but I can truck someone. I can put up a big hit.”