By Sean Lynch
Section 9 Football Insider Staff
GOSHEN — Goshen wide receivers Jake Kunis and Jack Shannon knew they had a special bond at a young age.
As early as third grade, Kunis and Shannon played football during recess at Goshen Intermediate School, often lining up against each other trying to catch the ball. Despite playing games of pickup football all the time, the two never played organizational football until last season.
“Jake was the ‘town football guy’ and I was the ‘backyard football guy,” Shannon said. “Even though we weren’t teammates until last year, we always knew we had a special connection.”
Shannon suffered a foot injury in eighth grade that sidelined him from action for four months. The injury affected him mentally and he didn’t want to play football again. After three years, he decided to play again and Kunis helped him understand how everything works and how it’s done.
Shannon had 87 receiving yards in five games last year and spent the off-season working individually and with Kunis to be the best player that he can be.
“We’re giving it 110 percent effort every time we practice and we make each other the best we can possibly be every single day,” Shannon said.
The off-season workouts with Kunis paid off. In a breakout season, Shannon already has 474 receiving yards and six touchdowns through five games. The duo hope to make some more plays when Goshen takes on rival Warwick in the Spirit Trophy game at 7 p.m. on Friday. Warwick (4-1) has taken 13 in a row from Goshen and 20 of 21, dating back to 1996.
Shannon also spent lots of time bonding with teammates and coaches in the off-season.
“Spending more time with my teammates and coaches helped me gain more confidence after coming off a struggling season last year,” Shannon said. “I dedicated myself to becoming one of the best athletes on the field and an even better teammate.”
The two have emerged as one of Section 9’s top receiving tandems. Together they’ve combined for 765 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns. Goshen (4-1) is off to its best five game start since 2005.
Both Kunis and Shannon are happy with the Gladiators start to the season, but they know there’s still more work to be done. Goshen has not won a Section 9 title since 1994.
“Our goal is to win a Section title,” Kunis said. “I think we have a very strong team and great chemistry. Most of us have played together since Mighty Mites,” he added.