On a team that has an abundance of size, speed, and Division I recruits, the player who has stood tallest for Timber Creek has been Bryce Shade, a 5-foot-7, 170-pound senior who plays multiple positions and all of them well.
Possibly Shade's most impressive accomplishment is the way he has stood out on a team that has five players who have made Division I commitments.
"He's been our MVP," Timber Creek coach Rob Hinson said. "He does so many things for us."
Shade is a second-year starter on a 9-2 Timber Creek team that will meet Kingsway in Saturday's 7 p.m. South Jersey Group 4 final at Rowan University. Last season, he played a critical role for a 12-0 unit that won the South Jersey Group 3 championship.
This season, his role has expanded.
Shade is listed as a receiver and often plays in the slot. He also can play running back and is used as a quarterback in the wildcat formation. He is a key safety on defense and returns punts, too.
"It is so much fun," Shade said. "I get to do everything on the field, and there isn't just one position to focus on."
Shade has rushed for 658 yards and 10 touchdowns on 71 carries this season. He has 33 receptions for 365 yards and two touchdowns, and has completed 7 of 10 passes for 105 yards and a score. In addition, he has returned one punt and one kickoff for touchdowns.
Shade is not just a speedster. He also has a high degree of toughness. That could come from his background as a wrestler.
Last season, he won his second district and region titles while wrestling at 152 pounds. He takes a 90-24 wrestling record into his senior season.
"I think wrestling helps me so much with explosion, agility, and everything," Shade said.
This Timber Creek team is known for its explosive nature. Two of the quicker players are defensive ends Myles Nash (6-5, 206) and Dajaun Drennon (6-4, 235), who are headed to Rutgers and North Carolina, respectively.
The other Division I recruits are defensive tackle Greg Webb (North Carolina), running back-linebacker Zaire Williams (West Virginia), and running back-cornerback Eric Church (Kent State).
Despite all these highly recruited players, Shade has had an expanded and critical role.
"Bryce is all-purpose everything," Hinson said. "There is nothing we can't ask him to do and nothing he can't do."
Shade would like to play college football, and Hinson said he has been hearing from Football Championship Subdivision (formerly I-AA) programs. Shade said he will worry about football recruiting after Saturday's game.
In last year's 33-7 win over Hammonton in the South Jersey Group 3 final, Shade had a huge game, scoring on a 61-yard reception and an 8-yard run.
"I'd like to do what I did in last year's game, score twice," he said.
He also will aim for a similar outcome, although it won't be easy against a Kingsway team that has hit its stride at the most opportune time.
"Winning last year was an amazing feeling, and I would like to experience it again," Shade said.
As for being called his team's MVP, Shade uses it as further motivation.
"It makes me feel that with all our talent, if that is given to me, then I have to keep working harder," he said. "That's because anybody any game can be MVP."
For this season, that distinction has gone to Shade, who is looking for one more MVP-like effort.