GREENFIELD — Michael Sosnowski is no Boy Scout. Or at least, the Greenfield-Central senior won’t be for too much longer.
“He’s going to be an Eagle Scout,” classmate and backfield battery mate Skylar Gary quipped. “He’s working on his, and I’m working on mine.”
Despite his impending advancement in scout rank, Gary doesn’t foresee Sosnowski meandering far from his former moniker.
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Quiet, reserved and polite by nature, Sosnowski has epitomized the label from the very first time Gary met him at a troop meeting in the fourth grade. It’s who he is.
“He’s always been this shy guy that took care of himself. He’s a good kid. Always gets good grades in school. He does the right thing, always,” Gary said. “He just goes out and does it. Point blank, taking care of business.”
None more so than when he buckles up the pads and helmet, Greenfield-Central head coach Adam Sherman said. While Sosnowski might jump at the chance to lend a helping hand, hold open a door, or offer to carry your groceries, once he’s on the football field, his competitiveness turns fierce.
“He doesn’t talk a whole lot, but he’s a man of action,” Sherman said.
If words were numbers, Sosnowski would have 1,062 to share, one for every yard he’s gained this season to lead the Class 4A Cougars rushing attack, which is averaging 288.5 per game.
His top-flight vision and acceleration out of the backfield has steered the running back to 11 touchdowns on 120 carries, a stark contrast to his 426 yards and pedestrian four touchdowns a year ago.
When his statistics come up in conversation, Sosnowski, in typical fashion, deflects credit to the offensive line, his coaches and teammates. His four 100-plus yard performances this fall, while three times greater than his 2015 totals, isn’t anything more than a motivator to the 5-foot-11, 175-pound grinder.
“My goal was to get 100 yards per game, so I haven’t done that for all of them, but I’ve gotten close,” Sosnowski points out without hesitation. “I still have work to do.”
At practice this week, Sosnowski punched the clock on every drill as the Cougars prepared for a potential ninth winning regular season in school history and first since 2011.
With a victory tonight against Hoosier Heritage Conference foe New Castle (3-5, 2-4 HHC) on Clayton Myers Field, the Cougars (4-4, 2-4 HHC) also would achieve a feat not reached in 14 years, finishing the regular season perfect at Cougars Stadium.
Greenfield-Central is 3-0 at home this year. In 2002, the Cougars went 5-0 en route to a 7-3 finish overall.
Sosnowski, however, is more fixated on the latter.
“To be honest with you, I didn’t realize we were undefeated at home. That’s pretty awesome,” he laughed. “My main focus is on winning. It would be nice to put that stamp on the season, to not end with a losing record.”
If they do, “Sauce” as Sosnowski is referred to by his teammates, is more than capable of bringing the heat.
Averaging 132.8 yards per game, Sosnowski’s carries have amounted to 8.9 yards per rush attempt. He opened the season with 194 yards against Eastern Hancock and hit a season-high 223 yards and three touchdowns in Week 5 against state-ranked Shelbyville.
Last week, he nearly posted another 200-yard game, churning for 187 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries in a 27-20 loss at Delta.
“He’s the hot sauce,” Sherman said. “He pushes himself to be his best out there every day. We have a lot of kids with great character here, but he stands atop of that list. He was the first captain we named captain.”
Gary, a fellow team captain, prefers to call him the lightning to his thunder.
“We have that dynamic duo,” he said. “We’ve been playing together for a long time through GYFL (Greenfield Youth Football League) to now. We both run hard. He’s got the speed, I got the power.”
Gary’s brute style has account for 838 rushing yards and eight touchdowns. The tandem has alternated in the spotlight for seven weeks of 100-plus yard games. Gary’s most recent contribution came in Week 7 as he bulldozed for 204 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries.
“It’s cool to see him and Skylar because they work so well together, but the funny thing is they would probably lead our conference in rushing if it had not been for each other,” Sherman said. “We have two really good ones here. It’s been really fun to watch because they push each other and are unselfish.”
Resiliency is a learned trait for both.
As a freshman, Gary broke both of his ankles — one playing football and the other on the basketball court — which confined him to a walking boot for two six-month spurts. A knee injury sophomore year kept him from playing last season.
Sosnowski suffered a “setback” as a sophomore, breaking an ankle the first week of the 2014 football season on the last play of the game. Spending two months on crutches, he had surgery and rehabbed before finally running full speed again six months later, regaining his stride in track and field the spring of 2015.
For their final push, the twosome want nothing more than to run down their primary target — the program’s first sectional title since 1975.
“That’s what we’re after, the trophy,” Gary said. “This team wants it. That’s what we’re thinking about most. These regular-season games are practice to help us get better. That’s the way we look at it.”
Sosnowski agrees, but his vision remains tunneled and for good reason. Winning is a byproduct of the approach, one he hopes leads to two wins in three games for the Cougars before the postseason begins.
“I try not to focus on the result. When you focus on that, I find you don’t do as well,” Sosnowski said. “When I run, I’m patient and wait for each play to unfold. I focus on getting that one yard past the line of scrimmage, and then what happens from there happens.
“When we do things the right way, we can be a powerful offense.”