PREP BEAT

JIM PETERS: All-Star selection gives Chesterton's Snyder one more football game

2013-07-11T17:00:00Z 2013-07-11T23:35:05Z JIM PETERS: All-Star selection gives Chesterton's Snyder one more football gameJim Peters Prep Beat nwitimes.com
July 11, 2013 5:00 pm  • 

When Chesterton lost to Merrillville in the sectional semifinals last fall, A.J. Snyder figured he had played his last football game.

During the season, the Trojans cornerback decided he would hang up the pads and concentrate on school.

Then, a few months ago, when a player had to bow out of the North-South All-Star Game due to injury, Snyder was contacted about taking his place. It didn't take him long to say yes.

"I was pretty excited," he said. "I thought I was never going to get to play on a team again. I'm thankful to have this opportunity. It's a pretty big deal, one of the highest honors there is."

Snyder's season was worthy of the selection.

His side of the field became Chesterton's equivalent of Revis Island. Only six passes were completed in his area, the longest, 16 yards. In addition to eight breakups, he snagged three interceptions and blocked three field goals.

"It wasn't like he was a true boundary corner. A lot of times, he was on the other team's best receiver," Chesterton defensive backs coach Nick Bamber said. "It was a mix of good coverage and teams going the other way. He worked hard on the little things, things that make you better, and you'd see a lot of improvement right away.

"His feet got a lot faster. He's smart, football-wise. We could put things in during the week and he was able to adapt."

Could Snyder have played in college? Maybe not Division I, but definitely somewhere. He just didn't want to, which is better than doing something when your heart isn't into it.

"I'm mainly looking forward to focusing on academics," said Snyder, who will major in mathematics at IU with plans to go into actuarial science. "It's one thing I care about a lot."

In case you were also wondering, actuarial science is the discipline that applies math to assess risk in the insurance and finance industries.

Snyder attended orientation this week in Bloomington. He leaves Sunday for all-star week in Indianapolis, where he will team one more time with Bamber, who is on the North coaching staff, and fellow Trojan Joe Troop, who is also on the team.

"Joe's a pretty good friend," Snyder said. "It'll be nice having someone there that I know."

Fortunately, Snyder didn't start a pizza and pop diet after football season. He stayed in shape, working out with Troop recently in preparation for next week.

"I'm excited to see how good the other players are, to see them play, and hopefully come out with a win," Snyder said.

The game will provide a nice exclamation point to a career that included a win last season over Merrillville, Chesterton's first since 2006, and a tie for the Duneland Athletic Conference title.

Even better, Snyder shared the experience with his dad/coach John.

"It was pretty special," A.J. said. "I don't think I would change anything about it. I know some people might have thought I received (favoritism) because of him, but I don't feel I was treated any different than anyone else.

"In middle school, he talked about waiting for me, then being done when I was done. I'm happy with how it all turned out."

While the Snyders wound up exiting at the same time, it wasn't like it was planned. John resigned in the spring to become an assistant at Valparaiso University, a move that even surprised his son.

While A.J.'s life heads in a new direction, the game will always be a part of him.

"I don't think I'll ever have a life without football," he said. "I'll always be watching and following it."

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at jim.peters@nwi.com.

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