COOLIDGE — Less than 12 months ago, Tad Lynch was only starting to make a name for himself as a junior. A first-year varsity starter at Coolidge, he came out of nowhere to become a primary target for quarterback Jacob Gunter as a wide receiver.

This season, another big change came when an over-abundance of receiving options and a lack of rushing one forced coach Rodger Schenks to ask him to switch positions. This year, he wouldn’t be catching balls, but running with them from the backfield. The productivity, though, hasn’t changed, and he’s being recognized for it.

Lynch was named the Arizona Cardinals’ Player of the Week after a performance against Phoenix Christian where he rushed for 366 yards and scored six touchdowns in a 49-13 victory for the Bears. This is the first time a Coolidge player has won the award, though former skipper Bill Godsil was named the Cardinals’ Coach of the Year in 2018.

“It was unbelievable,” Lynch said about learning he had won the award. “It’s such an honor to be blessed with such an amazing award.”

This is the second straight week a Pinal County player has won this award, which is only given to one person every week. A week prior, Casa Grande Union running back RJ Keeton received his trophy.

Present at the Coolidge Performing Arts Center for Thursday’s presentation ceremony were former Cardinals offensive lineman Anthony Clement, Cardinals Vice President Nicole Bidwell, mascot Big Red and cheerleader Gabriella. They presented Lynch, who was surrounded by his teammates and Coolidge cheerleaders, with a trophy, certificate and Cardinals gear.

“It’s a great individual accomplishment, but as Ms. Bidwell told him, it’s a big team effort,” Schenks said. “It’s really cool to receive some recognition for all the hard work they put in.”

To that end, a special treat awaited the Bears’ offensive linemen that morning. Lynch had brought them all cinnamon rolls as a way of giving thanks for opening up the gaps that he ran through against Phoenix Christian.

“I owe it all to my offensive line,” Lynch said. “I couldn’t have done it without them. We just have really good chemistry.”

Through five games this season, Lynch has accrued 636 rushing yards on only 59 carries, scoring nine touchdowns. He’s also getting rave reviews from his teammates. Captain Auggie Chiang said after a dominant performance in Week 1 against Coronado that Lynch was the Bears’ “white Derrick Henry,” someone who could do whatever is asked of him on the field. Not bad for a first-year running back.

“It just shows his determination and ability to move,” Schenks said. “He’s just a team player. Last year, he led us in receiving, and a lot of guys would have said they don’t want to give that spot up. But he didn’t have any ifs, ands or buts. He just said, ‘let’s do it.’”

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