Brothers Ty and AJ Pugliano deliver a mighty punch to Black Tornado
One is measured, the other a little more improvised.
Together, Ty and AJ Pugliano combine to provide a driving force for the North Medford football team on both sides of the ball.
“There’s no doubting the impact these two are having,” said Black Tornado head coach Nathan Chin of the Pugliano brothers. “From AJ’s perspective, he just brings a ton of energy to everything and is so dynamic. Ty just has that workaholic mentality and reliability. Ty is that athlete that you know if a game has to be done, He will. He’s shown it time and time again.
It’s a well-functioning relationship between the brothers, who nurture each other in different ways to bring out the best in themselves and the North Medford football team with every outing.
Ty is a 5-foot-10, 185-pound running back and hybrid linebacker/safety enjoying his senior season with the Black Tornado. He was one of the top rushers in the Southwest Conference a year ago and rushed for 202 yards and three scores in last week’s decisive 35-14 victory at West Salem. He now has 58 carries for 295 yards in three games.
“Besides his sheer skill, Ty kind of keeps our team together and I think everyone on the team knows that,” says AJ. “He’s just a beacon for us there.”
AJ is 6-foot-4 and weighs 220 pounds and is one of the top rookies in the state as a tight end/linebacker for the Class of 2024. The standout junior was one of the conference’s leading receivers in as a rookie before injury cut short his second season.
This year, AJ had 11 passes for 118 yards and two touchdowns — both earned last week — and continued to build on a resume that includes offers from Oregon, Oregon State , Washington State and Arizona and conversations with people like Ohio. State, Clemson and some Big 10 programs.
“AJ is obviously a great recruit,” Ty says, “but he’s the best supporter and teammate and he always cares about others more than himself, whether it’s the team or recruiting each individual or just how they’re doing. I feel like it’s very humble of him to do that and not really worry about himself so much or talk about his recruitment or things like that.
Beyond physical stature, where the two brothers differ the most is in the confidence placed in their voices.
Ty, 17, relies more on example and picking and choosing his moments to make his voice heard so his words carry more weight.
“I won’t say anything unless it’s positive or I feel like it’s really needed,” Ty says. “But when we need energy and vocal leadership, I’d say it’s definitely him.”
Anyone who’s ever rubbed shoulders with the gregarious AJ knows he’s as talkative and friendly as can be, and can be as horny as any 16-year-old contestant.
“I like to have fun there; that’s what I’m here for,” says AJ. “I’m here to energize and get excited and (Ty) likes to stay cool and calm, so we’re like fire and ice. I’m a bit loud and he does the opposite, keeping things quiet, so we complement each other well.
This innate complement on the pitch – knowing exactly where AJ is going to force a ball carrier so Ty can make a tackle or how one is going to attack a defense so the other can lend a hand – often turns into compliments. off the field between the brothers.
They understand better than anyone how hard the other works and trains for their big moments, and there’s always that brotherly love when either one is able to accomplish something on the pitch.
“We’re so close and being on both sides of the ball with him and celebrating with him is amazing,” said Ty, who has a 4.0 GPA (weighted 4.3). “When he scored those touchdowns last week, I was excited for him. It’s just nice to have him there, someone you trust so much, and he does a great job of blocking for me too.
AJ adds about his older brother: “He’s the guy I can rely on the most because I know his habits and I know what he put in there, and his mentality will never waver. It just means a lot of being able to completely depend on him on the pitch and knowing that no matter what happens he will be able to make a play or at least give everything to make a play. a long way, especially when it’s a key point like me blocking it for him or protecting the pass for me to get the ball back. I know he won’t let me down. »
And off the field?
“Off the pitch, he’s my best friend,” says AJ. “He has to drive me everywhere and has to take care of me more than anyone. But when we arrive on the pitch, we complement each other very well. He’s one of the smartest players I know and our dynamic isn’t really brotherly, but we’re best friends, I would say, and it’s good to have that.
It is to this footballing IQ of Ty that AJ credits much of his success, both on the local and national circuits.
“I’ve been to football camps up and down the West Coast and all the way to Florida,” AJ explains, “and the prep that I want before I go to camp, when I’m like, ‘Hey, what? do I need to work to get ready to go to this camp”, I want Ty Pugliano in the field to guard me and tell me what I can work on with my rods coming from a safety I want him to press me because he is patient in his press.
“Then I go to camps and say maybe this guy is more athletic than Ty or more naturally gifted, but his fundamentals are easier to tell apart. That’s what it’s all about, Ty’s fundamentals are better than any I’ve met, so when I go to these places, the preparation Ty gives me and no one else, it all comes out.
Both will get the chance to put their full abilities to the test again on Friday night as the Black Tornado (1-2, 1-0 SCFC) host North Salem (3-0, 1-0) in their first round match. home opening after a week. 1 clash with West Linn had to be relocated to Eugene.
Friday’s match kicks off at 7:00 p.m. at the Spiegelberg stadium.
“It’s a great relief to finally be able to play at home,” Ty said. “I feel like we got our energy back last week and it will be even better now that we are at home. It’s just exciting because we had to delay it for three weeks, which makes it even better. »
While it might be better, it certainly won’t be easier against a North Salem team that qualified for the Class 5A state quarterfinals a year ago and sends some dynamic forces back to full-fledged in TC Manumaleuna quarterback, running back Josiah Davis and sprinting. champion DeMari Thompson.
However, helping North Salem to its first 3-0 start since 2002, Davis suffered an ankle injury and one of the state’s top rushers may not be available Friday.
“It was nice to be able to build that confidence in what we’re doing this week,” Chin said, “but we’re playing against a team that has it too. They have horses and athletes in some key locations so we really need to be able to rock and roll on Friday night.
Ty, in particular, sees the past week as a big stepping stone for himself.
After a few weeks of what he deemed “hesitant” behind an offensive line led by senior David Fuiava and junior Terrell Kim, last week was a different feeling.
“Last year it worked out pretty well, but I feel like I was too hesitant on the line,” says Ty, who credits his linemen for everything he’s been able to accomplish. “Last week when we finally put it together I just decided I was going to get 3 or 4 yards before anything else, and I think that really helped me be explosive across the line and to get through holes faster, and some of those runs turned into 10, 15 and 20 yards instead of just 3 or 4.”
For AJ, the past week was the first in which he really had a chance to shine. West Linn naturally framed their coverage around the All-Star tight end, and a Week 2 loss at Bend was hampered when starting quarterback Caiden Lacey went down with the injury in the second quarter.
With Lacey’s return last week, as well as AJ feeling like he has more of his legs under him after missing time this summer with a hamstring injury, it’s all back to where the Tornado knows it. may be an offence.
“I’m just happy that I was able to send the ball into the end zone a few times,” says AJ. “It definitely helped my confidence going home, and hopefully we can get even better numbers. West Salem was just the beginning of what we can do together and what we can do as a team.
Do you have a story idea? Contact sportswriter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, [email protected] or via Twitter @Kris_Henry
Andy Atkinson/Mail TribuneNorth Medford senior Ty Pugliano, left, and his younger brother AJ Pugliano set off the Black Tornado on both sides of football.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneNorth Medford’s Ty Pugliano outscores Sherwood’s defense for a score during the 2021 season.
Andy Atkinson/Mail TribuneNorth Medford’s AJ Pugliano heads for the end zone after making a catch during a 2021 contest.