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Cody Stanger

Created: 10/30/2013 10:52 PM KSTP.com

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- He's now a senior captain, but Cody Stanger will tell you - his transformation into a hard-hitting middle linebacker began just a couple years ago.

"In tenth grade, I was all around. I played defensive end, and then one of our starting linebackers got hurt, so I had to step in," Stanger said. "I got used to it and saw everything, and then my junior everything clicked."

"He's the heart and soul of the defense, and I truly mean that," Stewartville head coach Aaron Meyer said. "Without him, our defense isn't the same."

Stanger had a team-high 13 tackles in last week's win against Winona, and he really needs to share his secrets for success with his coach.

"I wish I knew (how he did it), because I would definitely try to clone it," Meyer said. "He has incredible instincts. It's almost like a sixth sense. He has a nose for the football, and I know that's cliche, but it's certainly true with Cody."

"I can see the hole, and I can think pretty good on defense, so I see it and go," Stanger said.

That mentality shows up on offense, too.

"The biggest thing is just go a hundred percent all the time," Stanger said.

While he's mainly known for his defensive prowess, Stanger also serves as the Tigers power back.

"It's nice to have a big, bruising back to wear down the other team's linebackers. It shows we're not just a throwing team, but one that can run the ball," Meyer said.