AQ’s Russell and Szalkowski leave their mark on Section V football

High School Sports

The duo finishes their careers at the forefront of the record books

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — If you’ve been following Section V football over the past three years, you know the names Manny Russell and Tyler Szalkowski.

The Aquinas standouts started their careers in 2018 connecting for the game-winning touchdown in the state championship game.

That sophomore success continued through their senior season where they nearly both set Section V records.

Russell became the area’s all-time receiving leader last week in a 69-yard outing against Webster Schroeder. He broke the mark in style on a 51-yard touchdown reception.

His 2,285 career yards surpasses Marshall’s Eddie Jackson. Jackson finished his career in 2008 with 2,277 yards.

Russell didn’t even know he broke the record until it was announced over the stadium’s speakers.

“I didn’t know that record even existed,” Russell admitted.

He’s thrilled to have the record but with his younger brother and cousin beginning their careers, he hopes he isn’t number one for long. Russell’s brother, Juelz, is a freshman at UPrep while his cousin CJ is at Aquinas.

“I feel like I set a goal for them to pass because I want them to pass that goal and be more successful than I am,” he said.

Russell made an immediate impact bursting onto the scene alongside Szalkowski.

“He works hard, he runs good routes,” said Szalkowski. “We have a very good connection. We kind of see the field the same way.”

“He knows how to make the big play when necessary,” said Aquinas head coach Derek Annechino. “That’s what he’s done for us throughout his entire career. He’s just a superior athlete who can run and he has a great pair of hands.”

Szalkowski in all likelihood needed just one more game to join Russell atop the Section V record books. He finished his career with 6,238 yards, 161 behind former Aquinas quarterback Jake Zembiec’s 6,398.

But the Lil’ Irish’s final regular season game was canceled and they just missed the four-team Class AA sectional playoffs.

“I guess just being there is pretty cool,” said Szalkowski. “Of course I would love to have it but being up there with a guy that I know that I’ve been training with him, it’s a cool mark.”

Szalkowski will play football for the University of Albany while Russell says that he will be announcing his future plans soon.

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