PARK RIDGE — In three years as a varsity football player, Tyler Bolger has missed one scheduled workout, according to Maine South coach Dave Inserra.
And Bolger might have a spotless record if not for Inserra. The Hawks coach banned Bolger from a workout in February so Bolger instead could attend a family funeral.
“I went, but I was seeing about leaving early to go work out, then come back,” Bolger said. “I was trying any way to make it happen.”
Inserra said he “absolutely refused” to let Bolger inside the field house that day.
“Such a hard worker and a tremendous leader,” Inserra said of the three-year starter. “He takes so much pride in everything he does, even if it’s running sprints. He’s not the fastest guy, but he wants to be out there leading.
“With Tyler, you know you are going to get every ounce of his effort.”
That’s also evident in the weight room. The 5-11, 255-pound right guard holds the Maine South football program record for bench press at 375 pounds and total lift (bench press, squat, power clean) at 1,245 pounds.
Bolger and his linemates helped the Hawks to their 67th consecutive win in the Central Suburban South on Thursday with a 24-7 home victory over New Trier. Senior running back Justin Fahey finished with 125 yards on the ground and scored a decisive touchdown on a 13-yard run with 6 minutes, 17 seconds left in the fourth quarter to put the Hawks ahead 17-7.
Bolger said the scoring run was signature Maine South (6-0, 2-0), with Fahey finding a hole up the middle.
“The trap worked well [Thursday],” Bolger said. “I just pull across the line and try to dominate the man in front of me and let the running back follow. You only need to give Justin a small hole.”
Inserra said Bolger is more than a skilled technician in the trenches. He’s the undisputed leader of a unit that had no player other than Bolger with a varsity start entering this season.
“A good line has to be cohesive, guys usually have had to have been together for a while,” Inserra said. “But six of the guys didn’t play last year. Bolger has been the glue that’s holding this all together.”
At 7-on-7 tournaments during the offseason, Maine South won both of the linemen challenges it participated in.
Maine South offensive line coach Tommy Mendez said Bolger is a “wonderful kid and great example” to his teammates, especially at practice.
“I always use him to show others what to do during drills,” Mendez said. “He has that determination to be the best at whatever he does.”
Bolger said his inner drive comes from his father, Tim Bolger, who is a police officer. Tyler Bolger said his 50-year-old dad, who played high school football at St. Patrick, can bench press 405 pounds.
“My dad has been huge in my life,” Tyler Bolger said. “He’s instilled in me the toughness I need to get through things, and how to handle the hard times that can happen on the field.”
Tyler Bolger said he’s also thankful for the linemen who came ahead of him at Maine South, like 2014 graduates Brendan Brosnan and Greg Ebacher. Brosnan is a freshman on the Penn State football team.
“Our history is huge, and the guys before me really showed me the way,” said Tyler Bolger, who has taken college visits to Butler and Valparaiso. “They taught me a good football team shows up in the weight room. They taught me to make every rep, every workout count.
“I try my best to carry that on.”