DARIEN — The anchor of Leyden’s offensive line is senior center Gunnar Schiferl, who has been a starter on the varsity level since his sophomore year.
In fact, given a chance, Schiferl might just try to lift that anchor.
Even though the Eagles (0-6, 0-3) fell to Hinsdale South 35-10 in a West Suburban Gold matchup last Friday, Schiferl and his linemates opened plenty of holes for running back David DeMarais, who rushed for 124 yards on 18 carries.
Toward the end of his junior season, Schiferl injured his shoulder and had his rotator cuff surgically repaired. Even though he missed some time in the offseason, Schiferl made sure he was ready for Opening Day.
“It was really important knowing it was my senior year, I knew I needed to get back and lead my team the way I am trying my best to do,” Schiferl said.
Schiferl (6-0, 280 pounds) is a team captain and is the leader of the offensive line.
“He is very high character, he is a very smart kid,” said Eagles coach Tom Cerasani. “He makes all the line calls for us on our pass protections. He has been a warrior for us all year; he has been a stalwart on the offensive line.”
Schiferl is an avid weight lifter and has competed in Olympic-style lifting events. He thinks his experience with weight training probably rushed his recovery from surgery.
“My background with weight lifting and working out played a huge role in my recovery,” said Schiferl. “I felt like it really sped it along, especially with how long my doctors thought I would recover and how fast I actually did come back and was able to get through [summer] camp.”
His fondness for weights has been a positive example and rubs off on his teammates.
“He shows phenomenal effort because he also goes to the weight room after practice,” said Beni Smajlovic, who plays tackle on the offensive line. “That just really shows the determination he has. It reflects on everyone else, because we want to be just as determined and invested in football as much as he is.”
Colleges have shown interest in Schiferl, who wants to play after high school. The top three schools on his list are Illinois State, Drake and North Central.
Because of his injury, Schiferl was forced to sit out the track season last spring. He is a shot putter and plans on competing again. Until the track season arrives, Schiferl will continue to be an example to his teammates.
“He has always been a leader, in general,” said Cerasani. “In the weight room, especially, the kids look up to him [because of] the sort of lifts he does and the weights he is able to obtain. Being a three-year starter has helped him be a great leader, as well.”