Sam Brodner personifies the running back position. He is a classic hybrid who mixes power, speed and toughness.
At 5-11 and 215 pounds, the Glenbard West junior has certainly burned his name into the consciousness of the Mid-Suburban League. In three Class 8A state playoff games, each coming against programs from the MSL, Brodner has rushed for nearly 700 yards and scored nine touchdowns in helping the Hilltoppers advance to the state semifinals.
On Saturday, Brodner showcased his particular skill set, the speed to get to the perimeter and the power to run through tackles, in rushing for 173 yards on 27 carries. He also revealed a flair for the dramatic.
Brodner scored two touchdowns, on runs of 41 yards and 22 yards, respectively, a minute and a half apart in the third quarter as No. 2 Glenbard West rallied from a two-touchdown deficit and eliminated Barrington 28-21 in a state quarterfinal on Saturday.
He had five touchdowns against Palatine in a second-round game the previous week.
“We knew how good he was coming into the game,” Barrington coach Joe Sanchez said. “We needed to limit those big plays from happening, but unfortunately he got a couple and we weren’t able to stem the tide.”
For his accomplishments, Sam Brodner is the Sun-Times’ Athlete of the Week.
Brodner has gained 1,780 yards and scored 28 touchdowns for the 12-0 Hilltoppers, who host undefeated and top-ranked Stevenson in a Class 8A state playoff semifinal on Saturday.
He has also made an impressive comeback after he missed nearly all of his sophomore season from complications of a stress fracture in his back.
“I used that to motivate me,” he said.
Brodner has generated an offer from Illinois State. He has deferred his recruiting until the season is over. His focus now is delivering Glenbard West’s third state title and first ever in Class 8A.
Brodner also performs an unorthodox double on the track team, where he runs sprints and is also a weightman who competes in the shot put. That versatility is self-evident. In Glenbard West’s trademark play, a toss or jet sweep, Brodner lines up on the wing, comes in motion and gets the pitch from his quarterback, Kyle Kramer.
Both of his touchdowns originated from that formation on Saturday.
“I’ve worked a lot with the coaches, the running backs’ coach, and they’ve all talked about being slow to the hole, and see where the blocking wall is going to be and then going as fast as I possibly can through it.
“I’ve taken that to heart and it’s something I’ve been trying to use throughout our system.”
He characterizes his style of play as a “harder runner who follows my blockers and works behind a good offensive line,” he said.
Brodner naturally draws a lot of defensive attention and is known for his talent of accumulating yardage after the first wave of contact.
“My running backs’ coach always says to me it is embarrassing to have one guy take you down and not let it happen, so it’s something I think about a lot and just keep my legs moving through contact.”