HIGHLAND PARK — To block for Highland Park’s rapid-fire offense, Jacob Wiczer and Jeremy Trudell have to be technically sound, physically fit and mentally sharp.
They are, both on and off the field.
Wiczer and Trudell, seniors and leaders on the Giants’ offensive line, excel at preparing for opponents and studying in the classroom. Wiczer, a center, is taking four AP classes, including courses in Spanish and economics. Trudell, the right tackle, is interested in math and science and tutors at the school’s Learning Center. Both are honor roll students.
That intelligence carries over to football. Wiczer said the two know the plays “inside and out,” and both know exactly what to look for during the team’s 45-minute pre-practice film sessions. When they are in the game, they can trust themselves to make the right decision.
“You could come up with what you’re doing on your own, instead of just going off the script,” Trudell said. “You could go with the flow easier.”
Of course, the duo can play football, too. To help facilitate Highland Park’s offense — highlighted by read-option quarterback Tommy Sutker and running back Kelshawn Shields — Wiczer and Trudell have worked on fundamentals this season. That means focusing on footwork, speed, leverage and simply out-working opponents.
“Technique is where it starts,” Wiczer said. “Because you’re not going to be beating your opponents with strength, you’re going to be beating them with technique.”
Wiczer is a tad undersize at center, standing only 5-foot-11 and 195 pounds. But his lower body strength allows him to make up for that physically. Trudell is the opposite at 6-5 and 240 pounds.
“I’m usually the biggest one out there,” he said. “That’s nice.”
Both players have a tremendous work ethic and team spirit, according to coach Hal Chiodo.
“Both of them should have a shirt that says, ‘Count On Me,’ ” Chiodo said.
Chiodo said he is impressed by the two senior linemen, who never receive much recognition. The two also play defense, with Wiczer at linebacker and Trudell at defensive tackle. Chiodo said Wiczer and Trudell put in the work on the field and the classroom.
That shows, with Wiczer considering attending Texas or Indiana next year and Trudell eying a Big Ten school.
“They’re our poster players for Highland Park athletics,” Chiodo said. “That’s what we want our guys to stand for.”