Seifert, one of fastest - if not the fastest - athletes in school history, is playing football again and has been a huge boost for the Eagles’ football team this season.
“He’s one of the fastest guys in the state,” Eastwood coach Jerry Rutherford said. “He can, at any time, break one off. He’s not the only one for us who can do that. Matt Schlumbohm and Jason Faykosh and Mark Schult, any one of those guys can break off a long run.”
Seifert, who missed all of last season after having surgery on his shin last September, has been a welcome addition for the Eagles, who were 3-1 and 1-0 in the Suburban Lakes League heading into their Sept. 19 home game against Otsego.
Last week, in a 49-13 rout of Gibsonburg, Seifert had 18 carries for 132 yards and scoring runs of 21, 3 and 2 yards. He rushed for 56 yards and two touchdowns in a 28-0 win over Oak Harbor the week before that.
Seifert leads the Eagles in rushing, with 277 yards on 52 carries (5.3 average). Schlumbohm, a senior, is second with 274 yards on 31 carries. Seifert also has a team-high six touchdowns and six catches for 47 yards. He returns kickoffs and punts and is also a backup defensive back.
“He’s getting the ball more, so we took him off defense so he can rest some and is ready to go,” Rutherford said. “Last Friday (against Gibsonburg) was the most carries he’s had. We’re not going to use him like (Jeremy) Foster and give it to him 40 times a game. We’d like him to have it 20-25 carries a game.”
Seifert and Schlumbohm make a formidable tandem in the Eagles’ backfield. Schlumbohm was Eastwood’s second-leading rusher last season behind Foster and made honorable mention all-league after gaining 460 yards on the ground (seven TDs) and 258 through the air.
Last spring, Seifert and Schlumbohm were on Eastwood’s state-qualifying 4x200-meter relay team that placed second in Columbus. Seifert also qualified in the 100 and 200 dash, taking fourth and third, respectively, in those Division II events.
Seifert (5-9, 165) ran the 100 meters in 10.84 seconds last season. He also ran the 100 in 10.60 at a meet in Fostoria, but the event was hand-timed.
Rutherford is all about taking advantage of Seifert’s speed.
“He can hit the trap (play) really fast,” the coach said. “He has the speed to get outside. He would have been one of our running backs last year. He would have been right there in the mix.”
Shin surgery took Seifert away from his sophomore season of football. He said it took him “just a couple practices” this summer to make him realize how much he missed playing the sport.
“ I was happy to be back,” he said, “just being around all the guys and getting to run the ball.”
Seifert admitted he thought about football a lot during track season last spring. Several Eastwood players run track in order to improve their speed for football.
“I put a lot into track to get me ready for football,” Seifert said. “I worked on my form and my explosiveness a lot. I worked with Brian Sabo, my track coach. We worked on my arm movements and throwing a medicine ball for my quads. It helped.”
Seifert admitted the surgery on his leg hasn’t crossed his mind at all this season.
“When I went down (to Columbus) about two months ago and got my final X-ray, it was perfectly clear,” he said. “I had half a bone left and a cyst was taking up the rest of the bone before the operation. Now it’s healed all the way through. That’s a relief.”
Seifert said this year’s team, which is favored to unseat Genoa as SLL champs, is a close group. He said he owes a lot of his rushing success to the Eagles’ offensive line, which includes tackles Clay Rolf and Jason Cowell, guards Matt Schling and Brock Rentz, center Jeff Rutherford and tight end Mark Schultz.
“They’ve done a great job,” Seifert said. “I didn’t play last year but I think they’re a lot better than last year. A couple guys played jayvee the last two years and they’ve had a chance to step up and they’ve done a great job.”
As a team, the Eagles have rushed for 1,003 yards and 6.2 yards per carry, while limiting opponents to 426 yards on the ground and 3.2 yards per attempt.
Numbers like that are what could win Eastwood an SLL title in 2008. Seifert and the offense intend to do their part.
“We’re a very explosive team,” he said, “and we have a lot of skill position guys who can score.”