It took some prodding, but Centennial's Tim Thierer, 6-7 and 370, came out for the team

this year, he has helped the Eagles to a 3-1 record

Quiet at the center

football

October 04, 2006|By Glenn Graham | Glenn Graham,Sun reporter

Quiet and laid-back - all 6 feet 7 and 370 pounds of him - Centennial junior Tim Thierer isn't one to dance very much, but he found just the right time and place last fall.

As a reward for all the hard work he put into his first season of organized football, playing offensive tackle for the Eagles' junior varsity, he was given a chance to carry the ball from the 2-yard line during a game late in the season. Like a bulldozer, Thierer rumbled his way for a touchdown.

"I went in standing and then did a little end-zone dance - I guess I kind of got lost in the moment," he said.

At the time, it was his best moment on the football field, but that has all changed.

As the improbable starting center for the varsity this season - after countless training sessions and snap after snap after snap to get his new job down pat - the Eagles' gentle giant and the heartbeat of their intricate single-wing offense considers every win the team enjoys a highlight.

This season, there has been plenty to enjoy, with the Eagles taking a 3-1 record into Friday's game against Glenelg. After a season-opening loss to River Hill, the team stunned Long Reach, beat Wilde Lake for the first time in 30 years and knocked off neighborhood rival Mount Hebron, 34-6, on Friday - averaging 292 yards of total offense in the victories.

After receiving prodding from coaches and classmates to give football a try since his middle-school days - "When you see someone like Tim walking down the hallway, you just can't miss him," said Centennial coach Jamie Wagner - Thierer finally gave in. He's happy, as is everybody else associated with Centennial football.

"Everybody was telling me to come on out - you'll have some fun," Thierer said. "I've enjoyed the relationships I've built during this and my quality of life has increased because I'm out here every day. And it has been a lot of fun."

When Thierer started training after Christmas of his freshman year, he was able to bench-press 135 pounds once and run around the track once. Now, he can do up to 15 reps at 135 and finish a 2-mile run: "I'm actually starting to catch up with some other players - it feels good," he said.

His hard work and dedication have impressed his coaches and teammates.

"Anything we do - any kind of run or drill - has to be twice as hard for him because he's about twice the weight of everybody else," said 5-foot-9, 205-pound guard Alex Miller, who works next to Thierer on the Eagles' unbalanced line. "Timmy's always given 100 percent. Although it would take him a lot longer sometimes than the rest of the team, he would always finish up everything we do, and that's gotten him to the point he is now. He's the main man on our line now, our anchor, and he sure makes my job a lot easier."

Thierer wears a 3XL jersey and 4XL football pants. His smile and heart are also big, as is his calf.

His calf?

During a film session before practice one day, Wagner noticed the size of Thierer's calf and was curious about how big it was.

"The science classroom we were in had some string, so I asked him to measure his calf," Wagner said. "We measured it with a red marker and then just for fun I said to the player next to him - a junior linebacker and fullback - to take the string and measure his thigh, keeping in mind they had their football pants on. Sure enough, Tim's calf was the size of the other kid's thigh ... with the thigh pad in. Obviously, you notice how big and tall he is, but it was interesting to put in a different perspective just how huge he is."

With a 3.71 grade point average, Thierer is as smart as he is big, and that has played a major role in how quickly he has taken to the Eagles' complicated offense. In the single-wing offense, the ball can be directly snapped to any one of three players in the backfield.

The precision of the snap is the most crucial aspect of the offense and Thierer's primary responsibility. Wagner, who originally didn't think Thierer would make the varsity until his senior year, has been impressed with how quickly he has mastered the assignment, which was handed out in August.

"I just have to make sure I know where to snap the ball and make sure it's a good one - not too high, not too low and on time," Thierer said. "The more you do it, the easier it comes and now it's just like instinct because I've been at it awhile."

Miller, one of the friends who nagged Thierer to leave his Madden video football game for the real thing, said the play of the offensive line has improved drastically from last season, noting that Thierer is a big reason why.

"When he told me he was coming out, I was excited and still kind of hesitant because I wasn't sure whether he would or not," Miller said. "He's a big dude and that's a lot of work and dedication. But when he showed up the first day of tryouts, I was ecstatic, so excited because I knew the capabilities he has. And he's surpassed my expectations."

The rest of the Eagles feel the same way.

In other situations, players might have felt resentment when Thierer was given the ball to score a touchdown in last season's junior varsity game.

"I've never seen a group of kids happier for someone else. Everyone was thrilled, and they took to him immediately," Wagner said. "They know how difficult every sprint is for them to do and can't imagine what it's like for Timmy to finish his. So they're very appreciative of all he's done for the team."

And Thierer is grateful for his teammates.

"The relationships you build on a football team are so unique because you're out there together every day, working hard and supporting each other," he said. "In school, you see each other in the hallways and you know each other. It's like a brotherhood." glenn.graham@baltsun.com

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