By BOB YORK
This could be the biggest story about Deerfield Academy athletics since the school went coed back in 1989.
In fact, if you know anything about its football program, and especially, if you’ve ever played quarterback or tailback for the Big Green, you may want to make sure you’re sitting down before you read the next sentence.
This year’s team features a pair of 300-pound offensive linemen. Greg Froelich, who stands in at 6-3 and 304 pounds, is situated at left tackle–and he’s the smaller of the two. Over at right guard is Patrick Germany, who has to be this year’s Big Man on Campus, let alone the football field, tipping the scales at 6-7 and 324 pounds.
Best of all though, both Froelich and Germany have done much more than just take up a lot of space along the Big Green’s offensive line. They have allowed Deeerfield’s running backs to play hide-and-seek with their opponents all season long, while they have resembled a pair of Secret Service agents when it has come to protecting the quarterback. The Big Green coaching staff has given them a thumbs-up for their efforts and a number of college scouts have been salivating over these two postgraduates for quite some time now.
In fact, Froelich was scheduled to be playing football at the University of West Virginia this fall, but found his way here to Deerfield instead after suffering a six-month bout of rumination syndrome. It caused him to repeatedly throw up his food. “I had a pretty tough go of it for a while there,” said Froelich, who spent three months in and out of hospitals and lost about 85 pounds.
That derailed his college plans, so a year of postgraduate work resulted–and the list of where to go was a short one. “My brother, Jerome, graduated from here two years ago and he played football while he was here … in fact, he was an offensive lineman, too. He was 5-11 and 250 and played right tackle,” added Froelich of his older–yet little–brother.
It was a family member as well, who bridged the gap between Deerfield and Germany, who calls Shreveport, LA, home. “I knew of Deerfield through my cousin,” said Germany. “He graduated from here in 1997, and he, too, played football while he was here.
“I was interested in taking a postgraduate year because I wanted to take some more AP courses to better prepare myself for college,” said Germany, who attended C.E. Byrd High School, which, with an enrollment of 2,600 students, plays in the state’s premier (5A) football bracket.
“We had a pretty good team,” said Germany, who, despite having a number of Division I programs inquiring about his services, will likely opt to go the Division III route, where Williams College is high on his list. “My senior year, we made it to the semifinals in postseason play, and we beat the defending state champs in the 5A bracket during the regular season.”
“Although Patrick never played defense before coming here, he’s really caught on fast and between Patrick and Greg, we have a pair of guys who can really plug up the inside of an opponent’s offensive line,” said Chip Davis, the Big Green defensive coordinator.
Froelich, who hails from Maplewood, NJ, played his high school ball at Montclair Kimberley Academy in New Jersey and has had a number of Division I football powerhouses such as Michigan, Georgia Tech, Ohio State, and Rutgers interested in obtaining his services. He’s been playing on both sides of the football for Deerfield this fall, being plugged in at nose guard or tackle on defense, but he clearly loves blocking over tackling.
“I get a great deal of satisfaction in moving a grown man from point A to point B … against his will,” explained Froelich, who takes a lot of pride in playing left tackle, “because it means that I’m usually lined up against the opponent’s best player.”
“And he plays to the whistle on every play,” said Davis. “In fact, we were watching films of last week’s game against Avon and on one play, he literally blocked an Avon player right out of the picture. The camera is situated on the press box roof and therefore, covers a lot of the field, and he blocked his man right out of the frame … now that’s some kind of block.”
“They’re really something to watch,” said line coach Nick Albertson. “As big as they are, they’re both very agile and quick on their feet. And when they lean on an opponent, you know it.”
In fact, it’s the quickness, more than the size, that played a part in separating these two behemoths rather than lining them up together as protectors of the “blind side.”
“If we sweep left,” explained Albertson, “Germany has the ability to pull out and team up with Froelich. And if we sweep right, Froelich has no problem getting out there with Germany and help lead the way for the ball carrier.”
Off the field, these two, needless to say, still stand out in a crowd, especially in Johnson dorm, where they both reside–in the same room.
“And it’s not a very big room, either,” said Froelich. “The two of us rooming together came as no surprise, as we talked on the phone quite a bit during the summer. The room we’re in though, it’s got to be one of the smallest in the whole dorm.”
“I thought we might get fixed up in one of those double rooms … the ones that are probably twice the size of ours, but no such luck.”
Despite the lack of space, there was no thought at all of installing bunk beds in the room. And if there had been, “you’d never catch me sleeping on the bottom,” said Germany.
Another odd thing about their room is its location. One might think this dynamic duo would be housed on the ground floor, “but we’re on the second floor,” explained Froelich.
“I sure wouldn’t want to be living directly underneath us,” quipped Germany, “but so far, so good, nobody’s complained yet about hearing us walking around in the room … but then again, maybe they don’t dare to.”
In addition to eating three square meals a day in the Dining Hall, these two growing boys need not venture far to find a snack following study hall.
“We have a refrigerator and a griddle in the dorm’s common room,” said Germany, “so we’ve been known to cook up some scrambled eggs and bacon, or an omelet.”
“We’ve taken over two of the three shelves in the refrigerator,” said Froelich. “We just put our names on our stuff and stick it in the fridge.”
Somehow, though, as if by magic, Froelich and Germany have watched their food supply in the fridge increase–rather than decrease.
“We came to the conclusion that some of the smaller guys in the dorm are putting our names on their food so nobody else will take it,” said Germany.
Those smaller guys are smart and they’ve obviously been watching some Deerfield football games this fall.