Schildorfer getting noticed
Lake Forest's Felix Schildorfer grabs some water during a practice on Aug. 14. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 7, 2012 7:51AM
LAKE FOREST — It’s hard to pinpoint the most interesting thing about Lake Forest Academy senior Felix Schildorfer.
It might be the fact that he grew up in Austria, where he learned to play a brand of football that he says is “a lot more violent.” It might be his unique name — he goes by Felix, but officially, he’s Felix Simon Bernhard Herman Schildorfer.
It might even be the thicket of curly black hair that blankets his face.
Actually, that’s exactly what it is.
“When I went to English class (this year), the teacher told me that the other teachers had already told her that she was going to have a guy with a huge beard,” Schildorfer said. “So at this school, I’m more famous for the beard than anything else.”
When you’re 6-foot-4, weigh 250 pounds and field recruiting calls from the SEC, ACC and Big Ten, that’s saying something.
“I don’t know if he even shampoos it,” teammate Mark-Eric Rosenquist said of Schildorfer’s unruly facial hair. “Everyone refers to him as the guy with the beard.”
That guy with the beard has come a long way to play for the Caxys this year in the hopes of catching the attention of college programs.
A native of Austria, Schildorfer grew up learning to play football in games where penalty flags were often a myth. As a two-way lineman for LFA, he’s proof that Austrian football players have plenty of size and ability. The issue is that few Austrian athletes can match the fundamental skills of their American counterparts.
“I’ve played against 330-pound linemen on a regular basis,” Schildorfer said. “But they didn’t have the technique that they do here.
“It’s a lot more raw. The overall philosophy is a more violent one.”
Sometimes it shows.
Late in the third quarter of Lake Forest Academy’s 34-12 win against St. Joseph on Saturday, Schildorfer duped an offensive lineman, grabbed 5-foot-9 quarterback Casey Scalise by the shoulder pads and whipped him to the turf.
The play drew wild cheers — and an instant reminder from the coaching staff about the importance of staying away from other players’ necks.
“You can’t really get away with as much stuff in the United States as you could” in Austria, coach Robin Bowkett said. “You want defensive players to be violent and physical, as long as it’s whistle-to-whistle.”
Schildorfer just shrugged.
Scalise “was really short,” he said.
Schildorfer might be a natural fit for the football field, but some of his most interesting characteristics have nothing to do with the game.
For starters, there’s that name. Schildorfer said he uses Felix because it means “lucky” in Latin. The name Simon came from a book character who was a farmer, just like his father’s ancestors in Austria. Bernhard was his godfather, and Herman is the traditional name given to first-born sons in his family.
“My mom and dad weren’t really sure how many names they wanted to give me,” Schildorfer said. “My father said, ‘Well, we already have three names. Give him a fourth one.’ ”
Schildorfer is also smart both off the field — his course load includes four advanced placement classes — and on it, where Bowkett called him a “student of the game.”
“He knows what his job is,” Bowkett said. “He could probably tell you the other 10 guys’ jobs.”
And then there’s that beard, the one he pledged to shave after the Caxys’ first win this season. On Saturday, he promised to follow through.
“It’s already growing inside my mouth,” he said. “I think I got famous enough from the beard.”