Staff Photo: Jonathan Phillips
Mill Creek’s Tyler Cierski is a Maryland commit and a powerful yet quick runner. The senior is one of the top-rated fullbacks in the country.
HOSCHTON — Shannon Jarvis wants you to understand Tyler Cierski’s value extends far beyond his statistics.
“He doesn’t miss a practice,” the Mill Creek head coach said of his senior fullback. Then he continues, “We’ve always known our kids are paying attention to what Tyler is doing.”
THE CIERSKI FILE
Who: Tyler Cierski
School: Mill Creek
Favorite sports team: New York Giants
Dream job: Something in human biology
How did you choose your number?: No. 28 is my favorite player Curtis Martin’s number when he played for the Jets.
• Holds eight Mill Creek football records
• Two-time area weightlifting champion; fourth at state last year
• Plays guitar
Jarvis extols Cierski’s blocking, his recognition of blitzes, his short carries to keep drives alive, his work in the weight room, the extra player defenses use to bring pressure when he is in the game.
“If you broke down our offense, 28 is involved in a lot of it,” Jarvis said. “Coaches and players alike, every one of them see (what Cierski does).”
Now here are his numbers. He leads Mill Creek with rushing touchdowns in a game (3), rushing touchdowns in a season (9), rushing touchdowns in a career (19), longest rushing touchdown (80 yards), total points scored in a season (60), total points scored in a career (132), total touchdowns in a season (11) and total touchdowns in a career (21). That is eight school records, yet his coach insists he’s more important.
Cierski is listed as a fullback. He’ll correct anyone who calls him otherwise. He enjoys blocking and he should. At 6-foot-1, 260 pounds, he has won two area weightlifting crowns and finished fourth at state last year with a total weight of 1,145 pounds.
“(My strength) helps a lot, especially with blocking,” Cierski said. “I can pancake people, move them out of the hole, it’s a lot easier. Just running through tackles, it’s a lot easier than say (teammate) Devonte (Lewis) would have.”
Cierski has opened up holes for the speedy Lewis since seventh grade.
In his pads, Cierski dwarfs his No. 28 with his bulk. It seems a size too small. His full facemask and scuffed helmet conjure a number in the mid-40s. But then there are those statistics. Touchdowns, yards, points scored. Those stats go to flashy numbers. Like 28.
In no way is Cierski, the person, flashy. Jarvis will tell anyone that his fullback won’t brag. He barely smiles. Not dour of aloof, Cierski interacts with a polite conciseness. A penchant for science, he concerns himself little with prose.
As a young child he wore leg braces to help straighten out bowleggedness. He remembers portions of the experience. Here is his full description: “They were bowlegged. The leg braces straightened me out. Good to go.”
That covers it. And now he is one of the country’s highest rated fullbacks.
As a child in Suffolk County, N.Y., Cierski started as a baseball player. He pitched and played first base.
“I was smaller then,” he said.
He didn’t suit up for football until his family moved to Georgia when he was in seventh grade. Most of the boys in his cul-de-sac neighborhood were football players and he saw no reason to deviate from his peers.
“It’s religion down here, so I got started right away,” he said of football.
Cierski gravitated toward offense for its structure. He likes the planning, reading and preparing.
“It’s kind of like battle plans,” he said.
For Mill Creek, Cierski has been a part of the plan since he broke into the starting lineup as a sophomore. But he’s been a Hawk since he first put on pads. He started weightlifting with his senior teammates and this coaching staff from the beginning of his career.
“It’s like a big family,” he said.
And he is leaving his mark. Aside from the records, Cierski and his class are now the second team to ever make the playoffs from the six-year school, and with last Friday’s win, the first to win a playoff game.
“That was our motivation, to keep it going,” Cierski said of making an impact on Mill Creek’s program.
These wins, these games go beyond just stats. But deep down, Cierski just wants to impact the guy in front of him. Hard.
“I mostly just try to knock the crap out of people.”