As a sophomore tipping the scales at all of 130 pounds, Neshaminy’s Mike Garlick became a regular in the weight room.
Two years later, the 5-foot-9, 180-pound slot receiver and outside linebacker can throw up a mind-boggling amount of weight on the bench.
Last spring, Garlick wowed teammates and coaches when he bench-pressed 330 pounds, squatted 475, and power-cleaned 285.
“He’s the top dog,” third-year head coach Steve Wilmot said. “He’s the strongest kid, pound for pound, on our team. And his strength carries over onto the field.”
Wilmot, who has been with the program for more than two decades, also serves as the strength and conditioning coach.
Long before Wilmot arrived at Heartbreak Ridge, Neshaminy established the “Redskin 11” to recognize the 11 best weightlifters each season. Garlick is the strongest player for his weight on this year’s squad.
One time, Wilmot had to tell Garlick to cut back on his time in the weight room. “I was lifting too much and not eating enough,” Garlick said. “It was actually bad for me.”
Garlick’s aggressive and savvy play has aided Neshaminy’s 2-1 start. The host Redskins came up short against Downingtown West, 37-33, in Friday night’s nonleague shootout at Harry E. Franks Stadium.
Garlick has made 15 catches for 249 yards and a score. “We call a lot of screen plays for him,” Wilmot said. “He also runs seam routes well.”
Last season, the Langhorne resident had 42 receptions for 631 yards and six touchdowns as Neshaminy went 11-1 overall, 6-0 to claim the Suburban One League National Conference title, and reached the second round of the PIAA District 1 Class 6A playoffs.
He registered 45 tackles, including 36 solos and a sack, for a defense that held foes to an average of 16.6 points per game.
“I like playing defense and delivering hits the most, but catching passes and scoring touchdowns are pretty fun, too,” the captain said.
Sophomore Brody McAndrew has succeeded Mason Jones, a three-year starter, as Neshaminy’s quarterback. “He’s making progress each week,” Wilmot said. “We’re not going to put too much on his shoulders early on.”
In addition to Garlick, McAndrew’s primary targets are wideouts Corey Joyce and tight end Oleh Manzyk. Halfback Mike Crescenzo is the go-to ball carrier.
“The best thing about Brody is that he’s getting better with each practice and game,” said Garlick, whose father, Tom, played tight end at Archbishop Ryan.
The charge up front is spearheaded by guard Nick Napadano (5-10, 255) and tackles Giovanni Figueroa (6-0, 260) and Jacob Kelly (6-0, 270).
In Neshaminy’s 4-4 defensive scheme, Garlick, Manzyk, John Hughes, and Chris Majors make up a solid linebacking corps.
Garlick, who plans to wrestle in the winter, plays each game with his 90-year-old grandmother, Dorothy, in mind. In June, just after undergoing heart surgery, she suffered a stroke.
“Because of her condition, no one knows how much longer she’ll be with us,” he said. “I’m trying to play my best for her.”