BOLINGBROOK – For 12 years, Parrker Westphal has led by example on the football field.
But this season, he also endeavored to be the outspoken, vocal leader of the Bolingbrook defense.
Under the senior cornerback's guidance, Bolingbrook's bruising defense – which yielded double digit points just three times in 10 games – propelled the team to its third undefeated season in school history and a Southwest Suburban Blue conference title.
He refuses to take all the credit for the Raiders stellar showing, but Westphal explains how he made his voice heard – pushing his teammates in the weight room, guiding them on the practice field, and barking audibles and hot routes during games.
"It's all about being accountable for yourself and holding your teammates accountable for their actions," Westphal said. "I think we improved as a team and became a tight-knit family because we held each other accountable.
"This year – my senior season – was different. I usually don't talk, but I made it a point to be a more vocal on the field and in the locker room and during practice."
Westphal's play speaks for itself.
A three-year varsity starter who recently ran a hand-timed 4.4-second 40-yard dash, Westphal celebrated his 16th birthday by helping Bolingbrook win the 2011 8A state title.
During his junior season, the Raiders cornerback and return specialist recorded 51 tackles, four forced fumbles, three interceptions, three pass deflections and one blocked field goal.
For an encore, Westphal notched 35 tackles, eight pass break-ups, three interceptions and two touchdowns during his final season as the Raiders advanced to the second round of the playoffs.
Yet he takes the most pride in a stat that went unrecorded – shedding blockers. This past offseason, Westphal focused on improving his technique when engaged by an opposing receivers. His diligence paid dividends on the field, as he continually shed blocks and put himself in position to make tackles.
"Hard work always pays off," Westphal said. "The day after the season ends, I'm always back in the weight room or watching film. I think it was evident this season – if you look back at the tape, receivers always had a hard time blocking me."
Collegiate scouts also took notice, as more than 15 schools have made scholarship offers. Although Westphal has yet to announce were he will play college football, he says that the pool has been narrowed to Northwestern, Michigan State and Vanderbilt.
The lifelong Bolingbrook resident attests that leaving his home will be a bitter sweet moment.
"I'm really looking forward to playing football at the next level," Westphal said. "But, it's going to be hard to not play in front of a Bolingbrook crowd. The people are so amazing and I'm so close to so many of my teammates, they are like my second family."
About Parrker Westphal
Weight: 195 pounds
Jersey: No. 21