Antioch High School's Dylan Czerlanis finds purpose in football
Football has been more than a game-changer for Dylan Czerlanis.
As a 14-year-old freshman, nothing seemed to matter much to the Antioch High School star after, as an only child, his parents both died suddenly from heart attacks.
"When my dad passed, I was heartbroken," Czerlanis told the Daily Herald. "And when my mom passed away, I felt completely destroyed. I felt all alone. For a while there, I didn't think my life had purpose anymore."
Then came football.
"Football helped me turn my life around," said Czerlanis, who soon dropped 365 pounds from his 6-foot-4-inch frame. "Whether it be physically, and the way I look, or my mindset, football put me on the right path."
Now as a senior, Czerlanis has grown from feeling almost rudderless to the point of being a standout for the undefeated Sequoits (5-0) and a bonafide college recruiting prospect.
At first, Czerlanis resisted the prodding to give football a try, but many of those around him weren't taking no for an answer.
"I live with my aunt Sherri and uncle Rich now and my uncle is a big football fan and really was excited for me to try football,” Czerlanis told the Herald. "So I decided to try it my sophomore year."
Despite his size, Czerlanis admits he was hardly a natural.
"I was so out of shape, and I remember thinking, 'This is terrible. I hate this,'" he said. "But I realized that I hated it because of what I was, not because of what the sport is. I wanted to keep an open mind about football. So I decided to stick it out and give it a try.”
With that, Czerlanis committed to getting himself in better shape and swearing off junk foods.
"I'm really proud of myself,” he said. “I totally changed the way I ate. I eat so differently now."
Knowing that his parents would be proud, stands as yet another source of motivation for Czerlanis.
"I'm glad I stuck with football because as my sophomore year progressed, my love for the sport just grew," Czerlanis said. "I had never pushed myself that hard before, and I had never really felt a part of something like that before. And now, I really see myself as a football player."
Czerlanis said he now has goals of going to college, and ultimately hopes to play in the NFL.
"I didn't have any goals for college, I didn't think grades were important, I wasn't pushing myself,” he said. “Then, I also had all the body image issues and kids made fun of me. All of that changed because of football. Football has helped me turn my life around in every way."