Sometimes it’s not the flashy superstars who drive a team, but the steady players who consistently perform. Senior linebacker Joe Gilfedder is exactly that— a reliable force on the defensive side of the ball.
Gilfedder has returned to dependable form after an injury stifled him during his junior year. Suffering a high ankle sprain in the third game of last season against Widener College, Gilfedder was forced to miss the next three games because of the severity of the injury. He returned to play through the pain in the Bombers’ final four games, but notched just 11 total tackles.
Gilfedder said watching from the sidelines was an agonizing experience.
“It sounds kind of clichéd, but you don’t realize how much you love it until it’s taken away from you for a couple games,” he said. “Not only missing games, but playing hurt — it’s not a fun thing to do because you know you’re just not quite up to your best.”
Gilfedder used the offseason to recuperate and underwent arthroscopic knee surgery to clean out some torn cartilage. He said he worked with the training staff after the procedure to strengthen his knee and get back up to speed.
Junior linebacker Dan Cimino said Gilfedder was distressed during the offseason and eager to get back on the football field.
“I met up with him a couple of times in the summer, and he was just so anxious,” Cimino said. “He was ready for the season to start three weeks after school ended.”
Senior defensive back Kevin Cline said Gilfedder maintained a positive attitude despite being hampered by injuries.
In the Bombers’ first three games, Gilfedder has 28 tackles — eight more than anyone else on the team. He put up 14 tackles in the Blue and Gold’s loss to Salisbury University.
Gilfedder said when he is on the field he doesn’t need to stick out to be an impact player.
“I just try and help the team out when necessary and just do my part as far as one-eleventh of the defense,” he said.
At the same time, he said, the task of playing linebacker is one that encompasses many facets of the game.
“You need to know everyone’s job on the field, and so if the offense comes out in a certain set, we have to check our defense to match the offense,” he said. “A lot of the things that I feel that make a good linebacker great, is just mentally knowing everything and being confident.”
Both Cline and Cimino cited Gilfedder’s mentality on the field as one of his most beneficial attributes. Cimino said along with Gilfedder’s no-nonsense, upbeat manner on the field, he has a motor without an off switch.
“He’s always just sticking people and he hits hard,” he said.
Cline said though Gilfedder might put up significant stats, his performance is not what Gilfedder values most.
“He’s just one of those kids who loves playing football,” Cline said. “So whenever he’s on the field he enjoys every second of it.”