Buffalo Grove's Oberman not deterred by being small in stature

  • Buffalo Grove head football coach Jeff Vlk with senior Max Oberman during practice for their upcoming showdown against 6-0 Hersey this Friday.

      Buffalo Grove head football coach Jeff Vlk with senior Max Oberman during practice for their upcoming showdown against 6-0 Hersey this Friday. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Buffalo Grove head football coach Jeff Vlk with senior Max Oberman on a play during practice for their upcoming showdown against 6-0 Hersey this Friday.

      Buffalo Grove head football coach Jeff Vlk with senior Max Oberman on a play during practice for their upcoming showdown against 6-0 Hersey this Friday. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Buffalo Grove head football coach Jeff Vlk works with senior Max Oberman on a pass play during practice for their upcoming showdown against 6-0 Hersey this Friday.

      Buffalo Grove head football coach Jeff Vlk works with senior Max Oberman on a pass play during practice for their upcoming showdown against 6-0 Hersey this Friday. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Buffalo Grove head football coach Jeff Vlk with senior Max Oberman during practice for their upcoming showdown against 6-0 Hersey this Friday.

      Buffalo Grove head football coach Jeff Vlk with senior Max Oberman during practice for their upcoming showdown against 6-0 Hersey this Friday. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Buffalo Grove senior Max Oberman is only 5-foot-6 but that doesn't stop him from reaching new heights on the football field during practice and at game time.

      Buffalo Grove senior Max Oberman is only 5-foot-6 but that doesn't stop him from reaching new heights on the football field during practice and at game time. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Buffalo Grove's head football coach Jeff Vlk with senior Max Oberman during practice for their upcoming showdown against 6-0 Hersey this Friday.

      Buffalo Grove's head football coach Jeff Vlk with senior Max Oberman during practice for their upcoming showdown against 6-0 Hersey this Friday. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 10/10/2019 6:21 PM

He may be a senior in high school, but Max Oberman has been repeating elementary school gym for the last six years.

Well, kind of.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Oberman, a senior do-everything player for the Buffalo Grove football team who has 12 total touchdown on the season so far, works out religiously with his dad, Rich. Rich Oberman is an elementary school gym teacher at Mark Twain Elementary School in Wheeling and will train with his sons as many as six days a week in the offseason.

"My dad has been training me and my younger brother Brian (a quarterback on the JV team at Buffalo Grove) since we were little," said Oberman, who tied his season high with 4 touchdowns last week against Wheeling.

"It means so much to me that he takes so much time to train us. A lot of his training techniques are really good. And I think that comes from him teaching. He writes it all up and everything. When I was first starting to work out, I don't think I could have come up with all of the stuff on my own."

Oberman works a lot with his dad on speed.

That's his secret weapon.

At just 5-foot-6, Oberman knew he would need one to compete with taller, stronger players at the high school level.

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"I've always been the small kid, always one of the shortest kids," Oberman said. "But then in seventh or eighth grade, that's when (friends and teammates) really shot ahead of me.

"I knew I needed to be really fast (to compete). I've worked on it for a lot of my life."

Oberman says he and his brother did gymnastics when they were young and were lifting weights and doing a lot of running around the neighborhood by middle school.

Now, much of the Oberman training regimen involves speed and agility work.

"We do a lot of ladders and cone drills," Oberman said. "We have a gym in the basement, so we work a lot down there, too. We also do a lot of hill work at Wood Oaks Green Park in Northbrook. It's tiring stuff but my dad always keeps me going.

"He knows my brother and I have a lot of potential and he wants us to perform to what we're capable of. My dad told me a long time ago, not to use my size as an excuse, just to accept it and work hard."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

That message is reinforced every day by Buffalo Grove head coach Jeff Vlk, who can totally relate to Oberman's challenges.

"We definitely have a connection," Oberman said. "We're both at a disadvantage being smaller guys."

Vlk says he's 5-foot-8. Oberman says it's more like 5-foot-7. Either way, Vlk knows what it's like to be undersized in a game where bigger is often considered better.

"Max will tell you we're the same height, but I'm taller," Vlk said with a laugh. "Max and I relate on a lot of levels and I tell him that he's not short, he's vertically challenged and that there is always a spot for you (in football) if you work.

"Our offensive coordinator Tim Podulka was an all-state quarterback at Elk Grove in the early 2000s and he went on to play at Augustana and he is 5-foot-6. I never want to look by kids because of height. You can play football regardless of your size."

And Oberman plays football pretty darn well.

He was brought up to the varsity as a sophomore toward the end of the season to play wide receiver and to return kicks. On his first kickoff return that year, he took it in all the way for a touchdown. But the play was called back due to a penalty.

Oberman had a kickoff return for a touchdown this season called back because of a penalty. But two of his other kickoff returns for a touchdown have been good, including a 99-yarder two weeks ago at Rolling Meadows.

"That one was my favorite," Oberman said of the 99-yarder. "(Returning kicks) is fun. I also like running the ball. I've been playing football since third grade, flag football since first grade. I've almost always been a running back.

"I love being able to make cuts and jukes and I love getting breakout runs."

Besides rushing and returning the ball, Oberman also catches the ball for the Bison. He's got 300 receiving yards to his 400 rushing yards so far this season.

"Max does everything for us," Vlk said. "When you look at him, he may not be very intimidating, but you need to respect his speed. He is fast. He's track fast. He can run an (11.53) 100, and we've worked a lot with him in track on his running form. It's really helped him in football because he can do so much for us with that speed."

Oberman would like to keep contributing to a football team when his career is over at Buffalo Grove.

But for some "sizable reasons," he's not quite sure what kind of opportunities he'll have.

"I do want to play college football," Oberman said. "I don't know what level I could play at, but I'm motivated. I feel like I'm proving that my size doesn't matter. It's like when kids from the other team make comments about my size. I don't talk back. How I play does the talking."

pbabcock@dailyherald.com

Follow Patricia on Twitter: @babcockmcgraw

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