Grove City Christian: Christian Lautenschleger grows into force for Eagles

Frank DiRenna
ThisWeek group
Christian Lautenschleger, a senior running back and linebacker, will graduate as one of the top players in the history of the Grove City Christian football program. The Eagles are preparing for the Division VII, Region 28 playoffs. They have a first-round bye and then visit St. Henry on Oct. 16.

Senior Christian Lautenschleger made a favorable impression on Grove City Christian football coach Hank Patterson from the get-go. 

Patterson recalls a freshman who didn't have much size, but there was noticeable potential. 

Four years later, Lautenschleger is preparing to leave the Eagles as one of the best players in program history. The running back/linebacker also has grown from 5-foot-6 and 140 pounds as a freshman to 5-9 and 210 pounds today. 

“He’s like one of my sons,” Patterson said. “I’m so proud of him. The way he’s taking this thing on, he’s been a trooper since day one and I’m fortunate to have (coached) that young man, so life is good right now.” 

Lautenschleger, who has led Grove City Christian in rushing in all four of his seasons, is helping the Eagles prepare for the Division VII, Region 28 playoffs. They are seeded 11th and open the postseason with a second-round game Oct. 16 at sixth-seeded St. Henry. 

It will be the program’s first postseason appearance since 2009, when the Eagles lost to Norwalk St. Paul 52-7 in a Division VI state semifinal. 

“It’s weird that it’s almost over because just a little bit ago I was a little freshman," said Lautenschleger, who has been helping Grove City Christian put together a solid season. 

After losing their opener to Worthington Christian 42-8 on Aug. 28, the Eagles had won four consecutive games heading into their contest against Troy Christian on Oct. 2. 

Grove City Christian was 4-1 overall and in the MSL-Cardinal Division. 

Through five games, Lautenschleger had rushed for 861 yards and five touchdowns on 118 carries, moving his career numbers to 3,127 yards and 24 touchdowns on 503 carries. 

He has been succeeding despite being the focus of opposing defenses. He takes pride in the attention and credits his statistics to his teammates, especially the offensive line. 

“It’s not only me,” he said. “This line has gotten a lot better, they’ve gotten bigger and they’ve got more experience. They’ve been working this year and that’s how I’ve got a lot of my yards. They’ve been doing really well for me.” 

Lautenschleger rushed for a touchdown and added a 30-yard interception return for a score in a 13-6 win over Corning Miller on Sept. 25. 

He also contributes on special teams as the punter. 

“He gives everything he’s got,” Patterson said. “He’s a determined young man. He has all-state qualities and one of those is finish everything that you do. Finish a run, finish a block, all those things. He’s done some things this year that you would want to see a senior do, step up and show leadership.” 

Lautenschleger credits his offseason training program as a key to his development. 

“I’ve gained some height and a lot of weight,” he said. “Weightlifting in the offseason and just trying to work hard in the offseason played a big factor in it.” 

Last season, Lautenschleger rushed for 550 yards and six touchdowns on 122 carries and added 118 yards receiving and a touchdown. He was named first-team all-district and all-league and special mention all-state. 

As a sophomore, he was first-team all-district and all-league and third-team all-state after rushing for 1,278 yards and 12 touchdowns on 185 carries and adding 12 receptions for 174 yards and a score. 

As a freshman, he rushed for 438 yards and one touchdown on 78 carries and was honorable mention all-league. 

Lautenschleger expects to play in college, but remains undecided on a school. 

“My future and my academics and what I want to do in my life comes first before where I want to go play,” he said. “It just depends on what they have.” 

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com 

@ThisWeekFrank