Siena Heights football latches on to Saffran’s speed

J. Patrick Eaken

The Lake baseball team was fast, but first team All-Northern Buckeye Conference shortstop and 2021 graduate Tyler Saffran may be the fastest yet.

On a squad that stole 119 bases and got thrown out just nine times, Saffran was the team leader with 18 stolen bases. Saffran’s speed translates into success in multiple sports.

Saffran, who earned 12 varsity letters in football, basketball and baseball, is preparing to play college football at Siena Heights University in Adrian, Michigan. Last fall, he decided football was his favorite sport.

“Basically I had a good football season and every year during high school I enjoyed it more and more so I wanted to pursue that further,” Saffran said. “I originally thought I was going to play baseball my whole life, and that was the plan, but my senior year I just figured I wanted to keep playing football.”

Saffran can play just about anywhere on the gridiron, and he proved it last fall. Saffran was voted the Alan Miller Jewelers All-Press Defensive Player of the Year, but he was also runner-up for Offensive POY behind Northwood quarterback Jay Moten.

On defense from his free safety position, Saffran had 26 solo tackles, 46 assists, two tackles for a loss, but what coaches noticed the most was his five pass break-ups and six interceptions.

On offense, he was the team’s quarterback, but Lake coach Josh Andrews decided to nominate Saffran for running back honors. To put up the kind of numbers Saffran put up is extraordinary for any quarterback, who can get negative-yardage sacks counted into his rushing yardage. He was an Associated Press third team All-Ohio running back.

“He had 163 attempts for 1,288 yards, and that is 7.9 yards per carry and he’s our quarterback,” Andrews said. “We had an interesting take on our power spread offense that we ran. Last year, his completion percentage was 37 and then this year it was 52.3. So he threw for almost 900 yards and last year (as a junior) he threw for just a little over 600.”

Lake finished the 2020 season 5-5 overall and 4-3 in the NBC. Two of the losses came to Division V regional finalists Eastwood (31-24) and Otsego (27-13).

For Saffran, moving on to the next level to play football does not mean college baseball is totally out of the question. 

“As of right now, no, but in the future, that may be a possibility. My main goal is to focus on one sport because that is something I have never gotten to do,” Saffran said.

His senior year on the diamond, Saffran batted .370 (20 for 67) with 11 doubles, two triples, two home runs, 32 runs and 18 RBIs. He helped lead the Flyers to a 23-6 record and 13-1 mark in the NBC, two games better than Eastwood (11-3) as the Flyers defended their 2019 league title. Saffran credits coach Greg Wilker for the team’s success.

“It all comes down to coach Wilker,” Saffran said. “He makes it such a great experience over the years he has been coaching and with our players, we had really good chemistry. All the younger kids were really coming along at the end of the year and followed coach Wilker and followed the seniors. We all pulled for each other and that was important to our success.”

That includes the squad’s ability to steal bases and put pressure on opposing defenses.

“That was something that was a God-given talent. We are all pretty fast, but we also worked on speed a lot in practices and coach Wilker said that we ran to win and it showed with those stats,” Saffran said. 


Preparing for college football

Siena Heights, an NAIA school that plays in the Co-Mid-States Football Association Mideast League, recruited Saffran to be a slot receiver, taking advantage of his speed and ability to maneuver through opposing defenses. As he began workouts in Adrian, he started thinking about his classmates at Lake.

“It was super special being able to play with those guys because we have been playing with each other our whole lives — even backyard whiffle ball and baseball games,” Saffran said. “It was really special finishing out our senior year with them because those guys are friends I will keep the rest of my life and I am fortunate to have them.”

Tyler comes from an athletic family. His older sister, Kayla Saffran, graduated from Lake four years ago and went on to have a standout soccer career at Indiana Tech with teammate Lily Rothert (Woodmore). Kayla just graduated with an education degree after finishing four years of varsity soccer.

Tyler and Kayla’s father, Craig, credits Ty’s coaches, Andrews and Jeff Hoffman (basketball) and Superintendent Jim Witt for being “incredible to Ty and all of our kids” as mentors. Tyler was ranked 11th academically in his senior class.

“Tyler Saffran is a phenomenal young man that comes from a great family,” Andrews said. “Tyler is a great leader, humble, caring, courageous, competitive, and selfless. It was my absolute honor to be a part of his high school journey. I have no doubt that Tyler will be successful in all future plans.” 

Hoffman adds, “Tyler is just an all-around great kid. His accomplishments on the field speak for itself, but it also shows the work ethic and determination he puts forward each and every day. Tyler is one of those student-athletes that you hope to have on your team each and every year. Over the four years at Lake High School I have watched Tyler become a tremendous leader and mentor to the underclassmen that are following him.”

Witt adds, “Tyler is a great kid from a great family. As much as he has accomplished athletically his work ethic and the way he treats others is more impressive.”














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