A Word With: Jeremy Renoll
George Marinos recently sat down with Mr. Tackles himself, Hanover Rhinos’ captain Jeremy Renoll. Renoll broke the Rhinos’ single-season tackle record in game 6 against the Anne Arundel County Colts, and is on pace to smash the record with 71 stops through 7 games.
Renoll, who recorded 100 tackles as a junior in 2004 at South Western high school, discusses his love of grilling, as well as being brought up the Mustang way.
GM: I’m here with Jeremy Renoll, team captain and leading tackler for the Hanover Rhinos. You can always be seen before games and throughout the week wearing your trademark hat. Tell us a little bit about the hat. What exactly is it, and what does it signify?
JR: (laughs), Well, I’ve had that hat now for about 8 years, or longer. I got it when I played for the York Silver Bullets, and started wearing it to games. Me and my wife Stepfanie were at Bass Pro one day, walking around, and I was looking at hats, and it was on sale. I tried it and was like ‘bingo’. She laughed and asked, ‘what is that? Are you going fishing, or going through a mid-life crisis?’ I smiled
back at her, and told her I’ll take it. So since then, I’ve always worn it to games. I don’t know if it signifies anything, but it’s kinda like my trademark. In high school, we always wore cowboy hats on game days, and I wanted to do something like that, but not the same as HS.
GM: Speaking of high school, you went to Hanover’s very own South Western. Take us inside the walls and tell us what it’s like to be a student there.
JR: It was awesome. I enjoyed my time there. There are times I’d go back and do it all over again. Teachers were awesome, playing sports kept you busy, and everyone was tight knit.
GM: You played for the legendary Don Seidenstricker at South Western. What kind of coach was he?
JR: He’s was a take no (expletive) kind of coach. He spoke you, listened. That’s just how it was, but there was a great deal of respect for him. He was a kind of coach that you looked up to, may have not always agreed, but he knew what he was talking about. Coach Don was strict- you wore your lid on the sideline, you weren’t playing grabass on the sideline, you were 100% focused on the game, and something else that he didn’t stand for, and drilled into all of his players is, he didn’t stand for (expletive) talking or picking fights. You would find yourself not playing, that’s for sure. Definitely made me a better player.
GM: Going from high school, to a semi-pro league where there is a lot of trash-talking, was it a shockingly different environment at first?
JR: Yeah, at the beginning, because I wasn’t brought up to play like that. You played with your pads and not your mouth. I got used to it after about 2-3 years, but now it’s completely different. These KIDS now-a-day don’t respect the game. They’re more worried about trash-talking and fighting.
GM: Do you take pride in being a leader and teaching these kids the old school way of carrying oneself on a football field?
JR: I do take great pride in being a leader, but you can only try and say so much to people. It’s up to them to change the way they conduct themselves.
GM: You know, I am 1-0 against you in high school when I was at Gettysburg.
JR: Yeah, Gettysburg was always a tough game for us while I was in HS. I started ’03, ’04 and ’05, and we were 0-3.
GM: So I’m actually 2-0 against you. You had quite the game in ’05 against us. You caught a pass, made 4 tackles, a sack, a blocked extra point, and you intercepted legendary quarterback Evan Lewis in his first varsity game. What do you remember about that night?
Actually it was a mistake in the box score. You didn’t have a pick, but you had all the other stuff.
JR: I can remember it like it was yesterday. Plus I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched that game recap on our highlight tape from that season. We played well as a team. Actually thought we had what it took to win, but got beat single-handedly by Terill Barnes, who had 3 of the 4 scores, One off a slant and two jump-balls in the end zone. He also made 4 touchdown saving tackles, and we lost 27-0.
And the box score was right.
GM: The newspaper called it a fumble, and your stat guy called it a pick. That was the confusion. I still have my play log somewhere. I ruled it a fumble officially in our stats back then, too, so I will officially call it a fumble.
JR: (chuckles), I don’t know about all that. I got it before it hit the ground, but like you said, I don’t think his arm was going forward, it was knocked into the air. Good call.
GM: I have even more vivid memories of the game the year before. It was my first game, and I rode the cheerleader bus up to the Corral. It’s funny, because the route we took from Gettysburg to Hanover that night is the route I now take from Hanover to Gettysburg to go to work. So I got off the bus outside the locker room, and am immediately confronted by our head coach, who asks me bluntly “who the hell are you?” And I told him I was the stat boy, and he goes into this tirade about how he hasn’t had one for 25 years and he doesn’t need one now. Then, our AD came to my defense, and they were standing there outside the locker room fighting over me.
What do you remember about the day leading up to that game?
JR: A game that we prepared for all camp long. After school, we all went to subway to eat, then headed back to school, got mentally ready for battle, and came out and moved the ball. We were in the red zone multiple times and lost 28-0. Watching that tape and playing, it felt good as a team, but just stalled in the red zone.
GM: Do you remember the goal line stand before halftime?
JR: Not really. I’ve taken a lot of hits to the head since then to remember that well (chuckles). Just watching highlight film in ’05, we were down to the 3 and didn’t score, and inside the 10 in ’04 and couldn’t score.
GM: (chuckles), If your video guy shot from the Corral’s press box, you may see me jumping around down there in ’04, the next time you look at the tape. I was at about the 10-yard line.
JR: I don’t have the whole game film from that game. The ’04 team only did highlights from our team. Our class, on our highlight tape, did both team’s scores.
GM: I checked with the records, and you have already broken the Hanover Rhinos’ single season tackle record. I’m a little disappointed that it already happened, because I wanted to give you a big welcome and center part of an article around it. The record was 64, not 74. How does it feel to hold that record for Hanover?
JR: It feels great. As we talked before, I’m not one to pay attention to stats, or look to break records. I just want to win games, and know that when I hit the field I give the team 110% from start to finish. I have to give credit to the rest of the D, without their help as a unit, I wouldn’t have reached it. The D-line has played great, and deserve just as much recognition, because those guys open the hole up for us backers to get through and make tackles, so my hat’s off to them. Hopefully over the next three weeks I can add to it. With this being my last year playing, I want to go out on top, knowing I gave my all for this team every Saturday.
GM: When you tip your hat to the D-Line, is it the same hat you wear before games?
JR: Yes. That hat has been to a lot of games and been around a lot of good teammates.
GM: What ventures are you planning after football?
JR: Relaxing and healing my joints (laughs). Getting my son ready for sports, and either help coach whatever he decides to get involved with, or just enjoy watching him. And spending time with my family. As a whole, I’ve been playing football since 4th grade, so this makes 19 years straight. My body is ready for a break.
GM: What will you remember most about your semi-pro football experience?
JR: The teammates I’ve met and became friends with, and the several great coaches I’ve had. The game I’ll remember most is probably when I played in York. We played for a championship in 2010, and lost 14-13.
GM: Let’s say you have a chance to go out like Derek Jeter. Overtime walk-off pick-6 80 yards to beat Harrisburg. How does that sound?
JR: That’s would be awesome, kinda be like a mic drop.
GM: When you retire from football, you will have a chance to think about other things, like appliances. When did you own your first refrigerator?
JR: I’m trying to figure out when I bought my first house…’08 is when I owned my first.
GM: What kind is it?
JR: I don’t know, I don’t have it anymore. We left it there when we built our house. I think it was a Frigidaire.
GM: Do you prefer to grill, cook in the oven, or eat out?
JR: I like to grill, given the chance.
GM: Charcoal or gas?
JR: I love the charcoal taste, but I have a gas grill.
GM: Is there anything better than stepping outside during the summer and smelling a grill going somewhere in the neighborhood?
JR: Not one bit, only thing better is knowing it’s mine or a near by charcoal.
GM: What’s your favorite thing that you’ve made on the grill?
JR: Shrimp/chicken and veggie shish kebabs.
GM: When did you first discover the wonderful world of kebabs?
JR: When I was younger, my mom made them. Now, my wife seasons them, and added a ton to them. They’re bangin’.
GM: We’re having a season-ending team cookout at the Renolls’, right?
JR: (chuckles), If my deck was finished, maybe.
GM: Finish this sentence. Donald Trump’s hair is ______ and reminds me of __________.
JR: Blonde and a winner (laughs), I don’t know. That was hard.
GM: You have nearly scored defensive touchdowns on several occassions throughout your semi-pro career. Talk about those plays.
JR: Yeah, I have several times, and it always comes down to one guy that has kept me from scoring. I guess I just need to get a little faster (chuckles).
GM: Have you ever been in the middle of a big return, and that piano just jumps on your back?
JR: Ooo no, it’s something when you get a pick. It feels like you gain an extra gear, and never get winded or tired until after you’re tackled.
GM: What’s the most interesting collision you’ve had with sideline personnel/equipment when tackling someone along the boundaries?
JR: Sliding and taking out a metal bench.
GM: Who won, you or the bench?
JR: I’m going to call it a draw (chuckles).
GM: With this being your last year, how frustrating has the losing streak been?
JR: Extremely. Words can’t describe it. But we go out and give 110%, regardless of our record, because any given Saturday, any team can win, and any team can lose
GM: What’s the level of disappointment at not getting one more crack at the playoffs?
JR: Very, since coming into the beginning of the season, it seemed very promising to be a good year, and front-runner team, and after the first game, things looked up. Now it’s just about finishing strong, and ending on a positive note, and giving these guys something to build off of for next year.
GM: You were one of the original Hanover Rhinos.
JR: Yes. I left York when Hanover started. Played the first 3 years, went to Lancaster last year, and here this year.
GM: So, being here from the beginning, and being through all the highs and the lows, what has it meant to be part of the Rhinos family?
JR: It’s been a great ride, and has meant a lot, the great people that have come and gone, both players, coaches, and playing for a community that you grew up in. This team has always been about family and community, that’s what’s great about it.
GM: This team prides itself on being active in the community. Talk about some of the off-the-field things you’ve been involved in with the team.
JR: Unfortunately, not as much as I have wanted to, due to work and other obligations, but it’s great to see the work the other players and coaches have been able to do.
GM: One thing the team has done this year is the founding of the Wyatt’s Warriors program, named for 15-year old Wyatt Black, who is battling bacterial meningitis. You are close to Wyatt’s family. Tell us what you think about the program, and what it meant to be a part of the team’s involvement.
JR: I think it’s absolutely great, and an even greater joy knowing the family, and being great friends with them. I think the program is great- it gets the team involved, and knowing people’s stories. Before this, no one knew who Wyatt, or his family, was, and now, the team fights every week, because that’s what Wyatt’s doing. We all know that Wyatt’s fight is strong as he shows improvements everyday, and it relates back to our team that he’s fighting, so should we. And not only Wyatt, but another suffering child from here on out, to learn there story and help fight with them.
GM: After you hang up the spikes, will you find times to wear the hat, or will your wife make you retire it?
JR: I think when we play our last game, the hat will get hung up with the spikes.
GM: Thanks for your time, man.
JR: No problem.