A Word With: Dustyn Lauver
The Rhinos’ all-star two-way lineman sits down with George Marinos to discuss his football life, and Strange Encounters of the Third Kind.
GM: I’m here with Dustyn Lauver of the Hanover Rhinos. You’re entering your second season with the Rhinos, and are now one of the main players looked to for leadership. How is this year different from your rookie training camp last fall?
DL: My rookie year, I had no idea what to expect out of this league and the players in it, but I have a better understanding now, and I’m excited for it to come. Also excited with seeing not only new faces, but similar as well.
GM: Taking on a leadership role this year, and being one of the guys that people look to for advice and inspiration, how has that been different from the humble beginnings of last training camp?
DL: It’s really different for sure, it’s a great feeling to have that leadership and having everyone look up to me. From the beginning, I looked up to the leaders like Renoll, but to be in his shoes, it is definitely a gift. We will be prepared this year, for sure.
GM: These last 4 months waiting to get back on the field, how hard has that been, especially with the way last season ended?
DL: Really hard, we want redemption, because last season wasn’t us. We are anxious and excited that it’s back.
GM: How important is the Santa Bowl as the first step for this team?
DL: Very important, we will see what we got and what we need to fix.
GM: You mentioned Renoll earlier. What’s your relationship with him like, and what does it mean to still have him around as a coach this year?
DL: He was a role model last year because we are exactly alike in many ways. And to hear that he will be around as a coach is amazing, because he knows what he is doing and he will definitely help the defense.
GM: Speaking of the defense, how would you rate the performance of the defense last year? A lot of points were scored against the Rhinos, but sometimes that was more a function of bad field position.
DL: When we switched defense scheme, it worked out perfectly. Teams barely could run the ball, but when it came to passes, we weren’t ready for that. There always will be problems, we have to solve them like we usually do.
GM: Last year had to be a different experience after playing at Bermudian for 4 years, was it?
DL: It was, sadly. One year, but yes, it was very different. It’s more a mind game than anything else in this league.
GM: How do you help prepare your teammates, especially the rookies, for what they will face mentally?
DL: By doing what the other teams do, get in their head and see how they react to it, then let them know.
GM: You mean talking trash during practice to get the guys ready?
DL: In all fun in games, yes (chuckles).
GM: You’re such a mild mannered guy, it’s hard to picture you talking trash. What’s the meanest non-vulgar thing you’ve ever said on a football field?
DL: Calling out (Greg) Ginter after pancaking him twice, with the help of Jason Landis, and he moves position and I wanted him back. All fun and games though, it’s weird and not me, but it is what it is.
GM: How did you learn to be such a polite guy?
DL: Raised by my parents, very strict (chuckles).
GM: You’re originally from the York Springs area?
DL: Yes, sir.
GM: Tell our readers about life growing up in your family.
DL: My dad was definitely the enforcer, any of us kids mess up in anyway, or mistreat anyone, he would make sure we knew it. He straightened us kids, and my mother would be the ruler. If we didn’t listen to her, our dad did something. So the lesson is, no matter who it is, it won’t hurt to help them. And it’s true, if you help, there is no pain, mentally or physically. If you don’t, it will get to you down the road. Respect was the #1 thing in that family, it makes me who I am today, and I am thankful for it.
GM: Now, your dad comes to a lot of the games. How big has he been in your football career?
DL: It’s huge, words can’t explain. He works night shift, 4 days on then off, and to see him at most of the games, it motivates me. He takes time off his tight schedule to watch me play, motivates me to make him proud, like any kid seeing their parents came to watch them. Reminds me of the good ole’ days when I played ball in middle school, and it made me happy, and I play good so we can talk about it after. It’s still the same today. It’s an awesome feeling.
GM: I remember a specific moment last year. It was the fourth quarter of the game at Carroll County, and it was the moment I first took notice of how impactful you are on a game. For the first time, you got a regular look on defense and were in on four straight plays. When you came off the field, your dad was standing right there and let you know how well you did. Do you remember that moment?
DL: Of course, anything involving my dad I will always remember. He is my coach at the same time too, he will give me pointers. I really look up to him.
GM: Did he play football?
DL: Yep, I followed his footsteps with football, wrestling, and track & field.
GM: Was your dad a lineman too?
GM: What’s your earliest football memory?
DL: Has to be against some team where me and another teammate injured all three of their quarterbacks and they had to forfeit in the first quarter.
GM: Does any part of you feel bad when you’ve injured a player on the other team?
DL: Well, as a kid, I thought it was something to brag about. But varsity football, or a higher level, I understand that it is a horrible feeling. The most important thing about football is safety, and making sure they can walk off the same way they walk in.
GM: Have you ever suffered an injury or a scary situation where you thought you may have been injured during a game?
DL: I got blind-sided and thought I had a concussion. It was hard to breathe and it seemed blurry. Worst thing that happened on the field.
GM: You and teammate Jack Isennock collided on a defensive play last year. At the moment, both you guys were slow getting off the field. Was that scary for a moment, and at any point, did it become something you looked back on and found funny?
DL: It was, because it took the breath out of me. I got up, and we looked at each other and smiled. It is definitely funny, especially when Jack takes the glory of knocking me down. He takes high pride in that (chuckles).
GM: He also has another impressive take down on his mantle. He knocked Renoll over in a game later in the season. Which do you think he takes more pride in, and why?
DL: Probably mine, because I’m a big dude compared to him, and we always have close encounters, so it is funny.
GM: Speaking of close encounters, do you believe in aliens?
DL: (chuckles), I don’t believe anything until I see it.
GM: So you don’t believe the Browns will ever win a Super Bowl?
DL: I’m a Steelers fan, of course not!
GM: What Steelers player, past or present, does your game most resemble?
DL: Hines Ward, because of his character. Much love for football, always energetic, and always in a positive mood. He will always be one of my favorite Steelers.
GM: What was the highlight of last spring’s season?
DL: Being an all-star and representing Hanover at the game.
GM: What was your all-star weekend like?
DL: The drive was horrible, yet fun at the same time, and getting closer to the other all-stars was awesome.
GM: What did you guys do down there on the off day?
DL: Hung out in the room, playing madden mobile and eating a lot of food. It was a buffet (chuckles).
GM: What was the best food you had down there?
DL: Breakfast, important, and my favorite meal of the day!
GM: You had a half sack in the all-star game, and a strong overall performance. What was that like?
DL: It was awesome that all of these great athletic players come for this game, and to have a good game, feels incredible.
GM: Any special plans for your all-star jersey?
DL: Just hanging it up.
GM: Does this year’s Rhinos training camp have a similar feel to the ones you had at Bermudian?
DL: In a way yes, because we have one goal, championship.
GM: What was it like playing for head coach Jon Defoe at Bermudian?
DL: It is incredible, he’s definitely the best coach out there that knows everything about football. He always believed in us, and he would always push us to be better than ever. I have a high respect for coach Defoe, never will lose it.
GM: Of all the moments you’ve experienced playing football, which one do you cherish the most?
DL: High school for sure, they were my brothers for the longest time. I miss playing with them, I’d do anything to be able to do it again.
GM: What’s it like having former Bermudian Springs teammate Phoenix Russell as a teammate again this year on the Rhinos?
DL: I’m so glad, because, we have been best friends since he moved down the street from me. As kids, we played backyard football, and played all the way to where we are now. It’s definitely a special feeling.
GM: What’s it like playing for a coach who played at a rival school, as Rhinos head coach Noah Sneeringer went to Delone Catholic?
DL: It’s awesome, because we both have the same mentality and idea of how an offense should run. I really like him as the head coach, and I know we will do great things because of it.
GM: I’ll leave you with one final question. What does Donald Trump’s hair resemble?
DL: I have no idea what his hair resembles, that man is a mystery (chuckles).
GM: Thank you for your time.