A Word With: Jack Isennock
George Marinos sat down with Hanover Rhinos safety Jack Isennock to discuss everything from being accused of helping rioters in Baltimore to scoring touchdowns and getting the girl like a movie star.
GM: I’m here with Jack Isennock, defensive playmaker for the Hanover Rhinos. Your given name is John. Why does everyone call you Jack?
JI: It’s what my grandfather, whom I was named after, went by. Also, JFK was often referred to as Jack.
GM: You grew up playing lacrosse. How is playing lacrosse similar to football and how is it different?
JI: Playing lacrosse was always a passion of mine, and it’s real similar to football in the way that I was a very physical player, always trying to hit someone and enjoyed delivering some pain. I played a lot of defensive midfield, so I’ve always had a defense mindset. It’s different in the fact that football is all set plays, whereas lacrosse is a constant play kind-of sport, which I think helps me with my reaction time to the plays in football.
GM: Do you still play lacrosse?
JI: Currently, I’m helping coach my little brother’s team when I have time, but very recently, I’ve decided that I’m going to find a league to play in, and when I transfer to UMBC, since I’m still in college, I’m going to play for their club team.
GM: You and I have discussed the difference in the lacrosse culture between Maryland and Pennsylvania. Lacrosse is just now starting to catch on at most of the high schools here. How important is lacrosse in Maryland?
JI: Lacrosse in Maryland is a huge sport. My grandfather would tell me stories about how, when he was young, the only half decent lacrosse teams were from either Maryland, Virginia, or Long Island. Also being that Maryland is home to Boys’ Latin, one of the best high school lacrosse programs for a long time, it shows the devotion that Maryland residents have toward the sport. Maryland is obviously also home to the University of Maryland, which is one of, if not the best, lacrosse programs in the nation.
GM: Is lacrosse bigger than football in Maryland?
JI: I would say that lacrosse is bigger amongst most high schools and colleges in Maryland, based on that Maryland hosts 2 or 3 high school teams in the top 10 national list, and hosts the best college lacrosse teams, with UMD and Salisbury.
GM: Favorite moment on a lacrosse field?
JI: I think the most memorable moment I had on a field was when I was younger, about 7th or 8th grade, and I remember scoring the game-winning goal in our championship rec league game. Either that moment, or the time at a Maryland lacrosse camp when I was performing so well that The head coach of Maryland’s varsity team told me he would be keeping a personal eye on my development. It made me feel more confident about my ability on the field.
GM: So, you decided a year ago to come out and play for the Hanover Rhinos football team. What went into that decision?
JI: I decided to play for Hanover because I grew up playing backyard football with my family and friends and got pretty good. So when (my brother) Alex and Dom (Cotterino) found the team in Hanover, I was hesitant, until they told me there was a cute trainer. So I joined the team to meet the trainer and have fun playing a sport I enjoyed.
GM: Why else does any man do anything? Tell me about your first year playing organized football.
JI: It was fantastic. I hadn’t played an organized sport in a couple years, and was dying to get back onto a field, and the opportunity to play football arrived. It was a lot of fun to be able to play with Alex and Dom, although, because I wasn’t used to the pads, my play was a little sloppy at times, but I thought I did pretty well overall. I really enjoyed learning the game more, and playing next to those guys. Most fun I’ve had in a long time.
GM: You scored two defensive touchdowns right at the end of the season. They were the first two of your life. What was that first one like?
JI: It was unbelievable. A lot of emotion, because it showed that, even though it’s my first year, don’t take me lightly. That I’m just as skilled as anyone out there. Also, to have been able to score a touchdown in my first year before Dom has scored one in his many years, it was a great bragging tool.
GM: At the end of the year, you made the all-star team, you got the girl, did you ever feel like you were a part of a movie script?
JI: Haha sometimes it felt like it. That year seemed almost too good to be true. The only thing differentiating it from being a movie was that we lost a bunch of games we should’ve won. It was definitely a year to remember.
GM: You also gained quite a reputation as a teammate sniper. Last you you bowled over both Jeremy Renoll and Dustyn Lauver in separate games. How much humor do you find in knocking over two of the biggest guys on the team?
JI: I find a lot of humor from it. I even still joke with Dustyn about it all the time. Whenever the opportunity arises, I’ll remind him of that time in the game.
GM: And what is Dustyn’s response?
JI: He usually just laughs and tells me to shut up.
GM: You used to work construction with Alex and Dom. Dom was telling me stories from the job. What’s the wildest story you have?
JI: This one time, it was during the riots in Baltimore, I was working in a building off North Avenue, and we were taking down brick walls. Well, all of a sudden, we had like 5 police cars around our building and the head officer telling us to stop what we were doing, because they thought we were taking the bricks down to supply the rioters with ammunition. It was pretty funny and exciting.
GM: That’s quite interesting. We’re almost halfway through the 2017 season. Do you have any goals for yourself and the team?
JI: My goal for myself is to break my record from last year. My goal for the team? Have the offense win a game this year.
GM: What do you mean by have the offense win a game?
JI: I mean, our defense has been the one keeping us within games. I just want one game where our offense goes out there and puts up 40+.
GM: What record are you looking to break from your first year?
JI: My ‘most defensive touchdowns in a season’ record. I’m hoping to double it.