By TYLER CADY
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — Football. Eat. Sleep. School. Football.
That’s the self-described life of Lumberjacks senior right tackle Jacob Clare — a three-year letter winner at NT.
When he steps onto the field at Clinton Small Stadium Friday night, one of those four pillars of his life will be nearing its end, as it’ll be his final regular season game.
Asked about what will take its place when it’s over, he only offers a shoulder shrug of uncertainty.
He’s not looking that far ahead, he’s only focusing on T-NT, because, he said, “it’s like our Super Bowl.”
Clare has experienced many ups and downs in his playing career, from having a different coach each of his seasons with the Lumberjacks, to beating rival Tonawanda in the two prior meetings between the teams.
Luckily for him there isn’t a better experience than the T-NT game to end his career on — as long as he adds to the Jacks’ 10-game winning streak.
“We just try and kick the crap out of each other,” Clare said. “This game is just a big part of our culture — North Tonawanda and South NT.”
The winning streak over Tonawanda has been one constant in his career at NT. Jacks coach Tony Truilizio wasn’t a familiar face, forcing Clare and the rest of the team to get to know him quickly. Truilizio was astounded when he got to know Clare.
“Jacob is probably one of the best leaders I’ve ever had on a team in my 20 years od coaching,” Truilizio said. “His leadership skills are unmeasurable.”
Clare took a leadership role amidst the uncertainty of the offseason coaching situation to ensure that the team was still preparing for the upcoming year. Truilizio was teaching summer school so it forced Clare and others to make sure guys were getting in the weight room and screwing around.
That work has spawned a solid rushing attack behind an offensive line that’s goal is to “kick the crap out of the people” lining up across from them.
The 6-foot-3, 240-pound, Clare likes to punish the defensive end lines up against him, embracing the challenge of creating running room for one of the speedy backs behind him.
“He should be Trench Trophy candidate but the problem is we only have one win,” Truilizio said. “To nominate him and get him that honor is difficult because we’re losing. But he’s definitely one of the best lineman in the area.”
Besides being a dominant blocker Clare is an honor roll student, and even an amateur cartoonist.
“I guess people say I’m artistic,” Clare said. “I’ll just draw pictures of other people, and we just bash on each other, mostly cartoons.”
Clare’s ninth period study hall serves as a comedic cartooning session with his teammates. His cartoons suffice to lighten the mood within the Jacks’ locker room amid a 1-5 start season, but winning games is still the No. 1 priority.
“I’m just going to miss strapping on a helmet and playing,” Clare said. “This has been one of the most important experiences of my life by far.”