Football and wrestling are a winning combination for Paramus High School junior Kyle Jacob
Growing up, Paramus High School junior Kyle Jacob participated in a plethora of sports: football, baseball, wrestling and lacrosse. Jacob’s parents were also successful athletes, his father playing football and mother involved in track.
“My dad coached baseball, we won a bunch of district titles,” said Jacob. “My Mom and Dad were Hall of Fame athletes at New Milford High School. I loved being physical, playing lacrosse until seventh grade and baseball until eighth grade, but I knew I was good at football and wrestling and wanted to continue playing in high school. My brother, Bryce, who I have a great friendship with is a leader to me, we have a special bond and I have learned a lot of things from him during this process.”
During the 2016-17 wrestling season at Paramus High School, Jacob registered a 14-8 record with three pins and major decisions. In the fall of 2017, Jacob hit the gridiron, rushing for 165 yards as the Spartans finished with a 3-7 record. “I loved the coaches back in 2017, at junior camps second through eighth grade they taught us drills,” Jacob said.
Building on his experience as a freshman, Jacob steadily improved in his sophomore year on the wrestling mat notching a 20-6 record with seven pins and one major decision. However, the main goal for Jacob was to become a better athlete on the football field and be part of a winning team in 2018.
“We had the confidence going into the season, trained in the off-season at TNT (Total Nunizato Training) with Mike Nunziato who trained us in getting stronger and faster,” Jacob said. “We had a lot of seniors that had been playing together since second grade and had great relationships with each other. It came down to trusting each other on and off the field. We went 3-7 the year before and knew we had to come back better and sharper compared to how we played the year before.”
Even before the regular season started, the football team and town community would have to deal with the tragic bus accident that claimed the life of a teacher and fifth grade student at the East Brook Middle School.
“That motivated us to bring the winning tradition back to the school and program,” Jacob said. “Coach (Joe) Sabella is tough and hard-working and preached hard work always pays off whether it be extra gassers after practice and practicing over the time limit.”
The Spartans got off to a terrific start winning their first four games convincingly. Facing off against Ridgewood at home Paramus was pushed to limit but ultimately prevailed 35-34 in overtime where Jacobs rushed for 97 yards and one touchdown.
For Jacob and his teammates the signature victory was the “Battle of Midland Avenue” versus River Dell at River Dell High School and emerging with a 20-13 victory with Jacob running for 84 yards. “Beating River Dell in the regular season and reclaiming the Midland Avenue trophy showed how far we came as a team,” said Jacob.
Heading into the state playoffs undefeated, Paramus hosted West Milford in the first round at home and wasted no time in jumping out to a sizable advantage in the first half and eventually winning 42-14 where Jacob rushed for a season high 179 yards and scored two touchdowns. Chalking up their 10th victory of the season, the Spartans set a school record for most wins in a season.
“We had an idea about making school history but did not talk it about too much in the locker room because we wanted to stay focused in practice and win against the team in front of us and get that championship,” Jacob said. “The first round playoff win against West Milford showed people we were ready to play and what we’re all about.”
“We had great motivators that stayed by our side the entire season, our principal Mr. (Raymond J.) Kiem, Don Roll our athletic director so excited to see how Paramus football was coming back and having a great season. Seeing people in the hallways and shaking our hands, talking about the game and how well we played.”
Despite a second round defeat in a rematch against River Dell, Jacob felt it was a good year for the Spartans as he finished the season with 1,151 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns. There was no rest for the weary as Jacob jumped immediately into wrestling where he flourished by going 19-4 with 10 pins, five major decisions and one technical fall while advancing to his first state final at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.
“I could not do it without my teammates and coaches, switching from one sport to another at first is a transition. Football and wrestling are the two toughest sports to play but the things we do in practices with running up the stairs and sauna rooms and Coach (Chris) Falatto is tough on us. I’m really trying to stay humble and not brag about the stats.”
Jacob had one final message that was pointed towards younger athletes, “Always try to do your best and work the hardest. Be the first in the classroom and to practice and one doing gassers because it will pay off and I was taught that by Coach Sabella.”
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