Friday Night Hero: East’s Jesse Meismer
By Ronnie Gallagher
GRANITE QUARRY ó The East Rowan defense shut down North Iredell in a 21-9 win on Friday and coach Brian Hinson knew where to point the finger when doling out praise ó squarely at defensive lineman Jesse Meismer.
Meismer’s fingerprints were all over that win.
The story all season for Meismer has been his finger. He has played with a ring finger on his left hand that should’ve been operated on early in the season. But when he heard he would be out for the season after the surgery, the 6-foot-2, 260-pounder decided he’d live with the pain until football ended.
And he has been inflicting pain, as the last-place Raiders found out. Meismer, a junior, finished with 11 tackles, six for losses. He added a sack.
“He was in the backfield a lot,” Hinson said. “He disrupted things.”
Meismer thought his season would be disrupted when he broke the tip of his finger.
“The doctor told me if I had surgery, I’d be able to play,” Meismer said.
But when he went for the surgery, another doctor said he’d miss the season.
“I told them to take the IV out,” Meismer said.
“He said, ‘Sorry Doc, I can’t do surgery,'” defensive coordinator Piotr Kalinowski said.
It told Hinson a lot about his sturdy lineman.
“He’s got that ol’ throwback mentality,” Hinson chuckled. “He fights through it and doesn’t use it as a crutch.”
Meismer was a jayvee last season but Hinson has envisioned him helping the Mustangs since middle school. Meismer used to follow his stepbrother, Jesse Waugh, to East for 6 a.m. workouts as an eighth-grader.
“I came to get stronger and faster for when I came here,” Meismer said.
This year, he has been part of a defensive line that has helped East rebound from a 1-10 season. The Mustangs are 8-2 headed into a showdown at home against South Rowan on Friday. Kalinowski said that while the D-linemen don’t get the credit, they help the linebackers get the praise.
“Sam Edmonds has 121 tackles,” Kalinowski said. “Jordan Hopper has almost 70 so those guys up front are doing something.”
“We take the blockers back with us and open the hole for them to run through,” Meismer explained.
But it was Meismer, not the linebackers, who was in the spotlight against North Iredell.
“It’s one of the best games I’ve had,” he said. “I just used my technique and played my position.”
Kalinowski said Meismer’s numbers were impressive.
“Anytime a defensive lineman has six tackles for losses, it’s pretty extraordinary,” he said.
Meismer needs to do more of the same on Friday when a powerful South team comes in. South scored 76 last week and have a runner named Thomas Lowe, a former teammate of Meismer at East Rowan.
“I played one year with him,” Meismer said. “I’ll just have to play my technique and wrap him up. He runs hard.”
Running into Lowe can be a painful experience, but Meismer will have no problem with it. Pain is the name of the game for him. His finger doesn’t even phase him anymore.
“He’s comfortable with it and he is starting to play like he’s been able to,” Kalinowski said.