Jacob Meise doesn’t mind giving it up for the Kennewick football team, whatever “it” is.
Might be his hair — which was shoulder length to start the season after nine months of growing, then buzzed up after his helmet kept popping off.
Might be his head — when his helmet did pop off last week against Shadle Park, that was Meise diving into the pile, shorn locks visible to the world.
Might be his hand — which he didn’t hesitate to put back in the thick of battle when it got smashed up during a scrimmage before his freshman year.
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It certainly will be effort, which the guy they call “Spider Monkey” gives all of, all the time as a starter at left offensive tackle, defensive end and all of the kick and punt teams.
“He’s a little bit crazy,” said Kennewick head coach Bill Templeton said of his standout junior. “He’s a funny kid, respectful, but a little bit crazy.”
“Oh yeah, that’s very accurate,” Meise (MY-zee) said after practice this week in preparation for today’s 4 p.m. first-round 3A state playoff game against North Thurston at Lampson Stadium.
“That’s how I like to play. I’m pretty aggressive in everything that I do.”
The name “Spider Monkey” came from his lanky build — 6-foot-3, 185 pounds — and his freakish athletic versatility. Meise can dunk a basketball, and he is a thrower and jumper on the track team.
He’s known for chasing down ball carriers sideline to sideline, end zone to end zone, and in the process has put up some big-time defensive stats this season: 79 tackles, 18 for loss including 11 sacks, two forced fumbles, one recovery and three batted-down passes. Those numbers were good enough to earn first-team all-league when the Mid-Columbia Conference team was announced Tuesday.
On offense, Meise is a second-team all-league tackle and part of a line that has plowed a wide road for big-load back Devven Ramos to wrack up 1,648 yards and 15 TDs, including games of 208, 264 and 303 yards.
Not bad for a guy who figured to be a two-way starter this year but expected his first varsity campaign to be mostly a stepping stone to next season.
His coach, on the other hand, had an inkling of something bigger.
“We kept hearing things about his exploits at the freshman level two years ago,” Templeton said. “How tough he was, how crazy, how ‘let’s do this thing’ he was.”
A lot of that stemmed from that smashed hand.
“His hand was swollen. It was bad,” remembered freshman coach Ty Cronenwett, adding that he turned to the sideline to call in a backup, only to have the kid complain that his hand was too hurt.
“I turned back around, and Meise is already out there in his three-point stance — on his bad hand. I knew at that point he was going to be a force.
“He’s never let off since then. He’s not only an extremely tough kid, he’s passionate.”
Meise admitted that his hand was killing him — “I thought it was broken” — but he knew his coaches were watching.
“It showed my toughness,” he said, “established my reputation.”
He didn’t hurt his rep any last week against Shadle Park, when his helmet came off and he stuck his nose into a pile. Meise took a shot to the noggin on that one — he has since been checked out and is cleared to play this week.
Asked about his “topless” exploits, Meise just shrugged.
“It’s what I had to do to make the tackle.”
Whatever it takes.