The Trainer household in Glenside will likely be an emotional place when November 17 approaches next year as Villanova prepares to face rival Delaware.
The family patriarch, Joe, is the defensive coordinator for the Wildcats. His son, Liam, will be a linebacker for the Blue Hens.
That means the father’s job will be to conquer the son’s team. The most important job, however, belongs to some else entirely.
“I’ll be honest with you,” said Moreen Trainer, Liam’s mother and Joe’s wife, “I’m gonna be on the Delaware side. I’ll be wearing my Blue and Gold and screaming for the Blue Hens and cheering my kid on super loud because that’s my job.”
It was all smiles Wednesday morning when Liam and several of his teammates penned their names to national letters of intent during a signing day ceremony at La Salle.
Garrett Zobel (Villanova), Isaiah Jones (William and Mary), Colin Hirschmann (Towson), Dan Karrash (Penn) and Troy Holland (Sacred Heart) also participated Wednesday.
Moreen added, of course, that she will always support Joe and be his biggest fan, but now it’s time for her to be Liam’s biggest fan.
“We’ll have a little bit of a rivalry going there,” said Liam, a 6-2, 235-pounder. “We kinda horse around in the house saying who’s gonna win and stuff but at the end of the day, he’s still my dad, I still love him and I want to give him a lot of credit for this…”
Liam didn’t start playing tackle football in earnest until his freshman year at La Salle. A shoulder injury his sophomore year eventually became a setback.
But guidance, support and a push from his father helped Liam develop the work ethic that earned him a spot with the Blue Hens.
Joe is in his 12th season overall on the Villanova coaching staff and in his fourth year back since returning in 2014. He was the head coach at Rhode Island from 2009-2013 and was voted the Colonial Athletic Association’s coach of the year in 2010.
“Growing up in a football family with a bunch of good football players around me,” Liam said, “I feel like (today) has always been a dream, and it’s actually here today.”
Fatherly stocks and bonds
La Salle senior Garrett Zobel will join Joe Trainer as a lineman at Villanova. Zobel, a 6-3, 285-pounder played varsity football as a freshman and has been a major contributor ever since.
His plan at Villanova is to study finance. He and his father, Ted, have been buying and selling stocks together for fun.
“It’s kind of been a hobby of ours,” Garrett said. “I like to think of it like my fantasy team, but with stocks, keeping up with what’s big, what’s going down and what’s going up. It’s really fun.”
The book of Isaiah
The story of Isaiah Jones, fraught with several harrowing chapters, has reached a promising arc.
Jones, who suffered a season ending left knee injury as a junior, injured his right knee early this season. He also injured his right thumb near the end of the season.
“This is the best day of my life so far,” said Jones, who will play safety at William and Mary.
The 6-1, 220-pound defensive back and quarterback, helped La Salle open this season with a win against North Penn.
He rushed for 135 yards and a score on 17 carries and threw for 144 yards and two more scores on 11-of-18 passing.
A knee injury the following game, however, forced him to miss the next five games. While he sat out Jones was helpful to senior quarterback Danny Solecki, who led the Explorers to five consecutive wins.
“I was definitely humbled through this situation,” Jones said. “I definitely learned how to cope with my feelings and to take out my anger the right way.“
Later, he added: “During this whole fiasco with all the injuries, I’m just grateful and humbled by this opportunity. I mean, not everyone has two leg injuries and a thumb injury at the end of the year. It shaped me into a different person so I’m grateful.”