Standout slinger Sisson signs with Serbian squad

Category:  Sports
Wednesday, December 5th, 2018 at 6:30 PM

Jake Sisson stepped to his offensive line with the team’s 2016 home opener on the line. Both teams scored touchdowns in the first overtime, but West Chester was held to just a field goal on the previous drive, opening up Edinboro’s chance to win if they could reach the end zone again.

“We had a play called at first — it was an inside run on the fourth-and-inches, and they came down and played cover,” Sisson recalled. He remembers the team had practiced a specific play all week which involved former Edinboro wide receiver Alex Caratelli, who Sisson described as “our go-to guy in the red zone.”

“We had a couple seniors on the offensive line, and I walk up and make a play call change and they know it’s going from a run to a pass,” Sisson further explained. “My one center turned around and was like, ‘What the hell are you calling?’

“I snapped the ball and they’re coming — I know they’re coming — and it felt like an eternity in the pocket, and I’m looking at Caratelli and he just destroys this guy off the line and I had to lob it up to him,” Sisson said. “And that ball is probably in the air for a year...this is to win the game, and if he drops it we lose...and he catches it.

“I’ll never forget that moment,” he concluded.

The road to Serbia

The last Edinboro fans heard from Sisson, he was getting ready to leave for Harbin, China to play in the International University Sports Federation (FISU) World University American Football Championship earlier this year. Since returning, Sisson has been working on finishing his degree and gearing up to graduate this December. In the last week of November, it was announced he had signed with a football team in Serbia where he will continue his athletic career.

“It was a long road, obviously,” he stated about the overall experience. Sisson explained that since he returned from China he has been doing a lot of work to push his dream into a reality: “Doing combines here and there, trying to put my name out there, emailing coaches. It was like getting recruited out of high school all over again.”

He also noted that he has been continuing a gym routine and throwing any time he gets the chance. He said his family will frequently pass the ball with him, including his brother Andrew — an offensive lineman at Buffalo State who just finished up his sophomore season.

Sisson’s signing experience was not a “traditional” experience, as several teams were offering him opportunities to sign and gave him deadlines as to when he needed to get back to them. He explained that one night while watching Sunday Night Football at home, he decided to sign with his future team, sent a message, and that was that. The first people to know were Sisson’s family members who expressed how happy they were for him in their own ways.

“I’m only going to be over there like six months, but I’m going to miss my family for sure,” Sisson noted, adding that technology will make it easy to stay in touch when he is in Serbia. Still, he said, “Not going to be able to see them in person is going to be tough.”

As he went on, the former Edinboro quarterback reminisced as to how he’s gotten to this point in his career.

Sisson began his football career at 5 years old in Rochester, New York. Due to age restrictions, he was not allowed to play a skill position until he turned 6. 

“I was like, ‘for real?’ Because obviously every kid wants to play quarterback,” he remembers. “So 5 years old, I wore number 60 and was a center — first position I ever played — and then the next year is when I went to quarterback. So from 6 years old to now I’ve played quarterback.”

Sisson attended and graduated from Jamestown High School, where he broke records including the Section 6 single-game passing record, received local and state-wide awards, and led his team to a 10-1 season his senior year.

Roughly a year after Sisson’s record-breaking year for the high school football team, his father, the head coach of the Jamestown Community College (JCC) men’s basketball team, coached that squad to the National Junior College Athletic Association Region III Division II Championships. Since then, George Sisson has been named the director of athletics and recreation at JCC. These accomplishments by the family contributed to the Sissons being a well-known name in Jamestown.

Sisson noted that he is humbled to know that many people in the town — some that he has never even met — know who he is because of his accomplishments. He added that he’s proud to represent his town as he continues his career. 

When he started his athletic and academic career at Edinboro University, the coaching staff looked slightly different and has been altered every year since.

“My freshman year I had an offensive coordinator straight off the NFL — he went to the Super Bowl — [and] you can’t ask for a [more knowledgeable] coach than that...I had 3 offensive coordinators, but each one taught me something different,” he said.

Sisson explined that he is grateful and values the knowledge he gained throughout his years at Edinboro. 

“Coming out of high school, I only had one offer for a scholarship and it was here,” he said. “Without coming here, I wouldn’t have been able to get to this, so I’m super grateful for Edinboro University for supporting me for four years to get to this point.”

As he gears up to graduate college in a week with a degree in chemistry, concentrated in forensic science, Sisson said he is excited to begin the next chapter in his life. 

“To just worry about football by itself and get to do that as a living, you can’t complain about that life because it’s the sport you love,” he concluded.

Madi Gross can be reached at sports.spectator@gmail.com.

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