To get a glimpse into Jacob and Zack Enderle’s relationship, one only has to go back to the Live Oak High football team’s season-opener against Silver Creek. The Acorns had the game well in hand and were running the ball on every play to get the game over as quickly as possible.
That’s when Acorns coach Mike Gemo asked Jacob, a starting outside linebacker, if he wanted to get in some plays at running back.
“I was thinking, ‘Absolutely, are you kidding me?’” Jacob said.
After his first carry went for a loss of one yard, Jacob ripped off runs of 20, 1 and 19 yards, the latter advancing the ball to the Silver Creek 1-yard line with just over a minute left in the game. The next play—named 20 rocket—called for Jake to go up the gut and behind the center, his brother Zack, for a touchdown.
Zack, the sophomore, paving the way for his older brother, Jacob, a senior, to score a touchdown. That was the storybook plan, anyway. As the Acorns were in their huddle, Zack, upon hearing the Silver Creek players chirping away, couldn’t resist getting in a zinger of his own.
“Hey guys, look at the scoreboard, you shouldn’t be talking,” Zack said.
Uh oh. No sooner had the words come out of Zack’s mouth when the referee flagged him for a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that put the ball back at the 16. At that point, the team took a couple of knees to ice the victory. So one would expect Jacob to be furious at Zack for costing him a potential touchdown at a position he rarely gets to play, right?
“The funny thing is I’m in the huddle with Zack and saying what the hell is wrong with you,” Jacob said. “You can hear everyone on the sideline and stands saying, ‘Oh my God, Big Munch (Zack’s nickname) just robbed his older brother of a touchdown.’ Everyone was going really crazy; it was really a comedic thing to be honest. After the game, coach Gemo in his postgame speech said, ‘Zack, I would lock my door tonight when I go to sleep.’ It’s been something my brother and I have laughed about ever since, but it would’ve been really cool if I could’ve followed him to the end zone and scored. He robbed myself and himself of that opportunity (laughs).”
For his part, Zack said he didn’t come close to yelling out any obscenities or personal attacks.
“Silver Creek was talking the whole game and it finally got to the point where it made me mad,” he said. “So I basically told them nicely they shouldn’t be talking when the scoreboard says they were losing by a big margin.”
Years, even decades from now, the Enderles will be able to retell that story and laugh, knowing it was the first game of the only season they got to play together. Besides, in the April 16 season-finale, Jacob finally scored his long-awaited TD in the fourth quarter of a 41-6 victory over Lincoln. Live Oak finished 4-1 overall and 4-0 in the BVAL Mount Hamilton Division this season.
Stronger during Covid
For many, the coronavirus pandemic has shuttered dreams, delayed plans and made life miserable at times. But that hasn’t been the case for Jacob and Zack, who developed a stronger bond and trained together since the start of the Covid-19 era.
In fact, had there been no virus and the season started on time last August, Zack said he probably would’ve started the season on the junior varsity squad before being called up later in the season.
The extra time off allowed him to train in the makeshift gym he and his brother built in their garage to get bigger and stronger. When the season finally started in March, Zack came in at 5-foot-9 and a rock-solid 210 pounds. He started the opener and has looked strong ever since.
“Back when we first started training together, I had a little more on him,” Jacob said. “I was kind of like a mentor to him—not saying I knew everything—but just pushing him, showing him techniques and different workouts. At this point, he’s ended up passing me, though I hate to admit it. The kid is an absolute unit. By the time he’s a senior, he’s going to be twice as big and twice as strong as I am.
“I would never say that to his face, but it’s entirely true. And honestly, I’m really proud of him because being the older sibling I had to keep telling him to not give up, to push through it and promising him he would be glad he did. His discipline has been rewarded. In March of 2020, he was not varsity football material. At this point in time, he’s exceeded all my expectations. It’s really awesome to see how far he’s come.”
Because of their age difference, the Enderles never played on the same sports team growing up. In fact, Jacob never played organized football until his freshman year at Live Oak, which inspired Zack to sign up to play for the Pop Warner Morgan Hill Raiders as a seventh-grader.
“Jake has been a very important part of my life,” Zack said. “From the start of quarantine, he helped me grow physically and in life in general. When he started playing football, I remember watching his first Jamboree and told myself, ‘Yeah, I have to do this and get on that field.’ Everything he did and strived to do good in, I wanted to do the same thing and be as good and even be better than him. I wouldn’t say it’s a competition, but we sure made it feel like that.”
Said Jacob: “It’s your typical sibling rivalry we go through at times when I want to knock his teeth out and he wants to pull my hair out, but five minutes later, we’re all good again and it’s like nothing ever happened. We go about our business and move on to the next thing.”
Excelling off the field
Both of the Enderles do well in the classroom, though Jacob has been downright exceptional with a 4.15 GPA entering his senior year. He’s headed to UC Davis in the fall and plans on majoring in neurobiology physiology and behavior, with the goal of attending medical school. Jacob and Zack said their mom, Kim, has been their inspiration and role model.
Kim was a stay-at-home parent but went back to school to earn a nursing degree from Gavilan College in 2017. She began working full-time from that point, then returned to school for a second Bachelor’s in nursing before starting her Masters program in Nursing Education in 2019.
Kim was diagnosed with a benign meningioma in early 2020, had it removed last October and is fully recovered. Despite all that, she finished her Masters program in January.
“My mom is kind of my superhero in the way she was able to provide for us and still do her thing at the same time,” Jacob said. “She got her Master’s while having three kids and a whole lot of responsibilities and maintaining a job. I see what she has done and it makes we want to do something to make her proud.”
In fact, it was Kim who encouraged Jacob to take up football in his freshman year.
“I thought it would be really fun and the thought of playing the sport was appealing until I showed up for summer workouts,” Jacob said, laughing. “But I stuck it out and will never forget playing football for Live Oak. It’s been an absolute ride and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. The friendships I made, playing under the Friday Night lights, there is no feeling quite like it anywhere else. It’s really indescribable.”
Of course, playing this season with Zack has been the most memorable experience of all. When shelter in place started, the brothers relied on each other and were never far apart.
“We’re similar in the fact we like doing a lot of the same things,” Zack said. “We work hard and have the same mindset to get better and always grow.”
When they weren’t training in the off-season, Jacob and Zack watched past game films to find ways to improve. For five games in this truncated season, they got to be on the same team and root each other on, with both players instrumental to the team’s success.
“This year has been really cool and I’m really grateful I got this opportunity to not only play this season, but to have him right alongside with me,” Jacob said. “We have that brother bond you don’t find very much, for which I’m beyond grateful for.”