A special bond between Schmidts
For the Nevada Appeal
Dayton sophomore Justin Schmidt spent most of his childhood looking up to his older brother, Jesse Schmidt, especially after their father died a decade ago.
Through tough times, sports brought them together, but rarely on the football field.
“It’s always been his (Justin’s) dream since he was 10 years old to play football with his brother,” their mother, Kimberly Durbin, said. “He’s always played below him, age-group wise.”
Justin accomplished that goal this year as the only Dayton sophomore to spend the entire 2016 season on the varsity team.
But when the Dust Devils take the field at 7 p.m. today against Wooster on Senior Night, it will be the last home game for their short, yet memorable, stint playing organized football together.
“I’ve always been able to see him play and see his intensity in games,” said Justin, who has increasingly taken more snaps at quarterback for Dayton this season and is expected to be the starting signal caller for the Dust Devils the next two years. “Now, actually playing with him, it’s been pretty cool.”
For Jesse and about 15 other seniors, Friday night will be the last time they play in front of a Dayton home crowd.
It’s been a grim two years for the Dayton football program. Most of the starters on this season’s team also started last year as juniors when their opponents outscored Dayton, 469-6, over the course of a winless season. Dayton has relatively improved this year, outscored 295-28, but remains winless (0-7).
It’s a senior squad that stuck together, even through the now 19-game losing streak dating back to 2014.
“It has been a very tough two years, but you don’t really think about that when it gets bad because you still love the sport,” said Jesse, who plays running back and middle linebacker for Dayton. “You just show up everyday and hope something good happens.”
As for his brother being on the team as a sophomore, Jesse said the seniors don’t give Justin a hard time for being the youngest Dust Devil football player at 15 years old. After all, Justin already knew most of the Dayton players through his brother.
Jesse moved to Dayton when he was in second grade — Justin barely in grade school — the year after their father, also named Jesse Schmidt, died from complications from a medication he had taken, Durbin said.
“We drew closer (after our father died),” Jesse said of his relationship with his brother. “You miss somebody, but you have to gather yourself and love the ones around you because you never know how long you’re going to be with them.“
Jesse even imitated his brother on the baseball field, wanting to follow in his footsteps at shortstop, but willing to play at third base when they were on the same team.
“They are respectful kids,” Dayton head coach Patrick Squires said. “They listen. They want to win.”
As young children, they originally had separate rooms in the family home, but convinced Durbin to let them room together and turn the spare bedroom into a playroom. When Jesse entered high school, they got their own rooms. Durbin thought maybe their brotherly bond might wane.
“I was nervous about girlfriends,” Durbin said. “I thought that would change things, but it hasn’t. They’ve stayed close friends.”
Tonight’s game will be the last home game for the two brothers before Jesse leaves for the University of Nevada to study chemistry.
“They’ve raised each other,” Durbin said. “Obviously, I’m here, but they have been goal oriented and gone through a lot of things together. I couldn’t be more proud. I’ve never had to push them. They go for it.”