Ridgewood’s Iannotta twins know each others’ injury pain

SHARE Ridgewood’s Iannotta twins know each others’ injury pain

NORRIDGE — Ridgewood seniors Paul and Anthony Iannotta are identical twins, but their injury histories before this summer were in no way similar.

Paul Iannotta, who plays left guard for the Rebels, suffered a stress fracture in his back as a member of Ridgewood’s sophomore team two years ago. That injury forced him to miss all but two games as a sophomore.

Then, on Oct. 4 of last year, he was playing defensive tackle when one of Fenton’s offensive linemen fell into his left leg. He said he heard his leg snap, and an X-ray confirmed he had suffered a complete — yet clean — break of his fibula. That injury ended his junior season.

“To just have [the season] cut short on one play, you really appreciate football because you only have a small amount of games in your high school career,” Paul Iannotta said. “You’re guaranteed nine games [in a season]. You want to play in as many of those as you can.”

Paul Iannotta has fully recovered from his broken leg, but brother Anthony Iannotta — who hadn’t sustained any serious injuries during his first three years of high school football — suffered a knee injury during a summer workout at Ridgewood. He has been out ever since.

Anthony Iannotta hurt his right knee in July when a teammate was rolled onto it while the right guard was blocking a defensive tackle. He fell to the ground awkwardly, and was diagnosed with a tear in his meniscus, a sprained MCL and a hairline fracture in his tibia.

He stood on the sideline during Niles West’s 41-0 victory over the Rebels on Friday, watching his brother and teammates begin their season. Not being able to play was difficult, he said, but he’s confident he’ll be back soon. Both Anthony Iannotta and Ridgewood coach Chris Zack are hopeful he can return by the third week of the season. Anthony Iannotta had yet to be cleared as of Sunday, but he has begun building strength and stamina in his leg muscles in physical therapy.

After Anthony Iannotta suffered his injury, Paul Iannotta provided his brother with some advice about how to overcome a significant injury.

“He kind of says, ‘Just always look forward,’ ” Anthony Iannotta said. “ ‘It happened. You’ve just got to focus on what you’re going to do once you’re healthy again and focus on getting back healthy. You can’t undo what happened to you.’ ”

The Iannottas agreed that they’ve grown to appreciate football more now that they’ve both missed time due to injuries. The fact they’re twins and this is likely the last time they’re going to play on the same team makes the remaining games on the Rebels schedule even more precious to them.

“It makes you realize how special each Friday night is, because not everybody gets to play football, not everybody gets to play in high school,” Anthony Iannotta said. “It’s my last season playing organized football, and if you miss any amount of time, it’s really heartbreaking because you only have a certain amount of days left.”

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