Back in 1993, Snider was on top of the world.
Fresh off a Class 5A state title the year before, the Panthers entered the campaign feeling as if it could pick up where it left off.
A stud junior by the name of Jabar Robinson was a starter on that team, as he was the year before at linebacker for the Panthers during their state run.
Robinson still remembers the first two games of that 1993 season.
“We came out and lost to Wayne and Bishop Dwenger that year,” said Robinson. “Those were some good teams, but that was the last time Snider started 0-2.”
The last time, that is, until 2020.
Blowout losses to North Side and Carroll to start this season saw the Panthers start the year 0-2 for the first time in 27 years. Jabar and his son Ison “Iso” Robinson can share the mutual pain, as Iso is now a member of the program his dad dominated for in the early 1990s before heading to Indiana University.
“Here it is my son’s senior year and he is having to deal with the frustrations of starting 0-2 and not being able to help his team,” said Jabar. “It is definitely not typical for anyone to beat Snider like (the first two weeks), but the season is still young.”
For the first three years of high school, Iso Robinson attended Bolingbrook High School in Illinois, showing out for the Raiders in Class 8A. Battling in the trenches every Friday night in the highest class in the state, Iso had made a name for himself as one of the toughest interior linemen in the region to contain.
But as Jabar’s father in Fort Wayne battled ill health, the decision was made late in the summer to make a move back to Jabar’s hometown.
And with that, the opportunity to suit up in the yellow and black, just like his dad.
“The guys made it pretty easy to make the transition,” said Iso. “(Coach Kurt Tippmann) showed me around the team and around the school. I was honestly really excited.”
So was dad. For years, Jabar had been telling him about his playing days, as fathers tend to do with their sons. Only Iso can say whether he was captivated with these stories, but the passion in which his father told them made son truly understand that being a part of Snider football meant something.
As father and son took in Snider, Jabar saw a lot that reminded him of those days nearly three decades ago when he was his son’s age, mixing it up on the practice field adjacent to the school.
“Coach Kurt came from the same cloth as (former Snider head coaches) Russ Isaacs and Mike Hawley,” Jabar said. “All those guys established what we know as the ‘Snider Tradition,’ and Coach Kurt is keeping that on.
“It is the same intensity and the same hard work etched in stone. When my son tells me what is going on and what they are working on, I remember doing the same things all those years ago.”
While Iso was ready to hit the ground running in Week 1, the defensive lineman with Division I interest had to wait two weeks as the transfer paperwork was completed. He watched the losses from the sideline, eager to get out there and help.
Coincidentally, Iso’s first game action as a Snider Panther in Week 3 also saw the program shake off the first two games and shut out Concordia Lutheran 27-0.
On the field, going from Bolingbrook to Snider barely affected the 6-foot, 265-pound senior. He still lines up as a three-technique d-lineman in a 4-3 scheme, exactly what he ran in Illinois.
For Iso, the change of scenery hasn’t affected him much, and he is excited to share the uniform his dad once donned.
“I have a lot of family here, so I wasn’t unfamiliar with Fort Wayne when I moved here,” Iso said. “But I am a Snider Panther now. It feels pretty good.”
“He is lucky to be a part of the program and have the same experiences I used to be able to experience,” Jabar said. “Sometimes they don’t believe you, but then they see it themselves and realize how special it is.”