By Scott Kindberg
B.J. Monacelli made his presence felt in a big way when Washington & Jefferson (Pa.) College opened its 2012 football season last Saturday.
Washington &Jefferson safety B.J. Monacelli (right) strips a Methodist University receiver of the ball during Saturday’s season-opening football game in Fayetteville, N.C.
P-J?photo by Lisa Monacelli
The 2010 Cassadaga Valley Central School graduate registered five tackles, forced a fumble, intercepted a pass and broke up another from his safety spot to help the Presidents down Methodist (N.C.) University, 23-6, in Fayetteville, N.C.
Monacelli's forced fumble early in the second half was returned by a teammate 63 yards and set up a touchdown that staked W&J to a 17-0 lead. Later in the third quarter, Monacelli picked off a pass in the end zone to thwart another Methodist scoring threat.
The Presidents roster includes several other local residents. They are junior Andrew Pingitore (Cassadaga/Cassadaga Valley), a starting right guard; sophomore defensive back Eric Tyra (Jamestown/Jamestown); sophomore defensive back Shane Smith (Fredonia/Fredonia), junior offensive lineman Sam Aults (Brocton/Brocton); and junior defensive lineman Zach Marsh (Panama/Panama).
W&J is coached by Mike Sirianni (Jamestown/Southwestern). The 31st head coach in W&J history, Sirianni owns an 86-18 record in 10 seasons, is second on the school's all-time win list and his winning percentage (.827) is the best in the program's history. That winning percentage places him fifth among all active NCAA football coaches (FBS, FCS, DII, or DIII) with at least five years of experience.
He has also guided the Presidents to a postseason appearance in eight of his 10 seasons, including six NCAA playoffs (2004-2009).
In 2010, W&J captured the ECAC Division III Southwest Bowl with a 54-41 victory over Franklin & Marshall.
Sirianni's squads have won at least nine games in eight of his years, including three-straight, 10-plus win seasons from 2006-08.
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Jasen Carlson (Jamestown/Southwestern) turned in a stellar performance in the University at Buffalo's 45-23 season-opening loss at nationally ranked Georgia.
A junior guard/center, Carlson helped pave the way for the Bulls' 199 rushing yards, which is the highest total allowed by a Georgia non-conference opponent at home since Georgia Tech rushed for 409 in 2008.
Carlson, who stands 6-foot-1 and weighs 301 pounds, started the game at left guard and later moved to center due to an injury to a teammate.
The 2010 Southwestern Central School graduate played in seven games last season, starting the last four. As a freshman, he appeared in seven games, starting one.
In high school, he was the New York State Football Coaches Association Class C Player of the Year and twice was recognized with Western New York's ''Trench Trophy,'' symbolic fo the best interior lineman in Section 6.
The Bulls entertain Morgan State on Saturday.
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Zack Sopak (Lakewood/Southwestern) is the frontrunner to take over the starting quarterback duties at Alfred University this fall.
Sopak, who played sparingly his first two years at W&J, is a former two-time Post-Journal and New York State Class C Player of the Year, leading the Trojans to back-to-back state titles in 2008 and 2009.
''He has a strong arm, a very high football IQ and was able to pick up our system very easily in the spring,'' said Alfred coach Dave Murray. ''He has an ability to make plays out of broken, unsettled situations, but he's also very capable of throwing the football effectively.''
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Freshman Katelyn Benson (Bemus Point/Maple Grove) finished second in her Denison (Ohio) University cross country debut at the Franklin (Ind.) Invitational last Saturday.
The Big Red placed first and had four runners earn in top 10 finishes, led by Benson, who toured the course in 19:15.64.
The team victory marked the program's first win since 2005 when Denison won the NCAA Great Lakes Regional.
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Junior Erin Kling (Jamestown/Jamestown) registered a third-place finish as the California University of Pennsylvania women's cross country team placed second in the team standings last Saturday at the 41st annual Marty Uher Invitational.
Kling's time was 20:06.
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Two local residents - juniors Leslie Beaton (Bemus Point/Maple Grove) and Alissa Conti (Fredonia/Fredonia) - are members of the SUNY Fredonia women's cross country team.
Beaton ran a 20:38 and Conti a 21:24 at the Daniel Walker Invitational last Friday at Beaver Island State Park on Grand Island.
Beaton, a track performer at Fredonia, joined cross country for the first time this fall.
Josh Szukala (Fredonia/Fredonia) is a freshman on the men's team.
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Tess Follman (Killbuck/Salamanca) is a freshman forward on the Pitt-Bradford women's soccer team this fall.