The former Niles High standout is a standout on the Penguins' experienced offensive line.
By PETE MOLLICA
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
YOUNGSTOWN -- Tony Limongi has struggled through some rough times with the Youngstown State offensive line.
This year, the former Niles High School standout is hoping for better things from the Penguins' front.
Limongi, a 6-foot, 300-pound senior guard, will be starting for the second straight season - as are most of the linemen - and said he's excited about the prospects this season.
"We're experienced this year, we've all got a lot of starts under our belts and we're excited and anxious to get this season under way," Limongi said.
"Last year we had a couple of freshmen that were called upon to play right away, and they learned, we all learned, and it's going to make us that much better this year," he said.
Weight and see
Limongi came to YSU in 2001 after an All-State senior season at Niles. He weighed 330 pounds then, but dropped 90 pounds during his redshirt season.
"In my senior year of high school I was at 330, but a lot of it was fat," Limongi said. "I went home after that first year and started to lose weight, but I actually lost more than I wanted to.
"I had to get rid of that fat, and when I came back I started to gain weight again, but this time I put back muscle instead of fat," he said.
In 2003, Limongi got his first action at YSU, making his first career start against Indiana State. Last season he played every game at guard.
The offensive unit is expected to play well this season because of its experience, but Limongi said he doesn't feel any added pressure.
"We're game-experienced now, we know what we have to do," he said.
Faith in QB Zetts
He also said it's a lot easier now that the Penguins have a designated starting quarterback.
"Having Tom [Zetts] back there every game really makes a difference," he said. "For a while we weren't sure just who was going to be the quarterback, but now we know and we know how he reacts and where he's going to go and do on every play."
Limongi is also very high on the Penguins' new offensive line coach, Chris Bache, who joined the staff this spring from Indiana (Pa.) University.
"I really like him and he knows the game," Limongi said. "He's brought some different techniques with him, and it's really helped us to improve this spring."
Seniors must lead
As a senior Limongi knows his role on the team has changed considerably.
"Seniors have to be leaders and I think there are a lot of guys on this team that look up to me and I have to show the way," he said.
"John [Bartos] and I are the seniors on this line and we will be expected to be the leaders out there on and off the field," he added.
The Penguins worked out Wednesday in full gear and held a short scrimmage.
The offense struggled, but coach Jon Heacock said he expected that.
"The first four days they have been working with stuff that we've given them all winter, now today we added some new things and they struggled somewhat with that," Heacock said.
"We'll see in a couple of days how well they adjust to the new things, although the defense did look a lot better and helped to cause some of those problems on offense," he added.
The Penguins return to workouts at 3:30 p.m. Friday.