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Penguins rebound at home

Published: Mon, November 16, 2009 @ 12:00 a.m.

I’d like to congratulate all the Youngstown State fans who showed up Saturday for the Penguins’ final home football game.

It was a great afternoon for football — warm and sunny. And the Penguins allowed everybody to go home happy with their 30-18 victory over Illinois State.

It was a great tribute to the 12 seniors who were playing for the final time at Stambaugh Stadium. It would have been nice if more could have gotten there a little earlier when the seniors were announced to the crowd, but you were there when it counted.

It has been a long, disappointing season for the Penguins, especially for the seniors who had visions of much better things than a 5-5 record and a 3-4 mark in the Missouri Valley Football Conference.

But for at least one afternoon in the Ice Castle, things went the way the Penguins had scripted it.

When asked just what was the difference between Saturday’s Penguins and the ones who had played the previous three weeks, coach Jon Heacock was straight forward with his answer.

“The difference was that we weren’t playing the No. 1, No. 4 or No. 9 ranked team in the country,” he said.

YSU had lost to highly-ranked Southern Illinois, South Dakota State and Northern Iowa the three previous games.

“Who you play has a lot to do with the outcome,” Heacock said.

But Saturday it was all about the seniors so Heacock noted when someone asked him what the win meant to him.

“Today was all about the seniors. This was their week and our job and all the underclassmen’s jobs was to do everything that we could to make this a great week and a great game.”

Saturday, the seniors were outstanding on both sides of the football.

Senior quarterback Brandon Summers played like everybody expected him to all season long. The Penguins ran the ball and passed the ball like everyone knew they were capable of doing.

I think that senior linebacker Draye Ersery, a transfer from Colorado Springs, Colo., probably summed up the Penguins’ day best of all.

Ersery has been either hurt or in a backup role for most of the season. But Saturday, he was in the starting lineup and played a great game with a career-high 11 tackles.

“We just couldn’t wait to get out on the field today,” Ersery said. “There has been no point in the season when I’ve seen the excitement in our locker room after the games. I even saw guys who don’t even get along too well shaking hands after the game.

“We went out there today and played for nobody but ourselves. We were only concerned with the guy next to you for the entire 60 minutes,” he added.

The Penguins have one game remaining on the schedule and that comes this Saturday when they play at North Dakota State in Fargo, N.D. Kickoff for that contest will be at 2 p.m.

The Penguins and Bison have only met three times previously. Last year, the Penguins upended a highly-touted North Dakota State team 32-24 in Youngstown. The last time the Penguins were in Fargo was in 1972 when a guy named Ron Jaworski was the starting quarterback and the Bison won that game 16-10.

Following Saturday’s game, you probably will see considerable changes coming for the football program. More than likely, Heacock won’t be retained. One playoff berth in nine seasons just doesn’t cut it in Youngstown where the fans were spoiled with the team’s great run of the 1990s.

Even though Heacock had a major role in those glory years, the fans only remember what he’s done the last nine. Even 60 wins over those last nine years (which is what he’ll have if he beats North Dakota State) probably won’t be enough to save his job.

There is a lot more in coaching than just wins and losses, but unfortunately those are the only two things that really count.

XPete Mollica covers YSU athletics for The Vindicator. Write to him at mollica@vindy.com.


1FireHeacockNow(11 comments)posted 6 years, 7 months ago

Oh my Pete Mollica finally gives a TINY bit of criticism to Heacock. Fact is this, Heacock has destroyed the program. Just listen to the guy (Heacock) talk. Always making excuses. He is terrible. If he stays one more year, I will never attend another YSU game.

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2alpheusiam(64 comments)posted 6 years, 7 months ago

I certainly will not blame or resent the family members and friends of players who showed up on Saturday it was for their players they were there. Some from the tailgate went as loyal fans but I think that was a personal choice. I like many of you chose not to go and to vote with my butt. I'd like to congratulate the brave fans who like me are sick to their stomachs about missing the game but even sicker about what has become of YSU Athletics and refuse to be complicit in it's continuing demise. You did the hard thing. The right thing. You voted your conscience even when it hurts. Don't let this so called reporter dishearten you because if YSU sports are saved it will be because of you, not him. He hasn't written a word that is anything more then pablum about sports in our area ever when it matters. And that he thinks he can subtly insult you with congrats to the fans is just evidence of his cowardice and profound and eternal failure to be on the right side of the University and history. He protects his access nothing more.

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3alpheusiam(64 comments)posted 6 years, 7 months ago

You and I believe in the team and as good citizens we will have nothing to do the incessant corruption and arrogance that continues to surround it. And it is the lust for the big money game! The entire regime must go and the community must become the beneficiary of YSU as YSU has benefited from the support of this community. Recruiters must recruit here first. Scholarships must stay here first. A new mission statement must include principles that bond the University and the students of this community together from early learning to college graduation. Scholarship and scholarships must be aggressively promoted by YSU throughout the community and with the mutual cooperation of the valley schools. Our best and brightest, our most talented should grow up knowing that a world class education awaits them here at YSU and our athletes should be proud to play here instead of anywhere. Parents and friends and families should be advising the Academic athletes to play at YSU and those scholarships slots should be easily filled with local talent first. Why on earth should YSU recruiters be in Florida, California, and Texas searching for talent, when they haven't even a relationship with many local schools? Why has a community based commuter college become so dependent on foreign talent when there is so much available in NE Ohio and western Pa? Is it because they've screwed the local recruiting job up so badly that they can't even try anymore? Or is it because recruiters like the warm weather and vacation atmosphere of Fla and parts south and west with the frills that accompany travel? This regime must go and Youngstown needs put back in YSU. You didi the right thing Saturday and if YSU turns it's back on our kids we will turn our backs on them. Listen YSU you'd better survey next years ticket sales now! You'd better survey Penguin Club members now! you'd better call your donors now! Because if this regime isn't changed all games might look like Saturday except for the rest of the tailgaters giving up. Ron Strollo must go now!

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4alpheusiam(64 comments)posted 6 years, 7 months ago

Ten questions:
1. How much money has YSU received from the big games?
2. Where does that money go?
3. How much is spent on perks, travel, food, and all things related to the big game but not to the team?
4. How much money is spent on recruiting? line by line visit by visit, state by state?
5. How many athletic and academic scholarships stay in our community? Are they both aggressively promoted locally?
6. Is it true some endowed academic and non sports scholarships go quietly unused and that money is manipulated into athletics?
7. There were 17 area teams in the playoffs, how many players are you seriously recruiting and are you asking anyone who may be sought by a big school?
8. Have you tried getting top academic athletes to consider the University Honors Scholarship? There's 40 by the way.
9. Has anyone done a recent audit of the Athletic Department looking for waste or extravagance?
10. What do area high school AD's and coaches and athletes think of YSU's commitment to the valley?

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5alpheusiam(64 comments)posted 6 years, 7 months ago

One bonus question:
11. How much does YSU think it will take in for all sales related to Penguin Football next year; tickets, tailgate passes, Penguin Club, refreshments, memorobilia, etc. if this regime remains?

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6valleyred(1103 comments)posted 6 years, 7 months ago

Let the coaching search begin. Great read on the candidates can be found here: http://LetsGoGuins.com

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