The group at a glance:
No./ Name/ Pos./ Ht./ Wt./ Exp./ Hometown/ High School/ Transfer School
54 Armani Davis
DE 6-2 249 Gr. Homestead, Pa. / Steel Valley Duquesne
91 Domenic Principale
DE 6-4 258 R-Sr. Williamsville, N.Y. / Clarence
92 Tyler Fleeger
DE 6-2 264 R-Fr. Reynoldsville, Pa. / DuBois
98 Sawyer Dininny
DE 6-5 249 R-Jr. Youngsville, Pa. / Youngsville
97 Sam Breese
DL 6-2 253 R-Fr. Lakeview, Pa. / Lakeview Kent State
51 Tony Paretto
DT 6-1 270 R-So. Niagara Falls, N.Y, / Niagara Falls Erie Community College
65 Nick Pettigrew
DT 6-0 273 R-So. Beaver Falls, Pa. / Beaver Falls
66 Derek Dorr
DT 6-3 300 Fr. Blasdell, N.Y. / Frontier
72 Joe Mistretta
DT 6-2 310 Fr. Jamestown, N.Y. / Jamestown
96 Anthony Szymczak
DT 6-2 349 R-Jr. Erie, Pa. / McDowell Erie CC
55 Josh Kibbie
NG 6-2 285 R-Jr. Kane, PA / Kane Area
90 James Wilson Jr.
NG 6-5 285 R-Jr. Ashtabula, Ohio / Edgewood
99 Nick Polizzi
NG 5-11 277 Fr. Pittsford, N.Y. / Pittsford Mendon
Players lost: Pat Walker, Olajuwon Oseni, Greg Cunningham, Tommy Dover
Players returning: Josh Kibbie, Jim Wilson, Domenic Principale, Tyler Fleeger, Sawyer Dininny, Tony Paretto
Newcomers: Nick Polizzi, Armani Davis, Sam Breese, Nick Pettigrew, Derek Dorr, Joe Mistretta, Anthony Szymczak
The defensive line comes in as a potential strength for Edinboro this year. The Fighting Scots got some solid production on the field when the unit wasn’t forced to play a severe amount of snaps. Although the Scots finished 13th in total defense, 12th in rushing defense and 11th against the pass among PSAC teams last year, Edinboro brought a solid defensive front to the table week in and week out. There were several occasions where the front four was able to rise up in situational plays.
After not fielding an effective pass rush in years prior, the defensive line was able to get after the quarterback as Edinboro finished tied for 6th in the conference in sacks with 30. A big reason for that potent pass rush was a result of defensive end Domenic Principale’s outstanding play. Principale finished the year as the team leader in sacks with seven quarterback takedowns after starting the first nine games of the season prior to missing the final two games due to injury. The six-foot-four-inch, 266 pound redshirt senior from Williamsville, New York finished with 34 total tackles, 13 solo stops and finished tied for second on the team in tackles for loss with 7.5; numbers that aided him in earning 2015 USA College Football D-II Preseason All-American second-team honors.
Head coach Scott Browning on his expectations for senior defensive end Domenic Principale and senior linebacker Mike Shansky: “I expect leadership number one, I expect these guys to show us the way, our younger players; show them the way. We expect big things. We expect for them to perform on the field and we expect for them to perform off the field.”
Browning on the importance of Principale’s health after last season: “It’s important for everyone. We’re probably like every other team in the conference, we can’t afford a lot of injuries because of depth. Often times there’s a big drop-off between your first and second-team player. So it’s important that we keep Dom and Mike also, very healthy so they’re ready to play 11 football games for us.”
Shansky on who he expects to step up in 2015: “Dom Principale, of course, he’s an all-conference winner this year. Having him in front of me is outstanding, it’s awesome. Playing behind him makes my job easier along with Josh Kibbie, Jimmy Wilson, Sawyer Dininny, they make our job easier.”
Principale on his goals for the season: “I’m hoping to finish the season with all-American status, because I do want to play football after this collegiate career and my last year here.”
Principale expanding on his pro aspirations: “I would love to play in the CFL, if possible. There have been multiple players that have come out of the PSAC every year to the CFL and a couple that end up going to the NFL. Last year, we had a great year with guys going to the NFL; (Julian) Howsare (Clarion defensive end of the New York Jets), the wide receiver from Shippensburg (Trevor Harman of the Arizona Cardinals), there’s a bunch of guys that have gone.”
Principale on his expectations defensively: “I’m really expecting big things from the defense. We do have some young guys coming in, so we’ll have to conform them into our system and really get them into it and get our defense rolling as soon as possible. Last year we started off really slow with our secondary and it was a tough season. I’m expecting to win every game, you always go into a game expecting to win, but you need to be realistic with it and I really hope we have a great season this year.”
Principale on his injury that kept him out at the end of last season: “I was really devastated when I had hurt my knee in the Slippery Rock game, because it happened in like the first quarter and I went into the game expecting high things. It was more of a freak accident; I had fallen on my knee and then I was running and it just popped on me in my PCL. It’s fully healed now and I won’t even need a brace, so I’ve been running, training, rehabilitating it all summer really working towards getting back onto the field. Last year when it had happened I was devastated, but then I just realized the only way to get back is hard work and that’s what I put in. I’m expecting high hopes this year.”
Principale on how he trained this offseason: “Incredibly. I’ve been training harder this summer than I ever have in my entire life. I’m 266 pounds and I have abs; that’s never happened to me before. I’ve been trained by some of the best around that I know. Anyone around me that can help me, I’ve been trying to use them to get myself better.”
Principale on hypothetically being labeled as a pass rusher: “I’ll take it (for) what it is. I’ll take it as a compliment, because I’m never going to throw anything away, but I mean if my pass rushing is the best thing you guys think I can do, then I’ll just have to show you what I can do in the run game. It’s more of an encouragement when people say that ‘oh, you’re only good at one thing’. I’d like to be a well-rounded player. If you’re not well-rounded, you’re not a good player. If you’re only good at one thing, then you can’t be good on first and second down if they’re running the ball. I’ll take it as a little motivation to show you guys what I can do in the run game this year and I’ll keep showing you what I can do in the pass game as well.”
Principale on the matchup he most relishes: “Gannon has always been a big competitor to me. The last two years have been some of the toughest games. Two years ago I had hurt my finger against Gannon. Last year we got pounded by Gannon, so I’m really looking forward to the Gannon game and every other game clearly, but Gannon is one of my top competitors this year.”
What to expect:
As was the case last year, a young and inexperienced secondary will rely on the defensive front seven, and specifically a defensive line that does not hurt for that experience. There are several bodies back on the line who will be shouldering big expectations this fall to stuff the run and get after the quarterback.
Note: All quotes were obtained firsthand from the 2015 PSAC West football media day luncheon on Monday, Aug. 10.
Mike Fenner is a staff writer for The Spectator.