New football coach is ready to build at IUP

| Thursday, Aug. 4, 2011

When Curt Cignetti took the Indiana (Pa.) football coaching job in January, he had a message for his players.

"There's two types of pain in life -- the pain of commitment and the pain of regret," he told his team. "Which one do you want to undergo?"

As Cignetti enters his first season, his players appear ready to commit. Cignetti, son of Crimson Hawk coaching legend Frank Cignetti, is focused on generating a solid foundation for the program.

"We're trying to change the culture here right now," he said. "We're trying to become a tough, physical team, and we're going to compete for 60 minutes — six seconds a play, one play at time."

IUP was picked to finish in a tie for third with Slippery Rock in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference West Division preseason coaches poll. Mercyhurst was picked second, and California (Pa.) was on top.

Cignetti, who was Alabama's receivers coach and recruiting coordinator the past four years, has a balanced attack. Quarterback Pat Smith will lead the offense. Smith, who missed most of last season with a broken thumb, needs to be efficient in the passing game while minimizing mistakes.

IUP should boast an effective run game, and Cignetti plans to employ a three-back attack. Harvie Tuck will be the workhorse after last year's 1,134-yard performance. Teddy Blakeman, James Johnson and Ben Sasu will compete for carries.

Cignetti knows it might take time to return to championship form, but he believes his team can be as good as it wants to be.

"I'm not setting any limits on what our guys are doing this fall," he said. "You can do a lot when you believe."

Young Panthers shine

Incoming Pitt freshman Austin Caldwell qualified for the U.S. Olympic trials in the 50-meter freestyle at the USA Swimming sectionals last month in Cleveland. Caldwell swam a career-best 23.45 seconds.

Caldwell becomes the fourth Pitt incoming freshman to achieve this honor. Gateway graduate Luke Nosbisch was the first in May in the 200 breaststroke. Fellow Panthers Jon Lierley and Kourosh Ahani achieved the feat in the 200 butterfly and 100 butterfly.

Cal duo win bronze

California (Pa.) senior softball player Jillian Russell and former Vulcan Megan Timpf led the Canadian women's softball team to the bronze medal in the World Cup of Softball in Oklahoma City. Canada finished 4-2, including a 4-3 victory over the United States, the eventual champion.

Timpf, a 2007 graduate and current Indiana (Pa.) assistant coach, hit .267 with a double in two RBI in six games. Russell appeared in three games and went 2 for 4 with a two-run double in Canada's loss to runner-up Japan.

Schedule talk

The Penn State women's team will face eight postseason participants from last season among its 12-game nonconference schedule. Among the Nittany Lions' six home games are appearances by North Carolina for the Big Ten/ACC Challenge and Virginia Tech. Among the remaining dates, Penn State will play two games at the John Ascuaga'a Nugget Classic on Nov. 25 and 26 in Reno, Nev., with Iowa State, Butler and host Nevada.

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