Jeannette grad Bodnar waiting for opportunity at Westminster College
Damon Bodnar knows his role.
He embraces it.
But the competitiveness still burns.
Local fans remember Bodnar from his days as a standout on the Jeannette High School football team.
Bodnar is playing at the next level these days; he's a sophomore reserve running back at Westminster College.
As a true freshman last year, he was a backup, not seeing any varsity action.
This season, a neck injury kept him sidelined much of the season.
He's healthy again and contributing in practice, anxiously awaiting the chance to play in games.
“I'm not getting a lot of game action, but I'm trying to give the defense the best looks possible in practice (as a member of the scout team),” he said.
“I want to make sure the defense is well prepared. I'll do whatever I have to do.”
The 5-foot-9, 200-pound Bodnar is enthusiastic about his scout team role, but a player of his caliber didn't get where he's at without some competitiveness. In other words, he can't wait for his chance to play.
“With my competitive nature, I want to be out there,” he said.
“I want to help the team. I'm not able to do that on the field right now, so I'm doing it in practice and waiting for my opportunity.”
Westminster Head Coach Jeff Hand suggested Bodnar may not have to wait long, indicating he's in position to be a contributing back next season and, now that he's healthy, perhaps even some before this season is up.
“He's a tough young man,” said Hand.
“There's a chance he'll be able to contribute this season. With his toughness, with his ability, as long as he stays healthy, he should be able to compete to get some time.”
After a 7-6 nail-biting victory over Bethany on Saturday, Westminster is 3-4 overall and 2-3 in the NCAA Division III Presidents Athletic Conference (PAC).
“Overall, we're not where we want to be as a team. We just have to make the most of the opportunities we have left and try to finish this season on a roll,” said Bodnar.
That starts this Saturday when Westminster hosts Waynesburg and Bodnar will see a familiar face.
Hall, Ohio State slam Penn State
Jeannette grad Jordan Hall had a big game, as did virtually everyone on the Ohio State roster, as the Buckeyes dismantled Penn State 63-14 Saturday.
Hall, a senior running back, had eight carries for 81 yards as the Buckeyes cruised to a lopsided victory — giving Penn State its worst loss in 114 years. Hall is second on the team with 519 rushing yards on 79 carries (6.6 yard average) including eight touchdowns.
The Buckeyes have now won 20 straight games. This season, they're 8-0 overall, 5-0 in the Division I Big Ten Conference and ranked No. 4 in the nation by the Associated Press. Ohio State hits the road to take on Purdue (1-6, 0-4) this Saturday. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network.
Batts, IUP win
IUP and Jeannette product Jordan Batts got back on the winning track by downing Mercyhurst 28-6 on Saturday. Batts, a redshirt sophomore defensive lineman, figured in on one tackle in the victory.
IUP improved to 6-1 overall and 3-2 in the Division II Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC). The Crimson Hawks hit the road to take on Clarion (4-4, 2-3) in PSAC action Saturday. The game will be broadcast at IUPathletics.com and 92.5 FM.
Paulone leads Waynesburg to win
After a disappointing loss to Bethany on Oct. 19, Waynesburg — led by Jeannette grad Thomas Paulone — got on the winning track last week with a 31-14 home victory over Geneva.
Paulone, a senior running back, had 21 carries for 66 yards, both career highs.
He also caught one pass for four yards.
Paulone's career day came in what was Waynesburg's final home game of the season.
“It was an honor to carry a heavier workload this week than previous weeks,” said Paulone. “I want to show my teammates that I will be accountable to them every time I touch the football. I want to continue to get better and raise the bar on myself.”
Paulone now has 20 carries for 117 yards this season.
Waynesburg is now 6-2 overall and 4-1 in the PAC. As noted above, Waynesburg plays PAC rival Westminster (3-4, 2-4) Saturday in New Wilmington, Pa.
Mahoney, Mount Union cruise
The Mount Union football team stayed undefeated and ranked No. 1 in Division III with a 48-0 victory over Otterbein Saturday.
The Purple Raiders — led by Jeannette native and Greensburg Central Catholic graduate Pat Mahoney at center — are 7-0 overall, 6-0 in the Ohio Athletic Conference.
They'll have their toughest test of the season Saturday when they take on Heidelberg (7-0, 6-0) Saturday at 1:30. The game will be broadcast at athletics.mountunion.edu.
Brian Knavish is a contributing writer.