Four P-T Warriors commit on opening day of signing period
Only hours into the open signing period, four schools officially picked up senior athletes from Penn-Trafford.
Dom Cima, Dorian Stevens and Brian McDonough all will continue their football careers in college this fall, and Matt Loughnane became P-T's first Division I signee of the year by joining the men's soccer team at St. Francis (Pa.). All four sent in their National Letter of Intent on the first day allowed for those sports, Feb. 6.
The three football players, all of whom were members of the Tribune-Review's Terrific 25, will combine to log some miles on Interstate 79, as Stevens will head north to Mercyurst, and the others will head south into West Virginia — McDonough to Concord and Cima to Alderson-Broaddus.
Loughnane, a football teammate of the others at P-T, instead will stick to kicking the round ball in college at St. Francis, which recruited him to play the left defender role he played so effectively for his Beadling Soccer Club team that has twice reached the six-team national championship.
“I've known their coach, Coach (Michael) Casper, for a couple of years,” Loughnane said. “He was the first coach that started recruiting me, so just the relationship with him was big. They have a lot of international guys on their team, too, and I like that diversity.”
Loughnane's skills as an offensively skilled defender should be helpful on a Red Flash team that struggled to score last year. St. Francis scored just 15 goals last season — five in a win over LIU-Brooklyn — on its way to a 6-7-7 overall record.
He also will have a familiar teammate in this incoming class, as Dominic Ramirez, a senior at Westmont Hilltop and one of eight players off Loughnane's Beadling team to sign with a Division I school, also has signed with the Red Flash.
“They've given me gym workouts and some offseason stuff to do,” said Loughnane, who intends to study marketing at St. Francis.
“This spring, I'm going to go down and see them play against Georgetown and West Virginia, just to see the level of play. I'll go up there in the summer and start playing with them then.”
Loughnane said he hopes to be able to play soccer beyond college, and while the former all-state kicker won't be playing football any longer, his three high school teammates continue the trend of P-T football players landing on college rosters.
Cima, a wide receiver and all-Quad East defensive back for P-T, will be part of an up-and-coming program at Alderson-Broaddus in Phillipi, W.Va.
The football program at Alderson-Broaddus played last season as a club team, but this year will transition to full varsity status and join the NCAA's Division II ranks in a brand new stadium.
For Cima, the chance to be a part of something new is an exciting opportunity.
“One of the coach's main points was that he wants to make history,” Cima said. “There's so many firsts that can be done, so many records that can be set. That was something that caught my attention.
“I like the campus a lot. Everything was brand new, the football program was brand new, and I really connected with their coaches.”
One of the other perks of a new program is the number of positions that need to be filled, and Cima, who has been recruited with a chance to play on either side of the ball but is leaning toward offense, hopes to move into a starting role quickly.
“It's exciting that I'll get to go right down there and compete. I definitely have a high chance of starting,” Cima said. “I talked to my coach, and (receiver) is where he thinks I'll fit best.”
Off the field, Cima plans to pursue a business major with a minor in criminology. On the field, he and his teammates will play an independent schedule in 2013 with a look toward the program's future move into the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, of which Alderson-Broaddus is a member in other sports.
One of the big dogs in the WVIAC recently has been McDonough's destination, Concord. The 2011 conference champs finished in second last season, and the chance to play for conference and NCAA championships was appealing about the school in Athens, W.Va.
“I hate losing, and going into a program that's used to winning makes things better,” McDonough said. “I was real comfortable with the team and the atmosphere, and the offer they made was right.”
McDonough, an all-conference tight end for P-T, was recruited to play a tight end/H-back role for Concord. Though the team has a number of returning starters, McDonough is optimistic that he can get on the field quickly.
“They said they only have one or two tight ends coming back next year, so there's a possibility of playing right away,” said McDonough, who plans to major in education and sports management so that he can move into the teaching and coaching professions.
By signing with Concord, which is located near the southern end of West Virginia, McDonough is in a position of being the only WPIAL player in his signing class and one of only three on the roster. But that isn't a problem for McDonough, who is ready to focus on school and football when he arrives in the summer.
“I'll kind of be by myself going there, but that's fine,” he said. “I'm looking forward to it.”
There's no shortage of WPIAL players at Stevens' destination, Mercyhurst, which has three Penn-Trafford alums returning to its roster in 2013 — Mike Brown, Matt Hyland and Zach Emerick.
Though Stevens, the all-conference multi-purpose player in 2012, handled the quarterback duties for P-T last fall, he'll be moving back to his more natural position of receiver for the Lakers, who already have Emerick and senior starter Anthony Vendemia (Franklin Regional) on their depth chart at quarterback.
“It's going to be cool hooking up on passes with (Emerick) again,” Stevens said. “I stayed with him when I visited, and I definitely liked the campus and how I fit in with the guys there.”
Stevens already is back to work at transitioning to receiver, as well as getting himself ready physically for the next level.
“They have offseason workouts, and I'll basically be doing the same thing they are before I get up there,” Stevens said. “They also want me to put on some weight, so that's going to be a main focus for me.”
Academics also played a factor in Stevens' college choice, as he plans to pursue a biology or pre-med major while in Erie.
“It's a great school, probably one of the best in the (Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference) education-wise, especially for what I want to do,” he said.
By playing in the PSAC, which features teams who heavily recruit the WPIAL, Stevens' transition to the college game and back to his old position should be a natural move.
“The coaches have told me I should be able to come in and compete right away,” Stevens said. “That's my focus and my goal when I get there.”
Matt Grubba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5830 or firstname.lastname@example.org.