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Jeannette fans conflicted about PSU game

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Thursday, Oct. 23, 2008

When No. 10 Ohio State plays host to No. 3 Penn State on Saturday night, not everyone in Jeannette will be rooting for Ohio State freshman quarterback Terrelle Pryor.

That's because many Penn State fans, who rooted for Pryor while he was leading Jeannette to consecutive WPIAL titles and the 2007 PIAA championship, want the Nittany Lions to win big.

Bill Hoffman, who owns an insurance agency in Jeannette, wishes Pryor well, just not this weekend.

"My heart is with Penn State, and I hope we sack him 15 times," said Hoffman, a 1963 Penn State graduate. "I'll root for Terrelle other weeks."

While Pryor has a loyal following in Jeannette, there are many Penn State fans from Western Pennsylvania who remain upset that Pryor selected Ohio State. Some call him a traitor.

Pryor defends his decision, and some of his friends agree.

Joel Baradziej and his son, Cameron, who replaced Pryor as the Jeannette quarterback this season, send text messages and talk to their good friend on a regular basis.

Still, they want Penn State to win because the Nittany Lions are in line to play in a Bowl Championship Series game.

"Terrelle would be disappointed if I changed my alliances," Joel Baradziej said. "We've been sending text messages back-and-forth, but it's all in good fun. He jabs me about Penn State, and I give it right back.

"The perfect scenario for me was if Terrelle would throw for 300 yards and three touchdowns, rush for 100 yards, and Penn State wins, 28-21."

Baradziej said he became a Penn State fan in 1973, when his sister, Lisa Baradziej Scalzo, attended the school. His son, Chris, 21, attends Penn State and his daughter, Kaitlin, is a big fan. She attended Penn State Greater Allegheny.

"I really wanted Terrelle to attend Penn State," Joel Baradziej said. "But things have worked out for the better for him. Daryll (Clark) has performed well, and Terrelle is doing well."

Cameron Baradziej respects Pryor's decision to attend Ohio State.

"I wanted him to go to Penn State, but it was his choice," he said. "I think he made the better move. Clark is doing real well and so is Terrelle.

"I watch Terrelle's games. But this is for Penn State's (BCS title) game chances. I've been a Penn State fan all my life."

Joel Baradziej said Pryor calls his son to offer encouragement.

Nick Campbell, a senior on the Jeannette football team, said he's a Penn State fan, but he's rooting for Pryor.

"He was my teammate, and he's had my back, and I still feel for him," Campbell said. "So, I have to root for him. I feel there will be a lot people in Jeannette rooting for Ohio State."

Jeannette restaurateur Tony DeNunzio will be in Ohio Stadium on Saturday night. And, no, DeNunzio said, he won't be wearing a shirt that's red on one side and blue on the other.

DeNunzio is friends with Penn State coach Joe Paterno and is a loyal Nittany Lions fan. He also befriended Pryor and has known him well for the past three-plus years.

"I'm going to stay neutral," DeNunzio said. "I'm hoping Terrelle does exceptionally well because it would mean so much for him. I wish him all the luck.

"Terrelle, in my eyes, is one of the most focused athletes I've seen since Tiger Woods. When we steps on the field, he does it in a professional way. He's very respectable to the people at Jeannette and at Ohio State."

Sue Zinkan works in Jeannette, but she, her husband ,Edward, and their son, Patrick are Penn State graduates.

"Sure, I wanted Terrelle to go to Penn State," Sue Zinkan said. "He shows a lot of poise and class. I wish him all the best as long as Penn State wins.

"I'm a big JoePa fan. I was disappointed at first he chose Ohio State, but I realize he made the best decision."

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