Archive for September, 2011

Trace Adkins Will Play Covelli Centre November 18

Trace Adkins is coming to Youngstown to play a show at the Covelli Centre on Friday, November 18.  Tickets for the concert go on sale Friday, September 30 at 10 a.m.  The tickets are very reasonably priced and Adkins is a sure sellout, get in on the action early Friday.

Adkins is a man of many hats, both literally and figuratively. He achieved reality TV stardom on Donald Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice,” he’s dabbled in acting, and he laid out his conservative political views in the book, “A Personal Stand: Observations and Opinions from a Freethinking Roughneck.” Adkins has also ventured into the comic book world with the launch of LUKE McBAIN, a four-part comic book series whose lead character was based on the country giant’s likeness and persona.

But at the end of the day, he’s a country singer – pure and simple.

Adkins made his debut in the country music world almost 15 years ago with a platinum-selling album and has since become an undeniable musical force, earning his place among the most identifiable artists of his generation.

An esteemed Grand Ole Opry member since 2003, Adkins has built a strong legion of fans by recording songs that possess insightful lyrics and cover a wide range of interests — many from his own life experiences. With one of the most identifiable voices in country music, the Grammy-nominated artist has had twenty-eight singles land on Billboard’s country chart, with 14 breaking into the Top 10. His albums achieve gold or multi-platinum status and have made chart-topping debuts.

Being Donald Jones: Beating The Patriots And Keeping Momentum


Donald Jones predicted Buffalo could beat New England because there were match-ups that the Bills offense could control.  Point taken, 3-0, and Buffalo is rolling along like a championship team with a seemingly unstoppable offense.  Jones had his best game as a professional, hauling in five passes for 101 yards leading a scoring machine called the Bills.

The former Youngstown State Penguin talked about the big win over New England.  “We won the game, and it is a huge win to beat them [New England].  We have been fortunate to dig our way out of holes that we are putting ourselves in early, and we are addressing that.  We are happy with the win though, it is a huge step for us.”

Jones set up the winning points with a great 48-yard reception. “That play was something that we worked on in practice.  When we got up to the line, Fitz [Ryan Fitzpatrick] saw the defense that they were in and called the audible and it worked just like we practiced it.”

“The play that put us in front in the fourth quarter was the pass to Scott Chandler across the middle.  They stayed with me so nobody was on Chandler.  Had they stayed with him, I would have been open.  It was the same exact play we used when we beat the Raiders.”

Jones talked about this weekend’s visit to Cincinnati.  “Our mindset as a team is that we have not really accomplished anything yet.  We are 3-0, and that’s a good start, but it is a long season.  All of the veterans are staying on the young guys to stay prepared each week and not become content.”

So far the Bills are just an offensive Juggernaut.  Fred Jackson and the running game are loosening up defenses for Fitzpatrick to pick apart.  “Fred is a beast”, remarked Jones.  “He helps our passing game out tremendously by keeping the defense honest with the run.”

Jones and his Bills are in an unfamiliar position this weekend – playing a game that they should win.  People are catching on to what Jones has been telling me since Week 1, when he said the 2011 Bills offense would be a force to be reckoned with.  Oh yeah, I almost forgot, Jones is now owned by 6% of all fantasy owners, a far cry from zero a month ago.  Pick him up while you can!

Jake Giuriceo Interview: Part 1: Faith And Fighting


Jake Giuriceo‘s stock is on the rise. The young boxer from Campbell, Ohio is winning fights and looking impressive in the process. ‘The Bull’, as he has been nicknamed, is 13-0-1 as a professional and looks better than the last fight each time I see him. Part of his success can be attributed to good management with Joe Corvino at the helm, good training with Frank Duarte and Keith Burnside splitting the responsibilities, work ethic, and a fiance who believes in him. The other part of his success is a direct result in his strong Faith and religious beliefs.

On a rainy and gloomy night, I met Guiriceo and Corvino at a local restaurant where we conducted a lengthy interview that will be broken down into three segments. I learned a lot about the charismatic young man who signed autographs for young fans who recognized him that night. I learned how focused he is on getting himself to become the best possible boxer he can be. I asked questions about religion because I have heard that Giuriceo is a very spiritual being.

Here is the first part of the Jake Giuriceo trilogy, which focuses mostly on his love of Jesus Christ and his teachings.


Paneech: Some see boxing as a barbaric sport. Some see religion as a tranquil non-violent and non-combative practice. How do the two mix in your life?

Giuriceo: That is a hard question to answer. I am going to just speak freely on the mixture of the two. What I am is a follower of Jesus Christ. My church affiliation is an Assembly of God where we strictly follow the Bible and nothing else. I am a Christian at heart. Nowhere in the Bible does it tell you not to box. Actually, there is a passage in the Bible where Paul in First Corinthians 9:26, quotes boxing. It is not barbaric to the point where it demeans religion.

Paneech: Have you faced adversity because you are so open about your beliefs?

Giuriceo: Face-to-face nobody has ever said anything to me. Aside from the time that I wore the Jesus trunks (above photo), where Jesus’ name was on my trunks eleven times and I did catch some adversity, I haven’t really had an issue with anyone. The Lord has blessed me and it has been a really good and smooth career. As far as the boxing and religion mixing, it is simple, I put The Lord first in everything that I do. The Bible tells you to put God first with all heart, mind, body, and soul, and everything else falls into place. I give 100% in the gym at all times. The Lord tells you to give 100% at all times, don’t slack or just go through the motions. There is no problem with it.

Paneech: Let me rephrase it then so you see the question from a different angle. Let’s say you had a bad day in the past couple of months. You are at a point in the day where you are going to either say, ‘I am going to the gym to work my frustration out’, or, ‘I am going to go home and get into my Bible’, which route do you go?

Giuriceo: It would depend on what time of the day it is. If it is time to go to the gym, than I am going to go to the gym. When I get done at the gym, I will go home and read my Bible. If I go to the gym and come home frustrated, I will go home and read my Bible. I do both. I know I am beating around the bush and not answering the question, but I really do both, and that is my honest answer. If I am driving down the road at three-thirty, I know I have to go to the gym. Maybe I will stop and pray first, I always pray before my workouts anyway. I stay in contact with God 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I don’t necessarily need a Bible in my hands to stay in touch.

Giuriceo is genuinely persuaded by his religious beliefs and I admire the way he handles himself under any circumstance. His Faith is real and those around him could not begin to tell you that there is no gimmick in his prayers. He would be thankful and religious without boxing and should be an inspiration to those who take shortcuts in life and make excuses of never having enough time to read scripture.

In Part Two next week, we will talk about boxing, the dual-trainer situation, the future, and the expectations.

YSU Comeback Bid Falls Just Short In 37-35 Loss To Indiana State


Youngstown State University fought until the very end, but came up short in a 37-35 loss at Indiana State.  The Penguins overcame an awful start trailing by as many as 21 in the first half but were able to attempt an onside kick down only two with just over a minute left in the game.  Unfortunately, the kick never traveled ten yards and the Penguins offense never got back on the field. Shakir Bell had a huge day for the Sycamores and the hole the Penguins fell into in the first half could not be fixed by the final gun.

Bell had 21 carries for 256 yards, a 12.2 average per carry, and scored four times on runs of 62, 39, 61, and 51 — all in the first half.  The 256 yards recorded by Bell are an Indiana State school record.  Bell wasn’t flawless, despite the record, as he coughed one up in the second quarter.  YSU’s Aronde Stanton scooped up the fumble and raced toward the Penguin end zone to score a defensive touchdown that would have cut the score to 27-21.  Stanton, however, fumbled the ball on the ISU one-yard line and it rolled out of the end zone resulting in a touchback and the Sycamores retaining possession on their own 20.


Youngstown State (2-2, 1-1) got a very solid performance from Jamaine Cook.  The junior tailback racked up 177 yards rushing and scored a pair of touchdowns for the Penguin offense. Kurt Hess and Jelani Berassa also hooked up for a pair of scores from four yards out.  Berassa finished the game with 44 yards receiving on six grabs.  Christian Bryan continued to play fantastic football for Youngstown State.  Bryan was the Penguins top yardage wideout, finishing with six catches for 72 yards.  Notably, the Penguins were five of five in the red zone, and Indiana State was two-of-two.

The passing game was also good, leading a nice two minute drive in the fourth quarter to bring the Penguins within two points.  Hess performed like a surgeon on the drive and had a couple of key runs, as well as passes, on the scoring march that would result in a touchdown.  Hess finished the game with 224 yards passing on 25 completions in 41 attempts.  He also gained 21 yards on the ground, but threw one interception.

Indiana State got decent production from others than Bell, mostly in the first half.  The efficient Ronnie Fouch completed 11-17 for 189 yards.  His top two targets were Michael Mardis and Alex Jones, who finished the game with 83 and 81 yards, respectively.  The Sycamores could only score three points in the second half as the YSU defense made some good adjustments at halftime to eliminate the big plays the Sycamore offense enjoyed in the opening sessions.


Nick DeCraker recorded a sack for the Penguins. Josh Garner and Davion Rogers each recorded three unassisted tackles, and Travis Williams had a hand in eight tackles, two solo from his Will linebacker position.  Give the penguins defensive players and coaches credit for really turning things around most of the second half.

Indiana State got a monster effort on defense from Aaron Archie.  All Archie did was sack Hess twice, record seven solo tackles and assist on eleven other stops.

Other Penguins who had some statistics worth mentioning were Jordan Thompson who finished the game with 43 yards on eight carries, scored a touchdown, and caught a couple of passes for seven more yards. Kevin Watts (above) had a couple of catches in the Penguins final scoring drive for 19 yards and also returned three kickoffs for 57 yards.  Nick Liste had six punts for 239 yards (39.8 yards averaged per punt), and kicker David Brown was 5/5 on PAT’s.

Unfortunately, Eric Wolford, who stresses the importance and difficulties of winning on the road, dipped to 0-9 away from Youngstown State.  The win marks the first time that the Sycamores have gotten by the Penguins in Terre Haute after losing their first eleven tries at home.  Be assured that Wolford and staff did not take this loss lightly, and I am sure that the upcoming two weeks of practice will be very hard for the team.

Youngstown State is headed into a bye week but will return home on October 8 to face South Dakota State.

Being Donald Jones: Coming Back Against The Raiders, Seeking Respect Against The Patriots


With their backs against the wall last week, the most surprising team in the NFL did the unthinkable and overcame an 18-point second half deficit to defeat the Oakland Raiders in a classic.  The Buffalo Bills scored on their last five possessions to complete a comeback for the ages, pulling out a 38-35 thriller over the visiting Raiders.

Former Youngstown State WR Donald Jones had four catches for 24 yards and made perhaps the biggest play of the game when he knocked what looked like a sure interception away from a Raiders defensive back on the last scoring drive.

“Coach Gailey comes up with great sets of plays for us to run each week”, reflected Jones. “However, on the last drive, Fitz [Ryan Fitzpatrick] was making it up as we went.  That is what is so unique about our offense this season, Fitz and Coach Gailey are on the same page.”

“Against Kansas City, we got ahead so fast that we were able to use more running plays in the second half.  This past week against Oakland, we were down so fast that we had to throw the ball more to score faster.”

This week, the Bills (2-0) host the always-tough New England Patriots.  As you can imagine, not many are picking the Bills to win this contest, but Jones believes in his team.  “We are going into this game to win.  We know we have some matchups that we can win on offense.  It is definitely going to be an opportunity for this team to get some national recognition and to prove that we are for real.”

Kickoff for the Bills-Patriots game is set for 1 p.m. and I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if Buffalo pulls this game out.  I haven’t been wrong yet.

YSU Volleyball Falls To Robert Morris In Four Sets


Robert Morris senior middle blocker Hannah Veith had 11 kills and recorded 12 blocks to lead the Colonials to a four-set win over the Youngstown State volleyball team — 25-14, 20-25, 25-15-, 25-18 —  on Tuesday evening at Beeghly Center.

Veith hit .667, and the Colonials had a team attack percentage of .287. Robert Morris had 18 total blocks, which limited YSU to a .082 attack percentage.

Youngstown State’s Jackie Carlisle led all attackers with 15 kills on a .256 attack percentage.  Shannon Watson added five kills on 11 attempts, but every other player who had more than eight attempts hit a negative percentage.

Robert Morris converted on 13 of its 14 sideout chances in the opening set to cruise to a 25-14 win. Youngstown State, though, rebounded in the second and never trailed en route to a 25-20 win. Carlisle had four kills in the set.

The Colonials won the third set 25-15 behind a .393 attack percentage, and Veith had six block assists in the fourth as Robert Morris held off a late Penguin charge to win 25-18.

Rachel Gambow had a career-high 10 digs for YSU.

Youngstown State will head back into Horizon League play on Friday with a home match against Cleveland State. First serve against the Vikings at Beeghly Center is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Game Week: YSU (2-1, 1-0) vs Indiana State (2-1, 0-0)


Indiana State has never defeated Youngstown State at home.  The Penguins are a perfect 11-0 when traveling to Terre Haute and hold a 19-2 series lead over the Sycamores.  Eric Wolford lost his only game coaching against Indiana State in Youngstown last season by a score of 30-24 and did not get a win on the road (0-8) last season.  Something has to give and one of the streaks will come to an end this weekend.

Indiana State (2-1, 0-0) opened at Happy Valley, falling to Penn State.  The Sycamores rebounded to win a shootout over Butler and posted an impressive win over an FBS opponent last week, handing Western Kentucky a 44-16 beating.  The offensive weapons that the Sycamores use most are senior Ronnie Fouch at QB, Brock Lough (Sr.) at fullback, and Shakir Bell (Jr.) at tailback.

Fouch is 40-65 in three games for 564 yards and five TD’s.  He has also thrown three interceptions and doesn’t seem to pose much of a threat by running with one yard in three games.  Lough is averaging 5.6 yards per carry and has three touchdowns, including a 45-yard run for six.  Bell has 312 yards on 46 attempts and has busted one for 59 yards.  This is a big play offense that is in every way capable of beating you through the air or on the ground.


Youngstown State is out of the box in an eerily similar way that they were last season.  They are 2-1 and have a conference win under their belt.  Last season, the wheels came off and the Penguins could not record another win after that finishing 0-7.

Jamaine Cook says that the philosophy has changed. “Last year after Southern Illinois, we had the mentality that we were unstoppable and that no one could beat us – we started looking ahead too much.  We came in this season saying that we wanted to be 1-0 every week, making that a goal we could focus on.  We are happy about being ranked #24, but honestly, we are so hungry that we are not going to stop until we hit #1.”

“Indiana State is a very good football team”, said Eric Wolford.  “They have done a great job of recruiting, they are very well-coached, they work and play hard, and they play with aggression and passion.  That is a compliment to their coaching staff, it starts with them.”


“They are a fast team”, said Cook referring to Indiana State.  “They got a win over a D-1 team last week beating Western Kentucky and we have to come out ready to play hard and have a good week of practice to come away with a win.”

Sycamore FB Lough had this to say about YSU.  “They are a good team.  They played the only conference game last week and won, so that makes them the first place team right now.  We are preparing for them just like we prepared for Penn State in a sense that we expect a battle.  We are in good shape and prepared for a very talented team.  We have never beaten them here and are using that as motivation to prepare for them.”

“Our defense came out last week and held a strong offensive team to 150 yards passing – I know it seemed like more, but it wasn’t – and shut them out at the end of the game giving only one first down there at the end.  We needed to win a game like that for our confidence with all of the youth on that defensive unit.”, said Eric Wolford.

“The thing I was discouraged about last week was that offensively, we had a chance to close the game out, and we didn’t do it.  We missed some key blocks and fortunately, it didn’t cost us a game.  If we continue to miss those blocks, it will surely cost us in the future.”

Coach Wolford talked about being ranked. “Obviously, it is nice to be ranked, but that ranking stuff really matters more at the end of the year.  At the end of the day, that is what would matter. I don’t want anything like a ranking causing a distraction this week.”

Kickoff is set for 2:05 p.m. and the game will be televised on the WB Network.  You can also catch the action on AM-570, WKBN.

YSU Football Profiles: Jordan Thompson


The versatility of a few players can put Youngstown State’s football team on top this season.  Few members of the 2011 squad are as versatile as Jordan Thompson.  During the Spring, the coaching staff had the sophomore being switched from tailback to wide receiver.  Weight was lost, routes were run, and experience was surely gained.  The end result, however, has Thompson at #2 on the depth chart behind Jamaine Cook, as a tailback.  The most surprising part of the interview conducted with Thompson was his sincerity to do whatever it takes, from whatever position, at any given time, to help the Penguins win.  Unselfish.

Paneech: How difficult is it when you are an underclassman to get playing time when there are four capable backs with none being more than a sophomore?

Thompson: There isn’t much of a problem.  We all find a way and we know that [Jamaine] Cook is our leader.  After that, we all do whatever we can to help out.  We all know that we can contribute and we are all very competitive.  When we get a shot, we want to do our best, but we know that Cook is our top guy and we are going to follow him and do the best that we can when we get in.

Paneech: You almost got switched to receiver, things happened, and you end up in the backfield again.  Has there been any talk about you maybe going back to help in the receiving group?

Thompson: Not that I know of, you would have to ask some of the powers that be that question.  I just do what I am told.  It was fun learning something new.  The little bit that I did play receiver in the Spring, I was competitive, but was out there running around like a little kid playing pee-wees just trying to get comfortable with it.  When I did it, I worked in the Summer with Jelani [Berassa], Dominque Barnes, and Kevin Watts, who all worked hard helping me out.


Paneech: Last season at this time, it was still a new program.  How much more advanced is the 2011 version of this team?

Thompson: We were good last season, but this year, I feel like we are playing a lot more confidently.  We can pick up new things when we have to at a pretty fast pace.  We are also confident that we completely understand the offense and what is going on around us.  It is natural for us and we feel like we are in control of the game.

Paneech: It seems like everyone who plays college football was the best player on their high school team.  What was your high school career like?

Thompson: High School… I had three All-American’s above me on my team, two were All-State picks.  I was just one of the guys and it was almost a college environment.  Our coach treated the program like a college program so that we, as players, could understand what we needed to do to be ready to play at a college level.

Paneech: Before camp started, you had some free time, what sort of activities do you enjoy doing when football is in the offseason?

Thompson: I Tweet a lot (laughs).  I’ll sit on Twitter, I will play video games, we like to play the NCAA games and the basketball stuff.  I am not a big fan of Madden.  We like to just hang out and we bring the younger guys in to get to spend time with them and get to know them.


Paneech: Here is a scenario.  It is six at night, you are hungry and have very limited choices on campus.  Where do you go and what do you get?

Thompson: If it’s that time of the night and I am on campus, I am usually going to go to Subway.  It is good food, really good healthy food that will fill you up.  If I can get a car, I am usually on 680 headed South to Chipotle as fast as I can get there.  I love Chipotle.  I usually get a burrito, double meat – steak and chicken, a little bit of salsa, a lot of sour cream and a lot of cheese.

Paneech: How is school going?

Thompson: School is going a lot better this year than it did last year.  I am more confident and Coach Wolford and everyone on the staff made me understand what I have to do as a student.  I have an obligation as a student to this university to do my best at everything, and that includes classwork, as well as, football.

Paneech: What is the limit for this team this season?

Thompson: When you find one I will tell you.


15 Things To Know About Jordan Thompson

  1. He is 6’1″ and weighs 220 pounds.
  2. He is from Cincinnati, Ohio.
  3. His favorite movie is Friday Night Lights.
  4. His favorite color is red.
  5. His biggest phobia is losing.
  6. His worst habit is sucking his thumb.
  7. The worst class he has ever taken at YSU is an environmental science class.
  8. The best class he has had at YSU is his business calculus class.
  9. His favorite thing to drink is cool blue Gatorade.
  10. His favorite candy is Reese’s Cups.
  11. He has some Marvin Gaye on his ipod due to the influence of his mother growing up.
  12. He is motivated by seeing everything as a hurdle in front of him that he needs to clear to get where he wants to.
  13. His favorite cartoon character growing up was Bugs Bunny.
  14. He likes Youngstown because the people make it easy to call this home.
  15. His favorite meal of the day is dinner.

Youngstown State Football Into Top-25 of Coaches Poll


Youngstown State University took a small step towards its big goal today when they cracked into the FCS Coaches Poll at #24.  Eric Wolford has said that the standard here is to win championships and being ranked for awhile will assure a playoff berth.  The Penguins look to avoid the pitfalls of an eerily similar 2010 to this point.

After winning the conference opener against Illinois State last season, the Penguins dropped seven straight.  YSU travels West to face a much-improved Indiana State team this weekend.

2011 FCS Coaches Week 3 Poll (September 19, 2011)

Team (No. 1 Votes)                Record                      Points               Last Week

1. Georgia Southern (25)             2-0                              697                               1

2. Northern Iowa (3)                    1-1                               666                               2

3. Appalachian State                  2-1                                642                               3

4. Montana State                        2-1                                 615                               4

5. William & Mary                       2-1                               568                               5

6. Delaware                                2-1                                515                               7

7. Richmond                              3-0                                514                               9

8. Wofford                                 1-1                                  488                               8

9. Montana                                2-1                               462                              11

10. James Madison                    2-1                              383                              14

11. New Hampshire                    1-1                               369                              12

12. North Dakota State               2-0                              359                               6

13. Southern Illinois                    1-1                               342                              15

14. Chattanooga                        2-1                                  314                              17

15. Jacksonville State                2-1                               284                              16

16. Lehigh                                  1-1                                235                              19

17. Stephen F. Austin                 1-2                              220                              13

18. McNeese State                     1-1                                190                              22

19. Massachusetts                     2-0                                171                              25

20. South Dakota                       2-1                                165                              23

21. North Dakota                        1-2                               136                              NR

22. Eastern Washington              0-3                            117                              10

23. Liberty                                 1-2                                 83                               20

24. Youngstown State                2-1                        70                               NR

25. South Carolina State             1-2                               69                               21

Others receiving votes: Sam Houston State (66); Murray State (63); Southern Utah (51); Central Arkansas (45); Jackson State (38); Indiana State (33); South Dakota State (32); Weber State (12); Cal Poly (10); Coastal Carolina (10); UC Davis (10); Jacksonville (7); Holy Cross (7); Tennessee Tech (7); Sacramento State (7); Eastern Kentucky (6); Old Dominion (6); Bethune-Cookman (4); Pennsylvania (4); Dayton (3); Central Connecticut (1); Duquesne (1); Villanova (1);

Geneva Strelka Boots YSU Soccer Into Tie at Wright State


Senior Geneva Strelka (above) scored her second goal of the season and helped the Youngstown State women’s soccer team salvage a 1-1 double-overtime time against Horizon League foe Wright State on Sunday afternoon at Alumni Field.

The Guins are now 3-4-2 overall and 0-0-1 in the Horizon League while the Raiders move to 5-3-2 overall and 0-0-1 in the league.

The Raider jumped out to a 1-0 lead when Bekah Bonny scored her fourth goal of the season at the 29:51 mark of the first half.

Less than two minutes later, Strelka knotted the game at 1-1 from an assist from freshman Jade Flory.

Sophomore Ali Viola tallied eight saves, including four in the second half and one in the overtime periods.

The Guins visit Penn, Sunday, Sept. 25, at 1 p.m. in Philapelphia, Pa.