Around the Region

Sirianni seeing familiar faces


Mike Sirianni once patrolled the sideline, not to mention the field, for Mount Union.
W&J athletics file photo 

Washington and Jefferson head coach Mike Sirianni has nothing against Mount Union. He is a former player there, after all, winning a national championship with the Purple Raiders in 1993. He also coached there for three seasons under the now retired Larry Kehres.

Sirianni just doesn't like the fact that his Presidents, co-champs of the Presidents' Athletic Conference, drew the daunting task of matching up with the defending national champions in the opening round of the NCAA Division III playoffs.

"I'm happy we won our conference and I'm happy we are in the playoffs, but I'm not happy with our draw," Sirianni said. "I don't understand how we get that matchup when it probably should have went to one of the at-large teams. I don't understand the whole process."

Unhappiness aside, Sirianni knows his team has a game to get ready for and dwelling on the draw against the No. 1 team in the land, a team that has won its last 25 overall, won't do any good. The trick, however, to being ready to go is making sure his players have the right mindset.

It's a fine line to walk on against a team that has won 11 national championships. This will be the first postseason meeting between the Purple Raiders and Presidents since 2009 when Mount Union rolled to a 55-0 win.

"We can't go in there intimidated but we can't go in there thinking we are world beaters either and believing that Mount Union isn't that good," Sirianni said. "We have to prepare as best as we can. It will be a challenge and we are going to be a heavy underdog, but I'd rather be playing than not playing at all this week."

Sirianni is all too familiar with how good the Purple Raiders are on the football field. He's been on their sidelines and has seen the machine in motion, first as a player and then as a coach.

"I am a proud alum and I enjoyed my time as a coach there, but none of that really matters this week," Sirianni said. "I'm focused on my football team and making sure we are ready to play. The thing about Mount Union is that it prepares for every game the same way. It doesn't matter what your record is. They don't change their preparation and they get better every week."

With that in mind, Sirianni knows his team will need to have the best practice week of the season.

"We know we need to have a great week of practice and we know we are going to have to play a great football game to win. Mount Union doesn't make many mistakes. They execute very well and we have to do the same thing in order to have any chance."

Washington & Jefferson has been playing good football since a 24-19 road loss to Bethany at the beginning of October.

The Presidents bounced back the next week to knock off Thomas More 45-21, the start of a five-game win streak.

Looking back, Sirianni said the loss to Bethany was a turning point in the season for the Presidents, who are...

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Columnist

Brian Lester

Brian Lester is a reporter in Findlay, Ohio. He has 14 years of experience at newspapers in Virginia, North Carolina and Ohio, spending the last 10 at The Courier in Findlay. Lester also writes an Around the Region column for D3hoops.com. He is a graduate of Eastern Illinois and lives in Ottawa with his wife and daughter.

2011 columnist: Dean Jackson
2007-10 columnist: Matt Florjancic

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