Traversing the Cycle

Two linemen who are headed to WVU have been opponents and teammates during their high school career, and will again face off during their first season in college.

Offensive lineman Ben Iannacchione and defensive lineman Doug Slavonic were teammates on the Pennsylvania squad in the Big 33 game, but they knew each other before they met up in Hershey.

Slavonic's Mt. Lebanon team faced Iannacchione's Baldwin squad in the regular season this year, which led to some one on one battles between the big, strong offensive lineman and the lighter, but quicker, defensive end.

"Those two hours on the field that Friday night we weren't the best of friends, but after the game we were teammates, because we are both going to West Virginia," Iannacchione observed of the Mt. Lebanon-Baldwin game. "It's just part of the game, and we're friends, so it's no big deal."

Slavonic echoed those sentiments, and laughed when it was observed that the pair was standing together and talking, and didn't appear ready to start battling on the spot. That's good, because some head to head matchups are sure to commence soon on WVU's practice fields.

"We haven't really talked about it, but we know it's going to happen, even if it's on the scout team," said Slavonic. We did it all week this week, and after playing each other in the regular season, it won't be anything new."

Neither player was happy with Pennsylvania's loss to their Ohio counterparts in their final high school game, even though it was just an exhibition. As befits linemen, both were involved in the game from the ground up, and were disappointed with the result.

"It stinks," Ianncchione summed up succinctly following the narrow defeat. "We wanted to beat them and we worked hard all week. I though we played tough, and both lines played good, but they just had a little more speed than we did."

"It's kind of sad its the last game," added Slavonic, who had a solid performance in the contest. "But, now we have to get ready to play in college. I'll keep up the running and lifting and be ready to go when we report."

Both players know that they are likely destined for redshirt seasons this year, but neither appears to be fazed by the prospect of a season toiling on the scout team. They know they need time in West Virginia's weight program, as well as tutelage from their respective position coaches, before they are ready to play in the highest levels of Division 1. However, it's not as if this year is going to be boring. Their history as opponents, whether on different teams or as practice foes on the same squad, will have another chapter added during WVU's 2004 season.


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