by Scott Kindberg
December 5, 2004
Post-Journal Coach Of The Year
He’s big on character.
And he’s big on family.
Not surprisingly, the Trojans have been pretty darn successful on the football field, too.
In fact, Southwestern has won 17 of 21 games since Sirianni took over the program in 2003, including the school’s first-ever Section 6 championship this fall.
And even though the Trojans (9-2) lost to Hornell, 12-7, in the Class B Far West Regional, it’s clear that Sirianni, an alumnus of Southwestern and Mount Union College has taken the best of both football playing experiences – combined with assistant coaching positions at both the high school and collegiate levels – and blended them to form one of Western New York’s finest programs.
By season’s end, he was a finalist for the NFL/Buffalo Bills Coach of the Year and had guided the Trojans to the top small-school ranking in WNY.
“I’ve been around programs that have been successful,” Sirianni said during the postseason, “and you want to copy that. If you come to our practices, there’s an element of Mount Union, there’s an element of Maple Grove (where he was an assistant coach) and there are elements of Southwestern with traditions that (former coach) Chris Krantz put into play.
“And those three things together and you have the best of all three of those worlds.”
Take for instance this fall.
In the best season in school history, Sirianni oversaw a team that set season records for wins (nine), total points (281), points in a game (55) and points in a quarter (34). Senior tailback Steve Mancari rushed for 1,779 yards and scored 20 touchdowns. Matt Mazgaj overpowered players on both sides of the ball and Matt Langworthy set a school record for sacks. Mazgaj and Langworthy were first-team All-Western New York selections, while Mancari was second team.
Along the way, Sirianni instilled in an exceptional group of players the importance of developing character on the field, in the classroom and at home.
And, you know what? The players bought into it. Strong leadership by a core group of players was not merely a coincidence. It started at the top and was filtered down through a fine group of assistant coaches, who made playing football at Southwestern an enjoyable experience.
While Sirianni, a history teacher at his alma mater, ran the team with a steady, firm hand, he was also there for his players.
A coach, a teacher and a friend.
Let’s just say, the Trojans hit the trifecta this fall.
For those reasons, Sirianni is The Post Journal Coach of the Year.