Petrella off to YSU

STEUBENVILLE – Thanks to some late activity, Matt Petrella will continue wearing red during his college football career.

Petrella, who snared 58 passes during his final two seasons as a Big Red wide receiver, will continue his academic and athletic careers at Youngstown State University.

He will play wide out for coach Eric Wolford, who is entering his fourth season at the helm of the Penguins. Wolford’s 2012 club finished 7-4.

“I was going to Robert Morris but at the last minute, YSU finally came through and gave me everything I wanted, so I jumped on it. I know going in I’ll have to work hard and earn everything I get,” he said.

Petrella, who will major in exercise science, called Youngstown State “just a great place with a great tradition, just like Big Red.”

“They know how to win and I know how to win,” said the son of George and Janine Petrella. “That’s the place I want to be.”

The Penguins, who compete in the Missouri Valley Football Conference, will open their 2013 season on Aug. 29 with a home game against Dayton, Morehead State will invade Stambaugh Stadium the following week before YSU travels to Michigan State.

Youngstown’s 2012 campaign started with a 31-7 win over Big East member Pittsburgh at Heinz Field.

Petrella, who had two sisters (Nicole Stock and Whitney Petrella) graduate from YSU, noted he “is real familiar with the place and always had a weird feeling I would end up there just like them.”

His sister Whitney lives and works in the Youngstown area, prompting him to point out “that’s an added benefit, particularly if I want a meal.”

As a senior, Petrella, who collected three football letters, led Big Red in receiving with 37 catches for 500 yards and six touchdowns (one score covered 70 stripes). During his junior campaign, he grabbed 21 for 327 stripes and four scores.

Petrella along with two Big Red teammates, Dashon Redman (who plans to play football at Mount Union) and Manard Reed (heading to Marietta College) recently competed for the South squad in the Division I-II-III game of the North-South Classic, sponsored by the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association.

“Matt was a steady two-way player for us for two years,” Big Red coach Reno Saccoccia said. “He made some big plays on offense and defense. He definitely is a kid we are going to miss because he is dependable.

“In fact, dependability is his strength. He has a great work ethic in the weight room and is a B- plus student. He had success on the field, on the diamond (Petrella earned two baseball letters) and in the classroom. You can’t ask for more than that.”

Petrella, whose third sister (Natalie Lucas) graduated from Ohio University, will represent the Buckeye State in this year’s Ohio Valley Athletic Conference all-star game.

“I’m honored and blessed to have played for coach Reno,” he stated. “He really helped prepare me and teach me the game. I want to thank coach (Gus) DiMarzio and coach (Mike) Haney and everyone who coached me.

“Coach Cam (Rick Camilletti) was a great help me in the weight room. All my coaches at Big Red helped develop me in to the person and player I am today.”

When it comes to his parents, Petrella quickly admits “I have no idea where I would be without them,” adding “they taught me everything I know.”