A little more than three years ago, Jasen Carlson was awakened one morning by a phone call. On the line was then-University at Buffalo football coach Turner Gill, who had an offer for him.
The offer was a scholarship and an opportunity for Carlson, then a senior at Southwestern Central School, to play Division I-A football for the Bulls.
Gill didn't end up staying at UB beyond the 2009 season - he left for a head coaching position at Kansas - but his scholarship offer to Carlson has proven to be right on the mark.
University at Buffalo left guard Jasen Carlson (56) was instrumental in helping the Bulls rack up 56 points in a win last Saturday against Morgan State.
Photo courtesy of the University at Buffalo
Carlson, Western New York's premier high school lineman in 2008 and 2009, the New York State Sportswriters Association co-Class C Player of the Year in 2009 and the Football Coaches Association of New York Class C Player of the Year as a junior and senior, is making the most of his opportunity this season. The Bulls' starting left guard, Carlson, a 6-foot-1, 301-pounder, has helped the Bulls (1-1) get off to a nice start in the season's first two weeks.
In Week One at sixth-ranked Georgia, the Bulls racked up 199 yards rushing in a surprisingly competitive, 45-23 loss. Last Saturday, UB breezed to a 56-34 home win over Morgan State, running up the most points in its FBS history, while running back Bo Oliver rushed for 238 yards and two touchdowns to break the single-game FBS mark of 235 he set last year.
In the middle of it all was Carlson.
"The past two years, we didn't have as good a seasons as we had hoped for,'' Carlson told The Post-Journal last week, "but the experience of playing Division I football against good teams is everything that I wanted. I've made good friends, I'm getting a good education and, from that aspect, it's definitely exceeded my expectations.
"Football-wise, we still have more to do and we're going to do it this year."
So far, so good.
Carlson, who started one game as a freshman and four as a sophomore, showed his progress against the Bulldogs in the opener. The game was televised on ESPN3 and the video didn't lie. Playing against one of the country's top defenses and with a dozen family members in attendance, Carlson more than held his own.
"As far as playing with Georgia, our entire offensive line has worked extremely hard,'' he said. "The commitment we made (in the offseason) really paid off and we hung with them for the first half.''
Carlson's work in the weight room has paid dividends, too.
When he arrived at UB in 2010, he squatted 455 pounds and benched 300. Now, the numbers are 685 and 370, respectively, which are serving him well in his blocking assignments.
"Obviously, run blocking is my favorite, because of the physicality,'' he said. "Pass blocking I've learned to like because it's a challenge. (The defensive lineman) is going to try and beat you with a move and you have to anticipate it. It's a chess game. It's always a challenge.''
The Bulls are off until Sept. 19 when they entertain Kent State in their Mid-American Conference opener.
"I think our team has everything it needs to make a run to the MAC championship,'' Carlson said. "We're extremely motivated and we see ourselves doing big things this year."
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The Buffalo Bills will attempt to rebound from their season-opening loss against the Jets when they entertain Kansas City at Ralph Wilson Stadium on Sunday.
The Chiefs have a familiar local name on their coaching staff - Jamestown native and Southwestern Central School graduate Nick Sirianni.
Sirianni is in his fourth year with the Chiefs and his first as their wide receivers coach. He is the youngest son of Fran and Amy Sirianni. Mike Sirianni is the head coach at Washington & Jefferson College, while Jay Sirianni is the varsity coach at Southwestern.
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Ben Denn (Jamestown/Jamestown) is a starting defensive end for the Buffalo State football team.
In the Bengals' season opener, they upset Cortland, 49-31, and Denn was credited with three tackles. In a 38-24 setback to Brockport last weekend, Denn, a 6-foot-1, 245-pound junior, had four tackles, including one solo, and half a tackle for loss.
Other area residents on the Buffalo State roster are junior offensive lineman Jake Casel (Jamestown/Jamestown) and freshman running back Nate Sharp (Falconer/Falconer).
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Washington & Jefferson College junior defensive back B.J. Monacelli (Cassadaga/Cassadaga Valley) was honored as the Presidents' Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Week after leading the Presidents' football team to a 23-6 victory over Methodist in its season opener.
Monacelli racked up five solo tackles, an interception, a forced fumble and one pass breakup. One of his tackles caused the fumble that a teammate returned 63 yards to set up W&J's second touchdown, and his interception, which came in the end zone, thwarted a Methodist scoring opportunity late in the third quarter.
In 11 games in his career, Monacelli has accumulated 44 tackles, including two for loss, forced two fumbles and recorded a sack.
Last Saturday, in a 28-24 loss to St. John Fisher, Monacelli was credited with five tackles. Sophomore Shane Smith (Fredonia/Fredonia) was credited with two.
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Four area residents are members of the Gannon University football team.
They are freshmen Ben Whitney (Jamestown/Jamestown), Luke Nickerson (Mayville/Maple Grove), Jake Dwaileebe (Jamestown/Jamestown) and Skyler Liddell (Bemus Point/Maple Grove).
Whitney and Nickerson are linebackers, and Dwaileebe and Liddell are wide receivers.
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Zack Sopak (Falconer/Southwestern) threw for 122 yards in Alfred University's 24-6 loss to RPI in the Saxons' season opener last Saturday.
Also on the roster is freshman tailback Kyle Keith (Clymer/Sherman).
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Fredonia State junior Leslie Beaton (Bemus Point/Maple Grove) placed third overall at the Blue Devil Invitational cross country meet last Saturday.
Beaton covered 6,000 meters in 23:44.55 at Lake Erie State Park to help Fredonia State finish second to rival Brockport in the team standings.
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Junior Jess Johnston (Fredonia/Fredonia) posted No. 1 singles victories over Penn State Behrend last Wednesday and Wells on Monday.
Meanwhile, freshman Julie Coleman (Dewittville/Chautauqua Lake) posted a No. 6 singles victory and a No. 3 doubles win vs. Wells.
The Blue Devils are 2-0 on the season.
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Sophomore midfielder Nick Milliman (Randolph/Randolph) scored a goal on an assist from Rigel Johnson (Little Valley/Cattaraugus-Little Valley) to help Alfred University to a 2-0 victory over Old Westbury in a men's soccer game.
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Alfred University sophomore Alyson Goot (Cassadaga/Fredonia) placed 43rd in 21:06 at the Oneonta State Invitational cross country meet.