Mike Sirianni

Holly Tonini/Observer-Reporter

Mike Sirianni leads W&J against Wittenberg Saturday at Cameron Stadium.

Angelo Fratini is in a unique situation.

The 6-3, 285-pound freshman from Burgettstown High School has won the job of starting right guard position on the Washington & Jefferson College football team.

It’s rare for a freshman to earn a starting spot in a program as talented as W&J, and even more so when it’s on the offense line. That’s a complicated position to learn in such a short amount of time.

The other unique aspect for Fratini is that his first game as a starter will be able to be seen by millions across the country.

Wittenberg University, as storied a program as W&J, visits Cameron Stadium at 1 p.m. Saturday afternoon for the season-opening game for both teams.

The game will be broadcast locally on WPNT television, which can be found on most local cable systems. The game also is available on ESPN3, an online streaming service that provides sporting events to fans in the United States.

This is believed to be the first time W&J will be on a national broadcast since the Presidents played for the NCAA Division III national title in 1994.

“I’m trying not to let the TV thing go to my head,” said Fratini. “I’m going to try not to let it throw me off my game. It will definitely be exciting to watch it on Sunday with the folks. Hopefully, everyone will stay level-headed.”

If you’re watching, Fratini will be wearing No. 78.

W&J head coach Mike Sirianni doesn’t believe extra cameras in the stadium will have an effect on his players.

“I don’t think it will be a distraction,” Sirianni said.

WPNT 22 The Point reaches 1.1 million households in the Pittsburgh market. The ESPN3 platform is accessible online at WatchESPN.com. The ESPN3 platform reaches 86 million households through computers, smartphones and tablets via the WatchESPN app. ESPN3 can be streamed on TV through a multiple of applications.

Wittenberg and W&J are two of the most successful football programs in the country. In a recent article, ESPN ranked Wittenberg as one of the top 50 best college football programs over the past 150 years.

The Tigers have won five national championships since 1960 and have three members of the program inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Wittenberg ranks second among all NCAA Division III members with 773 victories since its first recorded season in 1892.

Mount Union leads Division III with 798 victories.

W&J has 744 victories, two appearances in the NCAA Division III championship game and an appearance in the Tournament of Roses bowl game, now call the Rose Bowl.

Entering his 17th season, Sirianni is the winningest coach in W&J history with a record of 148-33.

Wittenberg head coach Joe Fincham has a record of 210-45 since taking over in 1996.

“When you have as big an opener as this is, the biggest thing is what happens in the offseason,” said Fincham. “The guys have to work harder in the offseason so they’ll be prepared.

“The last time we were on nationally? We had a deal with Carnegie Mellon around 2012 for a game that was on ESPN. But I don’t know if ESPN3 was around back then.”

Assistant Sports Editor

Joe Tuscano has been with the Observer-Reporter since 1980. He has covered all sports for the newspaper, including the Steelers, Pirates, Pitt football, local college football and wrestling.

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