While the Penn-Trafford football team prepares to play for the 5A Championship this weekend at Heinz Field, a former Warriors’ standout just wrapped up his latest college campaign. Joseph Fiasco, a 2012 Penn-Trafford graduate and current player at Bethany College, is this week’s feature for the WPIAL Alum Q&A.
Fiasco was an accomplished wrestler during his high-school career, and actually signed a letter of intent to wrestle in college, too. However, he made significant contributions on the gridiron in his senior campaign. Fiasco compiled 387 yards rushing on 43 carries, notching four touchdowns, and was named an All-Conference performer. Penn-Trafford compiled a perfect 6-0 section mark that season, and also defeated Bethel Park in the first round of the playoffs. The Warriors’ season came to an end with a loss to Gateway in the quarterfinals, however.
After his graduation from Penn-Trafford, Fiasco attended West Virginia Junior College – Morgantown.
In 2015, he joined the Bethany College football team as a running back, and garnered 21 carries for 105 yards in 10 contests. Showing his versatility, Fiasco also played defense, recording 20 tackles, and returned seven kicks on special teams. The Bison concluded the campaign with a mark of 5-5.
Last season, Fiasco shifted primarily to defense, and played in just four contests, notching three tackles.
This season, however, has been a breakout campaign for the junior. In nine games, Fiasco has collected 86 tackles, the second-best total on Bethany. He’s added three sacks, one interception, five passes defended, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. He also was named the Presidents’ Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Week in consecutive weeks. While the Bison finished at just 2-8, they concluded their campaign with back-to-back wins, against Grove City and St. Vincent.
Joseph took time from his schedule to answer questions about his transition from offense to defense, playing with his younger brother, and how wrestling helped his football skills.
Q: You started your college career as a running back, but now play defense. How have you handled that transition?
A: I think I’ve handled it great. Being able to know that side of the ball and trying to be one step ahead of them is key in stopping what they’re doing.
Q: You are listed as a defensive back, but also play a position similar to linebacker, at times. How would you describe your role in the defense?
A: We have a few hybrid-type spots like that on our team, but I would consider myself more of a linebacker. I’m usually lined up in the box, and my primary job is to help stop the run.
Q: What is your greatest asset on the field?
A: My never-quit attitude. I’m not the biggest or strongest guy out there, so I definitely lose a few battles. But no matter what happens, I’m ready to go for the next snap, giving 100% effort.
Q: How has your team handled the tough season?
A: It’s been rough; losing is never easy. We’ve just been leaning on our captains and leaders to help push us every day – showing us how to enjoy the process and to never take this game for granted.
Q: Your younger brother, Anthony, also plays for Bethany. What is the dynamic like between you two, on and off the field?
A: I have two older brothers, as well, who also participated in football, but we never played on the same team together. It’s amazing – sometimes it feels like we are still in the backyard. Off the field, we don’t get to see each other so much, because we are both very involved on campus, but I know I can always go to him for help and support if I ever need it. Having someone be there for you like that during college is a true blessing.
Q: What led to your decision to attend Bethany College?
A: I was previously going to school in Morgantown, West Virginia, and needed a change. Small-town Bethany seemed like the perfect place for me to play football, while also pursuing the major I wanted.
Q: What is your major, and ideal future profession?
A: Sports management. I would like to be an athletic director, and eventually open up my own sports complex.
Q: Penn-Trafford has had great football success in recent years. How has coach John Ruane built the program?
A: Penn-Trafford has always been an area with great football players, they just needed a man who could show them the right way to do things. He is an incredible coach with a lot of passion for what he does, so it was easy for us to follow him. I think their success will continue as long as he is in charge
Q: What was your fondest high-school memory?
A: All the time I got to spend with my closest friends. We have all gone our separate ways chasing our own dreams, but we have a group chat that we talk in every day. They are friends for a lifetime
Q: You also wrestled at Penn-Trafford. How did those skills benefit your football career?
A: Wrestling taught me that with discipline and hard work, I could be successful. It has also helped me tackling – sometimes It looks more like a double leg takedown than anything.
Q: Who is your favorite professional athlete?
A: Jimmy Butler.
Q: Do you listen to any particular song or genre of music before or after a game?
A: Before the game, I like hype music like rap, especially anything Kevin Gates. After the game, I like more relaxing music; R&B/soul is my favorite genre.
Q: If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
A: Chicken with hot sauce.
Q; Who is your celebrity dream date?
A: Gabrielle Union.
Q: What is the best advice you have ever received?
A: Find what you love and let it kill you.