Gildea to join former Plum athletes on Slippery Rock football team

Monday, February 19, 2018 | 11:00 PM

Jackson Gildea began his high school athletic career at Plum as a goalkeeper on the boys soccer team.

He added kicking for football his sophomore year as he split time between the two sports.

Gildea then made what he called “a really tough decision,” opting to take part only in football with the Mustangs his junior and senior years.

His continued football development has borne the opportunity to pursue the sport at Division II Slippery Rock.

“I had played soccer all my life,” said Gildea, who was celebrated, along with six other Plum seniors, at a ceremony marking the finalization of college athletic decisions Feb. 7 at Plum High School.

“It was either playing football or soccer in college. It was my future, and I decided to go with football.”

Gildea will be reunited with several Plum graduates on the Slippery Rock football team including former Mustangs kicking record holder Jake Chapla, now the starting kicker for The Rock.

“I am grateful for Jake's help the last couple of years, and it's great to have more chances to work with him,” said Gildea, a second-team all-conference punter for the 2017 season.

Gildea said he also is happy to share this new journey with fellow Plum senior Jacob George, who has signed with Slippery Rock as a long snapper.

Also making their college decisions final recently were seniors Dylan Tomko, football, Muskingum; Sydney Young, softball, Geneva; Jamie Denzer, women's lacrosse, Marietta; Callan Scharba, men's soccer, Point Park; and Kole Lisovich, soccer, Penn State Behrend.

“It's pretty exciting to see everyone make their decisions,” Gildea said. “We're all ready to see what our future holds.”

Denzer is in a unique situation among her fellow signees as she will join a lacrosse program that is just getting off the ground.

The team at Marietta is set to begin play in NCAA Division III in the spring of 2019.

Denzer will be only the second from Plum to join a women's college lacrosse program. Gianna Palmieri, a 2017 graduate, is a freshman this spring on the squad at Hiram.

Scharba and Lisovich earned All-Section 3-4A boys soccer honors this past fall. Scharba was named to the first team, and Lisovich was a second-team selection.

Young was tabbed a softball all-star as a junior last spring. She picked up second-team recognition in Section 1-5A.

Other Plum seniors still are weighing options to continue their athletic pursuits in college. Last year, approximately two dozen Mustangs athletes decided to extend their playing careers beyond high school.

Five Plum baseball players — Jackson Rogers (La Roche), Ryan Kircher (Kent State), Logan Simmons (Cal Pa.), Markus Cestra (IUP) and Tanner Froehlich (Seton Hill) — joined college programs during the national letter of intent early-signing period in November.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at or via Twitter @Mlove_Trib.


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