March 4, 2014

Old Forge all-state defensive back Jake Manetti is going to King's College

Athletes who made a lasting impression on the local and state levels made their college choices official recently.

Dunmore football standout Daiqwon Buckley has committed to attend and play football at the Salisbury School in Connecticut, Old Forge all-state defensive back Jake Manetti is going to King's College, while Mountain View soccer stars Colby Thomas and Zeb Cross will continue their academic and soccer careers at Division III powerhouse Messiah College, a private Christian college in Grantham, near Harrisburg.

A two-time Pennsylvania Sports Writers' Class A all-state selection and two-time All-Region player, Buckley chose the all-boys boarding school with a football team described on its website as having a "tradition of preparing student-athletes for the academic and athletic demands of collegiate athletics."

In four years as a starter, Buckley helped lead Dunmore to a District 2 Class A championship and the PIAA Class A final as a junior. That season he was an all-state choice as a running back and an All-Region player at linebacker.

Last season, the 5-11, 225-pounder ran for 2,322 yards - second-best in school history - and scored 35 touchdowns as the Bucks finished with an 11-1 record and the Lackawanna Football Conference Division III championship.

He ended his career with 6,073 yards rushing, which is the second-best total in LFC history. Buckley's brother, Michael Perry, has the top total of 6,555 yards.

Salisbury had 10 football players play in 2013, include Penn State backup quarterback Austin Whipple, who played in high school at Pine-Richland and led Salisbury School to the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council Class A title in 2012, and Sadiq Olanrewaju, a 6-6, 280-pound tackle who is at Virginia.

Soccer commits

Thomas, a three-time All-Region selection and two-time Times-Tribune All-Region Player of the Year scored 49 goals and added 14 assists this past season for Mountain View, which advanced to the PIAA Class A championship game for the second straight season.

As a junior in 2012, he scored 43 goals and had 10 assists, one of them coming on teammate Austin Mack's goal in the PIAA Class A championship, as the Eagles became the first Lackawanna League team to win a soccer state title, defeating Sewickley Academy, 1-0.

In Thomas' four years as a starter, Mountain View won four district titles and advanced to two state quarterfinals and two state championships, winning one. Over the past three seasons, the forward scored 123 goals and added 32 assists.

"I'm very excited," Thomas said. "Definitely, in part, because Zeb is going to be there. But yeah, I'm very happy about my decision to go play there."

Last season, Cross, a two-time All-Region selection scored 25 goals and added 20 assists. As a junior, the midfielder scored 27 goals and added 30 assists.

Cross said the determining factor for him was the atmosphere he felt the campus provided when he first visited.

"Just trying to find a college that I had the fit and I could fit in well at," he said. "The competitive basically D-I level soccer with a hard work ethic is unreal. They have maybe 3,000 students and they get 2,000 to a game, which is unreal.

"The whole campus has that same atmosphere. Everybody at that college has that same drive."

Messiah has won back-to-back national championships and 10 of the past 14 titles since its first one in 2000. In January, Joshua Wood, 2013 NSCAA Division III National Player of the Year, was invited to and participated in the Major League Soccer Combine.

And back in 2008, Kai Kasiguran was drafted 12th overall in the MLS Supplemental Draft by the Chicago Fire.

"It just goes to show that doing things with an intention and a purpose really does pay off," Thomas said. "It shows that it wasn't just luck the first two or three (titles). The fact that they can make a repetitive deep run into the finals was definitely a huge factor for me to end up choosing Messiah."

Manetti to King's

In his senior year, Manetti led Old Forge to the District 2 Class A championship and the PIAA Class A championship game as a quarterback and all-state defensive back.

A three-year starter who helped the Blue Devils go 35-6, Manetti had a breakout senior year.

On defense, where he was chosen to the Class A all-state team, he had 45 total tackles and led the team with eight interceptions, returning one for a touchdown.

As the starting quarterback, he threw for 1,239 yards with 14 touchdowns, and ran for 200 yards and five touchdowns.

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