Ken Wunderley profiles Blackhawk graduate Brett Alberti, a defensive end at Geneva. Read his story below.
When Brett Alberti graduated from Blackhawk High School, he chose Duquesne University with the goal of attaining an engineering degree.
He also decided that playing football and pursuing an engineering degree would not be possible because both are very time consuming.
After one year at Duquesne, this Beaver County resident made two changes. He decided to move closer to his West Mayfield home to attend Geneva College and resume his football career.
"Beaver Falls is a great place for football, both high school and college," said Alberti, who didn't fully understand that until his year at Duquesne, and a year away from football. "The people who live in this area love football and support Geneva football and the various high school teams in this area. My year at Duquesne made me realize that."
One thing did not change — Alberti still had the goal of attaining an engineering degree.
"If you like football and engineering, there's no better place to go," Alberti said. "Geneva is a great place to play football. It's also a great place to learn about engineering as well. If you want to combine both, you should go to Geneva."
Alberti, a 6-foot-3, 220-pound junior, has been in Geneva's starting rotation at defensive tackle the past two years.
"Both football and engineering are very time-consuming," Alberti said. "You have to put a lot of work into both to be successful. Being involved in both at the same time really drives you to make the right decisions. You have to make sure that everything you do has a purpose and not be a waste of time."
Alberti is one of 40-plus players on Geneva's roster who are majoring in engineering.
"Engineers are really committed to what they do," Alberti said. "It's great to be around that atmosphere, because it pushes you to spend your time wisely. You have to be committed to be successful in both engineering and football."
Geneva coach Geno DeMarco, in his 22nd year leading the Golden Tornadoes program, agrees that having a strong engineering school has significantly helped his football program, which now competes in the Presidents' Athletic Conference.
"During our NAIA days, we competed against [former coach] Gene Nicholson at Westminster, and we talked about the future of small college football. He predicted that we would all eventually be playing in [NCAA] Division III.
"I was a little leery about that prediction. He told me we would be fine because Geneva has engineering. I didn't really understand what that meant until I started looking at programs such as Grove City, Carnegie Mellon and Case Western Reserve [other district Division III programs with strong engineering schools].
"Obviously, engineering is a tremendous niche for us. What we have found is that engineers are very disciplined and think in a systematic fashion. They make very good football players.
"It also separates us from everybody else. Let's face it, every college has a niche. Every college does certain things very, very well. Engineering has been a fit for our guys."
Alberti is one of seven starters returning on defense for Geneva.
"I expect our defense to perform well this year," Alberti said. "We have a solid group of returning starters and others who received significant playing time, so we have a lot of people with experience back on defense."
Alberti feels the key to Geneva's success is to find a replacement for former Blackhawk and Geneva teammate Zack Hayward, who threw for 2,739 yards and 14 touchdowns last season.
"Zack was a great player and a great leader for our offense," Alberti said. "We have a couple of young guys [transfers Aaron Channing and Jeff Clegg] who have been with the team for a year. One of them, or maybe both, will have to step up and take charge of the offense."
Alberti has enjoyed playing for DeMarco.
"He's real good at getting the team fired up," Alberti said. "He's real committed to the kids, both on and off the field. It's great to play for a coach like him because you always know he has your back. He's always there for the players."
Alberti also likes DeMarco's sense of humor.
"He's pretty funny," Alberti said. "In fact, all the coaches have a good sense of humor."
Alberti has high hopes for the 2014 season, as the Golden Tornadoes are hoping to improve on last year's 5-5 record.
"I really think this team can compete for the conference title if we can stay healthy," said Alberti, referring to the fact that Geneva lost 17 players to season-ending injuries last season.
"We have experience returning on both sides of the ball and a good group of freshmen coming in. We just need to put it all together."