ON CAMPUS: Fiscus looks ahead after putting football behind him
• EDITOR’S NOTE: On Campus features graduates of area high schools who are playing college sports. This weekly installment will appear every Friday in The Indiana Gazette throughout the school year. If you know of anyone who should be featured or included, email Mirza Zukic at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (724) 465-5555, ext. 267.
The fact Ben Fiscus tore a ligament in his knee and needed surgery isn’t all that unusual.
What is unusual is his reaction.
Rather than face an offseason of grueling rehab just to get back on the field for one more season, the Clarion University quarterback decided to get on with his life and a career in finance.
“It realized it was more important,” he said, “to remember the good times and the memories than try to play in more games.”
Fiscus, a 2009 Indiana High School graduate, tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during Clarion’s 30-13 win over Lock Haven in the second weekend of his senior season, on Sept. 14. While running with the ball out of the option offense, Fiscus planted his foot to make a cut and blew out his knee without being hit by a defender.
At first, Fiscus felt a burning sensation in his knee, and he was able to walk himself off the field. But the Clarion training staff took the precaution of keeping him out of the game, and he went for an MRI two days later. The test revealed the extent of the damage, and it was clear Fiscus’ season was over.
That’s not how things were supposed to go for the reigning first-team all-conference quarterback.
Clarion had high hopes for the season after last year, when Fiscus rushed for 678 yards and passed for 2,480. But the Golden Eagles never quite recovered without him, and they finished 4-7.
“The group of seniors we had was a tight group,” Fiscus said. “We knew we had a chance to put a lot of guys on the field who could win, but it just didn’t work out.”
Fiscus ended up having the surgery, but he quickly made the decision not to seek a medical redshirt, which would have allowed him to come back next season to finish his career. That call was an easy one because Fiscus had spent the summer doing an internship with PNC Bank, in Pittsburgh, and the company offered him a full-time job that he could start after he graduates in December with a degree in accounting.
Playing football again would mean postponing an opportunity that many recent college graduates don’t get.
“The timing of the injury was bad,” Fiscus said. “But the whole idea of having a job lined up and being ready to go was too good to pass up. I loved my internship.”
Fiscus ended his career with 6,761 yards of total offense: 4,674 passing and 2,087 rushing. His career passing total is seventh in Clarion history, and his rushing total is eighth.
Fiscus started the season with high hopes, and he ended it the same way, although football is now in his past. He’s OK with it though, and Fiscus is excited about the next chapter of his life.
“It was hard to accept that it was over,” he said. “But when I was looking for a place to play college football, Clarion was the only Division II school that offered me a chance to play quarterback, and I’m thankful for that. If you had told me that I would have had the career I had, I wouldn’t have believed you, but I am blessed. And really, I think knowing that has helped me accept this.”
KWAKU ASAMOAH (Clarion, football): A sophomore defensive back for the Golden Eagles, Asamoah played in nine of 11 games, and he finished with 20 tackles and two pass breakups for a Clarion team that finished the season 4-7 overall and 2-5 in the PSAC West. He had a season-high four tackles against Kutztown in a 39-38 win on Sept. 7.
Asamoah, a 2011 graduate of Indiana High School, took a redshirt at Clarion in 2011 and played sparingly last season on special teams and defense.
ZACH NEWQUIST (Clarion, football): A 6-foot-4, 300-pound junior on the Golden Eagles’ defensive line, Newquist recorded 32 total tackles, including five tackles for loss and 2? sacks this season.
After missing all of last season because of an injury, Newquist worked his way into the starting lineup this year, and the Indiana High graduate was a mainstay at nose guard. His season high was five tackles, which he recorded twice, against Edinboro and Gannon.
GARY PARONISH (Clarion, football): A redshirt freshman from Northern Cambria, Paronish played in six games for the Golden Eagles this season and recorded seven tackles. He had two tackles against Lock Haven, Mercyhurst and Seton Hill, and one against West Chester.
A 5-foot-10, 200-pound linebacker, Paronish will be part of a young linebacking corps that will return next season. The top five linebackers on the depth chart were either sophomores or juniors this season.
VINNIE GATTI (Villanova, football): A 2010 Indiana High graduate, Gatti is a junior wide receiver for the traditionally strong Wildcats, a Division I FCS (formerly I-AA) school. In three years with Villanova, Gatti has played in one game, but has not recorded a catch.
JILL GLOVER (Edinboro, volleyball): During her freshman season with the Fighting Scots, Glover, a 2013 West Shamokin High School graduate, appeared in 19 matches and played in 41 of 139 sets as Edinboro went 18-18 overall. A 6-foot outside hitter, Glover finished the season with 30 kills, two aces, 20 digs and eight blocks.
SHAWN LICHVAR (Penn State Altoona, cross country): A 2013 graduate of United High School, Lichvar showed steady progress as he competed in all eight of the Lions’ meets this season.
Lichvar’s best time in an 8-kilometer race came in his last one, when he clocked in at 28 minutes, 31.64 seconds at the ECAC Regional Championships on Nov. 9. From the start of the season, when he ran a 31:35.7 at the Westminster College Fisher Invitational, Livchar’s times dropped with almost every meet. His time at the ECAC meet was the fourth-best on the team.
JIM ORR (Penn State Altoona, cross country): Orr competed in seven of the Lions’ eight meets this season, and the 2012 Homer-Center graduate had a best time of 30:13, at the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference Championship on Nov. 2.
Like Lichvar, Orr’s times also mostly dropped throughout the season, from a season-opening 34:23.6 at the Westminster College Fisher Invitational on Aug. 31.
JUSTIN SPENCER (Youngstown State, football): Spencer, a 2013 graduate of Indiana High School, was redshirted this season at Youngstown State, an NCAA Division I FCS school.
Spencer is listed as a 6-foot-5, 290-pound tackle for the Penguins (8-3), who finish their regular season Saturday against South Dakota State.
BLAINE WAINWRIGHT (Mansfield, sprint football): A senior from Blairsville, Wainwright wrapped up his college career Oct. 26 in the Mounties’ 26-24 loss to Cornell. Wainwright was a three-year starter for Mansfield on the offensive line, and he played in 27 games, with 20 career starts.
Sprint football, or lightweight football, is played by eight colleges in the Northeast, making up the Collegiate Sprint Football League. The main difference between it and the regular college game is that players cannot weigh more than 172 pounds, or have more than 5 percent body fat.
Mansfield went 1-6 this season, with a season-opening 24-14 win over Princeton, which was Mansfield’s first home night game in 121 years.
LOGAN WEAVER (IUP, football): A 2012 graduate of Indiana High School, Weaver spent the season as the No. 2 quarterback on the IUP roster. Despite some nagging injuries that limited his availability, Weaver saw action in three games, against Edinboro, Clarion and Shippensburg.
He completed 3 of 7 passes for 42 yards on the year, and he also completed a pass to tight end Kevin Edwards for a two-point conversion in the Crimson Hawks’ 42-21 season-ending win at Shippensburg.