SIGNING DAY

Tom Batters
P.J. Mangieri (left) and Joe Cloud

Joe Cloud, one of the top high school punters in the state, said he cannot remember ever getting a bad snap from his long snapper, P.J. Mangieri.

Cloud and Mangieri, seniors at Dunlap High School, each signed letters-of-intent Wednesday to play football at prestigious colleges.

Cloud will attend Princeton University and Mangieri will attend the University of Nebraska.

“This is a very big day for our school,” said athletic director Duane Peterson at a ceremony for the two seniors on Wednesday. “Princeton and Nebraska don’t come calling very often. We are all very proud of P.J. and Joe.”

Cloud said he is just as excited about the academic opportunities that Princeton will offer, and he said he is looking forward to the rigorous demands that are placed on a student athlete at an Ivy League school.

“This is a great opportunity, and I am really excited about it,” said Cloud, who will major in political economics. “All along, academics have been my top priority. When I went to visit Princeton, I loved everything about it. It was a great fit for me.”

Cloud said the coaches told him he has a good chance to win the starting punter job as a freshman.

That comes as no surprise to Jeff Alderman, his former coach at Dunlap.

“In my 30 years of coaching, I don’t remember being around a better punter,” Alderman said. “He has the leg strength, but he is also very good at placing the punt right where he wants it. That gave us a tremendous advantage. I think he can be successful in college.”

Mangieri started long snapping when he was a little kid in JFL, and he said he always had a knack for the unique skill.

“I took to it right away, and I’ve worked at it a lot over the years, so I could get really good at it.”

He said he expects to compete for the starting long snapper position at Nebraska, but he would also like to try other positions over the next few years there.

“The casual fan might not notice how important a long snapper is,” Alderman said. “But, it is a valuable commodity. We were fortunate to have P.J. in that position. He did a fantastic job.”

Mangieri said he “fell in love with the place” after visiting Nebraska last year.

“The football tradition is so strong, and everybody was very nice,” he said. “I got a good feeling from all the coaches, and I loved the campus.”

Alderman said the scholarships are a reward for how hard Mangieri and Cloud worked, and how they have conducted themselves outside of football.

“This is a great credit to them and their families,” he said. “They are both good kids and they are very deserving of these opportunities.”

HOLTZ SIGNS WITH LOUISVILLE

Opposing coaches often put two, or even three players, on Courtney Holtz in an effort to stop her from scoring, but she still led the Mid-State 6 Conference in goals and generated a lot of interest from Division 1 colleges across the country.

On Wednesday, Holtz, a senior at Richwoods, signed a letter-of-intent to play soccer at the University of Louisville.

Richwoods coach Tony DeMoss said he expects Holtz to make an immediate impact at Louisville, even though the competition in the Big East Conference will be considerably higher than it was at Richwoods.

“She has tremendous skill and a vast knowledge of the game,” DeMoss said. “She’s a very mature player who can create her own opportunities to score, even when she is double or triple-teamed.”

Holtz said she will be ready to play in college, but right now she is looking forward to her senior season at Richwoods.

“I just want to have a good year and help our team win as much as I can,” she said.

Holtz, who will major in biology, said she went on many college visits, but she liked the coaches and campus at Louisville the best.

“I just felt like that is where I wanted to be,” she said. “I got a great feeling from everyone when I went to visit.”

Holtz is a versatile player who can play several positions, but she said she would rather play midfield or forward.

“I see her as a midfielder in college,” DeMoss said. “Wherever she plays, she’ll be a huge asset to her team.”

DeMoss said Holtz is one of the best players he has ever coached.

“After she graduates, I’ll miss her om the field, but I’ll also miss having her around. She’s a great person and player,” he said. “As a coach, you don’t get many prouder days than ones like this. I’m very proud of what Courtney has accomplished and I’m looking forward to following her career in college.”