MASSENA — It took four years, but Massena senior Dominic Monacelli finally got a chance to truly enjoy himself on a football field this fall.
Monacelli, who was Massena’s quarterback on offense and a linebacker and secondary player on defense, led the Red Raiders back to the state playoffs this season after winning the Section 10 Class A championship.
Massena, which finished 4-4 overall, was 4-2 in the Northern Athletic Conference and finished tied for third with Class B champion Watertown.
Monacelli literally did lead the Red Raiders. He was the team’s leading passer with 1,187 yards. He led the team with 20 touchdowns, led them in rushing with 612 yards, and also led the defense with 66 tackles.
He also is the Northern Athletic Conference Most Valuable Player on this year’s Times All-North team.
“He was a leader by example,” Massena coach Austin Coleman said. “He was a vocal leader. He had the most experience and used it. He came to everything. Every (summer) workout, every seven-on-seven practice, anything we did, or asked our players to do, he was at. He was very productive and good at it.”
This was Coleman’s first full season as Massena head coach. He was hired after the 2019 fall season but last season COVID-19 allowed Massena to play just one spring game, beating Malone 49-8.
It helped Coleman in his new position to have a player like Monacelli, who was already a two-year starter, on the roster.
“It’s super helpful having a kid that’s got a lot of game experience,” Coleman said. “He came in knowing quite a bit about different types of defenses and what to look for and being able to identify coverages. We threw the ball more than most teams do and it was nice to have a quarterback that had that understanding. He already got the defensive aspect and where to go with the ball.”
Monacelli is an example of what can happen to an athlete who endures some tough times but doesn’t give up or quit.
In his first year on the varsity, he played on an 0-8 Massena team that was outscored 222-53. In his sophomore season Massena went 1-6.
“You have to be tough physically and mentally,” Monacelli said of his early years. “You may think you won’t be on a good team because you had one winless season and the next year only one win. You have to be mentally tough and physically tough and determined to win a game. It’s tough.
“I’ve been working ever since I played for varsity, not winning a single game. I’d go in the weight room, go on the hill runs, getting more communication with the team and trying to get them together. I felt like this year was more of a brotherhood and a family. The whole team had each other’s back. The coaching staff had the players’ back. We were more like a brotherhood.”
Monacelli still dealt with adversity even this season, when he led Massena back to the state playoffs for the first time in more than a decade.
“There were some games I was hurting bad,” Monacelli said. “I played with a broken finger, played through a fractured wrist. In football you just have to be tough. I don’t like sitting out. I like spending each second on the field.”
Said Coleman, “He’s just a tough kid and he gets the game. The biggest thing is his weight room ability. He’s benching 315 (pounds), squatting mid-300’s to upper 300’s. His body can handle hits that he takes on both sides of the ball because his body is well-trained for it. As the season got later we started using him more as a linebacker. He started as a safety and he’s a good coverage guy. We just tried to keep him out of getting so many licks.”
Monacelli has not decided yet where he wants to play college football next year but said his top five schools are Brockport, Buffalo State, SUNY Cortland, Utica and Morrisville.
The Monacelli file
Parents: Jason and Lindsay
Siblings: Brother, Vincent; Sister, Sophia.