Athlete Profile: Danny Saraocco and Jeff Cesario

Christine Manika

November 29th, 2017

Over the weekend, the Cougar Football Team had their final game of the season against the Morningside Mustangs in Sioux City, Iowa.  This was quarter finals of the NAIA Football Championship Series and the Cougar unfortunately fell short.  They end the season with a 10-2 record, which is a massive improvement after coming off of a 5-6 season last year.  This team fought their way to the quarter finals, and they deserved to be there.  Two guys that helped the Cougars get to where they were are Danny Saracco and Jeff Cesario. Surprise! I was able to talk to two Cougars from the Saint Xavier Football team.  

Saraocco is a red-shirt freshman linebacker from Plainfield, IL and Cesario is a senior defensive lineman from New Lenox, IL.  Saraocco hails from Plainfield South High School while Cesario is comes from Providence Catholic.  

Let me break down each of these power players really quick: Danny Saracco was recently announced as an All-MSFA Midwest League First Team on the defensive side, he has won the MSFA League Defensive Player of the Week after his career high of 17 tackles against St. Ambrose, and he even recorded eleven tackles against the Mustangs this past weekend.  

Before coming to Saint Xavier, Jeff Cesario went to Minnesota State University-Moorhead where he recorded nineteen tackles including four solos.  He also had one sack for four yards.  At his career at SXU as a Cougar, Cesario has 46 tackles including 14 solos and two sacks. In the Olivet Nazarene overtime thriller, Cesario made a crucial play by blocking what would have been a thirty-eight yard field goal to keep the score tied.  Finally, Cesario was also recently announced as an All-MSFA Midwest League Second Team honors on the defensive side.  

Interviewing these Cougars was interesting to say the least, but in a good way.  Let’s see what these cool cats have to say in the final football edition of Athlete Profile.


#9 Saracco and #98 Cesario Credits: SXU Athletics

When did you start playing football and why?

Danny: I started playing football at the age of 10, and it was because I wanted to try the sport out.  From that day, on I began to love the game.

Jeff: When I was in sixth grade, I started to play football. Only because my brother kind of pushed me to do it and I’m glad he did.  


Growing up, who was your role model?

Danny: My role models growing up were my parents. They taught me the importance of hard work and dedication. They shaped me into a man and an athlete I am today.

Jeff:  My grandpa is the guy I look up to the most.  He has always been an inspiration to me.


Did you always know you wanted to be a football player?

Danny:  I knew this is what I wanted when I was ten. I have always strived to be the best football player I could be and I will continue to until my time is up.

Jeff:  This is a serious answer so hold your breath; I thought I was going to be a baseball player.  Football was never really in my mind until my brother started telling me to try it, and I’m glad I did.  


Why did you come to Saint Xavier University?

Danny:  Well, I was recruited by Coach Fem during my senior year of high school.  So, I came here for a visit. With the education being great and having a strong football program, it was easy to make the decision to commit here.

Jeff:  Coming from a different school, I just wanted to have more of a family atmosphere and Coach Fem treated me like I was already a part of the family.  Plus, Saint Xavier gave me more opportunities.   


Any pre-game rituals you do?

Danny: Usually listen to music, then before the game I tape my fingers and just get into the zone. Then, I go out there and do my thing.

Jeff:  I have to listen to like classic rock like Led Zeppelin or The Animals.


Did you ever predict what the outcome of this season was going to be?

Danny: NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP-One Goal.  If that’s not how you predict the season you shouldn’t be playing football.

Jeff:  I didn’t predict any part of the outcome for the season.  I personally came in this season with a lot of confidence, especially since last season wasn’t that great.


If you could describe this team in one word, what would it be?

Danny: Family

Jeff: Resilient


What keeps you motivated in any game situation?

Danny: Just playing with the guys next to me. If we need a big play, then my mentality is to make the play and if I don’t make it my teammates will we all motivate each other.

Jeff:  I think that any play could be my last and that has a whole new meaning with me being a senior.


What challenges did you or the team face this year?  How did you adjust to those situations?  

Danny: We have been down by 2 scores plenty of times this season yet we always end up winning. We just came together and never gave up, we fight until the end and that’s what makes this team special.

Jeff: There are always going to be on and off the field distractions.  You also have to take into account of the injuries that happen.  This is just how a normal football season is.  It’s like we are all brothers and get into little arguments sometimes.  But, we always end up coming back together.


Batman or Superman?

Danny: Superman!

Jeff:  Are you insane? Danny, you are so wrong on so many levels.  Batman is obviously the best superhero out there.  


Thank you to Jeff and to Danny for this awesome interview!  But really, thank you to any athlete I have interviewed this semester.  It has been an honor to get to know some Cougars, especially the football team.  

I’ll be the first to admit that I was nervous coming into this football season.  Not only was I learning a new team and coaching staff, I was learning a whole new conference as well.  This team and being a part of broadcasting the games has made this transition to a new school a lot easier.  There is no play book on how to transfer schools, you’re going to need help along the way and this group did that for me.  They welcomed me and were willing to help me in any way they can.  It’s nice to know that there is always a light at the end of a tunnel in a dark situation.

This 2017 Cougar Football team was something special and they will be the team to watch out for next year.  Until then, see you for more Athlete Profiles next year ().    

Christine Manika

Sports Columnist

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