Brainerd, Minn. / Brainerd
St. Thomas got a serious scare in Saturday's 2012 opener at UW-Eau Claire, but the Tommies rallied for 13 points in the final four minutes to pull out a thrilling 27-24 victory. One of the stars of the season-opening win was senior Mike Valesano (Brainerd, Minn.), who made plays all over the field from his linebacker spot and got a turnover on special teams to help his team escape Eau Claire with a win. For his performance, Valesano was named the inaugural MIAC Football Defensive Player-of-the-Week for the 2012 season.
Valesano - who missed the 2011 season with an injury - came back in a big way with a career-high 11 solo tackles against the Blugolds. His stat line included a tackle-for-a-loss, and during a stint on kickoff coverage, he recovered a fumble on the very first play of the game to set up the Tommies first touchdown of the 2012 season. In addition, Valesano is a preseason nominee for the AFCA Good Works Team, which honors players for their efforts in the community.
The Tommies will try to continue their regular-season winning streak after going 10-0 each of the past two seasons with another Wisconsin nonconference test. Valesano and his teammates welcome UW-River Falls to St. Paul Saturday for a 1:10 p.m. kickoff and the final non-league game on the Tommies' schedule. UST will head up to Collegeville the following Saturday (Sept. 15) to open MIAC with the annual Tommie-Johnnie rivalry game on Saint John's home field.