After St. Vincent picked up their first win of the season last week, defeating Thiel 24-16, the Bearcats are looking to carry that momentum into their game this week when they travel to take on Grove City.
The game on Saturday is scheduled to begin a 7 p.m. on the campus of Grove City College.
The win for the Bearcats was not only their first overall win of the season, but it was their first Presidents Athletic Conference game of the season as well, so they moved to 1-0 in the conference.
“It was big getting our first win of the season,” St. Vincent head football coach Aaron Smetanka said. “It was our ultimate goal to start out 1-0 in conference play, so it was good to get that win.”
Despite the win on the scoreboard, Smetanka said he was not very happy with some of the aspects of the win for the Bearcats.
“It didn’t go the way we wanted it to go with the way we played over the course of the game,” he said. “We had a lot to clean up in all three phases of the game on Sunday in our film session with the team, the day after the game. At the end of the day, we got the win and that was the end goal.”
Smetanka talked about how important it is for St. Vincent to carry the momentum of Saturday’s win into future weeks, especially this week’s game against a good Grove City team.
“Moving forward it’s important to build off of the win against Thiel,” he said. “It’s something our guys did a good job in doing in the preparation for Grove City. Our guys had a good week of practice; now it’s important to carry that into Saturday night’s game.”
In the 24-16 win over Thiel, St. Vincent running back D.J. Gray had 18 carries for 128 yards, while rushing for one touchdown as well.
“Saturday against Thiel was, honestly, D.J.’s coming out game for him,” Smetanka said. “These last couple weeks, he has been starting to feel more and more comfortable, with being in the system for a longer period. You could see his confidence building up in practices for the last couple of weeks, and I think now it finally showed for the first time in a game. His confident game has overly grown, whether it’s in the run game or we are just sending him out there to run routes.”
On the defensive side of the ball, veterans Kyle Coombe and Ryan Brown both had big games on Saturday against Thiel. Coombe finished with five total tackles, including 1.5 TFLs and one sack. Brown, on the other hand, finished with two solo tackles, including a sack that went for a loss of five yards.
“The two of those guys being senior leaders on that side of the football, one being on the very back end and the other being on the front end, has been tremendous for us,” Smetanka said. “Both of those guys have really started showing what they can do out there on the field. Now with them, I told them to be more consistent with it as the weeks are going on and being vocal with it as well.”
The new challenge for the Bearcats this week is the Grove City Wolverines. Grove City comes into the game with a 2-1 record, with their only loss being a slight 40-33 defeat at the hands of nationally ranked Carnegie Mellon.
The Wolverines also come into the game on a five-game winning streak against St. Vincent, dating back to 2017. Grove City has scored 30-plus points in the last four games against SVC as well, including a 41-29 victory at Chuck Noll Field, last October.
“Grove City is a really good team,” Smetanka said. “Offensively, they are big up front with their offensive line and they do a good job being physical at the point of attack and it has really helped out with their run game so far.”
Semtanka also made note of the top two running backs for the Wolverines, with Nico Flatti and Clayton Parrish. Flatti and Parrish have combined for 424 total yards and five touchdowns on the ground.
“They are both big running backs,” Smetanka said. “They do a really good job of running hard, being physical, and falling forward on their runs.”
Smetanka said the Bearcats will be wearing their home uniforms on the road this week, saying his guys are amped up for the primetime start on Saturday night.
“It’s like Friday night lights again, coming back into college,” he said. “I know our guys are really excited about it and playing under the lights. It will be a really good atmosphere, and I know we have a lot of fans and family members making the trip out to the game, so I know it will be an exciting game to come to.”