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St. Vincent football ready to bounce back after winless season

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Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
 

The Steelers are gone from Westmoreland County for another year, their training camp having packed up and moved to Pittsburgh's South Side for the duration of the preseason, leaving the St. Vincent College football team to itself at Chuck Noll Field.

For the Bearcats, it is a time to bond following their winless 2012 season.

“It was difficult, to be sure,” St. Vincent coach Bob Colbert said. “I expected us to continue to be competitive after the year we were coming off of, but it didn't happen. After we lost our fifth game, we had an issue with attitudes.”

St. Vincent in 2011 had produced its best record (6-5) since the school revived football six years earlier.

“We just came back last year and thought we were going to win,” said Darius Brown, a junior defensive back from Jeannette who has logged a total of seven interceptions in his first two college seasons.

Colbert said the current group of players “is on a short leash,” causing Brown to break out in a huge grin.

“Oh, yes, you could say that,” Brown said. “I believe that everybody here now knows what it's going to take to win games. There's been a change in the way we're going about things. Guys are working hard in the weight room, guys are putting in the time now.”

It might not equate to a better record for St. Vincent, which wasn't projected to fare well again this year in a preseason poll of Presidents' Athletic Conference teams. The Bearcats were picked to finish last among the league's nine schools.

But they want to prove otherwise. St. Vincent returns 12 starters, led by first-team all-PAC offensive lineman Darius McGhee, a 6-foot-5, 270-pound senior from Pittsburgh Central Catholic.

Among others are linebacker Renny LaRue-Holloman, who as a freshman led St. Vincent in tackles with 102; leading receiver Matt Duffey, who had 42 receptions for 477 yards and two touchdowns as sophomore; and Brown, whose 96-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in a home loss to Waynesburg was a highlight of St. Vincent's forgettable 0-10 season.

“We had a young team, and a lot of guys didn't understand what it was all about coming from high school to college,” Brown said. “The speed of the game is different, but the biggest adjustments are mental.”

With the team's Sept. 7 opener at Bridgewater (Va.) approaching, Colbert said he hasn't wavered in his usual preseason plan.

“The attitude toward practice hasn't changed,” Colbert said. “Our approach hasn't changed, our approach is sound. We want our players to have a good attitude, starting in camp and continuing through the season.

“That attitude comes into play in all aspects, even with social media on campus. We have been very direct in telling them to do things right.”

St. Vincent's PAC opener at Waynesburg on Sept. 21 will come after a week off, following the game at Bridgewater. The Bearcats will play their first home game Sept. 28 at Chuck Noll Field against Westminster (Pa.).

Dave Mackall is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at dmackall@tribweb.com.

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