After 2 winless seasons, St. Vincent football ready to rebuild under new coach
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The last two seasons have not been kind to the St. Vincent football team.
Going winless in their last two campaigns and having lost 21 consecutive games dating back to the 2011 season, the Bearcats needed a change.
But with new head coach Ron Dolciato at the helm, a coach whose offense at John Carroll finished first in the Ohio Athletic Conference and 14th in the nation in passing a year ago, optimism is once again back on the Latrobe campus as Dolciato attempts to rebuild the Division III program.
“When I was offered the job and took the job, the main thing I wanted to do was change the culture of the program into a winning program but also a program that does it the right way,” said the former John Carroll associate head coach and offensive coordinator.
“I stressed to our kids that all starts in the classroom and around the campus community. I truly believe that if we start doing things right in other places it will translate onto the field.”
While Dolciato and his staff prepare for fall training camp beginning on Friday, they are simply looking for initial improvement before the Bearcats begin their season on Sept. 6 against an ironic opponent, John Carroll.
“In camp itself we want to get better,” he said. “It's almost cliché but we want to just get better every day in practice and every game … and get our kids to understand what we're trying to accomplish on the football field.”
Position battles will take place at numerous positions in camp, and the quarterback position is no exception. Senior quarterbacks Matt Deakins and 2013's leading passer Andy Borgen return, along with junior Greg Hendershot, to go along with a group of incoming freshmen.
“The quarterback position is wide open. … In fact every position on our team is wide open,” Dolciato said.
Regardless of who the starting quarterback is in the Sept. 6 opener, Dolciato will do his best to tailor the offense around that signal-caller, saying he will adapt the offense to the strengths of the quarterback chosen as the starter.
In his 24 years coaching at John Carroll, Dolciato ran a pro-style offense, before switching to a spread no-huddle and then a triple option before going back to a pro-style system the last two seasons.
“I think a lot dictates on the talent you have,” Dolciato said. “I think it's real important to put your players in the best possible position to be successful. I'm not a coach that sits there and says, ‘Well we're going to run the spread because that's what I know.' ”
The quarterbacks will have senior wide receiver Matt Duffey to throw to. A Presidents' Athletic Conference honorable mention selection a year ago, Duffey returns after leading St. Vincent in receptions (40) and yards (467) last season.
Defensively, the Bearcats will be led by senior linebacker Nick Revis and junior defensive back Renny-LaRue Holloman, a returning All-PAC second-team selection.
“I have no problem saying he's our best football player and could probably play on any team in the country at the Division III level,” Dolciato said of his defensive back.
“I think we're more established on the defensive side of the ball,” he added, regarding his defensive unit. “Personnel-wise, I think we're much better equipped to deal with the talent level that we're going to be playing against.”
Picked to finish last in the PAC preseason poll, external expectations are not high for St. Vincent. But that's not the way Dolciato is looking at it.
While he admittedly wants to win every game, he understands that the program has to start somewhere.
“I think we're not going to reach and say our goal is to win three or four games,” he said. “Our goal is to get better. … In terms of wins and losses, I'm sure people from the outside are looking at it as wins and losses, but I know that it's a process. It's not going to happen overnight.”
Alex Oltmanns is a freelance writer.
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