by Diana Petrovich, Staff Writer
Even with overcoming a 21-0 early Bison lead, the Bearcat football team fell 35-28 November 13 in Bethany, West Virginia in their last regular-season game of the year. Despite this loss, the Bearcats ended the season with a variety of individual honors for the President’s Athletic Conference (PAC). In three of the four final weeks of the season, Bearcat players were consecutively named PAC Offensive Player of the Week, a distinction of nomination and selection by PAC coaches and directors. Team co-captain Senior Jeff Graham said the awards are a “great accomplishment and [are] evidence that we are making strides toward becoming a great team…I would say, however, that all of them would agree that they could not have done it without their teammates, and although it is an individual award, the entire team takes pride in it and see it as their award as well.”
For week nine (October 25-31), junior QB Aaron Smetanka was given the honor after an outstanding performance in the 42-17 Bearcat victory over Grove City College. Smetanka completed 22 of 30 passes and shattered the school records for 336 yards completed and four touchdowns. Smetanka’s teammate and team co-captain, WR Tom Quirin, remembers Smetanka’s performance with similar laud. “He was plunged into a new offense [this year] and really took the reins of it,” said Quirin.
In week 10 (November 1-7), the honor was given to a freshman WR, Chace Ginyard. Though the Bearcats lost to Waynesburg College that week 34-28, Ginyard set the modern-day school record of 161 receiving yards, also good enough for two touchdowns in the match-up against the Yellow Jackets and the record for the highest single-game receiving yardage by a PAC receiver to that point in the season. Only a freshman, Ginyard gives high hopes to graduating Quirin—“Chace has shown he has the ability to run past defenses and catch the ball. I’d like to see what he can do as he progresses through the program,” he said.
In week 11 (November 8-14), the Bearcats were victorious at Westminster College, defeating the Titans 21-14. Junior RB Mike Kale was given PAC Offensive Player of the Week after he ran for 157 rushing yards, threw a 29-yard touchdown pass, and threw another 13-yard pass against the Titans. At that point in the season, Kale led the Bearcat’s record for single-season rushing yards at 672. “[Mike] hits the hole hard and is a powerful runner,” said Quirin on Kale’s achievement of PAC Offensive Player of the Week. “He follows his blocks and can make something out of nothing.”
The distinction from the PAC is exactly the product the Bearcats expected from their best season since the program’s revival. They finished 3-7 (3-4 in PAC). With all three players who received the PAC honors being underclassmen, the team is not only proud, but also hopeful that the powerful offense will carry over into the 2011 season.
“I think it’s great three of our guys received the player of the week award in consecutive weeks. It shows that we have players that can make big plays and overall help the team to some victories,” Quirin added. “All three of these guys are just all around great people. They work hard when no one is looking so when there are eyes on them, they have the ability to perform well.”
Fellow captain Sheldon Loughner said, “They each stepped up in key situations when it was necessary.”
While the season ended with a blast from SVC offense, the team was also honored earlier in the season, twice having players being named PAC defensive player of the week (junior MLB Anthony Johnson in week 2 and Junior OLB Armando Fortunato in week 5). In addition to all of these PAC weekly honors, 12 Bearcat players were honored in the PAC 2010 All-Conference Team list, which was released November 15, 2010. Named to the All-PAC First Team were: Senior Sheldon Loughner (WR) and Junior Aaron Smetanka (QB). All-PAC Second Team honors went to: Junior Taofik Amokomoko (OL), Senior Shane Smith (OL), Senior Tom Quirin (WR), and Junior Armando Fortunato (LB). The concluding half of the SVC players represented in the PAC All-Conference selections were awarded with Honorable Mentions: Junior Mike Kale (RB), Senior Jeff Graham (DL), Senior John Jackson (DL), Junior Anthony Johnson (LB), Senior Alex Rowan (DB/S), and Freshman Bryan Santos (CB).