2-0 Beavers set for home opener with Wolverines

By Tim Stried, SID

September 15, 1999


Coming off their 609 yard offensive performance at Hiram College in last Saturday's 47-26 victory, Bluffton College will face one of their toughest tests of the season against Grove City College, PA, in their home opener this Saturday at 1:30 p.m. Although GCC come into the game with an 0-2 record, the Beavers know better than to take the Wolverines lightly. Both of their losses this season have come at the hands of top-notch opponents, Wooster and Ohio Wesleyan, and by an average margin of just four points.

BC has averaged 529.5 yards in offense over their first two games, including a 35-14 win at Bethany College, WV, in their opener. Bluffton's balanced offensive attack has netted 318 yards rushing per game and 211.5 yards passing, but don't expect the same from Grove City. Returning for the crimson and white is All-America running back R.J. Bowers, just a junior who last season came within 102 yards of breaking the NCAA Division III single-season rushing record. What he broke, though, was his ankle midway into the last game of the season, and the record remains in tact.

Bowers finished the 1998 season with 2,283 yards on the ground and has 3,522 for his career. With Bowers in the backfield, it's no wonder why the Wolves have attempted just 14 passes all season. Junior quarterback Steve Lacinski has completed eight of those attempts for 114 yards and one touchdown. GCC returns nine starters on offense and seven starters of defense from last year's 5-5 team.

The Beavers traveled to Grove City last season and faced a similar 0-2 GCC squad and left with a 40-0 loss. Bluffton's last win in this series came in 1995 at home by a 40-27 score. In addition to their tough non-league schedule, GCC plays in the President's Athletic Conference, featuring regionally ranked teams Washington & Jefferson and Waynesburg. Bluffton will have next week off before opening play in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference on October 2 at home against Hanover College, currently ranked in the top 30 in the country in most division III polls.

The defense will look to shut down Bowers and Grove City's wing-T offense Saturday. Junior middle linebacker Greg Ditz (Willard/Willard HS) earned HCAC defensive player-of-the-week honors after the Bethany game with his 10 tackles and interception. Last week at Hiram senior Jarret Smotrila (Leetonia/Crestview HS) recorded a team-high seven tackles, blocked a punt and picked off his second pass of the season. Smotrila and the secondary have picked of five passes so far this year.

Junior running back Tyson Goings (Defiance/Wayne Trace HS) leads the BC ground attack with 276 yards and four touchdowns in the first two games. Freshman Steve Henry (Versailles) is close behind with 220 yards and two scores. Senior quarterback Joel Parrett (Oakwood/Paulding HS) is sporting a 171.24 quarterback efficiency rating, completing 73.3 percent of his passes (33-45) for 415 yards and four TDs. Senior Eric Metz (Norwalk/St. Paul HS) leads the receiving corps with 10 catches for 110 yards and two scores.