East Xtra: Central Catholic grad hopes Saint Vincent rebounds

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The 2012 college football season is one that Saint Vincent tackle Darius McGhee would like to forget.

After ringing up a 6-5 record in his sophomore season, the Bearcats posted a forgettable 0-10 record.

"It was a rough season," recalled McGhee, a 2009 graduate of Central Catholic High School. "I probably cried after every loss. Those losses were very tough. It was tough to stomach a season like that."

McGhee was one of Saint Vincent's few bright spots. He played well enough to earn first-team All-Presidents' Athletic Conference honors for the second year in a row.

"It's nice to be recognized by the conference coaches, I would have traded that honor to have a winning season," said McGhee, whose family resides in the Hill District, a two-minute walk from the University of Pittsburgh. "The team's success is more important to me than any individual honors."

McGhee came to Saint Vincent after a short but successful career at Central Catholic. He was a three-time letter-winner and two-year starter for the Vikings.

"I had an older brother who attended Saint Vincent, so I was familiar with the campus," said McGhee, when asked why he chose Saint Vincent College in Latrobe. "We both benefitted from a Central Catholic scholarship program called the Crossroads Foundation, which has ties to Saint Vincent College."

McGhee appeared in eight games during his freshman year, at right and left tackle.

"I split time with another player my freshman year," McGhee said. "He played two series, then I would play the next two series. I also started our last game against Geneva."

McGhee became a full-time starter as a sophomore and has made 21 consecutive starts.

"Darius is the most consistent player on our team," Saint Vincent coach Bob Colbert said. "The coaches in our conference have twice voted him to the first team. He means a lot to our offense."

McGhee has slimmed down significantly since joining the Bearcats.

"Darius came into our program weighing 330 to 335 pounds," Colbert said. "Now he's down to 270 pounds. He's changed his body through a lot of hard work. The kids appreciate what he's done."

McGhee is one of four returning offensive linemen for Saint Vincent. The others are guards Dylan McElfresh (6-1, 250, Sr.) and Mike Mackowick (6-1, 250, Jr.), and tackle Jim Montgomery (6-1, 235, Sr.). Mackowick, also a Central Catholic grad, may move to center to fill a graduation void. McElfresh is a Mount Pleasant grad and Montgomery played at Plum. Tomas Apodaca (5-11, 240, Jr.), who made two starts at guard last year, could move into the starting lineup.

"We have most of our offensive line back," McGhee said. "Our offensive line coach [Bernie Colbert] kept in touch with us during the summer via email. He's on us every day. He tells us to never stop getting better no matter how good you think you are."

Bernie Colbert is just one member of Saint Vincent's staff who has helped McGhee.

"I've been blessed to have good strength and conditioning coaches and trainers here at Saint Vincent," McGhee said. "They have really helped me over the years."

McGhee is majoring in sociology and will graduate in May.

"I like working with children in the city," McGhee said. "I'm currently working with Schenley High Community Program. It's an organization located in the Hill District that I've been working with since I was in eighth grade. I just want to give back and help kids."



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