East/South Xtra: Ringgold's Douglas prepares for big year at St. Vincent
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Ricky Douglas has his sister, Jessica, to thank for choosing Saint Vincent College.
"My sister attended Saint Vincent before I came here, so I already had a feel for the campus," said Douglas, who graduated from Ringgold High School in 2009. "Once they got the football team back, I was sold on coming here."
Jessica Douglas was not a member of any athletic teams during her stay at Saint Vincent, but carved her own niche.
"Jessica started the cheerleading squad at Saint Vincent," said Douglas, a Finleyville resident. "She graduated four years ago and is now working for Hoffman Murtaugh in Pittsburgh."
Douglas, a 6-foot-1, 185-pound wide receiver, spent his freshman season as a member of the Bearcats junior varsity team. As a sophomore, he appeared in nine varsity games and finished third on the team with 18 catches for 258 yards and one touchdown.
Last season, Douglas became a starter and became the Bearcats premier receiver. He caught 49 passes from quarterback Aaron Smetanka, which accounted for 689 yards and two touchdowns. His performance was so impressive that coaches voted him All-Presidents' Athletic Conference as an honorable mention selection.
"Ricky plays with a lot of emotion," Saint Vincent coach Bob Colbert said. "He overcame the unexpected death of his father a couple years ago over the Christmas break. He's matured through that unfortunate incident."
Douglas' best game came in the ECAC Southwest Bowl last year, the Bearcats final game. He set career highs with eight catches and 141 yards.
"I'm counting on Ricky to be one of the better receivers in the conference," Colbert said. "He's a deep threat and provides a lot of leadership."
Douglas has watched the program grow during his career. Saint Vincent lost all 10 games his freshman year, then posted a 3-7 record the following year. Last season, the Bearcats took a huge step by posting a 6-5 record.
"It was really cool to be a part of the building process," Douglas said. "To go from 0-10 in my first year, to placing second in the PAC last year was a real treat. Even when we lost every game, I could see the program making progress."
Improving on last year's impressive finish is the goal, but the Bearcats bid goodbye to 29 players who graduated, including Smetanka, a record-setting quarterback, and 12 other starters.
"I know we lost a lot of seniors, but the recruiting classes the past two years have been good," Douglas said. "We're expecting big things again this year. We're set up to compete for the conference title."
Finding a replacement for Smetanka is problematic. He threw for 2,151 yards and 14 touchdowns last season.
"Replacing a two-time all-conference quarterback will not be easy," Douglas said. "We started training camp with four quarterbacks. One of my roommates is Manny Speal, who was the backup quarterback last year. We've been working out together for the past three years, so I have the best connection with him."
Speal, a Kiski School graduate, played in six games last year in a mop-up role, as he completed only two of three passes. Speal and Andy Borgen, a Pine-Richland graduate, are the two finalists. Borgen threw one pass last year.
Douglas is majoring in marketing.
"I started out with a biology major, but switched to marketing," Douglas said. "The McKenna School of Business is one of the best business schools in the country. Education is first, that's why I'm here."
"I would like to work in medical equipment sales. I still have a minor in biology and I have a friend who's father is in that field."
Of more concern to him is the immediate future, however. The Bearcats open their 10-game schedule at home this Saturday against Bridgewater College of Virginia.
Meanwhile, Douglas, who was a three-year letterman at Ringgold, still keeps an eye on his alma mater.
"I still follow the high school team, but not as much this year since all my ties to the school are gone," Douglas said. "It's great to see the Rams doing so well. The key is the stability they have with the new coaching staff."
First Published August 30, 2012 12:00 am