Saint Vincent names former player Smetanka new football coach
It was quite a Tuesday for Aaron Smetanka and his wife Courtney.
On the day Smetanka was named the new Saint Vincent College football coach, he and his wife brought home their newborn son, Carter, from the hospital. Carter was born Friday.
“It’s been a great day,” Smetanka said. “When the job opened, a lot of alumni and friends (teammates and coaches) told me I had to apply. It’s a great opportunity for me.”
It didn’t take Saint Vincent long to find a new coach to replace Ron Dolciato, who was fired Nov. 12.
The school picked the Greensburg Central Catholic coach and former Bearcats quarterback.
Smetanka, 30, will be one of the youngest head coaches in college football. Scotty Walden was 26 when he was hired at East Texas Baptist University, a NCAA Division III school, in 2016. Walden is now a wide receivers coach at Southern Mississippi.
“I know what it will take to be able to compete against Washington & Jefferson and the other programs because I played and coached there,” he said.
Smetanka, a 2008 North Catholic graduate, coached two seasons at Greensburg Central Catholic and compiled a 9-11 record, including 7-3 this past season. He set passing records for yards (4,117), attempts (536), completions (331) and touchdown passes (31) at Saint Vincent and graduated in 2011 after spending two seasons with the Bearcats.
“It’s a great public relations tool for us,” Greensburg Central Catholic athletic director Dan Mahoney said. “It proves we hired the right guy.
“He’ll do a good job there. He’s young, motivated and fired up. He’ll do well.”
Mahoney said Greensburg Central Catholic has already started the search for a new coach. He wants to get someone hired soon so the players won’t miss much.
Meanwhile, Smetanka will be starting to interview for a coaching staff. Then he’ll hit the recruiting trail to find players from around the WPIAL, state and region.
“Recruiting at Saint Vincent shouldn’t be hard,” Smetanka said. “It has great academics, a great campus and the Steelers practice there. It’s a great draw to watch them work.”
Saint Vincent administration acted quickly after relieving Dolciato after a 1-9 season. Saint Vincent was 16-34 in five seasons under Dolciato.
“We are pleased to welcome Aaron to our coaching staff,” Brother Norman Hipps, O.S.B., president said in a release. “He is an extraordinarily talented, enthusiastic and committed individual who bleeds green and gold, and we look forward to his contributions to the football team and the Saint Vincent community as a whole.”
“We have a young, energetic Saint Vincent alum who has the spirit and determination to take this program to a higher level,” added athletic director Father Myron Kirsch, O.S.B.
Smetanka played professionally for the Erie Explosion of the Continental Indoor Football League. He then was an assistant coach for three years at Saint Vincent.
“I am honored and blessed to return to my alma mater as its head football coach,” Smetanka said. “There were many great coaches that were interviewed for the head coaching position, and I am very fortunate to have been selected.
“Saint Vincent College is an exceptional academic institution, that has a great on campus community and terrific Benedictine values that are displayed by its student-athletes. I would like to thank Archabbot Douglas Nowicki, Br. Norman Hipps, Fr. Myron Kirsch and all of the administration for giving me the opportunity to be the head football coach at Saint Vincent.”
Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul at [email protected] or via Twitter @Schofield_Trib.