Oct. 12, 2012
No. 7 Bearcats and No. 1 Gorillas renew rivalry at Fall Classic
Kickoff: 4:00 p.m.
Stadium: Arrowhead Stadium
Radio: Bearcat Radio Network
John Coffey (play-by-play), Matt Gaarder (color), Matt Brown (sideline);
Heard on on seven stations that covers four states in the Midwest, and on the Internet from the flagship station KXCV.
Pittsburg State: 1/1
Series: Pittsburg State leads all-time series 23-22 as Northwest leads the Fall Classic series 7-3. This is the 11th edition of the Fall Classic with Pitt State winning the last meeting at Arrowhead and last two overall.
Northwest: Adam Dorrel (Northwest '97) 16-4 (2nd season)
Pittsburg State: Tim Beck (Pittsburg State '87) 24-7 (3rd season)
Game Quick Links
By David Boyce
A week ago, Northwest Missouri State senior safety Clarke Snodgrass must have been the happiest Bearcat around.
Snodgrass saw extended play for the first time all season.
Northwest coach Adam Dorrel figures Snodgrass saw action in about 38 snaps in the Bearcats’ 70-7 victory at Central Oklahoma.
“He played well,” Dorrel said. “I was surprised he played as well as he did for being off as long as he was.”
A pulled hamstring at the start of the first practice prevented Snodgrass from playing much in the first five games.
Fortunately, he is back healthy in time for the biggest regular season game of the year. Northwest, 5-1 overall, 4-1 in the MIAA and ranked No. 7, takes on top ranked Pittsburg State, 5-0, at 4 p.m. Saturday in the “Fall Classic at Arrowhead XI.”
“It is that one game on the schedule you have marked down,” Snodgrass said. “As far as legacy goes, one of the things we will look back on our senior season was how we did against Pitt. Did we win or did Pitt State win? We have been waiting for a year to get back to this game and get back at them.
“This game means a lot to the Bearcat community, alumni, former players and residents of Maryville.”
Snodgrass is thrilled he now gets to participate. Back in mid-August, he was working on battling back from a hamstring injury.
A mere 20 minutes into the first practice of the season, Snodgrass pulled it. Initially, he did not realize how serious it was.
As the weeks went by without much significant improvement, Snodgrass had to help the team in other ways.
Still, the timing of the injury was frustrating.
“It was really tough, preparing since last winter and going through spring ball and getting voted to captain and staying up here all summer, May through July and not missing a workout and working my tail off and you get in the first full day of camp and I pull my hamstring about 20 minutes into practice.
“That was pretty tough for me to deal with.”
A true leader leads when times are toughest. Instead of sulking while the leg healed, Snodgrass demonstrated why his teammates voted him as one of the captains.
Snodgrass found a new role.
“I have a lot of experience,” Snodgrass said. “I was able to help some of the younger guys who needed to step up by watching film and standing by them at practice and asking them what sort of checks they made on certain plays and what to look for. But it was tough to get through.”
Given his background, it is not surprising Snodgrass maintained a positive attitude through the injury.
Snodgrass arrived at Northwest in 2008 from Parkway Central High School in Chesterfield, Mo., as a walk-on.
Immediately, the coaching staff saw qualities in Snodgrass to keep him on the team.
“The thing that stood out to me right away was the way he handled himself,” Dorrel said. “He is a very intelligent kid. He is a pre-med guy. We knew we could not miss. He is very mature for his age. He’s very responsible.”
Snodgrass credits his older brother, Aaron, for encouraging him to walk-on.
“He has always pushed me very hard,” Snodgrass said. “I always looked up to him a lot. I talked to him about it.
“He said, ‘if you work hard for anything, pretty much you are going to get it.’ I took that mentality. I came in, put my head down and just worked hard.”
By his junior season, Snodgrass earned some scholarship money. The amount really didn’t matter to him.
“That’s honestly one of the most rewarding moments of my life, knowing the previous two years of hard work I put in finally paid off,” Snodgrass said. “At first, it wasn’t the most amount of money.
“But he could have told me we are giving you $10 the whole year and I would have been happy. I knew I earned it. It meant a lot to me.”
Snodgrass presence in the secondary means a lot to the Northwest defense. For one, it provides the coaching staff flexibility.
“We can move people around,” Dorrel said.
The other is Snodgrass’ intelligence helps the Bearcats on the field. The safeties are responsible for making the checks and getting everybody lined up right for each play.
“The best thing is his brain,” Dorrel added. Snodgrass and Nate DeJong are our information center. They get everybody lined up.
“I think Snodgrass is good at tackling. He is a physical kid. He is good because he can run with tight ends. He is a good bulky kid and doesn’t get pushed around by them.”
The aspect that Snodgrass likes about the defense is the depth, some of which was created by his injury. Some players had to learn different positions.
Snodgrass pointed to Alex Taylor as one example. Taylor moved from running back to safety when Snodgrass got hurt. Another is Travis Manning who moved from cornerback to safety in training camp.
“It was important for me to help those guys and integrate them into the system,” Snodgrass said.
“I think one of the biggest thing with our defense is we got depth. At linebacker, we got guys like Eric Reimer come in and Cody Matthewson. At D-Line, we have Brandon Yost who has just done a great job this year. Zach Williams has done an awesome job, especially last week.
“In the secondary, we have the Dixon brothers (Brandon and Brian), which has probably been one of the best addition to the team. They are team players. They mixed right into the system and became part of the family.”
The defense is about to face its biggest challenge of the season on Saturday. They will try to slow down a Pittsburg State offense that has been humming along. The Gorillas have scored at least 30 points in all five games.
“They are No. 1 in the nation for a reason,” Snodgrass said. “We are eager to play against them. We want to see what our defense is made of.”
Away from the football field, Snodgrass has found just as much success. He will graduate in December with a degree in Biology.
Snodgrass will then spend a year from school and work as a scribe in his dad’s medical practice. It’s one of the steps to becoming a doctor. After a year of following a doctor around and taking notes, Snodgrass will apply to medical school.
From as long as he can remember, Snodgrass wanted to follow in his dad’s footstep and be a doctor.
“I saw the way my dad impacted other people’s lives,” Snodgrass said. “He is a great man, a really hard worker. I just try to model my life after him. Hearing stories of things his patients have gone through and he’s able to help them really inspired me to do the same.
“He is excited that I’m pursuing what I really want to do.”
The discipline it takes to be a doctor has helped Snodgrass in football.
“From school standpoint to playing football and watching film, it correlates with studying,” Snodgrass said. “You watch film all week and study your football film hard, you are going to play well on game day. The same goes if you study hard all week and go to class and work hard, you will do well on test day.”
Saturday’s game against Pittsburg State is not a final, but it is a test that is weighted heavily in a final grade. The Bearcats want an A for the season so they know what they must do at Arrowhead.
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