GROVE CITY — Shane Kaclik had a mere 102 career rushing yards heading into his senior season with the Grove City College football team.
Injuries slowed him down. Opportunities were scarce.
Through it all, though, Kaclik had faith that when given the chance, he could excel as a featured back at the college level.
That chance came this year.
Healthy and hungry, Kaclik has rushed for 1,028 yards and 15 touchdowns through nine games of his senior season. He is just the third back in Grove City College history to surpass 1,000 rushing yards in a season, joining R.J. Bowers and Doug Steiner.
“It feels great,” Kaclik said. “First of all, it was a goal of mine since I got here. Second of all, it shows how great our offensive line has been.”
Kaclik has battled injuries much of his career, both at Mars High School and Grove City College.
With the Planets, his senior season was cut short due to a leg injury. With the Wolverines, he battled hamstring pulls and strains.
His success this season has helped him forget all of that misfortune.
“I finally had my chance to prove myself,” Kaclik said. “It’s something I have definitely been waiting for since I got hurt during my senior year in high school.”
Grove City coach Chris Smith said he was hesitant to put too much of the load on Kaclik’s shoulders early in the season.
The coach feared Kaclik’s health and production would suffer.
Instead, Kaclik has gotten better as his workload increased.
He had just 18 carries in the opener against Carnegie Mellon, but 32 the following week against Anderson (Ind.) and three touchdowns.
Kaclik has had 25 or more carries in five of the nine games this season.
“I wish I could get the ball every play,” Kaclik said.
Kaclik has one more game left in his career when Grove City hosts Thiel at 1:30 p.m. Saturday in the 29th Mercer County Cup.
A victory would give the Wolverines their first six-win season since 2000.
For Kaclik, it’s a chance to put one final exclamation mark on a comeback season.
“People have been asking me a lot about what I’m thinking about playing in my last game,” Kaclik said. “I think it’s a good way to cap off my football career. The best part is being able to play with all these great people at Grove City one more time.”