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Wildcats Freshmen ride a sound defense and some early offense to a 21-0 victory over Kirtland on Wasmer Field Thursday night. Thursday night's game marked the end of a legendary career for area football official Mr. Dave Hicks.
9/8/2016

By Mr. Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit September 2016

From Wasmer Field on the campus of Saint Ignatius High School - Coming off last weekend's tough five-point setback at home to the ninth-grade team from Mentor, Coach Rodney Gallaway's Freshmen Football Wildcats set the tone early Thursday night versus Kirtland and then had a bit of a lull before leaving no doubt, 21-0.

The Freshmen 'Cats, who now stand 2-1 heading into their high noon September 17th matchup with the Freshmen Shamrocks from Detroit Catholic Central on Wasmer Field, struck right from the get-go on both sides of the ball.

Saint Ignatius, which kicked off to start the game, forced a three-and-out thanks to some exceptional pursuit by defensive lineman Anthony Gerace.

Taking possession at their 40-yard line, the Wildcats drove 60 yards in 14 plays and scored on a 2-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Nick Fletcher to 6-foot-4, 215-pound tight end Sam Daugstrup in the right corner of the Lorain Avenue end zone. The ensuing extra-point kick by Rory McConville made it a 7-0 game with 1 minute and 48 seconds remaining in the opening quarter.

Some of the key plays in the 60-yard march were a hard-nosed 20-yard run on first down by running back/linebacker Jack Welcsh, key pass receptions by wide receiver Domenic Fabe and wide receiver/defensive back Connor Cmiel, and two more second-effort runs by Welcsh.

Saint Ignatius pushed its lead to 14-0 on a 60-yard catch and run for a touchdown by Cmiel that saw Connor outleap and outmaneuver the defensive back for the ball. McConville's extra point was high and true, and the young 'Cats were in control with 2:22 left in the first half.

From there, Coach Gallaway and his savvy and veteran staff would watch the Wildcats' defense keep things under control, as it did all night.

A botched punt attempt by Kirtland, which was the result of Saint Ignatius' pressure and pursuit, led to the game's final points with 4:47 remaining to played. Welcsh did the honors off a 10-yard touchdown run that featured a solid display of vision and power, and McConville was money on the PAT.

Among those helping key Saint Ignatius' defense was linebacker Mac Boyle, who made himself at home in the Hornets' backfield with pad-rattling pursuit.

Kirtland, a small-school football power in Ohio, got a solid all-around effort from Luke Gardner, who ran the ball with a purpose and also made a nice pass break-up in the left corner of the scoreboard end zone.

"I think they see 20 guys and think well what are these guys going to do?," said Coach Gallaway in reference to the Hornets' small roster and the fact that his 'Cats didn't get the message this week that they can't assume anything.

"They don't realize their tradition and their style of football is not typical," Coach Gallaway continued in reference to Kirtland. "So that leaves room for anything to happen. It's a-typical offensively.

"Offensively, I thought we could have came out and played a little better," Coach Gallaway said. "Defensively, we played well. Even without high energy, I thought we made, more or less, all of the plays we needed to. Mac Boyle had a real good game, he was all over the place, and Jack (Welcsh) carried the ball pretty well."

CONGRATULATIONS TO MR. DAVE HICKS ON A MARVELOUS 50-YEAR CAREER AS ONE OF THE OUTSTANDING AND MOST RESPECTED FOOTBALL OFFICIALS, NOT ONLY IN OHIO AND GREATER CLEVELAND, BUT THROUGHOUT THE NATION.

Dave, a young 81, officiated his last game Thursday night on the field he made home while officiating many weeknight freshmen games and Saturday morning junior varsity games during the final years of his storied officiating career - Saint Ignatius' Wasmer Field.   

A retired Homicide Detective in Cleveland, Dave can still proudly rattle off his badge number of 91 and his police car number of 501.

A native of Wisconsin and a diehard fan of the Green Bay Packers, Dave's career on the gridiron not only consisted of officiating on the high school level, but also in the college ranks, where he was among the most respected in his profession throughout the nation.

Dave officiated games for the Crimson Tide of Alabama, worked the historic rivalry between the University of Southern California and the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame and, in what he said with pride, humility and class, had the opportunity to officiate the legendary Army versus Navy series.

Mr. Hicks worked so many big college games and household name teams during his career that he has become a regular in many of ESPN's Classic Replays.

In closing this report on the Freshmen Football Wildcats and Mr. Hicks, I will always remember what Dave said before getting ready for the flip of the coin on Thursday night. In a very direct, but professional manner, he emphasized how much he always pushed for young officials to have the opportunity to work Varsity games on the high school level so they could develop and hone their skills.

And many times, that opportunity came to fruition because an honored and respected veteran named Mr. Dave Hicks took on a freshmen or junior varsity assignment and left an opening for a promising young official.

May God Bless Mr. Hicks in his retirement and a big Thank You from this corner for everything Dave did for the high school athletes of the Greater Cleveland area, past and present.            

 

 

The corner salutes Wildcats Varsity Football mainstay Kevin Ward '17 for being selected as the Scout Offense Player of the Week for the Mentor Game by the Wildcats' Defensive Coaching Staff
9/7/2016
From Saint Ignatius Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers Coach Mr. Ryan Franzinger '02 and posted By Mr. Eddie Dwyer.
 
From Coach Franzinger: The defensive staff named Kevin Ward '17 our Scout Offense Player of the Week for Mentor week.
 
Kevin gave a great look as a WR beating our guys deep a few times, making some nice catches, getting up after every hard hit, and most of all displaying an evident eagerness to make the team better and secure a victory vs. Mentor.
 
For his efforts, Kevin gets cold Gatorade after every practice this week and a pizza lunch today. His humility is impressive, remarking to me after I gave him Gatorade that he "just loves playing the game" -- in a bashful way telling me that these rewards are too much.
 
We will award as we see fit -- it will not be an automatic award every week.  A young man must earn the award.
 
Ryan Franzinger '02
Assistant Principal for Student Discipline
Assistant Coach: Football, Track & Field

 

Please note that the Wildcats' Junior Varsity Football Team will face the Beavers from Painesville Riverside on Saturday at 10 AM on Wasmer Field. Riverside replaces Walsh Jesuit, which had to cancel its scheduled game with Saint Ignatius.
9/7/2016
The 'Cats and the Pats. Saint Ignatius and Valley Forge will be meeting on the gridiron for the ninth time when they lineup for Saturday's 7 PM kickoff on Byers Field in Parma's Robert M. Boulton Stadium.
9/6/2016
By Mr. Eddie Dwyer, with some information documented from an outstanding obituary authored by The Plain Dealer's Grant Segall.
 
September 2016
 
From Wasmer Field in The Ohio City - Last season's matchup with Valley Forge on Byers Field was a very special night for Wildcats Hall of Fame Coach Chuck Kyle '69, his wife Pat and their family, as prior to the kickoff the City of Parma Heights and Valley Forge High School paid tribute to Coach Kyle's late father-in-law, Paul William Cassidy.
 
Mr. Cassidy had a remarkable career as the Mayor of Parma Heights for 43 years. His successor as mayor, Martin Zanotti, described Cassidy as "an outstanding mayor, an incredible family man and an undying patriot.”
 
Mr. Cassidy, who passed away in July 2013 at the age of 94, won the Distinguished Flying Cross in World War II. He flew 28 missions over Europe and navigated the lead bomber on the first daylight raid of Berlin.
 
Cassidy practiced law before, during and after his years as mayor. He represented Cox Cable, Parma Community General Hospital and others from offices downtown, in Parma and in Parma Heights, and was an early champion of regional transit, a regional sewer system and strong regional government.
 
The third of six children, Mr. Cassidy was born in Pittsburgh and sold magazines there when he was just 5 years old. Living in the Glenville area of Cleveland by age 7, he began to deliver newspapers.
 
Mr. Cassidy graduated from legendary Cathedral Latin School and spent two years at John Carroll University before working at Cleveland Graphite Bronze and attending Cleveland-Marshall College of Law at night.
 
In 1942, Cassidy married Elise A. Romano and joined the Army Air Corps. He served with the 447th Bomb Group in England.
 
After the war, Mr. Cassidy represented General Motors to dealers and graduated from Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. He joined the Ohio bar in 1947 and moved to Parma Heights a year later. He practiced downtown at first, then in Parma and Parma Heights until retiring in 2009 at age 90.
 
Mr. Cassidy, said Coach Kyle, loved to read and discuss history, especially topics such as George Washington and the Cival War. In fact, Coach Kyle said his late father-in-law played the major role in the naming of Valley Forge High School, which is appropriately located on Independence Boulevard in Parma Heights and carries the nickname of the Patriots. In 2011, Zanotti told The Plain Dealer, “Paul Cassidy was Parma Heights’ George Washington.”
 
Coach Kyle grew up in Indiana before his family moved to Parma when he was in the sixth grade. Coach Kyle said he lived near the boarder of Parma and Parma Heights and spent a lot of time in Parma Heights. "I attended a lot of Valley Forge games as a kid," he said.
 
As part of the recognition for Mr. Cassidy that Friday night of September 11th, 2015, a $1,000 Scholarship was awarded from the Cassidy Family to Valley Forge's outstanding student/athlete and two-way lineman Dustin Nelson from the Class of 2016. Coach Kyle said the Cassidy Family scholarship tradition will continue on Saturday night.    
 
Here is The Corner's preview on what will be the ninth meeting on the gridiron between the Wildcats and the Patriots, and only their second since 1992, when they kick off at 7 PM Saturday on Byers Field in Parma's Robert M. Boulton Stadium.
 
After a 41-0 victory by the Wildcats last year, the 1,000th game in the history of Saint Ignatius football, the 'Cats lead the series, 7-1. Now senior tailback Jimmy Andrews helped fuel last season's dominant victory by scoring the game's first two touchdowns on runs of 2 and 10 yards.
 
Coach Kyle, the most successful high school football coach in Great Cleveland and the winningest Division I coach in Northeast Ohio, will be directing his Varsity Football Wildcats for the 408th time on Saturday night.      
 
Saint Ignatius and Valley Forge met in football for the first time in 1986, Coach Kyle's fourth year at the helm of his alma mater. The Patriots came away with a 7-6 victory on a Byers Field that was a muddy quagmire thanks to Mother's Nature's week long rain assault.
 
After a 35-6 victory over Valley Forge in 1987, the Wildcats, in what was their first state championship season of 1988, rallied to a 14-13 victory over the Patriots when junior quarterback Joe Pickens scrambled away from heavy pressure on a third-and-20 from the Valley Forge 43 and found junior wide receiver Patrick Friend open in the end zone with just over four minutes remaining. The ensuing extra-point kick by Phil Mohr and an interception by senior defensive tackle Dave Vernon helped prevent Valley Forge from pulling off what would have been a major statewide upset.
 
Coach Kyle's 'Cats would go on to dominate the next four meetings with the Patriots and add another resounding victory in the series last fall.
 
As for the 2016 Patriots, they stand 0-2, losing to North Olmsted, 39-14, and Revere, 49-33. The Eagles of North Olmsted rushed for nearly 300 yards against the Patriots and limited Valley Forge to 128 yards of total offense.
 
As per the OHSAA, the Patriots are a Division II, Region 6 program.
 
FROM COACH KYLE: "Coming in, we thought we matched up well," said Coach Kyle of last weekend's outstanding all-around performance in a 49-7 victory over the always sound program from Mentor. "We spent some time looking at what we needed to work on from last year (a 63-56 loss at Mentor). So we felt good about the game plan and with our lines, we're going to have an effective front, no matter what.
 
"It was a very nice step," continued Coach Kyle. "Yes, it's early in the year and all of that, but winning that one, it feels like a cloud cleared away (snapping a three-game losing streak to the Cardinals). The kids get a little worried about playoffs all of the time and counting computer points. Well, let's not worry about that right now. Let's focus on becoming a better football team."
 
Saint Ignatius, now 2-0, will enter Saturday night's game ranked seventh in cleveland.com's Super 25 State Poll. Yes folks, the days of the area-only rankings, when "Cleveland area" teams would get excited if they cracked one of the lower 20 spots in the then Plain Dealer Top 25 poll, are just a fond memory The record 11-time Division I state champion Wildcats entered the Mentor game as the 20th-ranked team in the "Super 25" and as a unanimous pick to lose by the cleveland.com staff.
 
Hey, everyone's entitled to their opinion. That's what makes polls so contagious and fun.
 
"Valley Forge has moved to doing a Wing-T offense," said Coach Kyle. "Whether it's high school or it's college, you don't see it that often. It's a bit of a problem, because it is so much misdirection.
 
"They're getting good at it," Coach Kyle said of the Patriots' new offense. "Last week (versus Revere) they scored plenty of points. We have to be disciplined in what we're reading. If we're looking in the backfield we're going to be in trouble. If you look in the backfield and are going the wrong way, and they have a reverse or counter called, look out. So it's a good week to work on those sort of details.
 
"It's not enough to just be aggressive, we have to read and react to what people do," Coach Kyle continued. "In an offense like that (the Wing-T), first down is so important. You try to get them in second and long, and get them out of their comfort zone."
 
Coach Kyle said that defensively, the Patriots are in an eight-man front.
 
"So after our game last week, when we ran it 45 times, I would think that we would see an eight-man front," said Coach Kyle. "But we're the type of team that okay, is that what you're giving us? Well, we have plan B also. On any level, you try to take what the defense is giving you. We feel we're prepared for anything the defense tries to take away."
 
SIBN!: The golden tones of junior Matt MacKenzie on the play-by-play and senior Brendan DeVenney on the color commentary will bring you Saturday night's game live over the Saint Ignatius Broadcast Network.
 
While I'm on the subject of the SIBN, I would like to congratulate Matt MacKenzie, a great Indians fan who had the opportunity to throw out a first pitch during the recent series with Minnesota. He's too humble to tell me, but I heard it crossed the plate in Sandy Koufax-like fashion.
 
Have a wonderful rest of the week and weekend, and this old Saint Ignatius of Antioch Wing-T destroyer will see you during a three-day stretch of coverage from Thursday through Saturday.   

 

Saint Ignatius Varsity Football, on the strength of its 49-7 victory over Mentor, climbs 13 spots to seventh place in this week's cleveland.com Super 25 Ohio Poll
9/6/2016

Cleveland, Ohio - For those who inquired, the first Associated Press State Football Poll for 2016 will be released on Monday evening, September 12th. The first official OHSAA computer playoff ratings for the season will be announced on September 22.

As we reported on the corner Sunday morning, computer playoff guru Joe Eitel has St. Edward and Saint Ignatius 1-2 in the Division I, Region 1 computer ratings heading into this weekend's action. Once again, the top eight teams in Region 1 at the end of the regular season qualify for the OHSAA playoffs.

- Mr. Eddie Dwyer  

 

As Saint Ignatius prepares to celebrate its 130th anniversary, we have a smorgasbord of Where the Cats Play this week and weekend, plus a tip of the corner's football cap and a few gridiron items of note
9/5/2016

By Mr. Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit September 2016

First and foremost, this old timer would like to send out an early congratulations to Cleveland's Jesuit Preparatory School on Tuesday's 130th anniversary of its founding.

Before the corner takes a look at what the 'Cats are up to this week on the gridiron, the soccer pitch, the cross country course at Tiffin, and the golf course at Fowler's Mill, please allow me to give out a huge congratulations to Saint Ignatius' Hall of Fame Head Varsity Football Coach Chuck Kyle '69 and his outstanding staff on its marvelous preparation and in-game coaching that resulted in the resounding 49-7 victory over the highly regarded program from Mentor this past Saturday night.

On both sides of the ball, from veteran Offensive Coordinator Nick Restifo to veteran Linebackers Coach and new Defensive Coordinator Ryan Franzinger '02, the 'Cats were ready for everything the Cardinals had under their wings.

Former Saint Ignatius track and football standout, Coach Kevin Johnson '10, roamed the sidelines with passion on Saturday night as the 'Cats' underrated defensive secondary showed the packed house at Byers Field that they were prepared and then some for Mentor's vaunted passing game. Coach Johnson and former Wildcat great Pat Hinkel '09 put together a savvy coverage scheme.  

The big, strong and deep offensive line of Coaches Adam Rini '99 and Paul Yappel lived up and more to everything this corner wrote about it throughout the summer, and the defensive front seven of Coaches Dave Cicetti, Mark Sullivan and Ryan Franzinger was passionate and overwhelming in keeping the Cardinals' gifted junior quarterback Tadas Tatarunas on the run all night.  

Offensively, Coach Restifo, veteran Running Backs Coach Terry Fergus '72, Wide Receivers Coach Josiah  "Juice" Kedzior '04, a former "Difference Maker" as a wideout and kicker for the Wildcats, and quarterbacks Coach Jim Cahill '89 unleashed a balanced offense that produced more than 400 yards.

Gentlemen, it was a privilege to be on the sideline and witness your masterful work. And, while I'm on the subject, I couldn't help but recall on the sideline Saturday night the recent conversation I had with Saint Ignatius' outstanding Assistant Soccer Coach and outstanding Teacher, Mr. Joe Popelka '84. Coach Popelka and yours in sports are in agreement that Coach Cicetti is truly one of the standout Assistant Coaches in the area, if not the entire state.

Okay, now it is on to what the Fall 'Cats are up to this week and weekend, and a few other football items of interest.

Thursday evening at 5:30 on Wasmer Field, Coach Rodney Gallaway's Freshmen Football Wildcats (1-1) will take on the Kirtland Hornets. We ask you again to keep standout Freshman tailback and wrestler Najee Lockett in your prayers, as Najee recovers from the ankle injury he suffered early during last Friday night's 28-23 loss to Mentor's freshmen.

In staying with football, Coach Paul Yappel's 2-0 Junior Varsity Wildcats will host the Jayvee program from Walsh Jesuit on Saturday at 10 AM on Wasmer Field, and Coach Chuck Kyle's 2-0 Varsity Football Wildcats return to Byers Field in Parma's Robert M. Boulton Stadium on Saturday night for a 7 PM matchup with the Valley Forge Patriots. The corner will preview the 'Cats-Pats encounter tomorrow night.

SOCCER

Coach Mike McLaughlin's 4-0 state and nationally acclaimed Soccer Cats will look to extend their 20-match winning streak and 40-match unbeaten streak when they face the Lake Catholic Cougars on Friday night at 7 on the pitch at Wasmer Field.

The two-time defending and record seven-time state champion Soccer Cats, currently ranked second in the nation, return to Wasmer Field on Saturday for a 1 PM matchup with Cardinal Gibbons of Raliegh, N.C.

CROSS COUNTRY

Coach Dr. Mike Gallagher's defending state champion and 2016 version of the Cat Pack, coming off a strong first-place performance at the Hilliard Davidson Hot Summer Bash (see Coach Gallagher's report on the corner from Sunday), will travel to the annual Tiffin Carnival, which takes place on Saturday afternoon in Hedges Boyer Park.

The Varsity B Race is slated for 3:30 PM, the Varsity A race is scheduled for 4:30, and an Open Race at 5:30 will close out one of the season's traditional events.

GOLF

Coach Brian Becker's Men of the Links are scheduled to be swinging the clubs again on Sunday, 9-11, in Gilmour Academy's Reese Alexander Invitational, which takes place on the storied course at Fowler's Mill.

IN CLOSING this report, the corner would like to make something clear about the OHSAA Harbin Computer Playoff Qualifying Format.

As this old timer was making my way to the top of the hill in the Byers Field Parking Lot after Saturday night's triumph (my old, but reliable Focus amazes me with how she survives the bumps on the way down), I overheard one of our young fans say, "I hope Mentor goes 1-9!"

No you don't.

Under the OHSAA Harbin Playoff system, teams are awarded first-level points for each game they win and the all-important second-level points for each game a team they have defeated wins. So, we want the Cardinals (1-1) to go on and have nothing but success the rest of the regular season. That will bring a nice serving of second-level points to the 'Cats.

Valley Forge, who Saint Ignatius faces Saturday night in Byers Field is currently 0-2, as is the Wildcats' opening-night opponent Normandy. The second-level points Saint Ignatius will derive from the Invaders and the Patriots could again be slim to none.

The top eight teams in Division I, Region 1 at the end of the regular season qualify for the playoffs. St. Edward and Saint Ignatius are currently 1-2 in the Region 1 computer playoff ratings by playoff guru Joe Eitel.

In response to a loyal reader who asked the corner how Saint Ignatius' Week 4 opponent, Detroit Catholic Central, is fairing after two weeks, the Shamrocks of Hall of Fame Coach Tom Mach are standing 2-0.

Catholic Central defeated Sterling Heights Stevenson, 42-0, in the opening weekend "Battle in the Big House" at the University of Michigan and this past weekend traveled to Toledo and handed Whitmer a 27-7 loss.

Coach Mach's Shamrocks, who love the ground game, totaled 316 yards of offense and limited Whitmer to just 59 yards of offense. Catholic Central quarterback Austin Brown attempted only three passes, but completed all three for a total of 100 yards and two touchdowns. Brown also ran for 47 yards on 11 carries.

In what will be a matchup of two programs who have each won 11 state football championships, Saint Ignatius travels to Tom Mach Field in Father Richard Elmer, C.S.B., Stadium on Friday night, September 16th for a 7 PM kickoff with the Shamrocks. Catholic Central is located in Novi, Michigan.

Have a safe and great week, and the corner will see you starting tomorrow afternoon at football practice for my weekly interview with Coach Kyle and Thursday night with the Freshmen Game versus the Kirtland Hornets.     

          

 

The essence of a team victory, with some special kudos to the defense. The Saint Ignatius Wildcats, dominating both sides of the ball and the kicking game, overwhelmed the Mentor Cardinals, 49-7, in the weekend's high school football area headliner
9/3/2016

By Mr. Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit September 2016

Parma, Ohio - As Saint Ignatius' outstanding senior linebacker and captain Adam Shibley said more than once late Saturday night, "This is a different Saint Ignatius defense."

And unlike last season, when the Mentor Cardinals racked up 823 yards of offense in a 63-56 shootout victory over the Wildcats in Mentor, that "different" defense was more than Coach Steve Trivisonno's Cardinals could deal with.

Saint Ignatius, with its Hall of Fame Head Football Coach Chuck Kyle '69 describing his team's performance as a true team victory, with the highest mark going to the defense, dominated Mentor in the second half and went on to a resounding 49-7 victory on Byers Field in Parma's Robert M. Boulton Stadium.

In outscoring Mentor, 35-0, in the second half, the Wildcats snapped a three-game losing streak to the Cardinals and improved to 2-0 on the young season.

Mentor, which was coming off a 57-point performance in a one-sided victory over the Massillon Tigers, now stands 1-1.

Coach Trivisonno's Cardinals entered Saturday night's headliner as the ninth-ranked team in cleveland. com's "Super 25" state poll, 11 spots higher than Saint Ignatius. What is it they say about polls?

"This has been the goal since freshman year, to come out here and beat these guys," said Shibley, referring to the three-game losing streak to Mentor. "All offseason this was in our minds, this is the one we had to win. Our defense brought it, just like we always do. Last year, wasn't us. Look out for a new defense, we're here."

That new defense, combined with an offense that featured the leadership and athleticism of senior quarterback Patrick Ryan, an authoritative ground game led by the 1-2 punch of junior tailback Mark Bobinski and senior tailback Jimmy Andrews, a deep receiving corps, and one of the top offensive lines in all of Ohio, sent a large chunk of the Mentor faithful heading for the highway after the third quarter.

"Just hard work in the offseason, getting stronger," said Shibley of a 2016 front seven on defense that made things miserable for Mentor's talented junior quarterback Tadas Tatarunas for almost the entire game.  Yes, the same young man who passed for 531 yards and four touchdowns versus Saint Ignatius last season.

Tatarunas was 7-for-16 for just 97 yards on Saturday night.

"We play with pride and passion, I just love these guys," added Shibley.

After Saint Ignatius moved to a 14-0 lead on a pair of 2-yard touchdown runs by Bobinski and two extra-point kick by multi-skilled junior Matthew Trickett, who also excels for the Wildcats' state and nationally acclaimed soccer program, Mentor got back in the game on a 47-yard touchdown pass from Tatarunas to junior wide receiver Derek Kleinhenz with 52 seconds left in the first half.

Following a fumble recovery at the Wildcats' 29-yard line with 35.7 seconds on the first-half clock, the Cardinals were threatening again.

But up stepped 'Cats' senior defensive back Matt Wiegandt, who intercepted a pass in the left corner of the jumbo screen scoreboard end zone. Matt's clutch effort came after Tatarunas was flushed from the pocket and had to throw on the run. Matt is a rare two-sport captain for this school year - football and hockey.

Coach Kyle was very pleased not only with his defense, but the balance the Wildcats displayed on offense in the second half.

Clinging to that seven-point halftime lead, Saint Ignatius came out for the third quarter and began to play as flawless as the perfect thumbnail moon that made itself comfortable over the visiting side of Byers Field.

With Andrews picking up tough, second-effort yards and Ryan, a first-year starter, running the offense like a savvy veteran, the Wildcats outscored the Cardinals, 21-0, in the third quarter. Saint Ignatius' take-charge attitude in the third quarter featured touchdown runs of 2 and 30 yards by Andrews and sandwiched in between Andrews' TDs was a 21-yard touchdown sweep over the left side by Ryan off a keeper that displayed Patrick's speed and vision.

It was Katy Bar the Door after Bobinski powered his way into the jumbo scoreboard end zone from 7 yards out and, following the PAT by Trickett, the OHSAA deficit rule of a running clock came into play with 6 minutes and 23 seconds remaining in the game.

As for Saint Ignatius' final touchdown, it was only fitting that it came from the defense -  a 43-yard pick six by senior linebacker Justin Perpar. The Wildcats also had an interception in the first half, a leaping effort by senior corner Alex Ringfield.

"We're motivated every week, but I think this week we were excited about this game," said Bobinski, who rushed for 138 yards and three touchdowns on 18 carries. Bobinski is from St. Mary's of Mentor Parish. "Our offensive line did an excellent job, all credit to them and the receivers blocking down field. The defense did a great  job shutting them down. It was hard-nosed, good football out there.

"There was some motivation coming in, with everybody from The Plain Dealer (cleveland.com) picking us to lose," Mark continued. "It's truly special to come out here and do what we did tonight and with the way we prepare, I'm confident we can keep this going."

GETTING THEIR KICKS: Along with Matt Trickett's place kicking, senior Colin Goodfellow, an All-Ohio punter in 2015, was constantly forcing Mentor to start drives at its 20-yard line with booming kickoffs out of the end zone. A couple of Colin's kiss the sky efforts flirted with Saint Ignatius' outstanding Marching Band, which was sitting in the Day Drive end zone.

SOME NUMBERS TO CHEW ON: Saint Ignatius rushed the football 45 times for 263 yards. Patrick Ryan passed for 165 yards and rushed for 42 yards and a touchdown.

Mentor was limited to 50 yards rushing on 23 carries.

The Wildcats totaled 428 yards of offense on 69 plays and the Cardinals ran 41 plays for 147 yards.

Jimmy Andrews rushed for 79 yards and two TDs on 14 carries and leading the 'Cats' receivers were Travis Pot with 3 receptions for 38 yards, tight end/linebacker James Leyden with 2 catches for 44 yards, and Connor Kennedy and Ryan Cook, who each had two receptions for 30 and 26 yards, respectively.

Saint Ignatius was 10 of 13 on third-down conversions and Mentor was 1 for 8 on third down. The 'Cats led in first downs, 26-7, and in time of possession, 29:49 to 18:11 for the Cardinals.

Saturday night's encounter was the 20th game in the Saint Ignatius versus Mentor gridiron rivalry, with the 'Cats now leading the all-time series, 12-8.  

LOOKING BACK: Saint Ignatius' 49-7 triumph over Mentor on Saturday night was the largest margin of victory in the series since 2009, when the 'Cats defeated the Cardinals, 47-7. Leading the defense in 2009 was All-Seven County area, All-District and All-Ohio linebacker Jake Ryan, who went on to a great career as a Captain for the Michigan Wolverines and is currently a starting linebacker for the Green Bay Packers. Patrick Ryan is Jake's cousin.

The Wildcats opened their state and national championship season of 1989 with a 43-2 victory at  Mentor.

UP NEXT: Saint Ignatius returns to Byers Field on September 10th to face the Valley Forge Patriots at 7 PM.         

 

 

Through the air, on the ground and defensively, the Junior Varsity Wildcats prowled the gridiron on what was a perfect evening for football in Mentor's atmosphere-rich Jerome T. Osborne Sr. Stadium
9/3/2016

By Mr. Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit September 2016

Mentor, Ohio - "We knew coming in that we were playing a good team from a great program," said Saint Ignatius' outstanding Junior Varsity Head Football Coach and Assistant Varsity Coach Paul Yappel, just minutes after his JV Wildcats made themselves at home on Mentor High School's sun-drenched turf in the Cardinals' Jerome T. Osborne Sr. Stadium Friday evening. That turf goes by the name of Jerome T. Osborne Jr. Field.

"It was a great test for us to see where we are early on in the season," Coach Yappel said after his 'Cats improved to 2-0 with a 28-0 victory over the Cardinals.

Saint Ignatius' sophomores certainly passed that test as they made some big plays, were opportunistic and unleashed an inspired defense like their next meal depended on it.

The list of the Wildcats' difference makers was as big as Mentor's spacious and impressive campus.

Two plays after Saint Ignatius fumbled the ball away at its 24-yard line, Wildcats' gifted sophomore defensive back Jett Elad made an over-the shoulder interception in the end zone.

Following Jett's gem, the JV 'Cats, combining the passing and mobility of gritty sophomore quarterback Patrick Delahunty, the running of sophomore tailback Jahadge "Bo" Floyd and the receiving of sure-handed and athletic sophomore wide receiver Nigel Drummond II, drove to a first down at the Mentor 14.

The Cardinals' defense stepped up on the next three plays and Saint Ignatius was faced with a fourth-and-20 from the 24-yard line.

Then came another huge play by the 'Cats, an effort that can deflate any defense.

Undaunted by the down and distance, Saint Ignatius' savvy Quarterbacks Coach Jim Cahiil '89 called on Delahunty and Drummond and the double Ds combined on a 24-yard touchdown pass that saw Drummond make a smooth extension of his arms and hands with a defender draped all over him in the left corner of the end zone. The  extra-point kick was no good and the Wildcats led, 6-0, with 5 minutes and 27 seconds remaining in the first half.

It was time for the 'Cats' defense to make its mark again and that came in the form of a pad-rattling tackle by endless potential sophomore linebacker Tommy Eichenberg that jarred the ball loose from the Cardinals' tailback. Sophomore defensive lineman Zach McMahan outfought two Mentor offensive linemen for a fumble recovery at the Cardinals' 25-yard line, and Coach Yappel's tenacious 10th graders were hungry for more points.

Delahunty was more than happy to oblige as seven plays later the mature beyond his years field general swept the left side for a 5-yard touchdown run and then capped off his TD by running for a two-point conversion with 2 minutes and 12 seconds left in the first half.

Leading 14-0 entering the third quarter, Saint Ignatius' defense just kept making plays, this time in the form of a 25-yard interception return for a touchdown by ever-present sophomore defensive back Mitchell Puhalsky, Mitchell's first of two interceptions on the evening.

Saint Ignatius, which will look to go 3-0 on the young season when it welcomes Walsh Jesuit's Jayvees to Ohio City on September 10th at 10 AM, closed out the scoring on a short TD run by Bo Floyd and a two-point conversion pass from Delahunty to sophomore wide receiver Luke Cooper. Delahunty was flushed from the pocket, rolled right and, with Cooper never giving up on his route and Delahunty keeping his eyes downfield, it was a 28-0 game with 2:45 remaining in the third quarter.

The Wildcats added a little topping to the victory out on Center Street that was flavored with a leaping pass breakup by sophomore defensive back Nathan Previts, an overpowering sack by young Mr. Eichenberg, another big-time reception by Drummond, a highlight-reel diving catch along the sideline by sophomore wide receiver Zachary LaPorte, and a strong run over the ride side by junior tailback Andrew Phillips.

"We're still making some mistakes, but we're going to improve on those and we improved from last week,'' said Coach Yappel. "That's the best thing. Winning is great, winning is important, but when you see the improvement it's even better. That's the measuring stick."

 

Coach Paul Yappel's JV Football 'Cats came away with an impressive 28-0 victory at Mentor on Friday evening, but Coach Rodney Gallaway's Freshmen 'Cats experienced a tough 28-23 loss to the Cardinals on Wasmer Field
9/2/2016

By Mr. Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit September 2016

Cleveland, Ohio - The corner just arrived home from Mentor after covering the now 2-0 Junior Varsity Football Wildcats in their impressive shutout victory over the Cardinals' Jayvees in Jerome T. Osborne Sr. Stadium.

Yours in sports will have a story coming up on the JV 'Cats, but first here is a recap on the Freshmen Football  Wildcats, who are now 1-1 after Friday evening's tough loss to Mentor's ninth graders on Wasmer Field.

And it was tough in more ways than one, as Head Coach Rodney Gallaway and his outstanding staff lost their standout tailback, Najee Lockett, in the early going to what could be a season-ending ankle injury. Najee is also one of the top-rated young wrestlers in Ohio.

"Najee suffered a serious ankle injury and had to be transported to a (nearby) hospital," said Coach Gallaway, who will know more about Najee's health as the weekend progresses. This old-timer had the privilege to interview Najee at a camp on Wasmer Field this summer and I can tell you that he is an exceptional all-around young man. We ask that you keep Najee in your prayers.

As for the Freshmen Game versus Mentor, the young Wildcats got off to a solid start behind the passing/receiving combination of quarterback Nick Fletcher and wide receiver/defensive back Connor Cmiel and led, 14-0.

The Freshmen Cardinals from Mentor would cut the deficit to 14-8 by halftime and move to a 28-17 lead in offsetting a field goal by the Wildcats' Rory McConville.

Coach Gallaway watched his team close to 28-23 with three minutes remaining off the third touchdown of the night by the gifted Cmiel, but just couldn't turn a couple of late promising possessions into points.

"We played well," said Coach Gallaway, who will send his 'Cats into Thursday's 5:30 PM kickoff versus the Kirtland Hornets on Wasmer Field. "But we had too many turnovers, for sure, and put ourselves in bad positions with those turnovers."

Coach Gallaway also pointed to some missed opportunities early on, opportunities that saw the Wildcats drive into or near the red zone, but fail to get the ball into the end zone.

"Mentor could strike quickly," Coach Gallaway continued. "They have a quarterback who can run and throw the ball, so that makes them tough to defend. We played hard right to the end and obviously Connor (Cmiel) had a great game. He performed well on both sides of the ball."

Coach Gallaway also referred to the play of linebacker Mac Boyle, who had an interception, linebacker Jack Welcsh, who did a nice job in coverage, and defensive lineman Anthoy Gerace, who had a key fumble recovery.

"The offensive line also played very well," said Coach Gallaway. "They gave Fletcher a lot of time to throw."

Again, we will be praying for Najee's recovery. As I said earlier in this report, Najee left a lasting impression this summer on this reporter of nearly 50 years.       

 

Yes, it's just Week 2, but as always, the stakes are high when the Saint Ignatius Wildcats and the Mentor Cardinals meet on the gridiron
8/31/2016

By Mr. Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit, September 2016

THE 20TH FOOTBALL ENCOUNTER BETWEEN THE SAINT IGNATIUS WILDCATS AND THE MENTOR CARDINALS, RANKED 20TH AND 9TH, RESPECTIVELY, IN CLEVELAND.COM'S "SUPER 25" STATE POLL, WILL TAKE PLACE ON SATURDAY AT 7 PM ON BYERS FIELD IN PARMA'S ROBERT M. BOULTON STADIUM.

IF YOU CAN'T MAKE IT OUT TO RIDGE ROAD AND DAY DRIVE FOR WHAT IS ALWAYS A SIGNIFICANT GAME IN TERMS OF THE ALL-IMPORTANT OHSAA COMPUTER PLAYOFF POINTS, SAINT IGNATIUS' 1-2 PUNCH OF MATT MACKENZIE (PLAY-BY-PLAY) AND BRENDAN DEVENNEY (COLOR) WILL BRING IT TO YOU LIVE OVER THE SAINT IGNATIUS BROADCAST NETWORK.

Here is a little background on the roller-coaster rivalry between the Wildcats and the Cardinals, which has picked up significant momentum since that memorable 2011, November 19th Saturday night in football-rich Lakewood Stadium.  

Cleveland, Ohio - The Saint Ignatius Wildcats and the Mentor Cardinals began their football rivalry in 1989.

After lop-sided victories by the Wildcats in the first four meetings, including a 38-13 triumph in the 1992 OHSAA Regional Playoffs and a 41-7 regular-season victory in 1993, Mentor and Saint Ignatius did not meet again until the second round of the playoffs in 2003.

The Cardinals of Coach Steve Trivisonno came up with their first victory over Saint Ignatius in resounding fashion that night on Parma's Byers Field, 31-0.

Finally, a rivalry?

Well, not yet, as Saint Ignatius went on to win four of the next five meetings with Mentor.

Then came 2010 and yes, what this corner now refers to as one of the finest Public School versus Catholic School football rivalries in the nation started brewing.

Mentor would win its next two matchups with Saint Ignatius, including a 38-24 regular season victory in 2011 at the Cardinals' Jerome T. Osborne Stadium .

However, the Wildcats, on their way to their 11th Division I State Championship under Hall of Fame Head Coach Chuck Kyle, upset the favored Cardinals, 23-17, in a 2011 OHSAA Regional Championship Game at storied Lakewood Stadium.

The next two seasons also brought about both regular season and playoff encounters between the 'Cats and the Cardinals, with Mentor losing both regular season games in 2012 and 2013, but responding with victories in the playoffs.

The 2012, 57-56 triple-overtime victory by the Mitch Trubisky-led Cardinals in the third round of the playoffs goes down as one of the greatest games in the history of the OHSAA football postseason. Mitch is currently the starting quarterback at North Carolina.

Mentor, which now trails its all-time football series with Saint Ignatius, 11-8, comes into Saturday night's matchup with a three-game winning streak over the Wildcats, including the playoff victory in 2013 at Byers Field, a regular-season triumph over the 'Cats at Byers Field in 2014, and last year's 63-56 offensive shootout over Saint Ignatius at Jerome T. Osborne Sr. Stadium.

Trailing, 56-49, with 11:55 remaining to be played in the 2015 thriller, the Cardinals struck with touchdown passes of 52 yards to Jason Blizzard from then sophomore quarterback Tadas Tatarunas and a Tatarunas rope of 10 yards to Malik Porter.

The game winner to Porter saw Tatarunas roll left under heavy pressure in the final 15 seconds, regain his balance and find Porter, who was breaking free across the back of the end zone.

Tatarunas finished with 531 yards passing and Saint Ignatius' first-team All-Ohio quarterback Dennis Grosel threw for 415 yards. Dennis is bound for Boston College this winter as a preferred walk-on.

Mentor and Saint Ignatius combined for an amazing 1,438 yards of total offense, including 823 yards by the Cardinals.

HERE IS HOW COACH KYLE, GRITTY AND GIFTED SENIOR QUARTERBACK PATRICK RYAN AND STANDOUT SENIOR DEFENSIVE END MIKE CHIME LOOK AT SATURDAY NIGHT'S MATCHUP WITH COACH TRIVISONNO'S CARDINALS.

SAINT IGNATIUS IS COMING OFF A 45-0 OPENING NIGHT VICTORY OVER NORMANDY AT BYERS FIELD AND MENTOR STARTED ITS 2016 SEASON WITH A 57-31 VICTORY OVER THE MASSILLON TIGERS AT JEROME T. OSBORNE SR. STADIUM. THE CARDINALS WERE LED BY A FIVE-TOUCHDOWN PERFORMANCE FROM TAILBACK ISAIAH GULLICK, WHO WAS MAKING HIS FIRST START ON THE VARSITY LEVEL.

FROM COACH KYLE: "Offensively, they're very good. They execute very well. In the Mentor program, the young kids are running that offense for years and once they get to high school they have a real good feel for it. And that's impressive and that's what you see on film.

"They spread you all over the field and there has to be some one-on-one plays made to be able to stop them and get your offense on the field. So that's got to happen on Saturday night. You run to the ball and get to the ball, but still there's those moments when it's one-on-one and the athlete has to make the play. So we're working very hard on fundamentals, obviously, but also getting ourselves into good position to make plays.

"Defensively, they're big up front and the matchup of their defensive line versus our offense line is kind of an interesting thing to watch. It will look like college lines, to be honest with you. Then the skilled guys take over. They graduated some skilled guys and we did, too, but I think Mentor would say the same thing, it's the next kid's turn to step up. By senior year you should be executing at a high level.

"We're really going to have to tell the kids don't look at the scoreboard. History tells you this game is just back and forth and back and forth, and the change in momentum is always amazing. You're up by 10 points, well big deal. In this game it doesn't mean that much.

"I think Steve (Coach Trivisonno) would say the same thing, that this is a game in which you find out a lot about yourself. It's going to be a major playoff caliber game the second week of the season, so that's awesome."

FROM PATRICK RYAN: "It's kind of like growing up, because I was the boy ball here and watched Eric Williams win a state title (in 2011), I watched Mike LaManna play great football here (in 2012), I was in the stands for Andrew Holland (Ohio's co-Offensive Player of the Year as the quarterback for the Cats' 2008 State Championship and National Runner-Up Team) and last year I was the backup to Dennis (Grosel). I've seen the lineage and have a lot to live up to, but it's an honor and I'm happy to be here.

"I think we're in a good spot," Patrick continued in reference to Saturday's showdown with Mentor. "We have a big offensive line. I'm going to stay behind them and trust them, and we have to trust the running game. I'm happy where the chemistry is at, and with the long camp and practices we've been able to get the timing down.

"Yeah, it's going to be fun," said Patrick of what awaits on Saturday night.

FROM MIKE CHIME: "I originally lived in Mentor from the time I was five years old. I moved here from Indiana. I know most of those guys (the Cardinals), I've grown up with them. I could probably name each number. I've known Tadas (Tatarunas) since he was a young kid. He impresses me as a person and a player. 

"I feel that every game, that should be our mindset. That every game is going to be won or lost up in the trenches, up in the front," Mike continued. "But in the end, it doesn't really matter who we play. Our mindset is that we're going to be a tactical unit, ready for combat.

"We're the leaders of the defense, the front seven (the linemen and linebackers). The offensive line is, too. We go against them every day in practice and we make each other better."

 

 

Another huge early season Varsity Football encounter wih the Mentor Cardinals and a Thursday night Varsity and Junior Varsity Soccer doubleheader versus Solon at Cleveland State University's Krenzler Field highlight this week's Where the 'Cats Play
8/29/2016

By Mr. Eddie Dwyer. Copyright Credit August/September 2016

Cleveland, Ohio - In what is one of the premier Catholic School versus Public School football rivalries in the nation, Coach Steve Trivisonno's Mentor Cardinals and Coach Chuck Kyle's Saint Ignatius Wildcats will meet in another early season headliner that, in all likelihood, will bring a nice chunk of Division I OHSAA computer playoff points to the winner.

Saint Ignatius will host Mentor on Saturday night at Byers Field in Parma's Robert M. Boulton Stadium. The kickoff from Ridge Road and Day Drive will be 7 PM.   

The 'Cats and the Cardinals, ranked 21st and ninth, respectively, in cleveland.com's preseason state/area poll, opened their promising seasons with solid victories last weekend.

Saint Ignatius, going to its bench early and often, wore down the Normandy Invaders, 45-0, at Byers Field and Mentor rode a five-touchdown performance by tailback Isaiah Gullick to a 57-31 triumph over the Massillon Tigers in the Cardinals' Jerome T.Osborne Sr. Stadium.

The Wildcats lead the all-time gridiron series with the Cardinals, 11-8, but will be looking to snap a three-game losing streak to Mentor on Saturday night, including last season's 63-56 offensive shootout in Osborne Sr. Stadium.

The corner will be previewing on Wednesday night what should be another memorable Saint Ignatius-Mentor Varsity encounter.

It is a full weekend of Saint Ignatius versus Mentor Football as Coach Paul Yappel's 1-0 Junior Varsity 'Cats are traveling to Jerome T. Osborne Sr. Stadium on Friday evening for a 5 PM kickoff with Mentor's Jayvees and Coach Rodney Gallaway's 1-0 Freshmen 'Cats are hosting Mentor's Freshmen on Friday evening at 5 PM.   

Getting the Labor Day Weekend started will be none other than the state and nationally acclaimed Varsity Soccer 'Cats, who host the Solon Comets on Thursday at 8 PM on Cleveland State University's storied Krenzler Field, now the home of former Wildcat soccer great Lawrence Karpeh '16. This old-timer was privileged to cover the Varsity Soccer 'Cats for the first time in an OHSAA playoff match on Krenzler Field. That was more than a few years ago, I have to confess.  

The matchup with the Varsity side from Solon with be preceded by a 6 PM Junior Varsity encounter with the Comets. Saint Ignatius' 3-0 Varsity program and 4-0 Junior Varsity program are coming off impressive and hard-earned championships in this past weekend's annual Ohio Jesuit Cup on the pitch at Walsh Jesuit High School.

Coach Mike McLaughlin's two-time defending and record seven-time OHSAA state champions brought home their eighth Ohio Jesuit Cup with a 1-0 victory over previously undefeated St. Xavier on Sunday, and Coach Jim Brennan's JV 'Cats kept the JV Championship Cup right where it belongs by turning away the JV program from Walsh Jesuit, 2-1.

In cross country, Coach Dr. Mike Gallagher's defending State Champion harriers will be traveling to Hilliard Davidson High School on Saturday morning for the annual Hot Summer Bash races. What an appropriate name. The bus will leave Saint Ignatius at 6:45 AM and the Varsity Race is scheduled for 10:10 AM. The Freshmen/Open Race is slated for 11 AM.

For a look at Saint Ignatius Cross Country and its opening-weekend performance at the Canton GlenOak Golden Eagle Invitational, see the weekly and ever-so popular Gallagher Report that was posted on the corner Sunday night.

And last, but certainly not least, Coach Brian Becker's Men of the Links will take a little break over Labor Day Weekend and swing back into action on September 11th at the Gilmour Academy Reese Alexander Invitational on the tradition-rich Fowler's Mill course in Chesterland. The tee-off time is listed as 11:30 AM.

Have a wonderful and safe Labor Day Weekend!  

 

 

A clearer picture of Joe Eitel's first computer ratings
8/28/2016

Posted By Mr. Eddie Dwyer

Anyone who follows the corner's football coverage realizes that I have tremendous respect for Joe Eitel and the job he does with his weekly high school football computer playoff ratings.

However, it is wise not get too excited over being one of SEVEN teams tied for fourth place in the initial Eitel Division I ratings for 2016.

As you probably know, Normandy is now on a 32-game losing streak and we can only hope, that unlike last season, the Invaders will give us some help this year in the all-important, second-level points. That means Normandy would have to win a game or two, or maybe three. We can only hope.

That said, the Eitel ratings will take on a more significant appearance after this coming weekend as Saint Ignatius (1-0) faces the Mentor Cardinals (1-0) this Saturday at 7 PM on Byers Field in Parma's Robert M. Boulton Stadium.

A huge game, my friends, not only because the Wildcats versus the Cardinals has developed into one of the finest Catholic School versus Public School football rivalries in the nation, but a significant amount of computer points are potentially on the table.

The first official OHSAA computer ratings for the season will be released on September 20th and the first Associated Press bragging rights state poll will be released on September 12th.

The top eight teams in each Division I region at the end of the regular season qualify for the OHSAA Playoffs.

Note: The corner will be previewing the Mentor-Saint Ignatius encounter on Wednesday night.   

      

1t 1-0 650 Canton GlenOak 6.5000 6.5 0.0 100
1t 1-0 1408 Shaker Heights Shaker Heights 6.5000 6.5 0.0 100
1t 1-0 1346 Lakewood St Edward 6.5000 6.5 0.0 100
4t 1-0 444 Cuyahoga Falls Cuyahoga Falls 6.0000 6.0 0.0 100
4t 1-0 540 Euclid Euclid 6.0000 6.0 0.0 100
4t 1-0 730 North Canton Hoover 6.0000 6.0 0.0 100
4t 1-0 1016 Mentor Mentor 6.0000 6.0 0.0 100
4t 1-0 1428 Solon Solon 6.0000 6.0 0.0 100
4t 1-0 1354 Cleveland Saint Ignatius 6.0000 6.0 0.0 100
4t 1-0 1492 Stow Stow-Munroe Falls 6.0000 6.0 0.0 100
The Junior Varsity Football 'Cats open their season with a 46-0 victory over Cleveland Central Catholic on Wasmer Field.
8/27/2016

By Mr. Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit August 2016

FROM WASMER FIELD: Coach Paul Yappel's Junior Varsity Football Wildcats dominated field position, special teams and every other major facet of the game in defeating a game, but out-manned Cleveland Central Catholic team, 46-0, in the heat, humidity and sunshine that hovered over Ohio City early Saturday afternoon.

The JV 'Cats took a 7-0 lead on a 9-yard touchdown burst over the right side by sophomore tailback Jahadge "Bo" Floyd and the ensuing extra-point kick by sophomore Jack Cannon with 5 minutes and 48 seconds remaining in first quarter.

The 'Cats' swarming defense, which was more than the Ironmen could deal with, recorded a safety and shortly after that it was a 17-0 game courtesy of a nice catch and run by sophomore wide receiver John Wetula that gave Saint Ignatius a first-and-goal at the 1, a 1-yard TD run by the multi-skilled Mitchell Puhalsky, and a 2-point conversion run by promising sophomore quarterback Patrick Delahunty.

Katy wasn't barring the door yet, but she was definitely warming up to the task after Wetula hauled in a quick-hitter in the left flat and fought his way into the Lorain Avenue end zone. Floyd tacked on his second touchdown of the afternoon on a 1-yard run with 1:36 remaining in the first half.

Delahunty set up Bo's second TD by picking up a fumble and rambling down the right sideline to the 1-yard line and, after an interception by sophomore defensive back Owen Adler, the 'Cats led, 30-0, at halftime.  

Saint Ignatius' defense and special teams continued to overwhelm Central Catholic despite the fact that Saint Ignatius was going three deep into its reserves.

After another safety was recorded by the special teams, Puhalsky put together two runs that highlighted his footwork and vision, the second gallop resulting in a a 21-yard touchdown. Cannon's PAT pushed the 'Cats' commanding lead to 39-0 and the OHSAA deficit rule of a running clock came into play the rest of the way.

Closing out the scoring was sophomore running back Declan Boldy, who accomplished the rare feat of producing a touchdown run of 4 yards and then also kicking the extra point after his TD. Saint Ignatius' Hall of Fame Varsity Head Football Coach Chuck Kyle '69 congratulated the tough, talented and gregarious Boldy on his seven-point play, as parents and fans were gathering with the players following the Jayvees' dominant performance.

Boldy, whose brother Andrew is a junior linebacker for the Varsity, shared with this old timer that he also does some kicking for the Wildcats' Rugby Program. Andrew Boldy also competes in Rugby during the spring.

FROM COACH YAPPEL: "I think Cleveland Central Catholic competed real well, especially early on. I mean they played hard and you have to give them credit."

The Ironmen had only 21 players dressed for Saturday's encounter with the sophomore 'Cats.

"We came out and eventually got going," Coach Yappel continued. "As the game went on, we improved. And that was important. Everyone is involved during the week and it's nice to come out and have the opportunity for everyone to participate in a game like this.

"The defense was solid and offensively we were able to move the ball," Coach Yappel said. "We did a lot of things well, but we have a lot of room for improvement. That's what the focus has to be from this point out. It was a great win, great to come out and have everyone competing. But we have to remember it's about improving, week in and week out."

Game two of the young season for the JV Football 'Cats will be a solid test, as they travel to Mentor's Jerome T. Osborne Sr. Stadium on Friday evening for a matchup with the Cardinals' Jayvees. The kickoff is scheduled for 5 PM.                       

 

Wildcats Varsity Football did everything it wanted to accomplish during Friday night's 45-0 victory over a gutsy Normandy team in the season opener
8/26/2016

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit August 2016

From Byers Field in Parma's Robert M. Boulton Stadium - "We really did," said Saint Ignatius' Hall of Fame Head Football Coach Chuck Kyle '69, after this old timer said it appeared that Coach Kyle's Wildcats did just about everything they set out to do in opening the 2016 season with a 45-point shutout over the Invaders from Normandy on what was a picture-perfect late August Friday night on Ridge Road and Day Drive.

"Normandy has a lot of young kids and those kids are playing hard," Coach Kyle said after he picked up his 322nd career victory in what is his 34th season as the head of his alma mater's football program. "They're really believing. That's a good group of kids at Normandy. It was good, clean football and I think our kids had a very good attitude towards it.

"It's more about how each of us (Normand and Saint Ignatius) can improve," Coach Kyle continued. "The scoreboards take care of themselves. You walk out on a football field and there's an opponent. All week, we challenged each of the kids on how do we improve a little bit more from what we did against Canton McKinley (the final preseason tune up on August 18th). Especially the second and third groups that were not as sharp versus Canton McKinley. And I thought we did a fine job tonight."

The Wildcats' first team took care of its responsibility from the get-go, as under the direction of senior quarterback Patrick Ryan Saint Ignatius turned to the running of junior tailback Mark Bobinski and the work of its big and seasoned offensive line, and took a 7-0 lead on a 1-yard touchdown run by Bobinski and the ensuing extra-point kick by junior Matthew Trickett.

With All-Ohio senior kicker/punter Colin Goodfellow booming kickoffs into the end zone and Saint Ignatius' defense being more than Normandy could deal with, the Invaders played the first half pinned deep in their territory on every possession.

The Wildcats pushed their lead to 14-0 on their second offensive series, as senior tailback Jimmy Andrews bolted 12 yards over the left side for another score off the ground game. Trickett added his second extra point with 4 minutes and 34 seconds remaining in the first quarter.

Ryan helped set up Andrews' TD with two smooth completions to senior wide receivers Travis Pot and Michael Daugenti, and a 10-yard run off a quarterback keeper.

Saint Ignatius' defense then set the table with a fumble recovery by junior cornerback Cameron Toppin at the Invaders' 19-yard line and on the very next pay Pot hauled in a touchdown strike from Ryan. Trickett's extra point was high and true, and the 'Cats' led, 21-0, with 2:51 left in the opening quarter.

Following another three-and-out by the Normandy offense and a punt by the Invaders that rolled out of bounds at the Normandy 37, Saint Ignatius hit the quick-strike button again.

Senior tailback Dean "The Dream" Stowers took the handoff on first down, swept the left side and in a blur covered the 37 yards into the Day Drive end zone. Trickett's PAT made it a 28-0 game with 22 seconds remaining in the first quarter.

"We weren't looking to roll a score up or anything like that," said Coach Kyle. "What we wanted to do was execute. The first group, we were running and throwing, and the defense was doing a great job. It's an option team (Normandy's offense), so you have to be very disciplined."

Clearing his bench early and often, Coach Kyle watched his Wildcats stretch their lead to 31-0 on a 32-yard field goal by Trickett with 8:29 remaining in the first half. The gifted Trickett will get some rest tonight and then gear up for Saturday's 1 PM soccer match versus Toledo St. John's Jesuit in the Ohio Jesuit Cup at Walsh Jesuit.

After a 43-yard touchdown run by Andrews was wiped out by a penalty, the undaunted 'Cats scored on an 8-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Kyle Hall to junior wide receiver Michael Drobnick. Another PAT by Trickett made it a 38-0 game with 4:57 to go in the first half.

A 1-yard keeper by senior quarterback Luke Baker and an extra-point kick by junior Drew Allessandro closed out the scoring with 52 seconds left in the third quarter. Under the OHSAA deficit rule, the entire second half was played with a running clock.

BY THE NUMBERS: The Wildcats totaled 22 first downs to Normandy's 3. Saint Ignatius rushed for 233 yards and passed for 97 yards, completing 8 of its 10 throws. The Invaders rushed for 36 yards and were 0 for 7 passing the football.

UP NEXT: The 'Cats will host the Mentor Cardinals on Saturday, September 3. The kickoff in what will be a huge game in terms of OHSAA computer playoff points will be 7 PM on Byers Field in Parma's Robert M. Boulton Stadium. Coach Steve Trivisonno's Cardinals opened their season with a 57-31 victory over the Massillon Tigers on Friday night in Mentor's Jerome T. Osborne Sr. Stadium.

"It's going to be a packed house next week," said Coach Kyle of what this corner has labeled as one of the finest Public School versus Catholic School football rivalries in the nation. "It will be a playoff-caliber game and we certainly want to come out and do a better job defending than we did last year (a 63-56 Mentor victory in Osborne Sr. Stadium)."

The corner will preview what will be the 20th meeting between Saint Ignatius and Mentor on the gridiron Wednesday night. The Wildcats lead the all-time series, 11-8, but the Cardinals have won the last three meetings, including a third-round playoff victory in 2013.                 

 

 

Executing on both sides of the ball from the get-go, Coach Rodney Gallaway's Freshmen Football Wildcats roll to a 49-0 victory over Youngstown Cardinal Mooney in Wednesday night's season opener
8/24/2016

By Mr. Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit August 2016

Cleveland, Ohio - The first time this gridiron-tested reporter saw the 2016 Saint Ignatius Wildcats Freshmen Football Team make their way across Lorain Avenue from a summer practice on Kyle Field, I said to myself, and then repeated it to many others, "Physically, that's the biggest Freshmen Football Team from Saint Ignatius that I have seen in nearly six decades of following high school football in the Cleveland area."

On Wednesday night, the 2016 Freshmen 'Cats showed this old timer that they not only pass the eye test, but have football skills that more than measure up to their size.

Dominating both lines of scrimmage and displaying a balanced offense that was fueled early on by the running of tailback Najee Lockett, Saint Ignatius' oh so promising ninth graders overwhelmed the freshmen football team from Youngstown Cardinal Mooney, 49-0, in front of a large and enthusiastic crowd at Wasmer Field. It was the season opener for Coach Rodney Gallaway's young 'Cats.  

The OHSAA deficit rule of a running clock came into play after the Wildcats moved to a 35-0 lead with 6 minutes and 21 seconds remaining in the third quarter.

When Lockett wasn't rushing for big yards and thee touchdowns, running back Merick Hartley was finding the end zone, quarterback Nick Fletcher was picking apart the Cardinals' secondary, and the versatile Henry Cook was setting up the offense with a strong punt return and routes and receptions that saw Henry get significant yards after the catch.

Along with Cook, Fletcher was mixing his throws to the rangy and sure-handed Blade Cintron, the steady Connor Cmiel and 6-foot-4, 215-pound tight end Sam Daugstrup. Cmiel, who doubles as a defensive back, added a diving interception to his opening-night resume.  

Cardinal Mooney didn't have an answer up front all night, as Saint Ignatius defensive lineman Joshua Dinya set the tone on the game's first play from scrimmage by making an authoritative tackle for a 3-yard loss.

Saint Ignatius' special teams also got into the act early and often.

Linebacker Mac Boyle pounced on fumble off a botched kickoff return by the Cardinals that led to the Wildcats' third first-quarter touchdown, a 5-yard power gallop by Lockett.

With linebackers Connor Francz, Hartley and Buzz Mastrobuono flying around to make tackles and break up passes, the Wildcats pushed their lead to 28-0 by halftime on a 1-yard touchdown run by Lockett and the fourth of seven extra-point kicks on the night by Rory McConville.

From there, it was Katy Bar the Door as linebacker Jack Welcsh pounced on a fumbled punt and two plays later Hartley went right up the gut and into the scoreboard end zone of Wasmer Field for the 15-yard TD run that brought the running clock into play. Hartley also scored the game's first touchdown on a 5-yard second effort.

Cardinal Mooney's shaky special teams play came to the fore again in the third quarter when Saint Ignatius defensive back/running back Dominic DeVengencie recovered the ball off the ensuing kickoff that followed Hartley's second touchdown. DeVengencie then did the TD honors and, after some strong defensive play by linebacker Carter Pappas, it was a 42-0 game entering the final 9 minutes (Freshmen quarters are 9 minutes).

The 'Cats ended their impressive gridiron debut in the Blue and Gold with a solid and savvy down hill tackle by two-way lineman Tyler Kidd that thwarted a Cardinal Mooney drive and a 90-plus yard touchdown run by tailback James Crosby that saw James burst through the hole, make a nice read and outrace the pursuit into the Lorain Avenue end zone.

FROM COACH GALLAWAY

"We looked good in the passing game, especially," Coach Gallaway said of his team's early execution. "We were pretty crisp (through the air) for this early in the season. There were still some small mental errors. We tell the guys the moment can't be too big. You still have a destination on your route and you have a certain responsibility on your blocking.

"Defensively, I thought we got after it," Coach Gallaway continued. "We could tackle a little better in general, but we had good pressure and got to the ball. Najee (Lockett) is unbelievable. The big thing is to keep him healthy. He is a good all-around running back, probably one of the better running backs we've had. Yeah, he's good."

Lockett is also a talented young wrestler, who is expected to learn from defending 182-pound state champion Kaden Russell and take it from there.

Up next for Coach Gallaway's big and skilled Freshmen Cats is the September 2rd game on Wasmer Field versus the always capable Freshmen Team from Mentor.       

 

Congratulations to 'Cats standout senior center and Captain John Spellacy on earning a spot among the top 101 players by cleveland.com. The 70th place ranking is too low, however
8/24/2016

The cleveland.com morning capsule on John's career did not include the fact that John garnered All-Ohio and All-Northeast Lakes District honors in 2015 for 'Cats O-Line coaches Adam Rini '99 and Paul Yappel.

 - Mr. Eddie Dwyer 

 

The 2016 Varsity Football Wildcats begin their quest for what would be a 27th OHSAA Division I playoff appearance in November, as they open their season on Friday night versus the Normandy Invaders
8/23/2016

By Mr. Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit August 2016

Cleveland, Ohio - As they went through Tuesday afternoon's practice on Wasmer Field, the 2016 Varsity Football Wildcats were all business.

There was no need for any extra encouragement, no hollering or verbal shots.  

Simply put, Saint Ignatius knows what lies ahead in Friday's 7 PM season opener versus the host Normandy Invaders on Byers Field in Parma's Robert M. Boulton Stadium.

It's a case of going out, establishing the superiority, keeping the first team sharp and then playing the second and third units for the majority of the night on Ridge Road and Day Drive.

Once that is taken care of, the focus will turn to one of the biggest games of the season, the Week 2 matchup with the Mentor Cardinals on September 3 at 7 PM, also on Byers Field.

The Football 'Cats have lost three consecutive games to the Cardinals - a 2013 playoff encounter on a frigid night at Byers Field, a regular season setback at Byers Field in 2014 and the 63-56 regular season shootout at the OK Corral last fall, aka Mentor's Jerome T. Osborne Sr. Stadium.

But we'll get back to that next week. 

As for the always big-hearted, we'll step to the plate Normandy Invaders, the past six seasons have produced little or no success.

After a 1-9 fall in 2010, the Invaders were 3-7 in 2011, 2-8 in 2012 and 0-10 in 2013, 2014 and 2015.  Normandy's last victory on the Varsity level came in Week 9 of 2012, a 12-7 triumph over Valley Forge. The Invaders will enter Friday night's matchup with Saint Ignatius on a 31-game losing streak.

It wasn't that long ago when Normandy was a major player in the OHSAA Division II football playoffs.

In the fall of 2007, the Invaders, behind the play of All-Ohio senior two-way standout Russ Galeti and gifted sophomore Jake Squirek, advanced to the third round of the playoffs before losing a hard-fought game to an outstanding Mayfield team, 12-7.

Galeti is the son of former longtime television and radio sports personality Chuck Galeti and Squirek is the son of former Cuyahoga Heights, Illinois and Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders linebacker Jack Squirek, who made one of the biggest plays in Super Bowl history - an interception return for a touchdown in Super Bowl VXIII versus the Washington Redskins. Jack found himself on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

Normandy also qualified for the football playoffs in 2005, 2004 and 1981. The Invaders followed their highly successful 2007 season with 5-5 efforts in both 2008 and 2009.   

They say if there's a will, there's a way. And Normandy certainly has plenty of will. The Invaders face an all-too-familiar concern, however, a lack of depth.

Formerly a member of the Northeast Ohio Conference, Normandy joined Parma Senior, Valley Forge, Holy Name, Rocky River, Bay and Elyria Catholic in forming the Great Lakes Conference in 2015.

Friday will mark only the second time that the Invaders and the Wildcats are meeting on the Varsity gridiron. In last year's season opener at Byers Field, Saint Ignatius, going to its bench early and often, defeated Normandy, 63-7. It marked the third time since 2002 that the 'Cats surpassed 60 points in a game.

In 2007, Saint Ignatius defeated Buffalo Canisius, 64-0, and in 2002, Brian Hoyer (now with the Chicago Bears), current Wildcats Wide Receivers Coach Josiah "Juice" Kedzior and Company dominated Fremont Ross, 63-14.

In 1988, the 'Cats defeated Cleveland John F. Kennedy, 75-0. Current Saint Ignatius Quarterbacks Coach Jim Cahill will recall that night. However, the following week the Wildcats won a heart-pounder over Valley Forge, 14-3. Can you say Pickens to Friend? Just a little trivia from Saint Ignatius' first of a record 11 Division I State Championship seasons.

COACH CHUCK KYLE ON THE 2016 NORMANDY INVADERS

"Their kids play hard," said the area's most successful high school coach and the most successful Division I Coach in all of Northeast Ohio.

"We exchanged scrimmage films and their kids definitely play hard and their coaches are working hard to get their program over that hump. And sometimes that's hard to do. They play a good schedule. How do you solve that (six consecutive tough seasons)? You just keep working hard and keep the faith, and I think they're doing that. So that's a lot of credit to them.

"We have a great relationship with the Parma athletic people and it's great that we have this relationship, where we can use Byers Field the way we do," continued the man who moved from Munster, Indiana and spent much of his youth growing up in Parma. Coach Kyle is a member of the Parma Sports Hall of Fame. It's (Byers Field) a great high school stadium and for our fans I think it's easy to get to, from the West Side and the East Side.

"We like to play a lot of guys this time of the year, because we need to develop depth, get the guys out there and get some work done," Coach Kyle said. "Yeah, there's a first team. There is no doubt about that. But we need to get some of the other guys on that field to help with the depth. In the scrimmage against Canton McKinley (Thursday night of last week), the first team played well. I think all of the kids realized, however, when we got to the second and third groups there were some mistakes made.

"So we worked on cleaning those up this week and now those guys (the second and third units) want to get on that field and play. So that's what we're going to plan on doing."

 

 

Note time change on Saturday's JV Football opener and a reminder on Wednesday's Freshmen Football opener
8/23/2016

Posted By Mr. Eddie Dwyer

The time of the Junior Varsity Football opener on Saturday versus Cleveland Central Catholic at Wasmer Field is now 11 AM. It was originally scheduled for 10 AM.

NOTE: The corner will be providing coverage on Wednesday (tomorrow) evening's Freshmen Football opener versus the Cardinals from Youngstown Cardinal Mooney. The kickoff on Wasmer Field is 6 bells. See you there.   

 

Matt Wiegandt is selected as the Wildcats' Fourth Captain in Varsity Football
8/23/2016

By Mr. Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit August 2016

Cleveland, Ohio -  Matt, a standout senior in the Wildcats' defensive secondary, joins All-Ohio senior center John Spellacy and talented and hard-nosed senior linebackers Johnny Velotta and Adam Shibley as the Wildcats' four Captains for the 2016 season.

With the selection of Wiegandt, which was announced by Saint Ignatius' Hall of Fame Head Coach Chuck Kyle '69 after practice on Tuesday, Matt becomes one of the rare athletes in the Wildcats' rich sports history to be named a senior captain in two sports.

A mainstay for Coach Pat O'Rourke's defending and four-time OHSAA State Champion ice hockey program, Wiegandt will serve as one of the Ice Cats' Captains for the upcoming 2016-17 season.

"It's really a big honor," said Matt after he and his football teammates finished practice on Tuesday, as they continued to gear up for Friday's 7 PM season opener versus the Normandy Invaders at Byers Field in Parma's Robert M. Boulton Stadium.

"Just to be recognized by my teammates and coaches as a leader on this team is something very special," Matt continued. "There are a lot of guys on this team that are leaders, but they picked me, so I have to take advantage of it.

"They're all great Captains, great leaders, great players and great guys overall," Wiegandt said of Spellacy, Velotta and Shibley. "Spellacy's a great kid at center, he really knows what to do in holding down that line. He's a great offensive lineman. And Shibley and Velotta are outstanding players. It's great having them side by side on my team (the defense), so I don't have to go against them."

Like Coach O'Rourke's 2015-16 Ice Cats, Wiegandt said he is confident that the 2016 Football Cats "are going places this fall."

 

 

Saint Ignatius' first units were solid in building a 17-3 lead, but McKinley rallied against the second and third units to tie the score at 17, and that's how this year's version of the annual preseason Jamboree ended on Lowell Klinefelter Field
8/18/2016

By Mr. Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit August 2016

Canton, Ohio - Saint Ignatius' first-team defense was as advertised by this corner all summer and the offense, with senior quarterback Patrick Ryan taking charge of the huddle and fueling a strong passing game, was a bit too much for the Canton McKinley Bulldogs to deal with through two quarters on Thursday night at the campus of Canton Central Catholic.

However, in a game-conditions scrimmage that consisted of three quarters, McKinley, benefiting from a few miscues by the Wildcats, including a fumble into the Bulldogs' end zone that McKinley recovered for a touchback, closed to 17-10 with 6 minutes and 10 seconds remaining to be played and knotted the score at 17 with 4:03 left. 

Saint Ignatius' fumble into the end zone, which came off a first-and-goal at the 5-yard line, was disappointing at the time, but the Wildcats would actually shake it off and move to a 17-3 lead in the second quarter on a 2-yard touchdown run by junior tailback Matt Viancourt and the ensuing extra-point kick by junior Matt Trickett.

The Matt Viancourt TD was set up by two outstanding throws by Ryan that were complemented by two exceptional routes and receptions by junior wide receiver Connor Kennedy.

Keying a first-team defense that kept McKinley off-balance and under fire through two quarters were senior linebacker/captain Adam Shibley, who lived in the Bulldogs' backfield, senior defensive linemen Joe Gibbons and Mike Chime, senior linebacker Johnny Velotta, who also serves as a captain, and senior linebacker Ben Delhees.

McKinley, shaking off a picture-perfect deep pass from 'Cats junior quarterback Daniel Alexander to junior wide receiver Michael Drobnick, put together its late rally behind the all-around play of Aligha Curtis and the running of Quovatis Young.

THE EARLY GOING

The Wildcats stuck on their first offensive series, as a highlight-reel pass from Ryan to senior wide receiver Michael Daugenti off a third-and-11 from the Saint Ignatius 43 had Hall of Fame Head Coach Chuck Kyle's team in business with a first and 10 at the Bulldogs' 21-yard line.

From there, Saint Ignatius turned to the double-threat athleticism of Ryan and the running of junior tailback Mark Bobinski, and took a 7-0 lead courtesy of a 2-yard TD run by Bobinski and Trickett's PAT.

Coach Kyle's 'Cats would put together a 14-play drive that was capped by a 41-yard field goal by Trickett, an effort that pushed Saint Ignatius' lead to 10-0 with 11:36 left in the second quarter.

THE DREAM RUNS TO DAYLIGHT

Also helping fuel Saint Ignatius' offense on Thursday night was senior tailback Dean "The Dream" Stowers, who turned in a highlight-reel run of speed, balance and vision that covered 40 yards.

DEFENSE, DEFENSE!

Along with the pursuit and passion of its linebackers and defensive linemen, Saint Ignatius was also the recipient of a big momentum-changing interception by junior safety Justin Sands, who came up with his leaping pick right after the 'Cats fumbled away a punt on the Saint Ignatius side of the field.

GAME WEEK! 

After Wednesday's practice on Wasmer Field, Coach Kyle reminded his Wildcats to go out Thursday night, play like they are capable of and have fun.

"Then at about 9 o'clock on Thursday night, I am going to ask, 'You know what time it is gentlemen? It's Game Week!'"

Yes, the preseason came to an end Thursday night and now Saint Ignatius will begin preparing for the August 26th  season opener with the Normandy Invaders. The kickoff from Parma's Byers Field in Robert M. Boulton Stadium is 7 PM and, as always, the corner will preview the game early next week.

Coach Kyle was pleased that his first team controlled most of the Jamboree and was very happy with Ryan's take-charge leadership, the veterans on defense and the depth displayed by his receiving corps. The fumble into the end zone and the fumbled punt have to be addressed, but some of the problems the second and third units experienced are, said Coach Kyle, "coachable things."

OTHER IMPRESSIVE BULLDOGS

Along with the above mentioned Curtis and Young, this corner was also impressed with McKinley's standout outside linebacker Kadeem Trotter, who is bound for Syracuse, and the size and athleticism of quarterback Dominique Robinson, who is headed for Miami of Ohio. Yes, there is a chance we could see Coach Dan Reardon's Bulldogs again this season - in the OHSAA playoffs.

ALTHOUGH THE SCORE WASN'T OFFICIALLY KEPT IN EITHER SCRIMMAGE, THE CORNER WANTED TO GET THE REACTIONS OF WILDCATS HEAD JUNIOR VARSITY COACH PAUL YAPPEL AND HEAD FRESHMEN COACH RODNEY GALLAWAY ON HOW THEY FELT THEIR TEAMS PERFORMED ON THURSDAY EVENING VERSUS THE JV AND FRESHMEN PROGRAMS FROM MCKINLEY.  

COACH YAPPEL: "We did start well and we did well offensively," said Coach Yappel of the long pass and catch put together by sophomore quarterback Patrick Delahunty and sophomore wide receiver Nigel Drummond, a play that led to a 4-yard touchdown run by sophomore tailback Jahadge "Bo" Floyd.

The 'Cats also struck on a long TD strike from sophomore quarterback Mike Sarko to sophomore wide receiver Luke Cooper.  

"I also thought we played pretty smart defensively," Coach Yappell said, who watched his hard-nosed sophomore linebacker Chris Velotta come up with a text-book tackle for a loss, sophomore defensive back Mitchell Puhalsky make a perfectly timed and aggressive pass breakup, and sophomore linebacker Griffin Sheehan, seeing the flow of the play, come up with an interception that would make any secondary coach happy.

"Like I said, sophomore year is a process, it's about getting better," continued Coach Yappel. "It's coming together, I think we're in a good place right now. This is a tough year to play football, your sophomore year. In this program it's tough because now you're part of Varsity football, you're practicing with the Varsity and it's much faster than freshman year.

"It's just about getting better and they'll get better," said Coach Yappel.  "It's a tough year, but it's worth it if you do the right things and are committed to the program."

FROM COACH GALLAWAY: "I like that we sort of adjusted to the physicality, actually being able to hit somebody that is not ourselves," Coach Gallaway said. "In addition, I thought we ran the ball well at times. The running backs were seeing the holes real well and obviously, the linemen were opening those holes.

"There are still things we have to work on, like minor missed assignments and stuff like that," Coach Gallaway continued. "Just things we have to button up. In a week's prep we'll be okay. When we made the adjustments (versus McKinley), the guys were able to adjust. If there in the right spot, the physical part will take care of itself.

"Defensively, I thought we looked good," said Coach Gallaway. "The coverage was fine. It's really just about making sure we tackle."

HAPPY BIRTHDAY WISHES TODAY (FRIDAY) GO OUT TO WILDCATS DEAN OF STUDENTS AND OUTSTANDING LINEBACKERS COACH RYAN FRANZINGER '02.  

 

 

An answer for a faithful reader and we take a glance at the final preparation for Thursday night's annual preseason Jamboree with the McKinley Bulldogs
8/17/2016
Posted By Mr. Eddie Dwyer
 
Janet and Jim Carlson, who grew up and resided in Canton from the 1940s through the early '80s, before settling in lovely Lakewood, Ohio, asked yours truly where Canton McKinley's second-year Head Varsity Football Coach, Dan Reardon, coached before taking over the Bulldogs' helm in 2015.
 
J &J, Coach Reardon actually started in the college ranks as a graduate assistant, first on Jim Tressel's staff at Youngstown State, and then with Cam Cameron at Indiana.
 
Coach Reardon was an assistant from 1998-2003 at Warren Harding under coaches Gary Barber and Thom McDaniels. He then moved on to Youngstown Ursuline in 2004, where he had tremendous success.
 
In compiling a record of 72-29, Coach Reardon’s teams at Ursuline appeared in four state championship games, winning three consecutive OHSAA Division V state football titles from 2008-2010.
 
Believe me when I tell you that Coach Reardon's state championships teams at Ursuline were talent laden.
 
Coach Reardon then coached in the Western part of the country and in 2014 he guided Wheat Ridge High School, where he led the Farmers to a 6-4 record.
 
Last year, his first with the McKinley, Coach Reardon directed the Bulldogs to a first-round Division I playoff appearance and an overall record of 7-4. The 2015 season marked the merger between McKinley and Canton Timken High School.
 
Hope this help, my friends, and go Tribe. J & J live and die with the "Fighting Franconas." Obviously, they're in great spirits this summer.
 
IT WAS A JETT-PROPELLED TUNEUP FOR THURSDAY'S ANNUAL 7 PM PRESEASON VARSITY FOOTBALL JAMBOREE WITH THE MCKINLEY BULLDOGS, WHICH WILL TAKE PLACE AT CANTON CENTRAL CATHOLIC'S LOWELL KLINEFELTER STADIUM. THE VARSITY JAMBOREE WILL BE PRECEDED BY A 5 PM SPLIT-FIELD SCRIMMAGE BETWEEN THE JUNIOR VARSITY AND FRESHMEN PROGRAMS FROM SAINT IGNATIUS AND MCKINLEY.    
 
From Wasmer Field, where the 2016 aspirations are high: Coach Chuck Kyle's Wildcats worked on their hurry-up, or two-minute offense, on Wednesday afternoon. Senior quarterback Patrick Ryan and his receivers were clicking through a partially blue, but mostly gray clouds sky that hovered over Ohio City.
 
Junior running backs Mark Bobinski and Matt Viancourt were carrying Mr. Wilson with vision, balance and authority, but the play of the day was turned in by gifted sophomore defensive back/receiver Jett Elad.
 
Jett came up with an excellent effort on a deep ball against the Varsity first unit, a play that saw him go airborne without losing sight of the ball, intercept the pass at its highest point and maintain possession as he landed on the turf in the scoreboard end zone of Wasmer Field.
 
LAST YEAR'S JAMBOREE: It was all Wildcats at last summer's Jamboree in Tom Benson Stadium (formerly legendary Fawcett Stadium), as Running Backs Coach Terry Fergus watched his ground keepers compile nearly 230 yards rushing. James Norris from the Class of 2016, who will be furthering his education and outstanding track and field career at Cornell, ran for 120 of those yards in the first quarter.
 
See you at Lowell Klinefelter Stadium, which has produced many legendary moments of its own.  
 

 

Just a reminder on the final preseason tune-up for the Varsity Football Wildcats
8/17/2016

Posted By Mr. Eddie Dwyer

Coach Chuck Kyle's Wildcats will face Coach Dan Reardon's Canton McKinley Bulldogs on Thursday at 7 PM in the annual  Preseason Jamboree at Canton Central Catholic's Lowell Klinefelter Stadium. The Jamboree will be played under game conditions and the OHSAA does permit an admission charge for Jamborees.

A split-field scrimmage between the Junior Varsity and Freshmen programs from Saint Ignatius and McKinley will precede the Jamboree at 5 PM. The Bulldogs, who finished 7-4 last season after qualifying for the first round of the playoffs, return a solid nucleus from 2015.

McKinley has the returning Inland District Defensive Player of the Year in senior linebacker Reggie Corner (an Akron recruit). The Bulldogs also return Division I commits in linebacker Kadeem Trotter (Syracuse) and QB Dominique Robinson (Miami of Ohio).

Following Thursday's Jamboree the Wildcats will focus on the August 26 season opener versus the Normandy Invaders. The kickoff from Byers Field in Parma's Robert M. Boulton Stadium will be 7 PM. The corner will preview the matchup with Normandy early next week.

CLOSING OUT TWO-A-DAYS: After Mother Nature sent her showers down on Wasmer Field in Tuesday's first session, the 'Cats went to work on special teams and closed out the second session with an emphasis on the running game, a drill that saw some nice work by Coach Adam Rini's and Coach Paul Yappel's offensive line.

In what was one of the top defensive efforts on the day/early evening, lineman Kevin Ward came with passion and quickness off a rush, went airborne and deflected a pass that popped up in the air and into the sure and alert hands of  Dan Ruddy for a diving interception.

A single practice will take place on Wednesday (today) at 2:30 PM as the 'Cats prep for the Bulldogs.

 

A sage seven of Men for Others. Saint Ignatius' 2016 Student Managers are mature beyond their years.
8/16/2016

By Mr. Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit August 2016

Cleveland, Ohio - Big-game tested seniors Brendan Stefancin and Tad Bogielski join four sophomores and a freshman as the 2016 Saint Ignatius Football Student Managers, under the guidance of Wildcats Athletic Trainer, Mr. Hank Gaughan, ATC.

Stefancin and Bogielski will lead by example in making sure that youth will served this summer and fall.

"We have some youngsters, but young veterans as I call the sophomores," said Hank, one of the most respected Athletic Trainers in Ohio, if not the entire nation. "Three of them (the sophomores) were around last year. Tad was here last year and so was Brendan, so you have five kids who were here last year. Another sophomore came in this year, along with a freshman.

"Seven, that's a nice contingency," Hank continued. "It's nice to have that gap, nice to have those guys that have been around to teach the new kids what to do and everything."

Hank emphasized that he likes to have all of his Student Managers, no matter how much experience they have, learn every facet of the job in case someone else is unavailable on a certain day or night.

"Of course you have Game Day, when they're getting uniforms ready and when the game is over I usually have one or two of them work with me in the training room to get everything cleaned up and put away,"  Hank said. "And while they're doing that one of the seniors or leaders is in the back leading the collection of the uniforms. Again, everybody's learning everything."

Hank emphasized that the "sneaky" big-time for the Student Managers is the distribution of equipment, getting it all passed out and ready for the season.

"The next big thing is dressing up the helmets," said Hank, who is in his 31st season with the Wildcats' Athletic Programs. Hank also begins his 26th year as a Health and Physical Education Teacher at Saint Ignatius.

"The uniforms go out to be cleaned, come back and are put away, so usually it's kind of quiet the first part of the week," Hank continued. "Maybe Thursday on it starts picking up, getting the equipment put away and everything. They get messages from Tim Malik (Saint Ignatius' Equipment Manager) too, for the things they do for him. Not all of this is based on me. For some reason, I've kind of become the overseer of them."

Hank said he is impressed with how well this year's group gets along with each other, and how quickly they accepted the two new faces. "It makes it a lot easier," he said. "They're fun to be around. I get along with them, and they get along with me."

"They" are the above-mentioned Stefancin and Bogielski, savvy sophomores Declan McCarthy, Luke Van de Walle and Michael Gallipoli, and the two news faces, freshman Vince Fagnilli and sophomore Elias Yazbeck

Here are some comments from three of last year's veterans and the two new members, who appear to have all of the qualities to help make Hank's 2016 Student Managers a "Magnificent Seven."

TAD BOGIELSKI: "Something I'm really looking forward to this year is our new team. It's mostly seniors and juniors, a good mix, and I'm pretty hopeful. I think they're going to do well. Our defense, I like watching them in practice. I'm anxious to see how they're going to matchup against our biggest rivals, St. Edward, St. Xavier, Mentor and Archbishop Moeller. And, I'm also looking forward to that big game with St. Edward at Cleveland Browns FirstEnergy Stadium (Oct. 29 at 6 PM). It's going to be so much fun, especially since we're going to be down in their locker rooms. It's going to be really cool. That's something that will help cap off my senior year. More than that would be the playoffs, of course, and ultimately winning the state championship. 

"That's my dream, my goal right now," continued Tad. "To go down to The Ohio State University and work (as a Football Manager) under Urban Meyer and his fantastic football empire."

Declan McCarthy: "It was great being part of the team (last year), helping out with how everything happens and is put together, knowing what the gears really are behind the guys on the field. "

Declan said one of the toughest jobs he has experienced as a Student Manager is hanging up the uniforms after they have been cleaned. On that point, he also emphasized that the most fun part of the job is setting everything up before the games.

"It will be easier this year since I know everything I have to do, and how to do it," said the young man who hopes to major in graphic design in the future.

Luke Van de Walle: "The best part is being at every game, being on the field and seeing everything first hand. It's really awesome. I really didn't know about this (the Student Manager program) until my uncle, Kevin Cook, talked to me about it (Kevin Cook '86 is a member of Saint Ignatius' Athletic Hall of Fame and a winner of the Wildcats' prestigious John J. Wirtz Award). "He knew I wouldn't be playing football and told me about this, and I thought it would be really awesome.

"I never played football before. I played soccer in middle school and I knew I wouldn't be good enough to make the team, so I wanted to do something to help out. This year I will be more comfortable doing it, because I have a year under my belt. I'm looking forward to hopefully the playoffs. Last year we lost to St. Edward in that last game and didn't make the playoffs. The postseason this year would be awesome and being on the sideline in FirstEnergy Stadium will be an amazing experience."

From one of the two newest members of Mr. Hank Gaughan's outstanding staff, Freshman Vince Fagnilli: "When I'm older, I want to be an athletic trainer as a profession and maybe eventually a coach. Since I'm not going to be playing football anymore and focusing on basketball, I thought I should use my time wisely, time that could possibly effect my future.

"I think the biggest challenges will be learning all of the players, knowing the specific needs a player might have on a certain day and making sure your managing your time well and making sure your giving fair attention to everyone. They've been very helpful (the veteran Managers). They made sure that I got off to a quick start, that I knew what I was doing and was prepared for the challenges that lie ahead. I'm looking forward to a fresh new start (as a freshman at Saint Ignatius). I just believe I will love it, a great environment, a brotherhood. I love history, math, reading and the speciality of the arts."

And another of the promising newcomers to the Student Manager football staff, sophomore Elias Yazbeck: "Last year, I got a concussion (on the freshmen level), so I was unable to play. So this is like my only option to stay part of the football team and stay interactive in the sport. They've (Stefancin, Bogielski, McCarthy, Gallipoli and Co.) have taught me a lot about team work, showing up and doing your work, and not slacking. They ask for a lot and I give them a lot, but it makes me happy to hear and see all of the Pleases and Thank Yous from a lot of the guys, a lot of the seniors, juniors and sophomores.

"Mr. Gaughan is a ton of help," continued the young man who enjoys studying American History and would love to go on to study Pre-Law and Pre-Med. "I wouldn't be able to do my job without him. He asked me to come help as a Student Manager. He showed me around the locker rooms and the cage out back, and really showed me the basics of being a Manager. I think my biggest challenge will be to see how I do at games."               

 

The 2016 Saint Ignatius Varsity Football Preview. Strong and experienced offensive and defensive fronts will lead the way as the Football 'Cats look to return to the OHSAA playoffs
8/14/2016

By Mr. Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit August 2016

Cleveland, Ohio -  In what is now his 34th year as the head of his alma mater's Football Program, Hall of Fame Coach Chuck Kyle '69 made it clear what he sees as the strengths while his Wildcats continue to prepare for the 2016 season.

"I think clearly, and even the scrimmages are displaying this, both the offensive lines and defensive lines are strong, are experienced and have depth, which is not common in high school football anymore,"  said the man who has led his program to a record 11 Division I state championships, including an Ohio-best five in a row (1991-1995), a state runner-up in 1996, three national titles (1989, 1993 and 1995) and a national runner-up in 2008.

After not qualifying for the postseason last year, Saint Ignatius is seeking its 27th appearance in the Ohio High School Athletic Association Football Playoffs since 1988, the year it brought home its first big-school state championship.

"You can survey high school coaches all over Ohio and all over the nation, and the need is always linemen, depth and things like that," Coach Kyle continued. "You feel comfortable if there are two or three linemen coming back and we're in pretty good shape. So that's a huge plus."

Anchored by All-Ohio senior center/captain and three-year mainstay John Spellacy, an East Carolina recruit, Saint Ignatius' offensive line is under the direction of former Wildcats standout lineman Adam Rini '99 and Mr. Paul Yappel.

"Early in the season, there is still a feeling of getting to work together," Coach Kyle said of the offensive line. "Here and there against Solon (the first scrimmage) maybe a blitz wasn't picked up. But those are just coachable things."

Along with Spellacy, who is one of the top centers in all of Ohio, Coach Kyle looks at the big-game experience of senior tackle Brian Almady and junior guard Jack Jamieson. A name to remember is 6-foot-6, 317-poud junior tackle Darian Kinnard, who will also see some time on the defensive line. And you will hear about others up front as the season progresses, some of whom have already been pointed out in the corner's summer camp reports.

"I think we'll run the ball well, which would help the passing game," said Coach Kyle, who also serves as an advisor on youth football for the Browns. Senior tailback Jimmy Andrews and junior tailback Mark Bobinski are expected to show the way for the ground game.

"Mark Bobinski really reads the blocking well," continued Coach Kyle of the development Mark has displayed under veteran Running Backs Coach Terry Fergus '72 and Quarterbacks Coach Jim Cahill '89. "A lot of what we do has a zone blocking concept to it. The key thing about that is the running back has to read the keys and in a split second make the right decision. Mark does a nice job of that.

"We have other guys, too," said Coach Kyle of his rushing attack. "But I think that is a strength, when you combine Jimmy and Mark, who not only read the blocking well, but can pick up a few extra yards after the initial hit."

Coach Kyle, who will send his Wildcats into their final preseason matchup on Thursday night at 7 versus the Canton McKinley Bulldogs in the annual Jamboree at Canton Central Catholic's Lowell Klinefelter Stadium, was quick to also refer to Coach Ryan Franzinger's veteran linebacker corps, or the "Linebacker Legion," as current senior middle backer and captain Johnny Velotta tagged the LBs last season.

Saint Ignatius' tough as nails front seven of senior defensive linemen Joe Gibbbons, Mike Chime, Patrick Viancourt and Mike Czaja, and senior linebackers Velotta, Adam Shibley and James Leyden, have been a solid and savvy unit since they stepped on Wasmer Field as freshmen. Shibley is also serving as a captain this season. The 'Cats' D-Line is coached by Dave Cicetti, Saint Ignatius' Head Wrestling Coach Mark Sullivan and Jim Reginelli '97.

"In Adam Shibley, James Leyden and Johnny Velotta we have three young men who played significantly last season," Coach Kyle said. "They (the linebackers) get hit every play, I don't care if it's a running play, a passing play or whatever, they're in it. So you have to develop some depth there. That comes as the season goes on, but it's nice to blow the whistle right now and see that kind of experience going out on the field."

Helping provide that linebacker depth will be senior LB Ben Delhees, who also doubles as a fullback.

Coach Kyle emphasized that it is no secret the Wildcats graduated a lot of skill players, including first-team All-Ohio, record-setting quarterback Dennis Grosel, who is bound for Boston College as a preferred walk on, and All-Ohio defensive back/wide receiver/punt returner Jack Cook, who is furthering his education and athletic career at Harvard.

"We almost always have a senior quarterback and the next year it's another senior," said Coach Kyle. "One thing we noticed right off the bat was that sure, we graduated Cal Grbac (standout wide receiver) and Jack Cook, but we are catching the ball very well. Certainly we're working on getting the patterns timed out, that needs to work. That's just repetition.

"It's nice to have that dexterity, that's how we move the sticks," Coach Kyle continued. "Now we have to work on the timing and after the catch, it would be nice if they got a few extra yards."

What has come to the fore in camp/double sessions is that Saint Ignatius has a deep receiving corps that is under the coaching of former Wildcats standout receiver/kicker and baseball mainstay Josiah "Juice" Kedzior '04.

Among that good hands club are seniors Mike Lehto, Travis Pot, Ryan Cook, Michael Daugenti and Riley Kinzel, and juniors Sammy Snyder, Michael Drobnick and Max Pike.

As Coach Kyle emphasized, you can add the kicking game as an obvious and major strength of the 2016 Football Wildcats.

"They were outstanding last year," said Coach Kyle of his returning All-Ohio senior punter Colin Goodfellow and junior place kicker Matthew Trickett. Matthew is also a gifted soccer player for Coach Mike McLaughlin's state and nationally acclaimed program.

"In high school football, it's a weapon," Coach Kyle continued in reference to having a solid kicking game. "Football is a field position game and it (the kicking and punting game) provides that a lot. Colin and Matt both place kick and punt. We believe in the kicking game and put a lot of time into it."

Switching back to the defensive side of the football, Coach Kyle pointed out that although it is a somewhat inexperienced unit, the defensive backfield of Coaches Kevin Johnson '10 and Pat Hinkel '09 is progressing well.

"Today, with the spread offenses, so much of the coverage is one-on-one,"  Coach Kyle said. "As much as you want to create zones and stuff like that, you can call it a zone, but within a few seconds it ends up one-on-one."

The 2016 Wildcats, said Coach Kyle, will be going against some quarterbacks with top Division I college potential, including Mentor junior Tadas Tatarunas, who needs no introduction to veteran Wildcats football fans, and Sean Clifford of Cincinnati St. Xavier, a Penn State recruit. The matchup with Tatarunas and the rest of Coach Steve Trivisonno's Cardinals, which is a huge computer playoff points game for Saint Ignatius, will take place in Week 2 at Byers Field in Parma's Robert M. Boulton Stadium.

Senior Matt Wiegandt, a fixture on Coach Pat O'Rourke's defending state champion ice hockey program, senior Alex Ringfield, junior Connor Kennedy, junior Cameron Toppin, senior Colin Waldeck, junior Matthew Viancourt and seniors John Lenehan, Matt Leszcz, Michael DeCicco and Tom Barrett are among those who have made plays in the defensive secondary throughout the summer.

In saving the Wildcats' storied position for last, Coach Kyle emphasized that Patrick Ryan will keep the senior-rich quarterback tradition going, with Patrick following Dennis Grosel as Saint Ignatius' Field General for 2016.

"He is a very intelligent young man," Coach Kyle said of Patrick, who had significant success at the freshmen and junior varsity levels before backing up Grosel last season, and will now look to add his name to veteran Offensive Coordinator Nick Restifo's impressive resume of developing 16 quarterbacks who have received All-Ohio recognition.

"Patrick can run, he can throw and I think he just needs a little more experience to make those decisions quicker, and the better we will be," continued Coach Kyle.

Patrick will be backed up by promising juniors Daniel Alexander and Kyle Hall, who performed admirably for the Junior Varsity Team in 2015.

In case you don't know by now, the OHSAA has changed the Division I playoff format and starting this season eight Division I teams from each region will qualify for the playoffs, not 16 as in the past few years.

Saint Ignatius is now a member of Division I, Region 2. Again, the top eight teams from each of the new four Division I regions at the end of the regular season will qualify for the playoffs.

Note: For the first time since 1980, the Division I OHSAA playoffs will be played on Friday night. 

Here is a look at Region 2

Saint Ignatius, St. Edward, Austintown-Fitch, Berea-Midpark, Canton GlenOak, Canton McKinley, Cleveland Heights, John Marshall, Rhodes, Cuyahoga Falls, Euclid, Lakewood, Massillon Jackson, Mentor, North Canton Hoover, Shaker Heights, Solon and Stow-Munroe Falls.

NEW FACES: The Wildcats have two new faces on their 2016 schedule, 11-time state champion Detroit Catholic Central (Novi, Michigan) and Canton GlenOak. Saint Ignatius will travel to Detroit Catholic Central in Week 4 and will make the relatively short trip to GlenOak in Week 7.

Coach Kyle's 'Cats will again close out the regular season with the demanding three-game stretch of versus Archbishop Moeller (at Otterbein University on Oct. 14), at Cincinnati St. Xavier on Oct. 22 and versus West Side rival St. Edward on Oct. 29 in the Cleveland Browns' FirstEnergy Stadium. This year's matchup with the Eagles will kick off at 6 PM. For a look at the full schedule, go to ignatius.edu, click on athletics and click on football. 

The 'Cats open their season on August 26 versus Normandy at Byers Field. As always, the corner will be previewing all of the Wildcats' Varsity Football matchups on a weekly basis.       

 

 

The defense sets the tempo early and adds on other key plays, but the offense also has its moments in Saturday's Varsity and Junior Varsity intra-squad football scrimmage on Wasmer Field
8/13/2016

By Mr. Eddie Dwyer. Copyright Credit August 2016

Ohio City - Following Saturday's intra-squad scrimmage, Saint Ignatius' Hall of Fame Head Football Coach Chuck Kyle discussed with this corner what it was that pleased him about the spirited early afternoon matchup of the Wildcats versus the Wildcats.

"What pleased me is that a lot of first-team guys really did not participate," said Coach Kyle, whose team will now focus on Thursday's 7 PM preseason Jamboree with the Canton McKinley Bulldogs at Lowell Klinefelter Stadium on the campus of Canton Central Catholic High School. As always, the Jamboree will be played under regular game conditions. McKinley is coming off a solid scrimmage with two-time defending Division I State Champion St. Edward.

"They did a little individual and an opening series," Coach Kyle continued in reference to the first-team Varsity's limited action in the intra-squad scrimmage. "They (the first team) have gotten a lot of reps. What we really wanted to do today was see what depth we're developing.

"We've been running drills, we've been doing all of these things with the hope that you see some young guys stepping up and some guys that our seniors surprise you a little bit. Today was a good day to show us that yeah, I can be out there and help this team. We'll study the film a little bit, but I thought we ran the ball okay and I think the defense is getting the idea. There are a couple things to talk about with secondary coming up and helping out a little bit."

One of those seniors who has been stepping up is senior quarterback Luke Baker, who is an all about the team athlete personified.

During Friday's double sessions and today's(Saturday) intra-squad scrimmage, Luke displayed the versatility, strength and athleticism to handle the wide receiver/tight end positions when called upon, as he came up with several big receptions off savvy routes.

"You know what is the best thing about Luke Baker?" asked Wildcats veteran Offensive Coordinator Nick Restifo. "He wants to be out there on the field!" 

A CASE FOR THE DEFENSE

In the only series that members of the first-team offense took part in, the defense made its mark as defensive backs Connor Kennedy, a junior, and Alex Ringfield, a senior, came up with quick-to-the-ball, authoritative pass breakups, and junior defensive end Bradley Andrich stepped up and made a strong tackle against the run.

THE JAYVEES GO TO THE AIR

As for the Junior Varsity offense, sophomore quarterback Patrick Delahunty moved his team down the field off a couple of nice throws to sophomore wide receivers Nigel Drummond and John Wetula, but the drive ended with a missed field goal.

BACK TO THE DEFENSE

Senior defensive back Colin Waldeck and junior defensive back Cameron Topping added their names to the pass breakup list as the Varsity portion of the scrimmage resumed.

THE VARSITY OFFENSE STARTS TO CLICK

Fueled by a quick and smooth pass from junior quarterback Kyle Hall to the sure hands of Luke Baker, the Varsity offense struck for seven points off a picture-perfect burst by senior tailback Daryl Forrest that saw Daryl bounce to the outside and outrace the pursuit into the end zone, and the ensuing extra-point kick by gifted junior Matthew Trickett, who also excels in soccer.

Junior quarterback Daniel Alexander and senior wide receiver Riley Kinzel kept the Varsity offense on track as Daniel fired a strong kiss the sky pass down the seam and Riley, out-battling the defender, made a big-time leaping catch of the ball. A few plays later, Alexander scored on a 14-yard keeper and Trickett capped the drive with another impressive extra point that soared through the uprights and fittingly bounced off the soccer goal that was sitting behind the scoreboard end zone of Wasmer Field.

OUCH!

Junior defensive back/running back Matthew Viancourt picked up where he left off on Friday night with another long and powerful run, this time down the left or visitor's sideline of Wasmer Field. Matthew's effort was wiped out, however, as an ill-advised block down field resulted in a clipping penalty.

THE D DOESN'T GO QUIETLY

First it was some impressive pressure from junior linebacker/nose tackle Andrew Boldy and junior linebacker Andrew Keirn that turned away the offense, and then it was a highlight-reel play by senior safety Michael DeCicco, who read the quarterback's eyes, broke on the ball in a blur and came up with a sweet trip to pick city.

The first-team JV defense closed out the afternoon against the Varsity and oh so promising sophomore linebacker Tommy Eichenberg, whose name has appeared in the camp notes more than once this summer, unleashed some exceptional pursuit down the line of scrimmage and made a pad-rattling tackle, and sophomore linebacker Chris Velotta, coming off a blitz, would have had a sack, but was only allowed to introduce himself to the quarterback.

Have a great weekend and gear up for the annual Jamboree with Canton McKinley, again that's Thursday evening at 7 in Canton Central Catholic's Lowell Klinefelter Stadium.   

 

Mark Bobinski will carry the memory of the late Jim Skerl '74 this season. After two weather delays during Friday's evening session, the 'Cats wrap up practice near 8 PM and now gear up for Saturday's 11 AM intra-squad scrimmage.
8/12/2016

By Mr. Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit August 2016

Cleveland, Ohio - Saint Ignatius' Hall of Fame Head Football Coach Chuck Kyle '69 shared with the corner this week that the athletic teams from Cleveland's Jesuit Preparatory School will each be selecting a player this school year to wear what is a very special number.

"That number, which will serve as a memorial to the late Jim Skerl, is going to be assigned by the Football Program to Mark Bobinski, as sort of an approach for everything he does," Coach Kyle said of his tough, talented, cooperative and respectful junior tailback.

Jim Skerl, who passed away in the fall of 2014 after a courageous battle with cancer, was the epitome of Saint Ignatius' motto of Men for Others.

Jim, who wore the number 34 while excelling on the hardwood for the Basketball Wildcats, graced the classrooms of Saint Ignatius as a teacher for nearly four decades. He was an example of Christ for his colleagues and students, a man of prayer and a man of service.

Beloved by his students, Jim was deeply committed to Saint Ignatius' Labre program (feeding the homeless), the Joseph of Arimathea program (pallbearers for the needy) and the L'Arche ministry (assisting the disabled). Devotion to others was a way of life for Jim.

"It is an honor to represent someone of such great significance as a Man for Others," said Bobinski, a young man of character himself, who this corner has had the privilege to cover and report on for the past two seasons, and now this school year.

"It's truly something special, knowing that the coaches think so highly of you to allow you to wear number 34 and represent such a great man," continued Mark, who also competes in Saint Ignatius' Basketball and Baseball Programs. "I look forward to it and owe the expectations to Mr. Skerl."

ANOTHER BOUT WITH MOTHER NATURE CAN'T DAMPEN THE WILDCATS' SPIRITS

Coach Kyle sent his Football 'Cats through an afternoon session on Friday that was humid, but not overbearing.

Mother Nature disrupted things twice in the evening session, however, but Coach Kyle and his resilient assistant coaches and players went back to work and were able to wrap things up just before 8 PM.

Now the focus is on tomorrow's (Saturday) intra-squad scrimmage at 11 AM on Wasmer Field.

HERE ARE SOME OF THE HIGHLIGHTS FROM FRIDAY'S DOUBLE SESSIONS

Senior defensive back Matt Leszcz made an outstanding move on the ball and senior quarterback Patrick Ryan and senior wide receiver Travis Pot continued to click, as Patrick hit Travis in stride down the left sideline of Wasmer Field near the Lorain Avenue end zone.

In the annual Linebackers Agility Blocking Bag Toss, sophomore Kyle Sullivan took first place, ending the championship reign of senior linebacker and captain Johnny Velotta. The longest toss of the evening, however, went to junior linebacker Andrew Keirn.

Senior tailback Dean 'The Dream" Stowers and junior defensive back/running back Matthew Viancourt turned in some nice gallops in the closing session Friday night, senior wide receiver Michael Daugenti showed his hops off a leaping catch near the home sideline of Wasmer Field, junior quarterback Kyle Hall made a nice toss down the seam to sophomore tight end Aidan Wells, and Hall and sophomore wide receiver/running back/defensive back Jack Kennedy combined on a deep route that saw Kyle put the ball over the defender and Jack go up and bring down the reception.

GETTING HIS KICKS

Junior Drew Alessandro, better known for his efforts as a place kicker, turned in eight coffin corner punts near the scoreboard end zone of Wasmer Field on Friday night. The great Yale Lary would have given his seal of approval.       

 

After a solid afternoon practice, the Wildcats were greeted by thunderstorms and lightning. Following a delay, the 'Cats went on to close their evening session in style
8/11/2016

By Mr. Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit August 2016

Cleveland, Ohio - Now that power has been restored at my palatial estate, this old gridiron grinder will give you a wrap up on the Football Wildcats' double sessions from Wasmer Field on Thursday, which included an afternoon power outage at Saint Ignatius and another early evening blitz from Mother Nature.

THE PLAY of the afternoon session was turned in by junior defensive back Matthew Viancourt, who displayed outstanding anticipation while breaking on the ball in a blur and coming up with an interception.

Matthew received some nice compliments from Defensive Backfield Coach Kevin Johnson, Linebackers Coach Ryan Franzinger, who yelled "Great break Matt," and Offensive Coordinator Nick Restifo, who gave Matthew a high five.

AIR CATS: Junior quarterback Daniel Alexander fired a picture-perfect pass down the left sideline into the reliable hands of senior wide receiver Travis Pot and Travis also came up with a leaping catch across the middle.

GROUND CONTROL: Continuing to complement the passing game, junior tailback Mark Bobinski and senior tailback Dean "The Dream" Stowers unleashed their balance, vision and quick and powerful bursts throughout the afternoon.

OTHER AFTERNOON PLAYMAKERS: Included sophomore linebacker Chris Velotta, who displayed strong pursuit in coming up and shutting down a sweep to the left side, senior wide receiver Mike Lehto, who climbed the ladder on a leaping catch down the seam off an authoritative throw by senior quarterback Patrick Ryan, and tough and versatile senior defensive end Mike Czaja, whose athleticism and anticipation saw him leap in the air and bat down a pass at the line of scrimmage that almost flattened Mr. Wilson.

CAN'T YOU HEAR, CAN'T YOU HEAR THAT THUNDER?: After Mother Nature applied a tough hit that delayed the evening's action on Wasmer Field, junior quarterback Kyle Hall combined with Pot and sure-handed junior wide receiver Sammy Snyder off a couple of nice routes and throws in what was a receivers vs. the defensive backs drill.

A CASE FOR THE DEFENSE: Chris Velotta, who picked right up from his strong afternoon play, made back-to-back interceptions during the evening's Wideouts vs. DBs drill. Chris is the cousin of Wildcats senior middle linebacker and captain Johnny Velotta.

The 'Cats' veteran front seven were applying almost as much heat as the weather, as senior linebacker/captain Adam Shibley, senior nose tackle Joe Gibbons and senior end Mike Chime created their own storm.

And a tip of the corner's cap also goes to senior defensive back Colin Waldeck, who drew a compliment from Wildcats Defensive Backfield Coach Pat Hinkel for his aggressive and on the spot pass breakup.  

THE BIG O RESPONDS LIKE A LAWSON'S TRUCK. ROLL ON BIG O!: The offense responded during the evening's final match drill, as Patrick Ryan hooked up with Snyder, Pot and senior wide receiver Michael Daugenti on three impressive throws, routes and catches. The Lorain Avenue end zone was busy, my friends.

Tomorrow (Friday) morning at 10:30 it's Picture Day for the Wildcats, and then it's back to business with Friday's double sessions beginning at 2 PM.

 

Wednesday's Football double sessions are cut short by Mother Nature. Adam Shibley and Johnny Velotta talk FirstEnergy Stadium and this season's encounter with St. Edward
8/10/2016

Posted By Mr. Eddie Dwyer

Cleveland, Ohio  - Thunder and lightning swept around Ohio City late Wednesday afternoon, cutting Saint Ignatius' afternoon practice short.

After retaking the field for the evening session, it wasn't long before Mother Nature said no more and Wildcats Hall of Fame Head Coach Chuck Kyle sent his players home just after 6 PM.

The 'Cats will return to Wasmer Field on Thursday at 2 PM.

As the skies were getting darker, Saint Ignatius' junior quarterbacks Daniel Alexander and Kyle Hall combined with seniors Rob Soeder and Kevin Ward, respectively, on a couple of nice routes. Soeder made a big-time catch in the Lorain Avenue end zone.

AS WE REPORTED ON THE CORNER THIS AFTERNOON (SEE THE 2:30 PM STORY BELOW), SAINT IGNATIUS AND ST. EDWARD WILL BE TAKING THEIR STORIED FOOTBALL RIVALRY TO THE BROWNS' FIRSTENERGY STADIUM FOR THEIR OCT. 29, WEEK 10 REGULAR SEASON MATCHUP. THE KICKOFF WILL BE 6 PM.

Here are some comments from Wildcats standout senior linebackers/captains Adam Shibley and Johnny Velotta on having the opportunity to play their longtime rival at such a special venue.

FROM ADAM SHIBLEY: "I remember my freshman year in 2013 watching John Gibbons (former Wildcats standout middle linebacker) and them beating St. Edward at Lakewood Stadium.

"After we won that game, I never witnessed how such a game could bring so much joy to the whole Saint Ignatius community. I remember getting goose bumps after the game, with everyone screaming for Saint Ignatius. I haven't been able to experience that for two years and this year I want that feeling again. Playing at FirstEnergy Stadium will only amplify that, being on a professional stadium level.

"Getting off the bus and going into a big-time stadium, it's going to be something special. I remember when Johnny (Velotta) told me the first time that we might be playing there, I started going crazy. It's definitely a must-win game for us, there is no other option. We haven't beaten Mentor or St. Eds since 2013."

FROM JOHNNY VELOTTA: "It's definitely a statement game, an exciting game. Everyone is going to be pretty pumped up to be on the Cleveland Browns' field. It will be an experience that all of us can remember.

"It's going to be one of those games where you have to set the tone early. I want to be able to put the pressure on them this year. It was tough being that close to doing that last year (a 35-28 setback to the Eagles). I don't want anyone to experience what last year's seniors felt.

"We (the current seniors) handled them our Freshmen and JV (Junior Varsity) years, so there is no reason we can't continue that success."                             

 

The Wildcats and the Eagles are taking their storied football rivalry to FirstEnergy Stadium
8/10/2016
By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit August 2016
 
 
Cleveland, Ohio - Residing in the West Park area of Cleveland and attending Our Lady of Angels Elementary School on Rocky River Drive, Saint Ignatius' gifted senior tailback Jimmy Andrews grew up with the Wildcats' storied West Side football rivalry versus St. Edward High School.
 
You could see Jimmy's eyes light up as bright as the sun that hovered over Wasmer Field Monday evening when this corner assured him that this season's annual regular-season finale with the Eagles would be played in FirstEnergy Stadium, the home of the Cleveland Browns.
 
Yes, Saint Ignatius and St. Edward, whose rivalry has become a state-wide and national fixture, will meet for the 54th time on the Varsity gridiron when they take the field at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 29 at 6 PM.
 
The Wildcats lead the all-time series, 28-24-1, but the Eagles were victorious in the past two meetings, including a 35-28 victory at a packed First Federal Lakewood Stadium on Halloween of last year. Coach Tom Lombardo's Eagles rode that victory to the school's second consecutive Division I State Championship and third overall, as Coach Lombardo became the first coach in the history of the OHSAA football playoffs to win state championships at two different schools. Coach Lombardo guided the Lake Catholic Cougars to the Division III state title in 2001.
 
St. Edward's first two state football titles came under former Mayfield Defensive Coordinator Rick Finotti in 2010 and 2014. Coach Finotti accepted a coaching position at the University of Michigan following the Eagles' 2014 season.
 
Saint Ignatius, which is seeking a remarkable 27th appearance in the OHSAA big-school playoffs since 1988, has won a record 11 Division I State Championships under Hall of Fame Coach Chuck Kyle, including a state-best five in a row from 1991 to 1995. The 'Cats were state runners-up in 1996.
 
Coach Kyle, who has begun his 34th season as the head man of his alma mater's football program, has 321 career victories, which include three national championships in 1989, 1993 and 1995, and a national runner-up in 2008. The 'Cats' 10th and 11th state titles came in 2008 and 2011.
 
This year's game versus St. Edward will mark the third time since 2010 that the 'Cats will take the field at the home of the Browns.
 
In 2010, in what was part of a new doubleheader version of the historic Charity Game, Saint Ignatius was defeated by Lake Catholic, 28-21, at the Lakefront. In 2012, the 'Cats returned to Browns Stadium and dominated Youngstown Cardinal Mooney, 31-7.
 
St. Edward squared off with Mentor at Browns Stadium in 2010 and the Eagles turned back the Cardinals, 35-28.
 
Old-timers like this corner will recall the fall of 1980, when the Wildcats and the Eagles met in part of a doubleheader at old Cleveland Municipal Stadium. Cold temperatures and a persistent rain ruled and St. Edward came away with an 11-0 victory at The Grand Lady on the Lake. The other half of the doubleheader that night saw Benedictine and Holy Name play to a 7-7 tie.
 
Despite the sub-par playing conditions, the Eagles' standout running back Kevin Graven solved the Municipal Stadium surface for 151 yards on the ground, including an 86-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
 
Saint Ignatius made 13 trips to the legendary City Championship "Charity Game" at Municipal Stadium from 1945 through 1968, compiling a record of 4-7-2.
 
As for the rivalry with St. Edward, the most memorable and most documented game in the series, without question, took place in 1993, when Saint Ignatius prevailed in what stands as one of the most storied games in the history of Ohio High School Football, 35-34, in triple overtime in front of a standing-room crowd and then some at Lakewood Stadium, "The Madhouse on Madison."
 
After that Week 8 test of wills, Coach Kyle's Wildcats would go on to a 14-0 state and national championship season in '93.
 
"I think it will be great because of the amount of people who will be able to attend this year," said Andrews of a rivalry that is always one of toughest tickets in town, whether it is at Saint Ignatius' home field, Parma's Byers Field, or the home of St. Edward, Lakewood Stadium. The Wildcats are the home team for this year's matchup, which was originally slated for Byers Field in Parma's Robert M. Boulton Stadium.
 
"Maybe we could get 20,000-plus there (at FirstEnergy Stadium)," Andrews continued."I've watched these games from both sides growing up. I mean it's a big deal. For the seniors, it's our last one (unless the 'Cats and the Eagles were also to meet in the playoffs, as they did in 2008 and 2011). It's been on our minds ever since last year's seniors said, 'Remember this.'"
 
Last year's tough loss to St. Edward prevented Saint Ignatius from advancing to the playoffs for only the second time since its great postseason run began in 1988.
 
Andrews quickly recalls being at both the 2012 doubleheader at the Lakefront as an eighth grader at OLA and the Wildcats' 20-17 playoff victory over the Eagles in 2011, when he was in the seventh grade and still making up his mind whether it would be the blue and gold or the green and gold.
 
That 2011 playoff matchup took place in Brunswick Auto Mart Stadium on Judy Kirsch Field.
 
One of the most special and unique aspects of the Saint Ignatius-St. Edward rivalry is that despite the intensity that accompanies it, players from both teams have remained close friends.
 
And Jimmy Andrews was quick to mention two of his best friends from this year's St. Edward team, starting quarterback Kevin Kramer and starting safety Kevin Dever, also OLA products. 
 
"I don't think it will affect our friendships at all," Jimmy said of the eventual Week 10 outcome in FirstEnergy Stadium. "We're too big for that."
 
HERE ARE SOME KEY NOTES OF INTEREST FOR FANS FROM BOTH SAINT IGNATIUS AND ST. EDWARD, AND FANS WHO HAVE ALWAYS WANTED TO ATTEND THE RIVALRY IN PERSON, BUT COULD NEVER GET A TICKET.
 
Tickets will be available online, at the schools' athletics departments, and the box office on the day of the game (We're encouraging fans to go online: Here is the link:
 
 
Saint Ignatius' students will sit in the Dawg Pound.
 
The lower bowl sits between 26-28,000.
 
There will be open concessions stands on both sides.
 
The Saint Ignatius Band will be allowed to perform on the field.
 
There will be no tape delay broadcast.
 
And yes, the Browns do have a home game the next day versus the New York Jets.

 

 

The Football Programs from Solon and Saint Ignatius put forth another spirited scrimmage on Wasmer Field Tuesday morning and afternoon
8/9/2016

By Mr. Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit August 2016

Cleveland, Ohio - As he was walking off Wasmer Field following his team's annual scrimmage/drills with the Solon Comets on Tuesday, Saint Ignatius' Hall of Fame Coach Chuck Kyle '69 said he liked the way his team was confident about what they were doing.

"The technique was there and the aggression," Coach Kyle said after the Wildcats battled it out with a veteran Solon team that welcomed back 17 starters from last year, when the Comets advanced to the second round of the Division I playoffs.

"You have to have that (the aggression), because you're playing another team," Coach Kyle continued. "It's not like you're going up against your buddy."

Coach Kyle and Solon's veteran Head Coach Jim McQuaide had to be pleased with the unsolicited compliment paid to their teams by the officials who worked Tuesday's scrimmage.

"I'm standing there and the official goes, 'I'm amazed with both of these teams' discipline this time of the year. There is nothing for us to call.'

"It was really just good, focused football and that was nice to see," emphasized Coach Kyle.

Coach Kyle also pointed to the "nice work" by his offensive and defensive lines, and his skilled players.

"A lot of them are young," Coach Kyle said of the skilled positions.  "But I thought we handled it okay. There were good things out there from both teams."

While Solon and Saint Ignatius are programs that have been projected as strong playoff contenders this coming season, Coach Kyle was quick to refer to the new format the OHSAA has employed this season, in which the top eight teams in each Division I region will qualify for the playoffs and not the top 16 like the past few years.

"That (eight teams qualifying) certainly hurts our area and it hurts the Cincinnati area very much," said the man who has guided his program to a record 11 Division I State Championships, a state runner-up, three national titles and a national runner-up. "But that's what your dealt with."

Saint Ignatius will return to double sessions on Wednesday at 2 PM and on Saturday the 'Cats will have an intra-squad scrimmage at 11 AM on Wasmer Field.

HERE ARE SOME OF THE HIGHLIGHTS FROM TUESDAY'S SCRIMMAGE, WHICH DREW A SOLID CROWD TO WASMER FIELD.

As Coach Kyle pointed out, the Wildcats' veteran offensive line, anchored by All-Ohio senior center/captain and East Carolina recruit John Spellacy, was rock-solid in the early drills.

Junior defensive back Cameron Toppin came up with an interception and senior cornerback Alex Ringfield was strong and quick to the ball during the drills matching the Comets' wide receivers and the Wildcats' secondary.

Solon's gifted receiver Taj Ward came up with a highlight-reel leaping reception during the same drill.

During Solon's first possession in 11 on 11, the Comets showed their ability to run and throw the football. Quarterback Joe Bubonics, son of Solon's veteran defensive coordinator Ed Bubonics, displayed promise with his strong arm and the ability to run the football.

Saint Ignatius' senior nose tackle Joe Gibbons set the early tone for the 'Cats' defense with a sack off his second-effort relentless pursuit.

Wildcats multi-skilled senior linebacker/tight end James Leyden fired through the line and came up with a tackle for a significant loss of yards and senior linebacker/captain Adam Shibley again made his presence felt.

In the 'Cats' 11 on 11 offensive possession, senior tailback Dean "The Dream" Stowers came up with another of his trademark runs, as he bounced outside on a sweep, stopped on a dime, burst up the middle and cut to the outside again for a long gain. Vision and balance personified.

Senior quarterback Patrick Ryan hooked up with Leyden down the left sideline for a money play that saw James ramble for significant yards after the catch. Patrick also combined with senior wide receiver Travis Pot on two nice routes.

Sophomore Nathan Previts, the pride of St. Thomas More, came up and made a text-book tackle from his defensive back position and sophomore linebacker Tommy Eichenberg had a dominant series with his hard-nosed pursuit and sure tackling. Tommy is the brother of former Wildcats All-Ohio and All-American offensive tackle Liam Eichenberg '16, who is on scholarship for the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame.

Going back to the sophomores, running back Mitchell Puhalsky turned in a crowd-pleasing catch and run, and tailback Jahadge "Bo" Floyd picked up key yards after the initial hit.

Leyden, who had a heck of an all-around scrimmage, added a blocked punt to his Tuesday resume in Ohio City.

The 'Cats were on the move again thanks to a long, second-effort run by junior tailback Mark Bobinski, but Solon's standout defensive back J.T. Caver said not on my watch, as J.T. made a leaping interception at the Comets' 1 and stormed down the left sideline in the direction of Pick City.

Solon's Ward also contributed to the defensive effort by Coach McQuaide's team with an impressive sack off a blitz.

The Wildcats closed out the scrimmage in style, however, as senior running back Daryl Forrest burst down the left sideline and into the scoreboard end zone, and junior quarterback Daniel Alexander fired a picture-perfect throw that kissed the sky along the left sideline and settled into the sure hands of senior wide receiver Michael Daugenti, who carried Mr. Wilson into the Lorain Avenue end zone.

Yes, there is work to do and things to clean up, but the talent and depth are there my friends. See you at Wasmer Field this week.   

 

The Football Cats had a final tuneup for the Solon scrimmage and Coach Chuck Kyle is participating in the USA Football, Cleveland Browns Youth Football scrimmages.
8/8/2016
By Mr. Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit August 2016
 
Cleveland, Ohio -  The Varsity and Junior Varsity Football Wildcats did their best on Monday afternoon and evening to simulate similar offenses and defenses that the Solon Comets have employed in previous scrimmages versus the 'Cats.
 
In what has become a summer preseason ritual, Saint Ignatius and Solon will meet in a scrimmage tomorrow (Tuesday) morning at 10 AM on Wasmer Field.
 
Coach Jim McQuaide Comets are coming off a solid 9-3 season in which they advanced to the second round of the OHSAA Division I, Region 1 playoffs.
 
Solon welcomed back 17 starters from last fall to this summer's camps, including offensive lineman Chris Glaser, a Virginia Cavaliers commit. Glaser originally planned on attending Miami of Ohio. 
 
Glaser leads an O-Line that also has three other returning starters and Coach McQuaide has exceptional depth at the running back and wide receiver positions.
 
The Comets are inexperienced up front on defense, but the linebackers and defensive backs are active and athletic.
 
After Tuesday morning's scrimmage with Solon, the 'Cats will return to double sessions on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday as they prepare for Saturday's intra-squad scrimmage.
 
Note: The Saint Ignatius Broadcast Network will air Tuesday's scrimmage live with Brendan DeVenney and Matt MacKenzie on the call, and as always yours truly will be on hand to give you an analysis via the corner.
 
Here are some highlights from Monday's double-session preparation.
 
Senior quarterback Patrick Ryan unleashed two sharp passes that were hauled in off the nice routes and sure hands of senior wide receiver Ryan Cook, as Patrick stood tall in the pocket.
 
Sophomore quarterback Patrick Delahunty, the projected Junior Varsity starter, took a page from Ryan and kept his poise under heavy pressure from the Varsity defense before connecting with sophomore tailback Jahadge "Bo" Floyd  in the left flat for a solid gain.
 
Standout senior linebacker/Captain Adam Shibley made another strong move on the ball off a pass play and slammed Mr. Wilson to the Wasmer Field turf.
 
Multi-skilled senior linebacker/tight end James Leyden came up an athletic interception that saw him scoop the ball out of the air just before it hit the turf, and junior quarterback Daniel Alexander and junior wide receiver Sammy Snyder combined on an as-its-drawn-up deep sideline route near the Lorain Avenue end zone.
 
Leyden found the Lorain Avenue end zone off a reception down the seam from his tight end position and junior wide receiver/defensive back Connor Kennedy made a diving TD reception in the always active Lorain Avenue end zone, where touchdown makers are born.
 
COACH KYLE PARTICIPATES IN USA FOOTBALL/CLEVELAND BROWNS YOUTH FOOTBALL SCRIMMAGES.
 
USA Football, the sport’s national governing body and a member of the U.S. Olympic Committee, will conduct youth football scrimmages hosted by the Cleveland Browns at Solon High School on August 9th (Tuesday), offering local youth teams an opportunity to experience a “modified tackle” version of the sport.
 
In 2015, USA Football designed a form of “modified tackle” football for youth players to pursue a “right-age, right-stage” approach to playing the sport, similar to other sports’ introductory youth forms, including tee-ball for baseball, 3-on-3 soccer and half-rink ice hockey.
 
Along with his outstanding work in the classroom and the gridiron at his alma mater Saint Ignatius, Wildcats Hall of Fame Football Coach Chuck Kyle is serving as an Advisor on Youth Football for the Browns.
 
USA Football will pilot and observe “modified tackle” play for youth football this season. USA Football will determine if all or some of this version of the sport may be recommended to youth football organizations as a potential division in the future.
 
The Cleveland Browns are the first NFL team to help coordinate USA Football’s “modified tackle” football scrimmages within their home market as the two organizations continue their partnership and dedication to advance youth players’ enjoyment of playing the country’s most popular sport. USA Football is the official youth football development partner of the Browns and each of the NFL’s other 31 teams.
 
Key elements of “modified tackle” youth football include:
 
  • Seven players per team on the field at one time
  • A smaller playing field of 40 yards-by-35 yards, allowing for two games to be played at the same time
  • All players, including linemen, begin each play in a two-point stance
  • No special teams plays, including punts, kickoffs or field goals
  • Players rotate positions, gain a comprehensive understanding of the sport’s fundamentals 
  • Each team is allowed one coach in the huddle at all times to help instruct players
  • Football continually evaluates and evolves its programs and resources to further advance young athletes’ enjoyment of the sport and to improve the quality of the game. 

About USA Football: USA Football (www.usafootball.com) evolves and grows the sport through innovative standards and best practices to advance coach and player development, participation and safety within the fun of the game and its inherent values. As the sport’s national governing body and member of the U.S. Olympic Committee, USA Football partners with leaders in medicine, child advocacy and athletics to support positive football experiences for youth, high school and other amateur players.Follow USA Football at www.facebook.com/usafootball or on Twitter @USAFootball.

About Cleveland Browns Youth Football: The Cleveland Browns are committed to assisting the development, safety and growth of youth and high school football throughout Northeast Ohio with year-round programming for players, coaches, officials and parents. Through camps, clinics and other initiatives, the Browns’ goal is to promote healthy, social, emotional, intellectual and physical development of youth by enhancing opportunities for youth football participation and education.
 

 

A full-equipment, offense versus defense 11 on 11 competition highlighted Saturday's Varsity/Junior Varsity football practice on Wasmer Field
8/6/2016

By Mr. Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit August 2016

Cleveland, Ohio - On what was the first day of hitting/tackling, the Wildcats put forth a spirited test of the offense going up against the defense, with the quarterbacks being the only players designated as unhittable and the punt returners restricted to fair catches.

The quarterback was considered to be tackled once he was touched.  

The offense struck early Saturday afternoon with a couple of nice receptions from senior wide receivers Mike Lehto and Travis Pot off strong throws from senior quarterback Patrick Ryan. Those efforts set up a 20-yard field goal off the sure and powerful leg of junior Matt Trickett.

Trickett's day was just beginning, as after football practice he had to gear up for Saturday's annual Varsity Soccer scrimmage versus the Wildcats' Soccer Alums. Matt is a mainstay for Coach Mike McLaughlin's defending state and national champion Soccer Cats.

Saint Ignatius' special teams wasted little time in making their mark, as senior defensive back Matt Wiegandt recovered a fumbled punt. Wiegandt is a standout for Coach Pat O'Rourke's defending OHSAA State Ice Hockey Champions.

After the defense put together two impressive series, the offense picked it up.

Junior quarterback Daniel Alexander combined with junior fullback Aidan Gill in the right flat, a play that saw Gill haul in the pass from Alexander in stride and ramble for some extra yards.

Senior tailback Dean "The Dream" Stowers then unleashed his speed, balance and cutting ability, and ripped off a run that gave the O a first and goal from the 1-yard line.

From there, Alexander swept the right side off a keeper and beat the pursuit into the corner of the Lorain Avenue end zone. Trickett's ensuing extra-point kick was high and true.

Thanks to some strong running by Gill and senior tailback Daryl Forrest, the offense appeared to be on the move again. The defense rose to the occasion, however, and forced a punt.

Catching the eyes of the coaches and this old-timer was the play of promising sophomore linebacker Tommy Eichenberg, the brother of former Wildcats All-Ohio and All-American offensive tackle Liam Eichenberg '16, who is on scholarship at the University of Notre Dame.

Tommy was a force with his pursuit, aggressiveness and quickness, both on the outside and the inside.

Young Eichenberg's play drew some nice compliments from Wildcats outstanding Linebackers Coach Ryan Franzinger '02.

THE MORNING DRILLS

Senior defensive backs Christopher Hyland and Alex Ringfield (an interception) stepped up early in the secondary, senior wide receiver Michael Daugenti did a solid job of fighting for the ball on his reception, and junior tailback Mark Bobinski continued his strong, run to daylight efforts.

With the 'Cats' offensive line doing an outstanding job, Patrick Ryan combined with Mike Lehto on two picture-perfect deep balls, including one that went the distance into the scoreboard end zone of Wasmer Field.

Saint Ignatus' rich-in-talent running game continued to come to the fore, as senior tailback Nick Kilbane and senior fullback/linebacker Ben Delhees ran with yards-producing passion. Ben also looked sharp catching the ball out of the backfield and picking up extra yards after the catch.

The defense made its case on what was a much-appreciated cool and blue sky morning, as senior defensive back Dante Cipriani stripped the ball from the tight end and Mr. Wilson was alertly recovered by junior linebacker Andrew Boldy for a scoop and score.

In the morning's Junior Varsity competition, sophomore lineman Seamus Cooney displayed anticipation and pursuit in batting down a pass.

NOTE: The Wildcats will return to Wasmer Field on Monday at 2 PM for another day of double sessions, as they prepare for Tuesday's annual preseason scrimmage with Coach Jim McQuaide's Solon Comets. Tuesday's scrimmage will begin at 10 AM on Wasmer Field.

And in closing, the corner would like to tip his cap to linebacker Michael Bradac, whose anticipation and pressure disrupted a play late in Friday evening's second session.

Have a safe and great weekend, and we'll see you at Wasmer Field this week.   

 

The rain poured down and the Football 'Cats never flinched, as they continued to focus on Tuesday's scrimmage with the Solon Comets
8/5/2016

By Mr. Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit August 2016

Cleveland, Ohio - Mother Nature provided a cooling off period of about 20 minutes or so on Friday afternoon, as a brisk and somewhat heavy rain shower swirled across Wasmer Field during the first session of the Wildcats' two-a-day practices.

After a stretch of practices that were accompanied by 90-plus degree temperatures, the Football 'Cats definitely enjoyed the cool air created by the raindrops.

Saint Ignatius went right on with the business at hand - preparing for Tuesday's first scrimmage of the summer versus the Solon Comets.

Coach Jim McQuaide's Comets, who welcomed back 17 starters from last season's OHSAA playoff team, will pay a visit to Wasmer Field at 10 AM for what has become a home-and-home preseason ritual between Saint Ignatius and Solon.

After Friday evening's second session of practice, which took place under a warm sun and a blue sky, the Wildcats prepared themselves for a quick turnaround.

Hall of Fame Coach Chuck Kyle's football program, which received a ranking of 21st in cleveland.com's Super 25 preseason state poll, returns to Wasmer Field tomorrow (Saturday) morning for a practice session that is slated for 9 AM to 12:30 PM.

And what about the ranking, you ask? Twenty better teams than Saint Ignatius in the state of Ohio for 2016, I don't think so.   

Saturday, by the way, will mark the first day of hitting/tackling.

As for Friday's sessions, junior quarterback Daniel Alexander and sure-handed junior wide receiver Sammy Snyder greeted Mother Nature with an on-the-money pass and catch deep down the right or home sideline of Wasmer Field, a throw that was so high and strong it sliced right through the raindrops.

Standout senior linebacker Adam Shibley, who on Thursday was selected as the Wildcats' third Captain for 2016 (see the corner's post from Thursday evening), created his own storm while totally disrupting an offensive play during Friday's first session.

Among the other highlights from the first session was a perfectly timed interception return by junior defensive back Cameron Toppin. Cameron left a lasting impression on this corner with his outstanding play in the secondary during last season's Junior Varsity triumph at St. Edward.

Friday evening's practice featured an impressive pitch and catch from senior quarterback Patrick Ryan to multi-skilled senior wide receiver Ryan Cook, two nice hookups from Alexander to junior wide receiver Alex Schum, with Schum soaring off his feet in stride on the second reception, and some more consistent work by Coach Kevin Johnson's and Coach Pat Hinkel's defensive secondary.

Before Coach Kyle called it a night, it was more of Dean "The Dream" to daylight, as diminutive, but oh so tough and determined senior tailback Dean Stowers was stopping on dimes, reversing his field and galloping for bigger money yards to the delight of veteran Running Backs Coach Terry Fergus.

Dean also had a run in which he swept the ride side, encountered a would-be tackler at the edge and put on a cut and move that left the defender grasping at air.

Ah, to be young again.

I'll grab my coffee from Circle K and see you at Wasmer Field bright and early tomorrow (Saturday) morning.

 

Congratulations again to Adam Shibley and his famiy (see the corner's post from early this evening) and we give you the highlights from another day of double sessions
8/4/2016

By Mr. Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit August 2016

Cleveland, Ohio - Everyone was in a big hurry during Thursday evening's session of Wildcats Football two-a-day practices on Wasmer Field.

It was time to work on the no-huddle, hurry-up offense and defense my friends, one of the most competitive and entertaining drills of the summer and fall.

After some late afternoon gray clouds provided a little relief from what was another hot and humid day in Ohio City, junior tailback Mark Bobinski was definitely the early story of the evening's hurry-up offense.

"Bo-Bo," as Mark is known to his teammates and coaches, was running with power, balance, quickness and exceptional vision, and also hauling in swing passes while on the move. Coach Adam Rini's and Coach Paul Yappel's offensive linemen provided the holes and Bobinski was in the secondary before the Lorain Avenue 22 Bus could accelerate.

If they haven't already, old-time Wildcats football enthusiasts will enjoy Bobinski's give it all on every play and leave it all on the field mentality.

AIR 'CATS

Senior quarterback Patrick Ryan hit on a quick strike to Travis Pot off the hurry-up attack and fired a deep ball down the left sideline to Ryan Cook that saw Ryan make a smooth catch while keeping one foot in bounds in the corner of the Lorain Avenue end zone.

A MAJOR CASE FOR THE DEFENSE

There were playmakers galore from the defensive side of the football as what turned into a perfect summer evening was coming to an end.

Senior linebacker Marty Fanta, the brother of former Saint Ignatius standout Student Broadcaster John Fanta '13, who has gone on to a great broadcasting career at Seton Hall, was living in the offensive backfield off his pursuit from the edge. This corner counted what would have been four sacks for Marty if hitting was allowed. Pursuit City, my friends. 

Junior defensive back Matt Viancourt was roaming the secondary and applying some authoritative pass breakups, as were DBs Alex Ringfield, a senior, and Cameron Toppin, a junior.

Senior defensive back Christopher Hyland picked up where he left off on Wednesday with another quick reaction and pass breakup, sophomore linebacker Zach McMahan contributed to the pressure department, including a rush that resulted in a tipped pass, and senior linebacker Ben Delhees maintained his high ranking in Pursuit City courtesy of the "Linebacker Legion."    

SOME FINAL TIPS OF THE CORNER'S CAP

Go out to senior running back Dean Stowers, who again displayed vision and bounce while reading the space provided, and also hauled in passes in both flats, and sophomore tailback Jack Kennedy, who unleashed some quick bursts near the end of practice and made a nice catch along the home sideline that also produced significant yards after the reception.

The Wildcats are permitted to be in full equipment starting tomorrow (Friday), when double sessions resume at 2 PM.      

 

Wildcats Football selects Adam Shibley as its third Varsity Football Captain
8/4/2016

By Mr. Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit August 2016

Cleveland, Ohio - Adam, who was selected in a vote by his teammates following Thursday's first practice session, joins fellow senior linebacker Johnny Velotta and All-Ohio senior center and East Carolina recruit John Spellacy as three of Head Coach Chuck Kyle's four captains for 2016.

The 'Cats' fourth captain will be selected by the coaching staff later this summer.

Adam, as we have reported on the corner, is having an outstanding camp from his linebacker position.

On a nice personal note, Adam joins his brother David from the Class of 2015 as a Wildcat Football Captain. David was a mainstay at wide receiver for Coach Kyle.

 

Former Wildcat football standout Jim Ramella will be assisting with the Freshmen Football Team. The third afternoon and evening of double sessions had its spirited moments
8/3/2016

By Mr. Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit August 2016

Cleveland, Ohio - Jim Ramella, a former Wildcats All-District and All-Ohio defensive lineman, a member of three playoff teams at Saint Ignatius and a mainstay for the Boston College Eagles, has returned to the area and will be assisting with Saint Ignatius' Freshmen Football Team, which is under the direction of veteran Head Coach Rodney Gallaway.

"I worked in Boston for five years with Citigroup and moved home last February to join the family business," said Jim, who in the winter of 2009 following his senior season at BC received the Scanlan Award, the highest honor bestowed upon a Boston College football player.

The Scanlan Award is presented to the senior football player who excels on the field, in the classroom and in the community. Ramella started all 12 games at right end during his senior season and finished with 29 consecutive starts on the defensive line. Jim also played some tight end during his football career.

"It's called Cleveland Menu," said Jim of the family business. "It makes menus for restaurants and hotels. It's a unique business that my grandfather started in 1930. My father now runs it and my brother Pat and I came back home from Boston to kind of take it a third generation.

"I had all kind of injuries," Jim said, when asked if he considered a professional football career after college. "I had two shoulder surgeries. When some of my buddies went down to Florida to train at different facilities, I finished my MBA. I started my MBA my senior year and stayed back and finished it. I don't know if my body could take another training camp.

"It's fun working with these kids," Jim continued. "I didn't coach at all while I was in Boston. You get so far removed from it, it's funny how things come back to you, technique wise. You don't forget that you were in their (the freshmen) shoes 15 years ago."

Wildcats gridiron fans will recall that Jim's younger brother, Gerry, played for Saint Ignatius' 2008 State Championship Team and the 'Cats' 2009 OHSAA playoff team. 

THE LBS TAKE ON THE DUMMY

During one of the early drills of Wednesday afternoon's first session of doubles saw Coach Ryan Franzinger's linebackers do some nice work off the blocking dummy. The emphasis was on shedding a blocker while maintaining your leverage. It was a very crisp drill.

RUNNING TO DAYLIGHT

Junior tailback Mark Bobinski put together some solid runs in the afternoon session, again displaying his vision and cutting balance. Senior quarterback Patrick Ryan also picked up some big yards off fakes on keepers. Patrick emphasized that he is a lot faster now than that night during his sophomore season when he read the secondary, pulled down the ball and galloped for a touchdown into the Lorain Avenue end zone of Wasmer Field, helping lead the Junior Varsity Wildcats to an impressive victory over St. Edward.

It has been evident since the first day of camp how much speed and quickness Patrick has added to his game.

IT ALL STARTS UP FRONT

Coach Adam Rini's and Coach Paul Yappel's Offensive Line continues to do a solid job. Senior guard Brendan Lenhard emphasized how deep the 2016 O-Line is and that is evident during two-a-days.

AIR 'CATS

Junior quarterback Kyle Hall unleashed a nice deep ball down the left sideline during Wednesday's first session and Patrick Ryan combined with senior wide receiver Travis Pot on another deep route that featured a big-time throw and catch.

Junior quarterback Daniel Alexander hooked up with sure-handed junior receiver Sammy Snyder on some smooth routes, standout junior linebacker/tight end James Leyden displayed his ability to pick up yards after the catch and Ryan came back in the evening session with two more authoritative passes, one to junior wide receiver Max Pike that saw Max go up after the ball and the other money toss to multi-skilled senior Ryan Cook.

A CASE FOR THE DEFENSE

Gifted senior linebacker Adam Shibley made another trip to pursuit city and totally disrupted a running play, Cook came out of nowhere to take away a sideline route and Wednesday's Defensive Play of the Day/Evening saw ever-present senior defensive back John Lenehan make an exceptional read and an aggressive breakup of a pass that resulted in the ball popping in the air and into the hands of senior safety/wide receiver Mike Lehto for a trip to pick city. Lenehan has had a nose for the ball all summer.

GETTING HIS KICKS

Junior Matthew Trickett, who is also a standout for Coach Mike McLaughlin's state and nationally acclaimed soccer program, was drilling field goal attempts from 37 yards out almost effortlessly during the second session. Junior fullback/nose tackle Aidan Gill was the long snapper.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY WISHES

Go out to junior wide receiver Andrew Chalhoub, who turned 16 on Wednesday.

COACH KYLE IS EVERYWHERE

Before putting his Wildcats through Double Sessions, Saint Ignatius' Hall of Fame Coach Chuck Kyle '69 was taking part in a Cleveland Browns Youth Camp at the Browns' facility. As we reported on the corner several weeks ago, Coach Kyle has been hired by the Browns as a special advisor on Youth Football, particularly in the area's of health and safety.

Here is a tweet from the camp: We were proud to team up with Brooklyn Youth FootballParma Seminoles Youth FootballCleveland BrownsPurell and legendary Saint Ignatius High School Coach and USA Football master trainer Chuck Kyle to teach moms from all across Northeast Ohio ‪#‎headsupfootball‬

We will see you on Wasmer Field at 2 PM Thursday for the start of double sessions.      

 

 

The second afternoon and evening of double sessions is in the book. The Football 'Cats can don shoulder pads starting on Wednesday.
8/2/2016

By Mr. Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit August 2016

Cleveland, Ohio -  Senior wide receiver Colin Nieberding got things started on a positive note during Tuesday's afternoon drills with a nice route and catch, an effort that drew compliments from Saint Ignatius' veteran Offensive Coordinator Nick Restifo and 'Cats' 2015 first-team All-Ohio quarterback Dennis Grosel.

As we mentioned on the corner in previous camp reports, Grosel is helping out with the quarterbacks and receivers this summer and fall before he heads to Boston College in January as a preferred walk-on.

Among the other highlights from the afternoon was a well-read interception off a pass across the middle by senior defensive back Thomas Barrett.

And what's a good remedy for shaking off an interception? Just look for sure-handed senior receiver Mike Lehto on the next play.

Senior quarterback Patrick Ryan kept the offense flowing by clicking with gifted senior linebacker/tight end James Leyden on a nice over-the-top route.

Senior defensive lineman Joe Gibbons displayed exceptional lateral movement in helping shut down the running game and Barrett came to the fore again by coming up and filling the hole on a running play.

Junior wide receiver Killian Meehan combined with junior quarterback Kyle Hall on a nice pass and catch, senior running back Dean "The Dream" Stowers and sophomore running back Jahadge "Bo" Floyd displayed some nice balance and vision in the early team drills, as did sophomore quarterback Patrick Delahunty off a keeper.

Wrapping up the first session highlights was a sharp pass from Delahunty to the sure hands of sophomore wide receiver Anthony Pilla.

O-LINE TAKES CENTER STAGE

Coach Adam Rini's and Coach Paul Yappel's Offensive Linemen, both the veterans and the underclassmen, put together some solid work during the evening session.

Those efforts up front allowed senior tailback Jimmy Andrews to continue his solid camp and showed the way for a nice burst over the left side by senior running back Daryl  Forrest, and a picture-perfect fake and keeper over the right side by Hall.

Seniors Alex Ringfield and Matt Wiegandt turned in some nice work in the secondary and junior quarterback Daniel Alexander combined with junior wide receiver Connor Kennedy on a deep pass that saw Kennedy come up with a leaping reception near the Lorain Avenue end zone.

Leyden made a case for the defense by dropping into coverage from his linebacker position and making it look almost too easy as he read a pass all the way and came up with an interception.

With Leyden applying some nice pressure off the edge, junior safety Justin Sands picked off a deep pass.

Ryan got the offensive clicking again as he fired an authoritative deep ball that saw senior wide receiver Rob Soeder climb the ladder for an outstanding leaping catch. Coming up with smooth, stay in bounds receptions along the home sideline were junior wide receiver Andrew Chalhoub and Connor Kennedy.

The defense rose again, however, as senior mainstays along the D-Line, Mike Chime and Patrick Viancourt, pursued downhill with passion.

It was time for the younger offensive linemen to step up, and they did just that.

"Nice work Toby," yelled Coach Rini to 6-3, 275-pound junior guard Toby Engel, who helped get the ground game back on track, including a long burst down the left sideline by junior tailback Mark Bobinski.

Down the stretch of Tuesday's second session, Alexander found sure-handed junior wide receiver Sammy Snyder streaking across the middle and combined with promising junior wide receiver Michael Drobnick on some nice routes.

Ryan worked the final plays of the evening and hooked up with multi-skilled senior wide receiver Travis Pot on some sure routes, and the defense made its closing marks off some nice pressure by standout senior linebacker Adam Shibley, junior nose tackle Aidan Gill and sophomore defensive end Aidan Wells.

We'll see you at Wednesday's double sessions, which begin at 2 PM on Wasmer Field.          

 

The first day of the OHSAA Fall Sports practices featured the good, the bad and the "not too bad" for the Football Wildcats as two-a-days got underway on Wasmer Field
8/1/2016

By Mr. Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit August 2016

Cleveland, Ohio - Saint Ignatius' Hall of Fame Head Football Coach Chuck Kyle' 69 saw just about what he expected from the first day of double sessions, some very good things and things that have to be sharpened or improved upon before next week's first scrimmage versus Coach Jim McQuaide's Solon Comets.

The Comets, who feature a veteran nucleus from last year's OHSAA playoff team, will pay a visit to Wasmer Field on August 9th for what has become a traditional preseason tune-up between two of the finest and classiest programs in Ohio. The scrimmage/drills will begin at 10 AM.

Saint Ignatius will have an intra-squad scrimmage on Saturday, August 13th at Wasmer Field and the final summer tune-up will be the annual Varsity Jamboree versus the Canton McKinley Bulldogs on August 18th. The Jamboree will kick off at 7 PM from Canton Central Catholic's Lowell Klinefelter Stadium and will be played under regular game conditions.

The Wildcats open their 2016 season on Friday night, August 26th, versus the Normandy Invaders at Byers Field in Parma's Robert M. Boulton Stadium. The 'Cats defeated the Invaders, 63-7, in last year's season opener at Byers Field.

HERE ARE SOME OF THE HIGHLIGHTS FROM MONDAY'S TWO-A-DAYS, AS A NICE BREEZE COMPLEMENTED THE SUNSHINE AND MADE THINGS A LITTLE MORE MANAGEABLE FOR THE PLAYERS AND THE COACHES.

Senior defensive back Chris Hyland made an exceptional read and move on the ball in intercepting a pass across the middle and taking it the distance, and senior wide receiver Ryan Cook came up with another athletic reception in the early going.

Junior quarterback Daniel Alexander hooked up with junior wide receiver Sam Snyder off a nice pitch and catch, senior quarterback Patrick Ryan was money on an authoritative throw to the sure hands of junior wide receiver Max Pike, senior fullback/linebacker Ben Delhees made a savvy read of the hole off a running play and then complemented that move with a running catch off a swing pass in the left flat.

Senior quarterback Luke Baker received some words of encouragement from veteran Offensive Coordinator Nick Restifo for his read and throw on a connection with junior tight end Alex Schum that saw Luke maintain his composure under a heavy rush from the defensive line.

The defense came to the fore off another perfectly timed interception return by senior linebacker Adam Shibley, who is having an exceptional camp, and a heads-up interception off a tipped pass by junior linebacker/defensive back Jonathan Ockunzzi, who also paid a visit to pick city. Shibley would make his presence felt a few plays later by batting down a pass off penetration.

The pressure up front from big-game tested veterans such as defensive linemen Mike Chime, Joe Gibbons and Patrick Viancourt, along with the "Linebacker Legion" of Shibley, senior Johnny Velotta and senior James Leyden, gave the offense problems throughout the evening session.     

Senior tailback Dean Stowers made a clever spin move away from the defenders after he hauled in a short pass in the middle of the field and "Dean The Dream" also drew a huge smile from Saint Ignatius' veteran Running Backs Coach Terry Fergus for the vision he displayed in the running game.

Junior quarterback Kyle Hall and Schum clicked on an impressive long ball down the seam, but it was junior wide receiver Andrew Chalhoub who earned a nomination into the Good Hands Club with two big-time receptions - a leaping catch down the home sideline of Wasmer Field that saw Andrew haul in Mr. Wilson between two defenders and a smooth, sure-handed grab of a deep lazer down the seam off the strong arm of Ryan.

Double sessions resume on Tuesday at 2 PM.    

 

After wrapping up a promising series of mini camps, the 2016 Football Wildcats will point to Monday and the start of the OHSAA two-a-day practice sessions
7/28/2016

By Mr. Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit July 2016

Cleveland, Ohio - Following Thursday's final mini camp of the summer, Saint Ignatius' veteran Offensive Coordinator Nick Restifo addressed the Varsity Football Wildcats and emphasized to them how they have to be ready starting Monday to take the promise they displayed in the summer camps and build it into a season they will always cherish.

And the operative word is they, as Coach Restifo said it will take "everyone" buying in, not just the seniors, to be able to wipe out the sting of last year, when the Wildcats lost to longtime West Side rival and eventual 2015 big-school State Champion St. Edward in the regular-season finale and failed to qualify for the OHSAA playoffs for just the second time since Saint Ignatius' record postseason run began in 1988.

That run included an OHSAA best 11 Division I state championships, including an amazing five in a row from 1991 to 1995. The Football 'Cats were also crowned National Champions in 1989, 1993 and 1995, were a National Runner-Up in 2008 and a State Runner-Up in 1996.

Before calling it an evening on Wasmer Field, Coach Restifo looked around at the 2016 Wildcats, who knelt in a circle, and told then that no one is talking about Saint Ignatius (in the state's preseason hype), and that should just motivate them even more.

Standout senior defensive lineman Mike Chime shared with this corner before one of the early summer mini camps that the 2016 Wildcats definitely have a chip on their shoulder.

Starting Monday at 2 PM in the first two-a-day session of the season, Chime and the rest of the 'Cats can begin turning that chip into what will be a significant dividend come the end of October and even a bigger gain in November and early December.

Here are some of the highlights from Thursday's final mini camp, as Saint Ignatius' Hall of Fame Head Coach Chuck Kyle '69 prepares his team for another memorable late summer and fall journey, Coach Kyle's 34th as the head of one of the most storied high school football programs in the nation.

VARSITY

The 'Cats' vaunted passing game was on fire early as senior quarterback Patrick Ryan and junior wide receiver Michael Drobnick picked up where they left off on Wednesday evening by hooking up on some nice throws and catches.

Drobnick also combined with junior quarterback Kyle Hall on a long touchdown strike into the scoreboard end zone of Wasmer Field. Along with his pass catching duties, Drobnick also contributed as a defensive back/dog.

Also maintaining their high ranking in the Good Hands Club on Thursday were senior wide receivers Riley Kinzel, Michael Daugenti, Travis Pot and Mike Lehto, and junior wideout Sammy Snyder.

A CASE FOR THE DEFENSE: Mike Chime and his buddies up front - senior nose tackle Joe Gibbons and seniors Patrick Viancourt and Michael Czaja - were making their presence felt, as were veteran linebackers Adam Shibley, Johnny Velotta and James Leyden. Leyden and Czaja also tuned in some nice moments at tight end.

HIGH PRAISE: Saint Ignatius All-Ohio senior center and East Carolina recruit John Spellacy told the corner at the end of the mini camps that senior offensive lineman Owen Hearns and junior offensive linemen Juan Pen and Billy Corte are among the most improved players in camp and have really impressed him.

CAT PAWS: Leaving their marks on Wasmer Field under a late in the day Ohio City sun were junior tailback Mark Bobinski, junior fullback Aidan Gill and senior tailbacks Jimmy Andrews and Dean "The Dream" Stowers.   

JUNIOR VARSITY

Doing some solid work again was the JV offensive line of sophomore Owen Murphy and Co.

The young, but big young men along the line allowed sophomore running backs Jahadge "Bo" Floyd  and Jack Kennedy to continue their solid preseasons with some impressive cuts and quick hitters off and through the healthy holes provided by the offensive line.

PASS DEFENSE: Among those roaming the secondary for Defensive Backfield Coaches Kevin Johnson and Pat Hinkel, and Linebackers Coach Ryan Franzinger, were sophomores Jett Elad, Mitchell Puhalsky, Owen Adler and Chris Velotta (Johnny's cousin). Puhalsky also contributed to the running game.

NAME TO REMEMBER: In what was an impressive all-around performance on Thursday afternoon, 6-foot-4, 220-pound sophomore defensive end Aidan Wells was a force up front with his penetration and pressure.

Wildcats Defensive Line Coach Dave Cicetti was very pleased with Aidan's efforts, which included Aidan going airborne and batting away two passes and deflecting another.

Aidan also turned in some work at tight end for Coach Restifo and Receivers Coach Josiah Kedzior with a couple of key blocks and a reception.

It seems like just yesterday that Aidan left an impression on this old-timer with his solid performance in the Freshmen Basketball Team's victory at St. Edward last winter.

Just a reminder that the 'Cats' first preseason scrimmage will be Tuesday, August 9th versus the Solon Comets at 10 AM on Wasmer Field. Coach Jim McQuaide's Comets return 17 starters from their 2015 Division I playoff team.

We will see you on Monday for the start of two-a-days, which again begin at 2 PM.        

 

 

The Wildcats' next-to-last mini camp featured plenty of playmakers
7/27/2016

By Mr. Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit July 2016

Cleveland, Ohio - The Saint Ignatius Varsity and Junior Varsity Football Wildcats will wrap up camp on Thursday and then take a three-day break before the start of two-a-day practices on Monday.

Thursday's final mini camp will get underway at 3 PM for the Junior Varsity, followed by the Varsity camp at 5.

Here is a corner's view on some of the highlights that took place during Wednesday's Varsity and Junior Varsity drills on a humid Wasmer Field.

VARSITY

The "Linebacker Legion" got things started as strong and savvy senior LB Adam Shibley read the pass pattern and mistreated Mr. Wilson with an authoritative breakup of the ball.

An on-the-money swing pass in the right flat from senior quarterback Patrick Ryan to senior tailback Jimmy Andrews that hit Jimmy's hands in stride got the offense flowing and senior signal-caller Luke Baker, who said he is just trying to move up on the depth chart, throw an impressive long ball to junior wide receiver/tight end Alexander Schum that resulted in six for the scoreboard end zone of Wasmer Field.

Saint Ignatius' veteran Offensive Coordinator Nick Restifo, who was working with Ryan and Co. at the other end of the field, saw Baker's throw and yelled "nice ball" to Luke.

The Wildcats' deep and gifted receiving corps that we have mentioned prominently throughout this summer turned in some strong and soft hands work from senior Riley Kinzel and junior Sam Snyder, and, in what was the offensive play of the day and evening, Ryan unleashed another "beautiful" deep ball that hit talented and tough junior wide receiver Michael Drobnick in stride and into the Lorain Avenue end zone. Michael is also a mainstay for Coach Mark Sullivan's Men of the Mats, aka the Saint Ignatius Wrestling Program.

Coach Terry Fergus' running backs had another workman-like evening as Andrews, fellow senior tailback Dean "The Dream" Stowers and junior tailback Mark Bobinski took Mr. Wilson on some nice rides.

And Ryan got into the ground control column with a veteran, eyes-down-field elusive scramble as the evening was saying hello to a picture-perfect sunset in Ohio City.

In what was another case for the defense, senior defensive backs Chris Hyland and John Lenehan were ball-hawking all evening, as Chris came up with an interception and almost went pick city twice off a quick-reaction breakup.

Lenehan, who plays much bigger than his 5-foot-8 frame, drew the praise of 'Cats' Defensive Backfield Coach Kevin Johnson after he made an impressive interception and repeatedly stepped up as tough as nails against the running game and the swing passes.

THE JUNIOR VARSITY

Coach Restfo and Wildcats Quarterbacks Coach Jim Cahill were pleased with the running of sophomores Jahadge "Bo" Floyd and Jack Kennedy throughout an afternoon that also saw sophomore defensive back/linebacker Danny Scelza close on the ball for an interception along the home sideline of Wasmer Field.

Floyd and Kennedy were very sharp again when it came to making their cuts, inside and outside.

The passing game also came to the fore behind a nice read and throw by sophomore quarterback Patrick Delahunty into the sure hands of sophomore wide receiver/defensive back John Wetula.

Delahunty, keeping his composure despite a high snap, made an athletic cut off a QB keeper and he combined with Kennedy on an authoritative pass off a nice read that was complemented by the soft hands of Kennedy.

The JV offensive linemen continued to impress in allowing Delahunty, Floyd and Kennedy the space to operate, as the young men up front played a huge role in what was a perfectly executed trap play.

We'll see you on Wasmer Field Thursday, as we put a -30- on the mini camp portion of 2016 and gear up for Monday's start of two-a-days, where champions are made.      

 

Please note that the Wildcats' Varsity Football preseason Jamboree versus Canton McKinley in Stark County has been moved to Thursday, August 18th at 7 PM. It was originally scheduled for August 19th.
7/27/2016

The annual Varsity Jamboree between the 'Cats and the Bulldogs, the final tune-up of the preseason, will be played under game conditions and will be preceded by scrimmages between the Freshmen and the Junior Varsity programs from Saint Ignatius and McKinley at approximately 4:15 PM.

There will be a regular admission charge, which is permitted by the OHSAA for the Jamboree game-conditions format.

- Posted By Mr. Eddie Dwyer 

 

 

The 'Cats' depth and versatility come to the fore again during Tuesday evening's Varsity Football Camp
7/26/2016

By Mr. Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit July 2016

Cleveland, Ohio - Throughout Saint Ignatius' Varsity Football Camps, this corner has consistently referred to depth and versatility as being two of the Wildcats' major strengths for 2016.

After Tuesday evening's Varsity drills, that opinion hasn't changed one bit.

In fact, after multi-skilled senior Ryan Cook hauled in a pass along the left sideline near the Lorain Avenue end zone, straddling one foot in bounds while concentrating on the ball, and then going to the other side of the ball and coming up with a highlight-reel interception along the home sideline of Wasmer Field that left Ryan's coaches and teammates applauding, I found myself saying "depth and versatility, baby" into my tape recorder.

You need to look no further than the receiving corps to appreciate the depth factor.

Along with Ryan Cook, senior wide receiver Michael Daugenti turned in a strong and active evening, as did fellow senior wide receiver/safety Mike Lehto, the Chairman of the Board for the Good Hands Club.

And, in what complemented Ryan Cook's interception as the plays of the evening, junior wide receiver Michael Drobnick broke free from coverage down the seam and, on a dead run, hauled in a deep ball from senior quarterback Patrick Ryan.

Drobnick's effort was reminiscent of the touchdown pass he caught in last season's Junior Varsity victory at St. Edward.

Along with Patrick Ryan's tosses, junior quarterback Kyle Hall drew the praise of Quarterbacks Coach Jim Cahill for the nice fake he made off a QB keeper and Coach Cahill yelled "Nice read Kyle" on a throw Hall made to junior tight end/wide receiver Alexander Schum.

GROUND GAME CITY: Saint Ignatius' running backs also made their presence felt.

Under the tutelage of veteran Running Backs Coach Terry Fergus, junior fullback/running back Reilly Casey made an authoritative move around the right side off a smooth roll out and toss from Kyle Hall, senior running back Daryl Forrest turned in a nice bounce to the outside for significant yardage over the left side, and senior tailback Jimmy Andrews and junior tailback Mark Bobinski continue to impress with their vision, balance and strong bursts.

Of course none of those impressive plays would be possible without the special work up front by Coach Adam Rini's and Coach Paul Yappel's offensive line, a unit anchored by All-Ohio senior center and East Carolina recruit John Spellacy.

A CASE FOR THE DEFENSE: Junior safety Justin Sands turned in an exceptional play that saw Justin climb the ladder in deep coverage and make a leaping interception, controlling possession of the ball as he came down on his back in front of the Lorain Avenue end zone. It was Justin's second impressive pick in two days.

Some of the defensive veterans, nose tackle Joe Gibbons, linebackers Adam Shibley and Johnny Velotta, and end Mike Chime were pursuing with passion all evening.

In closing on a defensive note, one of the evening's early drills consisted of working on two new pressures that the Wildcats' linebackers and linemen coaches are going to install this year.

Action resumes on Wednesday at Wasmer Field, with the Junior Varsity session at 3 PM and the Varsity practice at 5 PM. Like the past two days, both sessions will begin with the summer ritual of running/sprints.

See you there.      

 

Patrick Ryan holds the hot hand on a day when the 'Cats had their running shoes on
7/25/2016

By Mr. Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit July 2016

Cleveland, Ohio - After he unleashed one of his many strong and accurate throws on Monday evening, Saint Ignatius senior quarterback Patrick Ryan smiled and said: "It's coming together!"

And that it is.

The Saint Ignatius Football Wildcats, under the direction of veteran Hall of Fame Coach Chuck Kyle, started the week with a strong and productive camp on both the Varsity and Junior Varsity levels, one that saw Ryan display the talent, savvy and leadership that Saint Ignatius' faithful have come to expect from their quarterbacks.

After taking part in the first day of their challenging conditioning drills of runs and sprints, which were timed and critiqued by the coaching staff, the Varsity 'Cats went through their various position work and then took part in the always entertaining match and team competition.

ON THE MONEY: Ryan, who played behind record-setting, first-team All-Ohio quarterback Dennis Grosel last season, hooked up with junior wide receiver Sam Snyder on an exceptional deep route that drew a smile from Saint Ignatius' veteran Offensive Coordinator Nick Restifo, a man who has honed the skills of 16 All-Ohio quarterbacks at Cleveland's Jesuit Preparatory School.

Along with his deep ball, Ryan was also sharp with his intermediate throws, including a swing pass hookup with junior running back Luke Mooney and a nicely timed sideline route to senior wide receiver Ryan Cook.

Moving with athleticism in the pocket, Ryan, after reading the defense and seeing that nothing was available in the secondary, tucked the ball away and headed in the direction of the Lorain Avenue end zone of Wasmer Feld for a sizeable gain.

FIST PUMP FOR "BO BO": Wildcats gritty and skilled junior tailback Mark Bobinski, after hauling in a swing pass, put together a highlight-reel juke move on a would-be tackler that drew a fist pump from Coach Restifo and a roar of approval from his teammates.

MORE AIR CATS: Junior quarterback Daniel Alexander and senior wide receiver Travis Pot combined on a deep route down the home sideline of Wasmer Field that featured 4-Star efforts from both young men - Daniel's authoritative throw from the pocket and Travis' ability to adjust to the ball, leap and make the catch.

"NICE CUT JIMMY, NICE CUT!": Yelled Saint Ignatius' veteran Assistant Coach/Quarterbacks Coach Jim Cahill after tough and talented senior tailback Jimmy Andrews took a quick toss from Ryan in the backfield and, sprinting left, cut on a dime up the middle and turned what looked like a possible loss into a significant gain.

GOOD HANDS CLUB ENTRIES ON BOTH SIDES OF THE BALL: Go to junior wide receiver Max Pike for his smooth reaction to the ball and subsequent reception, and junior safety Justin Sands, who came up with a perfectly timed diving interception.

THE JAYVEES DISPLAY THEIR ENDURANCE: As Wildcats outstanding Linebackers Coach Ryan Franzinger pointed out, Saint Ignatius' football alums will be glad to know that the 'Cats ran the "grueling" 600s as part of their conditioning drills on Monday. The JV linemen held their own, my friends.

THE HYDRATION CREW: After the Junior Varsity finished its challenging conditioning drills, Wildcats Varsity Captains John Spellacy and Johnny Velotta came out on Wasmer Field and helped cool off the Jayvees with squirt guns.

REMEMBER THE NAME, IT WON'T BE HARD: During Monday afternoon's JV match drill, 'Cats' impressive sophomore linebacker Tommy Eichenberg unleashed his range by reading the play and stepping in front of the ball for a textbook interception.

Tommy is the brother of former Wildcats All-Ohio and All-American offensive tackle Liam Eichenberg, who is a freshman for the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame.

DELAHUNTY SHARP AGAIN: During the JV team drill Coach Restifo was pleased with two "nice reads" by sophomore quarterback Patrick Delahunty, a pass to sophomore tight end Jack Cannon and another pitch and catch with sophomore running back./receiver Jack Kennedy.

Kennedy received some accolades from Coach Cahill for his exceptional display of balance on a running play off the left side.

IN CASE YOU EVER WONDERED: The Wildcats use two brands of Wilson footballs, the GST and the 1005.

Dennis Grosel, who owns first and second place on the 'Cats' all-time list for passing yards in a game, said the more broken in the football is, the better. As we posted in the corner's camp notes last week, Dennis is helping Coach Restifo and Coach Cahill with the quarterbacks this summer and fall before leaving for Boston College in the winter, where he will be a preferred walk on in the spring.

Camp resumes on Tuesday, the Jayvees at 3 PM and the Varsity at 5 PM. We'll see you there.              

 

 

Wildcats Football puts together another solid day of drills on both the Junior Varsity and Varsity levels
7/22/2016

By Mr. Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit July 2016

Cleveland, Ohio - Saint Ignatius' Junior Varsity and Varsity Football programs continued to display their versatility on Friday afternoon and early evening, as a bright sun and the 90-plus degree temperatures that accompanied it made themselves at home on the turf at Wasmer Field.

With Wildcats Hall of Fame Head Coach Chuck Kyle and his exceptional staff making sure the players were properly hydrated throughout the JV and Varsity drills, a hydration that also included a sprinkler adjacent to the water tank, Saint Ignatius wrapped up another mini camp on high notes.

Wildcats gifted senior tailback Jimmy Andrews , who is in tip-top condition, was running with vision, power, quickness and cutting balance throughout Friday evening's Varsity drills.

Jimmy, who looks slim and trim while still carrying his game-day weight of 190 to 195 pounds, had one word for the top shape he is in - "Rubino!"

Wildcats outstanding Strength and Conditioning Coach Anthony Rubino has earned the praise of every coach in Saint Ignatius' 16 Varsity Sports for the superb work he is doing with the Student Athletes at Cleveland's Jesuit Preparatory School.

As for the 'Cats' versatility, multi-skilled senior linebacker/tight end James Leyden wasted little time in putting that on display as he reached down with two hands and caught a low pass on the run that flirted with his shoelaces. No need for a review, my friends, it was just another Leyden special that we've grown accustom to.

A few minutes later, Leyden, reading the play from the get-go, stepped in front of a pass from his linebacker position and tacked up one for pick city.

Getting back to the ground game, junior Aidan Gill unleashed some power, balance and quickness from the running back/fullback positions. Aidan and Jimmy Andrews are products of Our Lady of Angels and Leyden also played some CYO football for OLA.

In making a case for the defense, junior linebacker Andrew Boldy batted away a pass across the middle and drew the praise of Wildcats' outstanding Linebackers Coach Ryan Franzinger.

In another example of Saint Ignatius' depth and versatility, tough and talented 6-foot-4 senior defensive end Michael Czaja put in some work at tight end on Friday evening and did more than a credible job.

Wildcats hard-nosed senior defensive lineman Patrick Viancourt was quick to refer to the nice work put in both Thursday and Friday by teammate Dante Cipriani, a ball-hawking senior defensive back, and senior quarterback Patrick Ryan and junior quarterbacks Daniel Alexander and Kyle Hall each had their moments off authoritative throws.

On the receiving end of several of those above-mentioned passes was reliable and athletic senior wide receiver Mike Lehto.  

It was great to see veteran Running Backs Coach Terry Fergus back at practice on Friday and also great to see Wildcats 2015 first-team All-Ohio quarterback Dennis Grosel '16 working with the Junior Varsity and Varsity quarterbacks and receivers on Friday. Dennis is going to assist veteran Offensive Coordinator Nick Restifo and Quarterbacks Coach Jim Cahill this summer and fall before leaving for Boston College in January, where he will be a preferred walk-on in the spring.

The early stages of Friday afternoon's Junior Varsity session saw Coach Kyle, Coach Restifo and Coach Mark Ruddy work with JV quarterbacks Patrick Delahunty, Michael Sarko and Caden Campolieti, along with promising tailback Jahadge "Bo" Floyd, on the vision and cuts of the running game off the timing of the pitch from the quarterback.

Campolieti, who also fired some smooth passes during Friday's drills, is another one of those versatile players who can line up at tight end and wide receiver. A couple his memorable throws on Friday went to wide receiver Nate Conry and tight end Jack Cannon.

Defensively for the Junior Varsity, cornerback Michael Mangan and linebacker Chris Velotta were among those finding the ball and disrupting the offensive flow, and defensive back/linebacker John Wetula drew a smile and a compliment from Coach Franzinger for the pressure he applied.

A reminder to the Junior Varsity and Varsity players to bring along their running shoes to practice on Monday (3 PM for JV and 5 PM for Varsity), as conditioning will take center stage on Wasmer Field. Again, pack your running shoes along with your football shoes/spikes.

See you at Wasmer Field on Monday. Have a great weekend, eat healthy and stay hydrated.    

 

After four mini camps and a 27-day break, Coach Chuck Kyle's Football Wildcats went back to work on Thursday
7/21/2016

By Mr. Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit July 2016

Cleveland, Ohio - The heat and humidity that hovered over Wasmer Field late Thursday afternoon and early evening were, as Saint Ignatius' Hall of Fame Head Football Coach Chuck Kyle pointed out, tempered a bit by the gray clouds spread around Ohio City.

From the moment the Junior Varsity Wildcats began their practice at 3 PM until the final play of a Varsity session that started at 5 and ended just before 7 PM, one thing was evident - the Football 'Cats were certainly not lacking in energy after a 27-day break that followed four mini camps in June.  

Some sharpening was needed, but then that's what preseason camps are for.

The effort and the heart, however, were there from the get-go on Thursday.

A CASE FOR THE DEFENSE: The opening of the Junior Varsity session featured a receivers versus defensive backs drill under the tutelage of Coach Kyle, defensive backfield coaches Pat Hinkel and Kevin Johnson, and wide receivers coach Josiah Kedzior.

Standing out in the early drill was sophomore defensive back Owen Adler, who picked off a pass and also came up with a strong reaction play on the ball along the left sideline toward the scoreboard end zone of Wasmer Field.

"Good stuff Adler," yelled Coach Hinkel, an All-Ohio defensive back/running back on Saint Ignatius' 2008 Division I State Championship Team, who went on to an outstanding football career at Miami of Ohio.

AIR 'CATS: "Beautiful, beautiful," yelled Coach Kedzior after Saint Ignatius sophomore quarterback Patrick Delahunty and sophomore wide receiver Luke Cooper were money on a slant pass across the middle.

Sophomore quarterback Mike Sarko also hooked up on a couple of nice completions to sure-handed sophomore tight end Jack Cannon during what was a nice series by Sarko and Cannon.

THE GOOD HANDS CLUB: The early entry on Thursday was promising sophomore wide receiver Nigel Drummond, who made a picture-perfect catch off a deep seam route in what was a textbook display of catching the ball with your hands.

RUN & RECEIVE: Practice on the Junior Varsity level ended with some nice runs by sophomore tailback Jahadge "Bo" Floyd, who has a knack for finding those seams, no matter how big or small, and another smooth connection from Delahunty to Cooper.

"LINEBACKER LEGION": It's no secret that Saint Ignatius' Varsity Wildcats have one of the finest linebacker corps in the area, led by seniors Adam Shibley, Johnny Velotta and James Leyden.

That LB efficiency was on display early and often in the evening's Varsity drills, as the "Legion" was roaming with passion. A reaction to the ball and pass breakup by Shibley drew a roar from Adam's teammates and his coaches.

DOUBLE DUTY: Leyden, who doubles at tight end, went up in the air in traffic and brought down the ball, and senior wide receiver/safety Mike Lehto put his track and field athleticism and soft hands on display by climbing the ladder down the middle and hauling in a high throw.

RELENTLESS CITY: The 'Cats' veteran defensive line, which will complement the "Legion" this fall, got some nice penetration and pressure up front from veterans Mike Chime, Joe Gibbons and Patrick Viancourt.

CAMPING: Saint Ignatius' gifted and gritty Junior Varsity quarterback Patrick Delahunty spent four days last month at the Archie, Eli and Peyton Manning Passing Academy in Louisiana.

Patrick said it was "really cool" to see the numerous college quarterbacks at the Manning Academy, including Baker Mayfield from Oklahoma.

"Getting better in everything I've already learned (at Saint Ignatius) and showing me a few new things," Patrick said of what he benefitted most from by attending the camp.

Saint Ignatius' gifted All-Northeast Lakes District and All-Ohio senior punter/kicker Colin Goodfellow has been scanning the globe this summer as far as his camp stops are concerned.

"The first one I went to was Kentucky, then Ohio State, Northwestern, North Carolina, James Madison, Pittsburgh and some small training camps," Colin said. "Tomorrow (Friday) all three of us kickers (Colin and juniors Matthew Trickett and Drew Alessandro) are going to Wales, Wisconsin for the big Kohl's Kicking camp.

"Traveling the country, it has been quite an experience," said Colin, who emphasized that he has been concentrating and focusing in on his punting and kickoffs.            

CLOSE TO HIS DECISION: Brendan DeVenney '17, one of the lead broadcasters for Saint Ignatius' outstanding Student Broadcasting Network, said he has John Carroll University, Mount Union and Canisius College at the top of his college list as he approaches his senior year.

"Canisius is partnering with ESPN for broadcasting its athletics, especially basketball and hockey," Brendan said. "John Carroll and Canisius are both Jesuit Schools and I definitely want to stay with the Catholic tradition and education."

Brendan pointed to John Carroll's sports broadcasting tradition, which includes "their phenomenal football and basketball teams," and the fact that John Carroll is close to home.

"Right now, they (the Blue Streaks of John Carroll) are probably one of the best opportunities for me," said Brendan, adding that Mount Union and Canisius are two and three, respectively, on his list.

For the time being, Brendan is going to focus on his senior year at Saint Ignatius and what should be another special fall season in Wildcats Athletics.

COACH KYLE TO APPEAR ON NEWS CHANNEL 5's "INSIDE THE CLEVELAND BROWNS." Members of the "Inside The Cleveland Browns" staff were at practice on Thursday to film some of the 'Cats' drills and to interview Coach Kyle on his innovative views for youth football and how to develop the proper safety measures at that level.

The show is schedule to air a week from this Sunday, July 31st, at 11 AM on News Channel 5.

A 1962 DIFFERENCE MAKER: In a battle for the West Senate Championship between the Wildcats and the West Tech Warriors at my old home away from home, West Tech Field, former Saint Ignatius standout defensive end and current longtime Assistant Football and Track and Field Coach Mr. Tom Flandera made a special teams play that was special in every sense of the word.

With the Wildcats clinging to a 6-0 lead, the Warriors received the second-half kickoff, but were forced to punt from deep in their territory.

Tom Flandera came charging through the line and blocked the punt, and the ball was recovered by Saint Ignatius tackle Larry Kellner. That set up a touchdown gallop and a two-point conversion run, both by standout quarterback Ray Kubacki, and the Wildcats never looked back as they defeated West Tech, 40-12, and advanced to the 32nd City Championship Game versus the Benedictine Bengals on Thanksgiving morning.

"That punt Tom Flandera blocked was the turning point for us," Saint Ignatius' legendary Head Coach John J. Wirtz told The Plain Dealer's Hall of Fame reporter Mr. Ed Chay. "It broke Tech's back. That broke the tension and made it easier."

After the Wildcats defeated Benedictine, 6-0, in the City Championship Game, Coach Wirtz also pointed to Tom Flandera and his defensive line teammates for their "ferocious play" versus the Bengals.

Following Tom Flandera's selection to the Universe Bulletin's All-Area, All-Catholic Team, Coach Wirtz described Tom as one of the all-time best to ever play the defensive end position at Saint Ignatius.

Yes, special in every sense of the word.

See you on Wasmer Field Friday, as camp resumes with the Junior Varsity at 3 PM and the Varsity at 5 PM.

 

The final night of Hall of Fame Coach Chuck Kyle's Youth Football Camp is highlighted by the "Traditional Linebackers Obstacle Course"
7/7/2016

By Mr. Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit July 2016

Ohio City - In what has been a tradition at the Wildcats' Youth Camp for many years, dating back to the days when Tony Antonelli was guiding some of the greatest defenses in Saint Ignatius' rich football history, the Linebackers Obstacle Course was definitely a special and extremely popular way to close out another marvelous three evenings for the campers, who are entering grades 5 through 8.

No matter what their age, the challenge of Thursday evening's Linebackers Obstacle Course, which included a test of tackling, footwork, balance, endurance and speed, quickly became a favorite among the young campers. It was a challenge they seemed to relish despite the 85 degree temperatures that lingered on a sun-drenched Wasmer Field.   

Under the direction of Saint Ignatius' outstanding Linebackers Coach Ryan Franzinger '02, Thursday evening's LBs Obstacle Course was highlighted by some exceptional times, including a 24.5 seconds effort by A.J. Spellacy, the brother of Wildcats All-Ohio Center, Captain and East Carolina recruit John Spellacy '17. A.J. will be entering the fifth grade at St. Raphael.

Andrew Chime, the brother of Saint Ignatius' standout defensive lineman Mike Chime '17, turned in a 24.7. Andrew is an aspiring quarterback from St. Albert The Great who will be entering the eighth grade.

As for Thursday's offensive line drills, which took place near the Lorain Avenue end zone under the guidance of Wildcats superb OL Coaches Adam Rini '99 and Paul Yappel, the campers were treated to a drill by John Spellacy that displayed the stance, technique and skills that are part of what makes John arguably the best at his position in the Buckeye State. Keeping your head up was the operative message in John's blocking drill.

Among those who seemed to enjoy John's drill, as well as the coaching he received from Coaches Rini and Yappel, was Marek Shannon, who will be entering the seventh grade at Our Lady of Angels. Marek said he plays on both the offensive and defensive lines at OLA.

A tip of the corner's cap goes out to Brian McGrath from St. Hillary in Fairlawn, who won his group's power ball toss that was part of the camp's strength and conditioning drills put forth by Saint Ignatius' outstanding Strength and Conditioning Coach Anthony Rubino. Brian is entering the fifth grade.

As the sun was setting on another marvelous camp by Saint Ignatius' storied Head Coach Chuck Kyle '69, the most successful Division I Football Coach in all of Northeast Ohio, Wildcats Defensive Coaches Dave Cicetti and Mark Sullivan, along with Mike Chime, allowed their final group to take part in a bit of spirited touch football near the scoreboard end zone of Wasmer Field.

That is one of the other special aspects of Coach Kyle's football camps, that all of the campers get to participate and learn in all facets of the game.

In closing, this corner would like to mention another camper, Joe Governal from Columbia Middle School.

From the first minute of camp on Wednesday until the final goodbyes Thursday night, Joe, without any urging, would always make sure that he thanked Coach Kyle and his staff for the coaching he received and the new experiences and friends he was able to encounter. Joe was particularly impressed with the outstanding messages that Coach Kyle delivered at the end of each camp, including Thursday night's closing message in which Coach Kyle referred to the Cavaliers' history-making NBA Championship Season and the work ethic that led up to it, particularly that of the great LeBron James.

On a personal note, this old-timer would like to again say Thank You to Coach Kyle and his staff for allowing me to take part in the Youth Camp. I not only derived strength from it, but it brought back some fond, fond memories of those days in the early '70s when this now graybeard was privileged to coach some very special grade-school football teams at Saint Ignatius of Antioch. Those Cougars will always have a special place in my heart and mind.             

 

 

Enthusiasm remains the operative word in describing Hall of Fame Coach Chuck Kyle's Youth Football Camp
7/6/2016

By Mr. Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit July 2016

Ohio City - With nearly their entire lives ahead them and carrying a carefree innocence that at times is both humorous and refreshing, the large contingent of boys attending Coach Chuck Kyle's Youth Football Camp came back for Wednesday evening's second session with even wider smiles than they brought to Wasmer Field on Tuesday.

The campers, entering grades 5 through 8, weren't about to let a few gray clouds and some light, but short drizzles of rain dampen their enthusiasm.

"Yeah, last night (Tuesday) was a lot of fun," said one young camper from Hudson, who couldn't wait to get back to the defensive line drills taught by Saint Ignatius' outstanding Defensive Assistant Coach Dave Cicetti and Wildcats standout defensive lineman Mike Chime '17.

With Coach Dr. Mike Gallagher's defending State Champion Cross Country Team using the running track that surrounds Wasmer Field for its Wednesday evening practice, the campers were treated to a double-dose presence of Saint Ignatius' athletic excellence.

As for the defensive line drills, Wednesday evening's emphasis was on getting off the ball and hand and eye coordination.

The defensive line drill that appeared to be the most popular among the campers, a competition if you will, saw Coach Cicetti and Mike Chime drop or bounce two rubber balls to the Wasmer Field turf and see which of the two down linemen could get out of his stance the quickest and scoop up or recover one of the balls.

As for Wildcats savvy linebackers Coach Ryan Franzinger '02, Wednesday evening's emphasis was on keeping containment and maintaining leverage in pursuit. Coach Franzinger and this corner couldn't help but smile, and even share a laugh or two, over the chatter and endless energy that some of the smallest campers displayed.

For one camper, who couldn't be over 4-foot and wearing a "There's No Crying in Baseball" T-shirt, the night could have gone on forever. At one point, he looked up at this 5-10 old-timer in the middle of a drill and asked, "Did you ever see (the Tom Hanks movie) 'A League of Their Own?'"

As the evening was coming to a close, a group of campers surrounded Saint Ignatius veteran Offensive Coordinator Nick Restifo, the man who has produced 16 All-Ohio quarterbacks at Cleveland's Jesuit Preparatory School, and were tutored in the proper technique of holding and gripping the ball and the ever-important stance by the quarterback, in which the off or non-throwing arm should be up, not down, in an L-like formation with the throwing arm.

AN IMPRESSIVE OBSERVER: Taking in Wednesday evening's camp was incoming Saint Ignatius Freshman Najee Lockett, a very promising student athlete who is looking to excel in the classroom, on the wrestling mat and the gridiron for Cleveland's Jesuit Preparatory School.

Najee, who is from Shaker Heights Middle School, quickly mentioned the first thing that attracted him to Saint Ignatius - a perspective from Mr. Jason Reed '95 of the Admissions Department. Jason's work as Director of Multicultural and Retention Services at St. Ignatius High School and the students he mentors speak volumes for the motto of "Men for Others."

"Mr. Reed told me a lot about the history of Saint Ignatius and I thought Saint Ignatius would be really suitable for me if I could adopt to the atmosphere," said Najee. "The campus, I really admire it. I think I will be able to progress and excel a lot at Saint Ignatius."

With the start of Wildcats Freshmen Football just around the corner, Najee said fullback and middle linebacker are the positions he has played in the past. He added that the 145-pound wrestling class is where he might evolve to as a freshman for Wildcats outstanding Head Wrestling Coach and Assistant Football Coach Mark Sullivan. 

COACH KYLE'S THIRD AND FINAL EVENING OF THE YOUTH FOOTBALL CAMP WILL TAKE PLACE TOMORROW (THURSDAY) EVENING AT 5 PM.   

 

Wildcats standout defensive lineman Mike Chime '17 cherishes his work at Coach Chuck Kyle's Youth Football Camp
7/5/2016

By Mr. Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit July 2016

Ohio City - It was a warm, but otherwise picture-perfect evening on sun-drenched Wasmer Field Tuesday night as Saint Ignatius' Hall of Fame Head Football Coach Chuck Kyle '69 and his outstanding staff presented the first of the annual three-day Wildcats Youth Football Camp.

And no one enjoyed the opportunity to work with the aspiring young athletes more than Saint Ignatius' strong and gifted defensive lineman Mike Chime, who has begun his senior season under Coach Kyle.

After a large group of wide-eyed and spirited youths entering grades 5 through 8 participated in offensive and defensive drills on the opening night of the camp, Chime, an integral part of what is expected to be a physical and active defense for the 2016 Varsity Football 'Cats, reflected on what it meant to him to be able to work with a group of kids that covered a significant portion of Greater Cleveland and Northeast Ohio.

From Fairview Park and Rocky River to Parma, North Royalton, Westlake, Medina, Mentor and Hudson, just to name a few cities, they came, they saw, they smiled and they learned.

"It was really cool, especially to be able to coach my brother," said Chime of his brother Andrew, who will be entering the eighth grade at St. Albert The Great as an aspiring quarterback. "It was fun to be able to tease him and stuff. The cool thing was the younger kids, they kind of look up to you. It's something you don't get to experience that often. It was great to be able to teach them the game we all love."

The kids were loving it, whether it was hauling in passes from Saint Ignatius' 2015 All-Ohio and All-District wide receiver/defensive back Jack Cook '16, who is bound for Harvard University, learning how to grip and throw the football from Wildcats celebrated offensive coordinator Nick Restifo, getting in various stances and charging off the snap count from 'Cats tireless offensive and defensive line coaches Adam Rini '99, Paul Yappel, Mark Sullivan and Dave Cicetti, or learning drops and footwork from Saint Ignatius' outstanding linebackers coach Ryan Franzinger '02, the enthusiasm was endless. So much so that one young camper commented on there being a large number of water breaks.

Hey, health and hydration will always come first at Coach Kyle's camp. Along with the veteran Varsity position coaches, the parents could rest easy knowing that Coach Kyle's staff includes one of the premier Strength and Conditioning Coaches in the nation, Mr. Anthony Rubino, and one of the premier Athletic Trainers in these United States, the savvy veteran, Mr. Hank Gaughan, A.T. C.

Also assisting Coach Kyle were former Wildcats Ian Woidke and Bryan Fisher, current Saint Ignatius center and captain John Spellacy '17, who is an East Carolina recruit and, in this corner's humble opinion, the best at his position in Ohio, and Wildcats football and track mainstay Quinn Lawless '16, who will be furthering his football career at Mercyhurst University in Erie (Pa.).

Bryan Fisher, who left it all on the field and the hardwood while excelling in football (defensive back), basketball and lacrosse at Saint Ignatius, was the 2012-13 recipient of the Wildcats' prestigious John J. Wirtz Award.

"It's a game I've grown to love," said Chime, as he and his brother Andrew were walking off Wasmer Field into a Cleveland sunset. "Giving something back to the game is truly a cool experience."

NOTE: Ian Woidke shared with us Tuesday night that his brother Kevin '15 is currently starting on the special teams' lines (extra points and field goals) for Coach Urban Meyer's The Ohio State University Buckeyes and moving up the depth chart. Ian said that Kevin checks in now at 6-foot-7 and 300 pounds.

The Coach Kyle Youth Football Camp will resume on Wednesday evening at 5 PM. 

 

Just FYI, this old-timer will take a corner's view at Saint Ignatius' Youth Football Camp, which will be presented by Hall of Fame Head Coach Chuck Kyle '69 and his staff on July 5-7 at Wasmer Field. The camp will run from 5:30 PM until 8 PM each day.
6/26/2016

The camp is for those entering the 5th through the 8th grade and the cost is $100.

For further information, call 216-651-0222, extension 222.

 

It was a play-making Thursday evening on Wasmer Field, as the Varsity Football Wildcats wrapped up their fourth mini camp of the summer
6/23/2016

By Mr. Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit June 2016

Ohio City - I don't think it would be a stretch to say that several of the 2016 Varsity Football Wildcats were trying to make a lasting impression on Thursday evening during what was the final mini camp before the team embarks on its summer break.

Chuck Kyle '69, who has begun his 34th season as his alma mater's Hall of Fame Head Coach, will welcome his Wildcats back to camp on July 21st.

With the misty rain and gray clouds that hovered over Thursday afternoon's Junior Varsity camp being overtaken by partly sunny and blue-gray skies, the Varsity Wildcats were competing against one another with an enthusiasm and aggressiveness that every coach in America covets.

In what was the most entertaining offense versus defense match drill of the first four camps, there was nothing mini about the efforts displayed on both sides of the ball.

Operating behind what has the potential to be one of the premier offensive lines in the state, junior running back Aidan Gill got things started for the O with a quick burst over the left side. That was followed by consecutive runs from senior tailback Dean "The Dream" Stowers that saw Dean display his balance and ability to bounce to the outside.

Gritty junior tailback Mark Bobinski added an authoritative run over the left side and also helping fuel the ground control was senior running back Daryl Forrest.

During the drill, Saint Ignatius' outstanding Offensive Line Coach Adam Rini '99 had some complimentary words for the efforts put forth by two of his younger linemen - juniors Toby Engel and John "Jack" Jamieson.

The highlight of the evening was the back and forth playmaking by the Cats' passing offense and defensive secondary. It was a good old can you top this?

Saint Ignatius' receiving corps might not be households names to the Wildcats' faithful just yet, but seniors Travis Pot, Ryan Cook, Riley Kinzel, Michael Daugenti and Mke Lehto, along with promising juniors Sam Snyder, Michael Drobnick and Connor Kennedy, among others, will be changing that unknown or not familiar with tag.

All of the above came up with big-time receptions off the accurate and full-of-fire throws by senior quarterback Patrick Ryan and junior quarterback Kyle Hall.

A CASE FOR THE DEFENSE: "That was a heck of an athletic play, by both of them," said Wildcats Assistant Coach and former two-way All-Ohio standout Mark Ruddy '90 after gifted senior linebacker James Leyden broke on the ball for a pass break-up that saw the pigskin fly up in the air and picked off by senior defensive back Conor McGrath for an interception return.

Pot, who doubles as a safety, complemented his numerous receptions with a leaping interception and Lehto, who also sees time at safety, made a smooth reaction to a tipped ball for an interception.

Senior cornerback and ice hockey standout Matt Wiegandt followed his picture-perfect sideline interception on Wednesday with two more picks on Thursday, including another nose-for-the-ball move along the sideline.

NAME TO REMEMBER: During the Junior Varsity Drills, sophomore defensive back Michael Mangan snuffed out the play, made a strong move on the ball and came up with an interception. The future of the defensive secondary is in good hands. 

CAMPING: Wildcats sophomore quarterback Patrick Delahunty is investing his time and money at the Peyton Manning Passing Camp this week and multi-skilled senior punter/kicker Colin Goodfellow has been at a number of camps, including recent trips to Northwestern and James Madison.

CONGRATULATIONS: Goes out to former Wildcats defensive mainstay Patrick Hopkins '14, who has joined the Wildcats' staff as a Freshmen Linebackers Coach.

ON HAND: At Wasmer Field on Thursday evening was Saint Ignatius' 2015 first-team All-Ohio Quarterback and three-year baseball mainstay Dennis Grosel '16. As we reported on the corner last week, Dennis will be furthering his education (in the winter) and football career (in the spring) at Boston College. During his time in Cleveland this summer and fall, Dennis will help out his mentor, Wildcats veteran Offensive Coordinator Nick Restifo.    

 

Wildcats developing their "mindset" as the Junior Varsity and Varsity Football mini camps resumed on Wednesday
6/22/2016

By Mr. Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit June 2016

Ohio City - With a large contingent of fans from the Cavaliers' NBA Championship Celebration Parade making its way home by walking up Lorain Avenue past Wasmer Field on Wednesday afternoon and evening, Coach Chuck Kyle's Junior Varsity and Varsity Football Wildcats were getting back in a preseason mindset after being off for 12 days.

Wednesday's mini camp got underway with a Junior Varsity turnout that, although small in numbers, was anxious to continue the all-important, one-step-ahead learning process that these early non-mandatory mini camps provide.

After the Junior Varsity practice, Coach Kyle suggested to the JV Cats to take the traditional "ten seconds" and think about what they are going to do tomorrow even better than they performed it on Wednesday, a specific drill, technique or aspect of the game. As Coach Kyle said, that has to become their mindset.

And that mindset will allow the sophomore Cats to realize just how much they are learning and improving.

As we look forward to Thursday's Junior Varsity (3 PM) and Varsity (5 PM) camps, here are some highlights and tidbits from Wednesday's work on Wasmer Field.

Young Arms: With some of the Cavs' Parade crowd stopping to take a look, sophomore quarterbacks Patrick Delahunty and Mike Sarko each made some nice throws during Wednesday's opening JV drills.

A lot of promise: Six-foot-four, 215-pound sophomore defensive lineman/tight end/linebacker Aidan Wells, who left an impression on this old-timer with his determination during Saint Ignatius' victory over St. Edward in a Freshman Basketball Game at the Eagles Nest last winter, displayed some of that same hustle during Wednesday's drills.

Defense, defense: The JV Cats spent a good portion of their practice working on what the coaches described as "universal" or "basic" defensive containment drills and strip-and-scoop drills.

Ivy League Camping: Wildcats gifted senior Varsity Quarterback Patrick Ryan was kind enough to share with the corner that he attended the Yale and Harvard Camps over the weekend and that he will be at the Penn camp on Saturday and the Princeton camp on Monday.

Pass defense heard from: Standout senior linebacker Adam Shibley made a savvy move in coverage that drew a nice response from veteran Linebackers Coach Ryan Franzinger '02, senior defensive back Thomas Barrett displayed some heads-up reaction in coming up with an interception return off a tipped pass, senior defensive back Matt Wiegandt, a mainstay on Coach Pat O'Rourke's 2016 State Champion Ice Hockey Team, made a quick move on the ball that led to his interception return, and senior defensive back Antonino Casola stepped in front of what appeared to be an open receiver and batted the ball away with authority.

Air Cats: Junior quarterback Kyle Hall unleashed some nice throws in the offensive-defensive match drills, including a strike to senior wide out Travis Pot off a nice look and route, and two smooth swings passes in the flat to junior running backs Casey Reilly and Mark Bobinski that drew the praise of veteran Offensive Coordinator Nick Restifo.

Patrick Ryan finished strong with a couple of on-the-money passes to Pot and senior wide out Riley Kinzel.

Ground Control: Senior tailback Jimmy Andrews stood out in the running drills with his strong and quick bursts.

We'll see you tomorrow on Wasmer Field, again 3 PM for Junior Varsity and 5 PM for Varsity.    

 

From Mentor to West Park to Nordonia, Coach Nick Restifo's All-Ohio Quarterback/Receiver Academy scanned the state of Ohio globe
6/14/2016

By Mr. Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit June 2016

Ohio City - A total of 75 aspiring football players (38 quarterbacks and 37 receivers) entering the sixth to ninth grade arrived at Wasmer Field bright and early on Saturday morning and were treated to some of the finest coaching and teaching you will find when it comes to a youth camp in the state of Ohio.

Under the direction of Saint Ignatius' Nick Restfo, who has guided 16 All-Ohio quarterbacks in his 35 years as the Wildcats' highly successful Offensive Coordinator, the All-Oho Quarterback/Receiver Academy staff included John Carroll University Receivers Coach Brian Beigie; Saint Ignatius Assistant Coach/Quarterbacks Coach Jim Cahill; Wildcats Receivers Coach Josiah Kedzior; University of Akron quarterback Matt Hoyer, who was also a quarterback and a standout pitcher at Saint Ignatius; former John Carroll and Solon quarterback Pat Kramer; Wildcats All-Ohio quarterback Dennis Grosel '16 and All-Ohio wide receiver Jack Cook '16; former Wildcats All-Ohio wide receiver/defensive back Mark Ruddy '90, who is currently an Assistant Coach for the Cats, and St. Ignatius junior quarterback Daniel Alexander and sophomore quarterback Patrick Delahunty.

Along with receiving, route running, footwork and passing drills, the well-mannered, respectful, attentive and easy to smile campers took part in competition drills in which the winners were awarded with Wendy's gift cards. Coach Restifo also gathered with campers for a Saint Ignatius trivia contest, such as how many state football titles have the Cats won and when was the last state  football title for the Cats? The trivia winners were also given a Wendy's gift card. Another Wendy's card went to a young man who sang the Saint Ignatius Alma Mater without missing beat, and with enthusiasm.

With a good number of parents and/or family members also braving the 90-plus degree temperatures at Wasmer Field, Dennis Grosel and Jack Cook spoke to the wide-eyed campers about the impact academics-first Saint Ignatius has had on their lives and how Cleveland's Jesuit Preparatory School has a tremendous teaching staff that makes going to the classroom every day something to look forward to. Jack emphasized that Saint Ignatius' teachers will go out of their way to help you hit your academic stride.

While Dennis and Jack were speaking, the sixth and seventh graders in particular were captivated by their every word.

"The main thing was just kind of looking back," said Grosel of what he enjoyed most while working with the kids on Saturday morning/early afternoon. "I was in those shoes not too long ago and it felt like not long ago. It's kind of humbling and exciting to see how far we've come."

"It's kind of cool that just because we've graduated, we're still part of the Saint Ignatius football family," Cook said, who will be furthering his education and athletic career at Harvard University. "Just to be able to put the name with the face, that's Dennis Grosel, he started at Varsity quarterback for two years. Kids are going to come out just to work with him for a couple of hours on a Saturday when they have a lot of other stuff going on. It's just building on that Saint Ignatius family, that they could be where we are in a couple of years.

"It's definitely different from the coaching standpoint, where you have to figure out a way to apply and explain it so they can excel, too," Jack continued when asked what it felt like to be the coach on Saturday. "They're not 18, obviously, so we had to adjust to sixth through ninth graders and figure out a terminology that they would understand."

"From a coaching standpoint, I can understand when coaches say they learn a lot from their kids," said Dennis of his opportunity on Saturday to apply what he learned from Coach Restifo and others the past four years. "It's neat, it's fun to see the kids grow throughout a three-hour period. They didn't know what a three-step drop was, and now they're mastering it.

"It's fun to see them grow and it's fun to know that you have been a big part of it," continued Dennis, who just recently completed an outstanding baseball career for Coach Brad Ganor's 2016 Division I State Semifinalist Wildcats.

FROM COACH RESTIFO: "With the heat, we had to have a few more water breaks for the kids, but overall I thought the camp was well-structured," said Coach Restifo. "I have to thank Tom Arth (John Carroll University Head Football Coach and former Wildcats All-Ohio quarterback) for that.

"We had a good cross section of kids, kids going into to the sixth grade all the way to the ninth grade," Coach Restifo said. "We had some Saint Ignatius Wildcats who will be enrolled in August, so it was great to see them. There were a lot of kids from Summer Enrichment. I think they learned a lot and got a lot out of it. We had a great staff of coaches out there explaining things to them, very encouraging and very positive.

"I think the kids had a good time and the parents enjoyed it, too," Coach Restifo continued.

So did this old-timer, who met some young campers whose parents and/or uncles and aunts I covered and reported on during their athletic careers.

We'll see you at Wasmer Field on June 22nd for the third session of Junior Varsity (3 PM) and Varsity (5 PM) football mini camps.  

 

For our faithful readers of the corner's pigskin pocket
6/13/2016

By Mr. Eddie Dwyer

For those who inquired, yes, Coach Jim McQuaide's Solon Comets, coming off their solid OHSAA playoff season of 2015, will visit Wasmer Field on Aug. 9th for the annual preseason practice/drills with Coach Chuck Kyle's Football Wildcats. The action will get underway at 10 AM.

Solon's OHSAA playoff appearance in 2015 was the football program's 20th.

While the OHSAA prefers not to use the word scrimmage for the first preseason outing, anyone who has followed what has become a summer tradition between two great coaches and two exceptional schools knows that the Comets and the Wildcats traditionally cap off their drills/practice with a competitive offensive and defensive matchup, some seven on seven, etc.

It is always a pleasure and a privilege to cover and report on this preseason opener, as this old-timer had the honor of covering several Coach Kyle-Coach McQuaide matchups during my nearly 40 years at The Plain Dealer.

Ah yes, Oct. 23rd, 1993 in Lakewood Stadium, aka "The Madhouse on Madision." Coach Kyle's Cats 35, Coach McQuaide's St. Edward Eagles 34, in triple overtime. The greatest test of wills this veteran reporter ever witnessed and reported on in any high school sport.

A close second is the Nov. 11, 1989, 31-30 regional-final football triumph over Coach Tom Banc's Euclid Panthers and his legendary tailback Robert Smith, who also played some quarterback that night in then Baldwin-Wallace College's Finnie Stadium (now Baldwin Wallace University). Can you say Pickens to Jaeckin, aka the "Immaculate Reception"? 

In response to some of our other avid fans, yes, the annual Preseason Jamboree between the Football Wildcats and the Canton McKinley Bulldogs will continue this summer, only at a different site.

Because of the construction and renovations going on at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, formerly legendary Fawcett Stadium, the Varsity Teams from Saint Ignatius and McKinley will wrap up their preseasons on Aug. 19th at 7 PM in Canton Central Catholic's Lowell Klinefelter Stadium. Although it is the final preseason tune-up, the Jamboree will be played under regular game conditions and there will be an admission charge.

Just a little Stark County history from someone who has had the privilege of covering OHSAA Football Playoff Games at Canton Central Catholic. Lowell Klinefelter Stadium is named after "The Dean of Stark County Football Coaches."

Lowell Klinefelter Stadium is located off Klinefelter Boulevard and is partially surrounded by "The Great Serpentine Wall."

Wasmer Field can boast as its surroundings, legendary Lorain Avenue, some quaint Ohio City homes, whose backyards and gardens have been visited by field goals and extra points from the scoreboard end zone, the historic Carroll Gym, a "press box" where the SIBN, the scoreboard operator, a film man and yours truly somehow all manage to share on a rainy or snowy night (otherwise you see this graybeard on the sideline) and last, but not least, the Great Lakes Brewing Company.

And, off in the distance are the Terminal Tower and the clock tower of the West Side Market.

Hey, you know what? When the fall arrives and I am covering a Junior Varsity Football Game on a Saturday morning under a blue-gray sky and surrounded by the colored trees that accompany those quaint homes, there isn't a better setting in the world.

I'll see you at Wasmer Field tomorrow (Saturday) morning for Coach Nick Restifo's All-Ohio Quarterback/Receiver Academy (see the corner's post from this morning).

Have a wonderful and safe weekend. How about those Cleveland Indians?      

 

The corner wishes all of the best to 2015 Senior Captain/Linebacker/Fullback Ben Cray, who is scheduled to play in Friday night's annual Greater Cleveland Football Coaches Association East-West All-Star Game
6/10/2016

By Mr. Eddie Dwyer

As we reported on the corner back in April, the 44th Annual Greater Cleveland Football Coaches Association East-West High School All-Star Scholarship Game is scheduled for tomorrow (Friday) night in John Carroll University's Don Shula Stadium. The kickoff is slated for 7 PM and tickets will be on sale at the gates for $8.

Ben '16 will be representing Coach Chuck Kyle's Saint Ignatius Wildcats as a member of the West Team. The annual GCFCA All-Star Game is presented by The Cleveland Browns and University Hospitals.

The corner congratulates Ben, a first-class young man that this old-timer had the privilege and pleasure to cover and report on during his football career at Cleveland's Jesuit Preparatory School. Congrats also go out to Ben's family, Coach Kyle, Ben's position coaches during his Varsity career at Saint Ignatius - Ryan Franzinger '02, Dave Cicetti and Terry Fergus '72 - and the entire Saint Ignatius Football Program.

Patrick Ryan was firing the pigskin, Sam Snyder was hauling in just about everything thrown his way and the Junior Varsity Cats also had their moments. Day 2 of Wildcats Football mini camps is in the books.
6/10/2016

By Mr. Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit June 2016

Ohio City - After another day of learning, adjusting and, in many cases, performing quite well, the Saint Ignatius Football Wildcats wrapped up their second mini camp on Thursday afternoon/evening in both the Junior Varsity and Varsity levels.

Thursday's spirited drills under the blue sky that hovered over Wasmer Field wrapped up the first session of camps for the 2016 preseason. The JV and Varsity Cats will return for round 2 of mini camps on June 22nd and 23rd. Those sessions will begin at 3 PM each day for the Junior Varsity, followed by the Varsity drills at 5 PM.

Here is a look at some of the above-mentioned highlights from Thursday, as the corner counts down the days until June 22nd.

A visit to Pick City: Starting the highlight reel for the Junior Varsity were defensive back Danny Scelza and linebacker Tommy Eichenberg, as they displayed range and a nose for the ball in coming up with perfectly timed interceptions.

"Bo" creates space: Tailback Jahadge "Bo" Floyd, who left a lasting impression on this old-timer at the freshmen level last fall, turned what looked like a play headed for nowhere into an impressive gain off his sharp cut and move inside.

"Nice cut, Bo!" yelled Saint Ignatius' Assistant Coach Jim Cahill, who helped hone Bo's skills last season.

A Delahunty-Drummond combo: A strong throw down the right sideline in the direction of the Lorain Avenue goal line by sophomore quarterback Patrick Delahunty to sophomore wide receiver Nigel Drummond, a play that saw Nigel display good hands and the ability to adjust to the ball, drew a large roar of approval from the JV players along the home sideline of Wasmer Field. It was a pitch and catch that also brought a smile from former Wildcats standout wide receiver/defensive back Mark Ruddy '90, now an Assistant Coach for the Cats. In the days of the UPI and AP, Coach Ruddy garnered All-State honors at both of his high school positions and he was also selected by the storied Massillon Tigers to their All-Opponents Team.

Roaming the secondary: Along with Scelza and Eichenberg, Jake Reali was making his presence felt in the defensive secondary with quick-reaction moves to the ball.

The Good Hands Club:  A diving, two-handed reception across the middle by wide receiver Anthony Pilla drew a wow from this corner, as Anthony secured the football while his hands and body were just inches off the turf.

Getting the Varsity started: Senior safety Michael DeCicco flew from almost one side of the field to the other in batting away a pass that had completion written all over it. That effort highlighted what was a solid afternoon from Michael.  

Patrick Ryan firing on all cylinders: Senior quarterback Patrick Ryan was making all of his throws, both intermediate and long, and a few that misfired could have been caught.

Sure hands Sam: The sun was becoming a bit of a factor late in the Varsity drills, but that didn't seem to bother junior wide receive receiver Sam Snyder, who hauled in just about everything thrown in his direction, whether it meant making an exceptional adjustment with his hands while on the move or climbing the ladder.

A case for the defense: Standout senior linebacker Adam Shibley, reading the play all of the way, stepped in front of a pass along the left sideline of Wasmer Field for what would have been a pick-six in a regular game.

And last, but certainly not least: Senior safety Tom Barrett made an exceptional reaction in breaking up a pass with one hand, an effort that pleased his coaches.

The 40 times: A good number of the Wildcats' Varsity defenders were comfortably under 5.0 and senior tailback Jimmy Andrews, who will get faster as the season progresses, ran a 4.7. Jimmy said his start was off a bit, so he can't be disappointed with that time.

We will see you on June 22 at Wasmer Field.    

 

Now that we filled you in on the latest news from the OHSAA, here is the corner's first mini camp report for the 2016 Saint Ignatius gridiron season
6/10/2016

By Mr. Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit June 2016

Ohio City - After a 2015-16 School Year that saw the Saint Ignatius Wildcats bring home five OHSAA State Championships -  Soccer (also a National Champion), Cross Country, Ice Hockey, Track and Field and Kaden Russell's 182-pound OHSAA State Wrestling Championship, the Cats' 2016-17 sports season officially got underway on Wednesday afternoon/evening with the first mini camp for the 2016 Football Wildcats.

On what was a picture-perfect day and evening, more reminiscent of early fall than early June, the Junior Varsity and Varsity Football Wildcats took Wasmer Field under the direction of Hall of Fame Head Coach Chuck Kyle, who officially began his 34th season as the director of one of the most storied programs in Ohio and the nation.

A promising group of Junior Varsity sophomores, young men who created some fond memories during their Freshmen Football Season of 2015, got things started.

Coach Kyle emphasized to all of his Wildcats, from the wide-eyed sophomores to the seasoned seniors, that mini camps are a learning experience. The purpose is to strive to learn or grasp something each day, so tomorrow Coach Kyle and his outstanding staff can move on to something new.

Here is a look at some of Wednesday evening's Varsity mini camp highlights, as a season rich in promise awaits what the lessons of the summer will bring.

QBs Unleashed: During the seven-on-seven passing drills, both senior quarterback Patrick Ryan and junior signal-caller Kyle Hall made some impressive and authoritative throws. The Cats have some big shoes to fill with the graduation of 2015 first-team All-Ohio quarterback and two-time all-district selection, Dennis Grosel.  

Ryan and Hall performed well for the first time out, while receiving sound advice from Saint Ignatius' Offensive Coordinator of 35 years, Coach Nick Restifo. Coach Restifo has developed the skills of 16 All-Ohio quarterbacks at Saint Ignatius, including Parade All-Americans Joe Pickens  and Scott Mutryn, and NFL QBs Brian Hoyer (now with the Chicago Bears) and Tom Arth (the Head Football Coach at John Carroll University).

Some new faces, but sure hands: Saint Ignatius did graduate some big-time receivers from last season, including all-state and all-district honorees Jack Cook and Cal Grbac. However, if the first mini camp was any indication, the reinforcements are ready, willing and very able.

Among the receiving corps' many names to remember are Michael Drobnick, who stood out in last year's impressive victory over St. Edward's jayvees and made some nice grabs on Wednesday evening, Mike Lehto, who will also double in the defensive secondary, Ryan Cook, Jack's brother, Michael Daugenti and the versatile Connor Kennedy. And there are plenty more who will surface as the summer goes on.

Ground game: Senior Jimmy Andrews, a two-year mainstay, returns at tailback and senior Dean "The Dream" Stowers will continue to contribute as a runner, a receiver and a kick returner.

Dean "The Dream," with that oh so familiar smile, turned to this old-timer Wednesday evening and said, "I'm ready."

Also adding to what should be a strong and versatile ground attack will be junior tailback Mark Bobinski, who is coming off an outstanding Junior Varsity season.

The strengths entering the summer: Right now, this corner looks at a defense led by veteran linemen Mike Chime, Joe Gibbons, Pat Viancourt and Michael Czaja, and the gifted linebacker foursome of Adam Shibley, Johnny Velotta, James Leyden and Ben Delhees as one of the Wildcats' two major strengths.

The other strength is up front on offense, where senior center John Spellacy, an East Carolina recruit, has begun his third season as an anchor for Offensive Line Coaches Adam Rini  and Paul Yappel. Surrounding John on Wednesday evening were a fearsome foursome of senior tackle Brian Almady, senior guard Brendan Lenhard, junior guard John "Jack" Jamieson and junior tackle Darian Kinnard. There is plenty of size and power along the O-Line.

Oh Captain, My Captain: As we reported in the winter, John Spellacy and Johnny Velotta are two of Coach Kyle's four captains for 2016. The other two will be selected during summer practice, one by the players and the other by the coaching staff.

Camping: James Leyden, who also doubles as a tight end, was excused from Wednesday's mini camp so he could attend the Ohio University Bobcats' Satellite Camp at Bedford Bearcat Stadium.

Note: Thursday's JV and Varsity mini camps will start at 2:45 PM and 4:45 PM, respectively, so Coach Kyle can time his Wildcats in the 40.

See you on Wasmer Field for Day 2.                    

 

For the first time since 1980, the OHSAA Division I football playoffs will be played on Friday night
6/10/2016

Posted By Mr. Eddie Dwyer, a strong advocate of high school football's Friday Night Lights. Thank You, OHSAA! 

FROM THE OHIO HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION

The Ohio High School Athletic Association’s Board of Directors has approved the 2016 football tournament regulations, which include moving all Division I football playoff games to Friday nights in November for the first time since 1980. Joining Division I on Friday nights at 7:30 p.m. will be playoff games in Divisions II, IV and VI, while Saturday games will include Divisions III, V and VII at 7 p.m.

For several years, attendance has decreased at Division I games in November, primarily due to some fans opting for college games, which include more night games. In addition, fewer facilities are available on Saturdays due to other school functions or staff not being available.

“In Ohio’s larger cities where the Division I schools are located, we have been competing with college games and other events on Saturdays, both in terms of fans and facilities being available,” Beau Rugg, OHSAA Assistant Commissioner and football administrator, said. “Moving Division I playoff games to Friday nights has been something our football tournament committee has been thinking about for a couple years. With the endorsement of the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association, we felt it was the right time to make the change, and the OHSAA Board of Directors agreed.”

Since 1980, Division I playoff games have been on Saturdays except for a few games in 2001 and 2006.

A total of 716 schools will begin the season in August aiming for one of 224 playoff berths announced on Sunday, Oct. 30. Approved along with the football tournament regulations are the lists of schools within each division and region, as well as the regional boundary maps. That information is posted on the football page at OHSAA.org: http://www.ohsaa.org/sports/ft/boys/default.asp.

The 2016-17 school year is the second year of the OHSAA’s current two-year enrollment and divisional alignment cycle. During the 2016-17 school year, the OHSAA will again work with the Ohio Department of Education to determine enrollment counts to be used for the next two-year cycle (2017-18 and 2018-19 school years). Those new enrollment numbers will be combined with the competitive balance roster data that schools will submit on a sport-by-sport basis in football, soccer, volleyball, basketball, baseball and softball.

The football tournament regulations were approved by the board at its June meeting last Thursday in Columbus as the OHSAA’s spring state tournaments in baseball, softball and track and field got underway.

Also of note, in April (reported on the corner at that time) the board approved changing Division I back to a four region format instead of the two region format that existed in 2013, 2014 and 2015. More information on that change is posted at: http://www.ohsaa.org/news/sports/20160414football.pdf

2016 OHSAA Football Schedule

Week of August 22 – Regular-Season Begins

Tuesday, Sept. 20 – First Computer Point Standings Released (every Tuesday afternoon for remainder of season)

Saturday, Oct. 29 – Regular-Season Ends

Sunday, Oct. 30 – Final Computer Points Posted; Playoff Qualifiers and Pairings Announced

Friday, Nov. 4 – Divisions I, II, IV and VI Regional Quarterfinals

Saturday, Nov. 5 – Divisions III, V and VII Regional Quarterfinals

Friday, Nov. 11 – Divisions I, II, IV and VI Regional Semifinals

Saturday, Nov. 12 – Divisions III, V and VII Regional Semifinals

Friday, Nov. 18 – Divisions I, II, IV and VI Regional Finals

Saturday, Nov. 19 – Divisions III, V and VII Regional Finals

Friday, Nov. 25 – Divisions I, II, IV and VI State Semifinals

Saturday, Nov. 26 – Divisions III, V and VII State Semifinals

Thursday, December 1 – State Championships Begin at Ohio Stadium (One Game Only – Division I, II, IV or VI)

Friday, December 2 – State Championships Continue at Ohio Stadium (Three Games – Division I, II, IV or VI)

Saturday, December 3 – State Championships Continue at Ohio Stadium (Three Games – Divisions III, V and VII).

 

 

 

 

Before the corner lays this old catcher's body on his declining recliner, a tip of my many caps goes out to Cats outstanding senior center John Spellacy, who has announced that he has committed to East Carolina University
4/25/2016

By Mr. Eddie Dwyer

John, who this old-timer of the gridiron has referred to many times as the best center in Ohio and best man in the middle I have seen in many, many years, is coming off a 2015 season that saw him earn All-Northeast Lakes District and All-State recognition.

In 2016, John is joining Wildcats standout linebacker Johnny Velotta as two of the Wildcats' four Captains. The two other Captains will be announced during the summer practices.

Again, congratulations to John, the Spellacy family, Wildcats Head Coach Chuck Kyle, Cats outstanding Offensive Line Coach Adam Rini and the entire Saint Ignatius Football Program.

God Bless and all of the best John, now and in the future. I'll see you on Wasmer Field soon.    

 

The corner congratulates Wildcats 2015 Captain/Linebacker/Fullback Ben Cray for being selected to compete in the annual Greater Cleveland Football Coaches Association All-Star Game
4/15/2016

By Mr. Eddie Dwyer

The 44th Annual Greater Cleveland Football Coaches Association East-West High School All-Star Scholarship Game will be played on June 10th in John Carroll University's Don Shula Stadium. The kickoff will be 7 PM and tickets will be on sale at the gates that evening for $8.

Ben '16 will be representing Coach Chuck Kyle's Saint Ignatius Wildcats as a member of the West Team. The annual GCFCA All-Star Game is presented by The Cleveland Browns and University Hospitals.

The corner congratulates Ben, a first-class young man that this old-timer had the privilege and pleasure to cover and report on during his football career at Cleveland's Jesuit Preparatory School. Congrats also go out to Ben's family, Coach Kyle, Wildcats linebacker coaches Ryan Franzinger '02 and Dave Cicetti, running backs coach Terry Fergus '72 and the entire Saint Ignatius Football Program.      

 

Saint Ignatius Head Football and Track and Field Coach Chuck Kyle '69 to be inducted into the National High School Hall of Fame
3/1/2016

By Eddie Dwyer, with the release courtesy of the National Federation of State High School Associations.

Coach Chuck Kyle '69, who has won an area-best 321 games, a record 11 Division I state championships, three national titles and a national and state runner-up in his 33 years as his alma mater's Head Football Coach, is one of four coaches, five athletes, two administrators and one contest official who will be inducted into the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) National High School Hall of Fame July 2 at the Peppermill Resort in Reno, Nevada. The 34th Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will be the closing event of the 97th annual NFHS Summer Meeting.

Along with Coach Kyle, the other coaches who will be honored this year are Peg Kopec, who retired last year after winning 12 state championships in 42 years as girls volleyball coach at St. Francis High School in Wheaton, Illinois; Pete Boudreaux, who has won an amazing 43 state championships in cross country, indoor track and field, and outdoor track and field at Baton Rouge (Louisiana) Catholic High School; and Jack Holloway, who led his wrestling teams at New Castle (Delaware) William Penn High School to seven state championships and 13 undefeated seasons during his 25-year career.

The most celebrated high school football coach in the Greater Cleveland area and the most successful Division I coach in Northeast Ohio, Coach Kyle is a four-time Associated Press Division I Coach of the Year who set a state record by guiding his Saint Ignatius teams to 22 consecutive OHSAA playoff appearances (1988-2009). His Wildcats, who have made 26 OHSAA playoff appearances overall, have put together numerous winning streaks, including a high of 39 consecutive victories.  

In the summer of 1994, Coach Kyle led Ohio to a resounding victory over Pennsylvania in the Big 33 All-Star Football Game played in Hershey, Pa., and in the summer of 2009, in then legendary Canton Fawcett Stadium, he guided Team USA to the International Federation of American Football Junior World Championship. In bringing home the Gold Medal, Team USA, which included former Saint Ignatius and Miami of Ohio great Pat Hinkel '09, currently an Assistant Coach for the Wildcats, was dominant from start to finish.

Coach Kyle received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission in 2009, in 2010 he was inducted into the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame, and in 2013 he was inducted into the Greater Cleveland Sports Hall of Fame.

A longtime member of  Saint Ignatius' English Department, Coach Kyle brings the same love and passion he has for football into the classroom every day.  

A former standout running back at Saint Ignatius under the late coaching legend, Mr. John J. Wirtz, Coach Kyle has also guided the Wildcats' track and field program for more than four decades. His Wildcats track and field teams have numerous District Championships throughout Northeast Ohio and in 2001 they brought home the Division I State Championship. In 2005, Coach Kyle's track and field Cats were the big-school state runner-up.

Coach Kyle's accomplishments and dedication to the sport of track and field earned him an induction into the Ohio Cross Country and Track and Field Coaches Association's Hall of Fame.

The two administrators who are part of the 2016 NFHS Hall of Fame class are Tim Flannery, who served on the NFHS staff for 16 years and was responsible for starting the highly successful NFHS Coach Education Program. Tim had a 30-year career in Ohio, including 15 years as the Director of Athletics at North Olmsted High School, and Ennis Proctor, who retired in 2011 after 20 years as executive director of the Mississippi High School Activities Association.

The five athletes to be inducted by the NFHS are Steve Spurrier, a three-sport standout at Science Hill High School in Johnson City, Tennessee, before his highly successful collegiate career as a player and coach; Marlin Briscoe, an outstanding football and basketball player at Omaha (Nebraska) South High School prior to becoming the first African-American starting quarterback in the National Football League; Joni Huntley, a three-sport athlete at Sheridan (Oregon) High School in the early 1970s who later competed in the high jump at two Olympics; Tom Southall, who overcame a physical disability to become one of the best athletes in Colorado history at Steamboat Springs High School (1979-81), and the late Ken Beardslee, one of the top pitchers in high school baseball history during his three years (1947-49) at Vermontville (Michigan) High School.

Rounding out the 2016 class is the late Eugene “Lefty” Wright, a cross country and track and field contest official in Minnesota for almost 50 years. 

The National High School Hall of Fame was started in 1982 by the NFHS to honor high school athletes, coaches, contest officials, administrators, performing arts coaches/directors and others for their extraordinary achievements and accomplishments in high school sports and performing arts programs. This year’s class increases the number of individuals in the Hall of Fame to 447.

The 12 individuals were chosen after a two-level selection process involving a screening committee composed of active high school state association administrators, coaches and officials, and a final selection committee composed of coaches, former athletes, state association officials, media representatives and educational leaders. Nominations were made through NFHS member associations.

Liam Eichenberg commits to The University of Notre Dame
2/4/2016

SAINT IGNATIUS FOOTBALL COMPLETES ITS REGULAR SEASON SCHEDULE FOR 2016 WITH A TWO-YEAR AGREEMENT VERSUS THE GOLDEN EAGLES OF CANTON GLENOAK
1/11/2016

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit January 11, 2016

Cleveland, Ohio - Coach Chuck Kyle's Wildcats will travel to Canton in Week 7 of 2016 and the Golden Eagles will come to Cleveland in 2017 to play the Cats.

The Oct. 7th, Week 7 matchup this coming fall will be a Friday night game.

GlenOak earned a share of the Federal League Championship in 2015. The Golden Eagles advanced to the first round of the OHSAA Division I playoffs, losing to Mentor, 41-13, at Jerome T. Osborne Sr. Stadium.

The Golden Eagles have made 10 appearances in the OHSAA football playoffs, including nine since 2000.

With the agreement with GlenOak, Saint Ignatius has now filled its schedule for 2016.

As the corner reported last month, the Wildcats will be traveling to 11-time state champion Detroit Catholic Central in Week 4 (Friday, Sept. 16th), which was the other open date.

Saint Ignatius' schedule for 2016 also includes Mentor (at Byers Field Week 2), the three Parma Schools (Normandy, Valley Forge an Parma Senior), an away game at Walsh Jesuit, versus Archbishop Moeller (possibly at Otterbein University), at Cincinnati St. Xavier and versus two-time defending Division I State Champion St. Edward at Byers Field

 

Saint Ignatius Varsity Football reaches a verbal agreement with Detroit Catholic Central for a Week 4 matchup in 2016
12/16/2015

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit December 2015

Ohio City - The agreement with the Shamrocks from Detroit Catholic Central has the Wildcats traveling to Michigan for a Friday night game on Sept. 16, 2016. There is also discussion between the schools for Freshmen and Junior Varsity games.

Like Saint Ignatius, Detroit Catholic Central has a rich football tradition that includes 11 state championships, 19 regional titles and 27 Catholic League championships. The Shamrocks were MHSAA regional finalists this past season, finishing their season at 9-3.

Detroit Catholic Central, whose 11th state championship on the gridiron came in 2009, is located in Novi, Michigan.

With the Week 4 verbal agreement with Detroit Catholic Central, Saint Ignatius has one more open date to fill for 2016 and that is Week 7.      

 

CONGRATULATIONS TO SENIOR QUARTERBACK DENNIS GROSEL AND SENIOR ALL-AMERICAN OFFENSIVE TACKLE LIAM EICHENBERG FOR EARNING FIRST TEAM ALL-OHIO HONORS FROM THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, AND TO ALL-OHIO SPECIAL MENTIONS JACK COOK (WR/DB) AND PUNTER COLIN GOODFELLOW
12/1/2015

By Eddie Dwyer

Dennis, Liam (a University of Notre Dame recruit), Jack (also a senior who is bound for Harvard University) and Colin, a junior, each garnered first-team honors on last week's AP All-Northeast Lakes District Team.

Grosel continued a quarterback legacy under Wildcats veteran Offensive Coordinator Nick Restifo that ranks among the best in the nation. Dennis had two games this fall in which he set new school records for passing yards. He finished with 1,959 yards and 18 TDs passing, and rushed for 469 yards and 11 touchdowns. In three games combined this fall, Dennis totaled just five series because of the score.

Liam, a two-time All-Ohio honoree, graded at better than 93 percent for his blocking efficiency while showing the way for an offense that totaled 3,539 yards in just nine games.

      

 

Wildcats Football is well-represented on the 2015 Associated Press All-Northeast Lakes District Team for Division I
11/19/2015

By Eddie Dwyer

Ohio City - Senior quarterback Dennis Grosel, All-American senior offensive tackle and University of Notre Dame recruit Liam Eichenberg, senior wide receiver/defensive back/punt returner Jack Cook and junior punter Colin Goodfellow were selected to the NEO District's First Team. Cook, who is bound for Harvard University, was selected as an Athlete.

Garnering Honorable Mention was senior wide receiver Cal Grbac.

The corner salutes these young men and again says Thank You for the privilege and pleasure to report on your many accomplishments.

Well deserved recognition, gentlemen.     

 

Former Wildcat All-Ohio defensive lineman/tight end Kevin Kavalec '13, a standout at Boston College, has earned Academic All-District honors from the College Sports Information Directors of America
11/8/2015

POSTED BY EDDIE DWYER

Kevin, a junior defensive end for Boston College, earned a spot on the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Academic All-District First Team, the organization announced on Thursday.

A 2014 Atlantic Coast Conference All-Academic team honoree, Kevin earned the District I accolade for the first time in his career.

In 2015, Kevin, a Middleburg Heights, Ohio, native, has logged 16 tackles as part of the top defense in the nation. He has 5.5 tackles for a loss of 19 yards and one sack as the Eagles lead the country in tackles for loss and are tied for third in sacks. Last season, Kevin tallied 10.5 tackles for a loss of 35 yards as part of his 40-tackle total.

Kevin has earned the Athletics Director’s Award for Academic Achievement twice and was named to the ACC Academic Honor Roll in 2014.

To be nominated for CoSIDA All-Academic Teams, a student-athlete must be a starter or important reserve with at least a 3.30 cumulative grade-point average at his current institution. Members of the Academic All-District First-Team advance to the Academic All-America Team ballot, where first-, second- and third-team All-America honorees will be selected later this month.

 

Former Saint Ignatius standout defensive lineman Matt Gawlik '13 has been slelected to the College Sports Information Directors of America Academic All-District Team
11/8/2015

By Eddie Dwyer

Matt, who excels athletically and academically at Gannon University, joins former Wildcat football teammate Kevin Kavalec (Boston College) on the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Academic All-District Team (see the corner's post on Kevin from Thursday night).

To be nominated for CoSIDA All-Academic Teams, a student-athlete must be a starter or important reserve with at least a 3.30 cumulative grade-point average at his current institution. Members of the Academic All-District First-Team advance to the Academic All-America Team ballot, where first-, second- and third-team All-America honorees will be selected later this month.

Congratulations again to Matt and Kevin, and the Gawlik and Kavalec families.

- Eddie Dwyer 

 

The season comes to an end for the big-hearted and talented Varsity Football Wildcats as they are turned away by the state's top-ranked St. Edward Eagles, 35-28, in the 53rd meeting of one of Ohio's premier gridiron rivalries at Lakewood Stadium
11/1/2015

By Eddie Dwyer

Copyright Credit October/November 2015

Lakewood, Ohio - With their postseason hopes on the line, the Cats went toe-to-toe with the area's and state's top-ranked Eagles before a recovery of an onside kick by St. Edward's versatile safety Kyle Fallon with 35 seconds remaining enabled the Eagles to hang on.

St. Edward, which had difficulty creating distance between itself and the underdog Wildcats, finished its regular season at 9-1 and will enter next weekend's OHSAA Division I Regional Quarterfinal playoffs as the No. 1 seed in Region 1.

Record 11-time state champion Saint Ignatius, which was seeking its 27th postseason appearance since its remarkable OHSAA playoff run began in 1988, closed its season at 5-4.

Saturday afternoon's setback to the Eagles, which took place in front of a standing-room crowd at tradition-rich Lakewood Stadium, mathematically eliminated the Cats from the playoffs for only the second time since 1988. Saint Ignatius also missed the playoffs in 2010, when it finished 4-6.

St. Edward, the defending Division I state champion and a program that has been ranked in most of the national polls all season, is seeking its third state football title.

The Eagles appeared to be in control when their gifted senior tailback Cole Gest rambled 39 yards for a touchdown down the right or home sideline of Lakewood Stadium with 2 minutes and 59 seconds remaining to be played. After Gest's effort, which came off a five-play, 80-yard drive, and the ensuing extra-point kick by Jake Budyka, St. Edward had a 14-point lead. 

However, after the Eagles turned the Wildcats away on a fourth-down play from the St. Edward 21-yard line, they fumbled the ball two plays later and Saint Ignatius' veteran cornerback Quinn Lawless pounced on the pigskin at the Eagles' 27.

Coach Chuck Kyle's Wildcats wasted little time in cutting the deficit to 35-28 on a touchdown strike from multi-skilled senior quarterback Dennis Grosel to one of the state's premier wideouts, senior Cal Grbac, and the extra-point kick by sophomore Matthew Trickett with 38 seconds left.

Fallon, whose older brother Ryan was a standout quarterback for St. Edward in 2011 and 2012, was heads-up on the Cats' onside kick and Eagles Head Coach Tom Lombardo celebrated another victory against one of the most demanding schedules in the nation.

THE EARLY GOING

The Wildcats, who kept their playoff hopes alive by defeating Cincinnati power St. Xavier, 34-20, in Week 9, took a 7-0 lead on St. Edward off a 1-yard keeper by Grosel and the PAT by Trickett with 3:09 remaining in the first quarter.

St. Edward answered with a five-play, 80-yard drive that resulted in a second- and third-effort 16-yard touchdown run by Gest and a game-tying extra point kick by Budyka with 51 seconds left in the opening quarter.

It stayed that way until Gest and Eagles underrated senior quarterback Jimmy Keefe combined on a 60-yard scoring pass that was capped off by Budyka's second extra point with 7:31 to go in the first half.

Coach Lombardo's team took a 21-7 lead into the halftime break after Keefe hooked up with running back/receiver Ted Gordon on a 44-yard scoring play that was followed by another Budyka PAT.

A WILD AND WILL-TESTING SECOND HALF

Still trailing, 21-7, entering the fourth quarter, Coach Kyle's Cats closed to seven points when Grosel highlighted a 47-yard drive by rolling left, spinning back to his right and finding a wide open Jack Cook in the back of the scoreboard end zone for a 5-yard touchdown. Trickett tacked on the extra point and Saint Ignatius trailed, 21-14, with 9:57 remaining to be played.

A huge turning point took place when the Wildcats, starting with a first-and-10 on their 12-yard line, fumbled the ball. The Eagles recovered the loose football at Saint Ignatius' 1-yard line and from there fullback Curt Szelestra fought his way into the end zone. Budyka delivered the extra point and St. Edward pushed its lead to 28-14 with 8:04 left on the clock.

The Wildcats, who left everything they had on the Lakewood Stadium turf, rode one of the many clutch receptions on the afternoon by senior wide receiver Tyler Musbach to a first down at the Eagles' 24 and an authoritative run by junior tailback Jimmy Andrews had Saint Ignatius knocking on the door with a first and goal at the 8-yard line.

Pushing that scoring door open was a double reverse that saw Grosel hand the ball off to Andrews, who handed it to Cook, who was coming around from his wide receiver position.

Cook, a senior captain and a Harvard University recruit who excelled on both sides of the ball during his Saint Ignatius career, ran and juked his way over the left side and into the end zone. Trickett's extra point was high and true, and the Wildcats trailed, 28-21, with 5:24 remaining.

The sequence described in the lead-in to this story followed, and Saint Ignatius departed Lakewood Stadium with what is now a 28-24-1 lead in its all-time football series with St. Edward.

HERE ARE SOME NUMBERS TO CHEW ON WITH YOUR HALLOWEEN CANDY

First Downs: Saint Ignatius 23, St. Edward 17.

Rushing Yards: 40 carries for 173 yards for St. Edward, 31 carries for 101 yards for Saint Ignatius.

Passing: Dennis Grosel was 22-of-54 for 296 yards and Jimmy Keefe was 12-of-25 for 301 yards. They both threw an interception. Grosel also rushed for 41 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries.

St. Edward ran 65 plays for 474 yards and Saint Ignatius ran 83 plays for 397 yards.

Receiving Leaders: Jack Cook had 10 receptions for 153 yards to go along with his rushing and receiving touchdowns. Tyler Musbach finished with 6 receptions for 75 yards and Cal Grbac had three catches for 49 yards, including the 27-yard TD toss from Grosel.

St. Edward's Matt Gonzalez hauled in 4 receptions for 73 yards, Cole Gest had two receptions totaling 85 yards and Carl Jones made two catches that totaled 59 yards.

Rushing Leader: Cole Gest with 22 carries for 129 yards.

FROM COACH KYLE:  "They battled, we battled," Coach Kyle said. "It was a hard, hard fought football game and somebody had to win. We made some crucial mistakes and they made some, and it was because the play was so hard.

"I'm very proud of our kids," Coach Kyle continued. "That was a great effort. That's all you can ask. We came up short, that's the way it is. The danger of Cole Gest. He'll make big plays and for us to win we couldn't let him break out of the gate, and he broke out of the gate a couple of times. He's very special. But the second half defensively, I thought we did very well."

 



The Junior Varsity Football Wildcats, whose grit and talent are only matched by the respect they have for one another, played a solid all-facets game on Friday night and wore down rival St. Edward, 21-7, on the Eagles' turf.
10/30/2015

Saint Ignatius' defense and special teams showed up early and often, and the offense, behind its big-hearted and gifted tailback Mark Bobinski and an O-Line whose emotion was fueled by the man in the middle, Michael Fazioli, took its toll on the JV Eagles, especially in the second half.

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit October/November 2015

Lakewood, Ohio - Coach Paul Yappel's JV Cats, who completed their demanding schedule with an impressive 7-2 record, took a 7-0  lead on a 39-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Kyle Hall to sophomore wide receiver Michael Drobnick, and the ensuing extra-point kick by sophomore Drew Alessandro, with 4 minutes and 31 seconds remaining in the first quarter.

It was an as-it's-drawn-up play that featured an on-the-money throw by Hall that hit the sure hands of Drobnick in stride.

St. Edward, which wrapped up its season at 6-3, committed a big-time error on special teams by snapping the ball over its punter's head, who was lined up at his 36-yard line. The Eagles' punter ran after the ball and fell on it, giving Saint Ignatius possession at the St. Edward 17-yard line.

After the Cats lost 2 yards on first down, Hall rolled right and found his 6-foot-5, 220-pound sophomore tight end Ben Ritschel, whose sure-handed reception and yards after the catch gave Saint Ignatius a first-and-goal at the 4-yard line.

On the very next play, sophomore tailback Mark Bobinski, the Cats' go-to guy for most of the season, displayed his vision and cutback ability off a 4-yard touchdown run into the right corner of the end zone. The good-natured and sure-footed Alessandro tacked on another PAT and Coach Yappel's team led, 14-0, with 3:27 left in the first half.

It remained a 14-0 game entering the third quarter, a quarter that saw St. Edward, behind some impressive running by sophomore tailback Tylan Rice, get back in the game on a 1-yard touchdown keeper over the right side by sophomore quarterback Zach Kincaid with 5:49 remaining in the third quarter.

However, just when the Eagles' faithful were back in the game, Saint Ignatius put together a big-time response.

Behind the scrambling ability of sophomore quarterback Daniel Alexander and enforcing-their-will efforts by Bobinski and the offensive line, the Cats drove 70 yards in nine plays and regained control on a 1-yard TD run up the gut by Bobinski, a path to the end zone that was cleared by the strength and will of Michael Fazioli.

Alessandro made it 3-for-3 on his extra points, and Saint Ignatius led, 21-7, with the third quarter winding down.

The Wildcats' defense, which was an aggressive, swarming unit for most of the night, came up with a number of momentum-swinging plays, including key sacks down the stretch by sophomore linebacker Andrew Keirn and 6-6, 330-pound sophomore two-way lineman Darian Kinnard. Those efforts were preceded by a nose-for-the-ball night by sophomore linebacker Logan Joyce, the relentless battle in the middle put forth by sophomore nose tackle Aidan Gill and interceptions from ball-hawking sophomore defensive backs Justin Sands and Cameron Toppin.

Toppin had two picks on the night, with his second one leaving no doubt as to the outcome.

HERE ARE POSTGAME COMMENTS FOR COACH YAPPEL, MICHAEL FAZIOLI AND MARK BOBINSKI.

From Coach Yappel: "It's great that hopefully the players understand what it is all about, coming together as a team," said Coach Yappel, who also assists Saint Ignatius' outstanding Offensive line Coach Adam Rini '99 with the Varsity and Junior Varsity offensive lines. "It was a team playing in all facets of the game tonight and conducting themselves with poise, being able to make plays when it counted and all of those things that we talked all year long really came through tonight.

"They should be proud of the job they did tonight," added Coach Yappel. "We talked abut the fact that there were 40 minutes left of their sophomore year (JV quarters are 10 minutes), and they took advantage of it."

From Michael Fazioli, who helped lead an offense line that controlled most of the final 20 minutes: "The first play they were throwing haymakers, so we talked to the line and said, 'Hey, they're not going to give us an inch, we have to take it to them,'" said Fazioli, a teammate any player would love to have. "I talked with Mark (Bobinski), and Mark said, 'You have to block.' So we went and blocked. Punched it right in."

From Mark Bobinski, the type of player you win championships with: "Once you hit the second, third and fourth quarter, it shows your character," said Bobinski, who was undaunted by some of the early plays St. Edward made against the Wildcats' running attack. "It shows what you did in the offseason, the kind of work you put in. As you can tell, the guys on this team put in more work than anybody in the state. I am willing to bet on that and I am excited for the future with these guys."           

 

                 

 

Wildcats Freshmen Football is turned away inside the St. Edward 2-yard line as time expires and the Eagles hang on for a 21-17 victory in the season finale for both teams on St. Edward's home turf Thursday night
10/30/2015

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit October 2015

Lakewood, Ohio - Coach Greg Urbas' Freshmen Eagles took their 21-17 lead on a quick-striking pass from quarterback Garrett Dzuro to wide receiver Quintel Kent and the ensuing extra-point kick by tight end/kicker Christopher Elliott with 1 minute and 58 seconds remaining to be played.

The Dzuro-to-Kent connection, which came off a fourth-and-goal from the 3-yard line, saw Dzuro take a short drop and fire a lazer to Kent, who broke free in the left corner of the end zone.

Keeping its composure, Saint Ignatius took possession at its 36-yard line with 1:49 left thanks to a strong return of the ensuing kickoff by wide receiver Nigel Drummond.

Behind the running of the young man who turned in a marvelous night for Coach Rodney Gallaway's Wildcats, tough-as-nails tailback Jack Kennedy, and a second-effort run by tailback Jahadge "Bo" Floyd, Saint Ignatius moved to a first-and-goal at the 2 with eight seconds remaining.

St. Edward, which closed its season at 8-1, came with the first of two key defensive stops in the final eight seconds when the pursuit of linebacker Charles Kirkholder resulted in a 3-yard loss.

Faced with a second-and-goal at the 5 and just 4 seconds left, Wildcats quarterback Patrick Delahunty, who was a solid field general all season, made a nice ball fake to Floyd and swept the left side.

At first it appeared Delahunty might have a chance to reach the corner of the end zone, but then came the exceptional pursuit of Eagles linebacker Daylan Jernigan and defensve back Jake Ogle, who tackled Delahunty and drove him out of bounds inside the 2 as time expired.

When we said Kennedy turned in a marvelous night, two efforts in particular stand out .Here is the first one.

After St. Edward took a 7-3 lead on a 53-yard touchdown keeper up the gut by Dzuro and the PAT by Elliott with 7:13 to go in the first half, Kennedy powered his way over the left side, made a smooth cut inside and outran the pursuit for an 85-yard touchdown. Wildcats kicker/punter Patrick Otter tacked on the extra point and Saint Ignatius led, 10-7, with 5:18 remaining until halftime. Otter accounted for the game's first points with a 34-yard field goal with 4:46 left in the first quarter.  

The counter punching continued, as St. Edward covered 58 yards in just three plays and scored on a screen pass from Dzuro to Kent, a play that saw Kent do most of the damage with his hands and feet. Elliott's extra point was high and true, and the Eagles were perched on a 14-10 lead with 3:49 left in the first half. It stayed that way entering the halftime break.

Following halftime it was special effort No. 2 by Kennedy.

Taking possession at its 31 after the second-half kickoff, Saint Ignatius went right back to its money man and Kennedy deposited another exceptional touchdown gallop of vision, balance and speed that saw him blow by the secondary from 58 yards out. Otter was Mr. Reliable once again and the Wildcats took a 17-14 lead with 7:48 left in the third quarter.

The Cats were knocking on the door after the brisk winds ate up a short punt and gave Saint Ignatius possession at the Eagles' 34-yard line.

St. Edward hung tough, however, and came up with a leaping interception by Ogle at the Eagles' 7-yard line.

The respective defenses landed some impressive blows before the tension-packed final two minutes resulted in Saint Ignatius closing out another memorable freshmen season at 6-4.

Yes, the Wildcats versus the Eagles storied rivalry will add a few new chapters down the line as these young men who left it all on the field Thursday night continue to mature.

Oh by the way, if last night's Freshmen game whet your gridiron appetite for more Blue and Gold versus Green and Gold, stop by St. Edward tomorrow night (Friday) for the annual Junior Varsity version between these perennial West Side powers. The kickoff is at 6 bells.

Following the game Coach Gallaway and his football-rich staff talked with the young Wildcats about the maturation process they experienced throughout the season and how proud they were of them with the way they responded all night in what is a tough venue.

"To see them fight through all of that (deficits and turnovers) was huge," Coach Gallaway said. "You know you have a good team when they can do that kind of stuff. They were battling back on both sides of the ball, all night really."

Although Coach Gallaway will welcome a whole new group of faces in the summer, he couldn't say enough about the potential of the Class of 2019.

"They have a lot of size when healthy, we had two of arguably our best linemen out tonight," Coach Gallaway continued, emphasizing that he was not taking anything away from St. Edward's effort. "The defense is athletic and it swarmed to the ball. So there is a lot of promise in this class. I think they will complement the class ahead of them."                    

 

Controlling its destiny. Saint Ignatius Football looks to ride a victory over top-ranked St. Edward to what would be the Cats' 27th OHSAA playoff appearance since 1988
10/29/2015

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit October 2015

Ohio City - No, it does not have the longevity of some of Ohio's other traditional high school football rivalries, such as Canton McKinley versus Massillon, which began in 1894.

It is safe to say, however, that the intensity Saint Ignatius and St. Edward have brought to the gridiron in their past 52 encounters holds its own with not only the legendary above-mentioned Stark County battle, but any of the Buckeye State's tradition-rich late season encounters.

A game that has become a media darling, and rightfully so, will take place for the 53rd time on Saturday afternoon in storied Lakewood Stadium, now referred to as First Federal Lakewood Stadium.

The Halloween kickoff from the "Madhouse on Madison" is scheduled for 2 PM.

Record 11-time state champion Saint Ignatius, which needs a victory over St. Edward to assure or secure its 27th Division I, Region 1 OHSAA postseason appearance since 1988, enters Saturday's game with a record of 5-3. The Wildcats, in the words of computer playoff guru Joe Eitel, control their own destiny after defeating Cincinnati power St. Xavier, 34-20, at Byers Field last weekend.    

Trailing, 13-0, with 11 minutes and 55 seconds remaining in the first half, Saint Ignatius ran off 34 consecutive points against its Jesuit School rival St. Xavier and added even more drama and another significant storyline to Saturday's annual encounter with St. Edward.

Defending and two-time Division I state champion St. Edward, ranked No. 1 in both the cleveland.com Top 25 seven-county area poll and the Associated Press big-school state poll, sports an 8-1 record against one of the most demanding schedules in the nation. Coach Tom Lombardo's Eagles have also earned their way into numerous national and regional rankings.

Yes, there have been many memorable encounters between these exceptional West Side schools, with the well-documented and epic 1993 triple-overtime game in Lakewood Stadium, won by Saint Ignatius, 35-34, heading the list. The 1993 matchup was one of the greatest games in the rich history of Ohio High School Football and, along with the Wildcats' 31-30 Regional Final victory over the Robert Smith-led Euclid Panthers in 1989 at Baldwin Wallace University's George Finnie Stadium (then known as Baldwin Wallace College), the two greatest games this old-timer was ever privileged to cover and report on during my 37 years with The Plain Dealer.

In 1993, St. Edward needed a victory over Saint Ignatius to secure an OHSAA playoff appearance. Of course back then it was significantly more difficult to earn a spot in the OHSAA's football postseason, as only four teams from each region qualified. Currently the top 16 teams in both Regions 1 and 2 earn a Division I playoff berth, with the top 8 hosting a first-round game.

THE SERIES: Saint Ignatius leads, 28-23-1. After back-to-back losses to the Eagles in 2005 and 2006, the Wildcats have won seven of their last 10 meetings with St. Edward, including two victories (regular season and OHSAA playoff) in both 2008 and 2011, when the Cats went on to win their 10th and 11th state championships. 

Saturday will mark the second Halloween afternoon matchup between Saint Ignatius and St. Edward since 2009, when All-State linebacker Jake Ryan reeked havoc on the Eagles' offense in a 28-0 Saint Ignatius triumph in Lakewood Stadium. Jake went on to an outstanding career as a Captain for the Michigan Wolverines and is currently a member of the NFL's Green Bay Packers.

St. Edward, behind what this corner described as one of the top defensive backfields it has seen in following area high school football since the late 1950s, a group led by Andrew and David Dowell (now at Michigan State) and Shaun Crawford (now at the University of Notre Dame), erased an early 10-0 deficit and went on to defeat Saint Ignatius, 41-10, last season at Parma's Byers Field.

SOME OF THIS YEAR'S LEAD ROLES: There is no question that the heart and soul of the 2015 St. Edward Eagles is senior tailback and University of Indiana recruit Cole Gest. Cole, who helped key last year's victory over Saint Ignatius by rushing for 130 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries, has been a model of consistency workhorse for Coach Lombardo this fall.

The Eagles also feature hard-nosed defensive lineman/tight end Michael O'Malley, gritty and heady quarterback Jimmy Keefe, highly recruited safety Tony Butler and a big-game tested offensive line.

For Saint Ignatius, the long line of gifted quarterbacks continues as senior Dennis Grosel has rolled up big numbers through the air and on the ground. And, as we emphasized on the corner last week, Dennis has accomplished all of this despite playing only five series in the three Parma games combined.

Grosel is complemented by one of the top receiving corps in Ohio - seniors Cal Grbac, Jack Cook, Tyler Musbach and Jimmy Berger, senior tight end Robert Hilbig and junior tight end/linebacker James Leyden. Cook, who is bound for Harvard University and also is a standout safety/punt returner, helped the Wildcats to their early lead against the Eagles last season with an impressive 41-yard catch and run for a touchdown off a throw from Grosel.

Showing the way for the Cats' potent offensive attack, that also includes the big-hearted and impressive running skills of junior tailback Jimmy Andrews and senior tailback Elijah Wahib, is an offensive line anchored by senior All-American and All-Ohio tackle Liam Eichenberg, a University of Notre Dame recruit, and junior center John Spellacy, a two-year mainstay.

Saint Ignatius' defense, which experienced tough nights versus Mentor and Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller, put together an impressive "team" defense last weekend in containing the high-powered and balanced offense of the Bombers from St. Xavier.

FROM COACH KYLE: "Defensively, pretty much the same," said Coach Kyle of the defense St. Edward utilizes under veteran Tom Lombardo, who had outstanding seasons as the Head Coach at Lake Catholic and Medina Highland, and was also an assistant at University School and St. Edward. After doing nothing less than a marvelous job at Highland, and their fans and players will tell you just that, Tom returned to St. Edward this past winter as the Head Coach after Rick Finotti accepted a coaching position at the University of Michigan. Coach Finotti guided the Eagles to both of their football state championships in 2010 and 2014.

"It's the same Defensive Coordinator (Pete Pappas) that they've had," Coach Kyle continued. "So they're coming out of a four front and a 4-3 a little bit. And they'll reduce a linebacker a little bit, so it becomes a 4-2. Sometimes in passing situations they'll go to a three-man front and get more blitzing going. St. Ed's defense is always physical and that's what they live on.

"Offensively, they do have linemen back (from last season) and they have a great running back, a really excellent one in Cole Gest, who is having an amazing season," Coach Kyle said. "So you're going to get that running attack that they're used to. I think you're going to see different formations, reverse, reverse passes, little bubble screens and tosses to the outside. But their tailback (Gest) is the spearhead of what they're doing.

"He's a weapon," Coach Kyle added in his assessment of Gest. "When they have been behind this season, he's the one that has made a huge play, a huge play, and they've regained the momentum."

AIR WAVES: Led by the golden tones of senior Carter Spearry and junior Brendan DeVenney, the Saint Ignatius Broadcast Network will bring you Saturday's game live from the fine City of Lakewood and we suggest you check your local cable television listings to see if and when the game is being televised.

Have a great rest of the week and I will see you at my old home away from home, football-rich Lakewood Stadium, now First Federal Lakewood Stadium.         

Early mistakes help tell the tale in the Junior Varsity Wildcats' 28-7 loss to St. Xavier's Jayvees on Saturday morning
10/25/2015

Posted By Eddie Dwyer

Byers Field - The now 8-0 Junior Varsity Bombers started the game with a healthy kickoff return by defensive back Nicholas Shamsi that set up a 2-yard keeper for a touchdown by promising sophomore quarterback Chase Wolf and the ensuing extra-point kick by Greg Saupe.

A bad snap led to a fumble recovery in the Saint Ignatius end zone for a TD by St. Xavier defensive lineman Sean Mesue and the Bombers moved to a 21-0 lead on an in-stride scoring catch and run of 30 yards off a crossing pattern by wide receiver Andrew Wittrock, and Saupe's third PAT with 5 minutes and 58 seconds remaining in the first half.

Wolf and tight end Mike Grause combined on a touchdown off a nice seam route that, following the extra point by Saupe, made it a 28-0 game by halftime.

The Wildcats (6-2), who will close their Junior Varsity season on Friday night with a 6 PM matchup at St. Edward, came to life offensively in the second half behind the running of tough and talented sophomore tailback Mark Bobinski.

A second-effort, 8-yard touchdown burst over the left side by Bobinski and the PAT by sophomore Drew Alessandro cut the deficit to 28-7 with just under eight minutes left in the third quarter.

That is how it would end up, however, as the Bombers were able turn the Cats away behind some heady defensive play down the stretch by lineman Jonathan Gretz.

"The self-inflicted wounds hurt us a lot in the first half in all three phases, special teams, offense and defense," said Saint Ignatius Junior Varsity Head Coach and Varsity Assistant Coach Paul Yappel. "It's a tough lesson to learn. We talked at halftime about the fact that the second half would be about how we respond. Play with pride. We came out and played well in the second half and that's what we need to build on."       

 

The Defense silenced its critics, the Offense continued to make big plays and a variety of Cats played huge roles. Saint Ignatius Football is back in the Division I, Region 1 playoff hunt.
10/25/2015

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit October 2015

Parma, Oho - Trailing their Jesuit School rival Cincinnati St. Xavier, 13-0, with 11 minutes and 55 seconds remaining in the second quarter on Saturday afternoon at Byers Field, Coach Chuck Kyle's Wildcats rolled off 34 unanswered points and held a 34-13 lead after senior captain/wide receiver/defensive back Jack Cook rambled 55 yards for a touchdown off an interception and sophomore Matthew Trickett kicked the extra point with 1 minute and 13 seconds remaining to be played.

Saint Xavier quarterback Sean Clifford, a Penn State recruit, scored on a 3-yard run with 2 seconds left and the record 11-time state champion Wildcats, now 5-3, celebrated the first of what they hope will be two of the most memorable victories in their rich football history, 34-20.

With the triumph over now 5-4 St. Xavier, the Wildcats' first win versus the Bombers since 2012, Saint Ignatius has a strong playoff pulse and can secure what would be its 27th trip to the Division I, Region 1 postseason since 1988 by defeating West Side rival St. Edward (8-1) on Halloween afternoon in legendary Lakewood Stadium. The kickoff in "The Madhouse on Madison" will be 2 PM. The Eagles of St. Edward are ranked No. 1 in the seven-county area and No. 1 in the Associated Press Division I state poll.

In the words of computer playoff guru Joe Eitel on Saturday night, Saint Ignatius "controls its own destiny." 

There were heroes galore for Coach Kyle's Cats during a gray sky and brisk game-changing winds Saturday afternoon, including players who took on different roles and players who answered the call like savvy veterans.

A triumph by many who played as one on both sides of the ball, if you will.

St. Xavier, which still leads its all-time gridiron series with the Wildcats, 12-10, controlled the majority of the first 12 minutes in moving to its 13-0 lead. The big play in the early going for the Bombers was a blocked punt that gave Coach Steve Specht's team a first down at the Wildcats' 23-yard line.

The Bombers quickly turned their special-teams gem into 23-yard touchdown sweep over the right side by running back Pete Rumpke with 9:59 left in the opening quarter.

Byers Field can be a windy setting even in August with the sun shining. On Saturday afternoon, however, both teams had to battle not only each other, but a gale of November that definitely came early.

After the wind swallowed up a St. Xavier punt, Saint Ignatius took possession at the Bombers' 40.

Behind the passing of gifted senior quarterback/captain Dennis Grosel and the receiving of underrated senior wide receiver Tyler Musbach, the Wildcats moved to a first-and-goal at the 3. On the next play, gritty senior tailback Elijah Wahib fought his way into the end zone and Trickett's ensuing extra-point kick cut the deficit to 13-7 with 7:20 to go in the first half.

Trickett, who also is a mainstay for Coach Mike McLaughlin's state and nationally acclaimed Varsity Soccer Team, made it a 13-10 game by halftime by sending home a 38-yard field goal.

Saint Ignatius, which came into the St. Xavier game knowing exactly what the task at hand was, took advantage of some more solid field position and turned it into a perfectly executed 39-yard touchdown pass from Grosel to one of the premier receivers and route runners in Ohio, senior Cal Grbac. Another Trickett PAT was high and true, and Coach Kyle's Cats took a 17-13 lead and never looked back.

Following a 33-yard field goal by Trickett and continuous pressure by Saint Ignatius' defense, including two big-time sacks by senior lineman/linebacker Nate Keirn, the Wildcats took possession at their 24-yard line.

Fueled by the running of tough and talented junior tailback Jimmy Andrews and Grosel, and the work of Coach Adam Rini's and Coach Paul Yappel's offensive line, Saint Ignatius covered the 76 yards in eight plays. Grosel beat the pursuit into the left corner of the scoreboard end zone for 5-yard touchdown run and Trickett was money on the extra point with 28 seconds left in the third quarter.

Coach Kyle will be the first to tell you how fortunate his team is to have two big-time legs - Trickett and junior Colin Goodfellow. Colin was booming kickoffs out of the end zone all day and he seemed to have a knack for negotiating the wind with his punts and kickoffs.

After Cook's nail-in-the-coffin pick six and Trickett's fourth PAT closed out the scoring for the Cats, St. Xavier made the final deficit 14 points off its late-game desperation drive that resulted in Clifford's short TD run.

It was, in this corner's humble opinion, a great "TEAM" victory that the Wildcats gave their Hall of Fame Head Coach Chuck Kyle, his outstanding staff, their classmates and fans during a brisk, character-testing afternoon in Robert M. Boulton Stadium, the home of Byers Field.

From Coach Terry Fergus' unsung, but oh so big-hearted tailbacks Jimmy Andrews and Elijah Wahib, to senior defensive back Sam Brick, who made a touchdown-saving tackle that prevented the Bombers from swinging the momentum, there are not enough game balls in Ohio City to recognize the team this old-timer came to know and respect during summer camp and two-a-days, and still admires to this day. The team that took the field on Day Drive and Ridge Road with their season on the line and said this is what we're all about.

The steady play of Keirn, senior linebacker/captain Ben Cray, senior linebacker/safety Alex Maruna, senior linebacker/safety Nick LaVigna, senior cornerback Quinn Lawless, senior safety Ryan Berger and quiet, but tough, heady and steady senior safety Joe Evans, just to name of few, are perfect examples of the young men who faced adversity and took it on in the same manner they contained one of the very best the Queen City has to offer.

Here are postgame comments from Coach Kyle '69, Wildcats outstanding Defensive Coach/Linebackers Coach Ryan Franzinger '02, Ben Cray and Nate Keirn.

FROM COACH KYLE: "When you scored today, it was with the wind at your back," Coach Kyle said of the strong gusts that made themselves at home on Byers Field. "That wind was vicious. I mean from 13-0, the defense just did a tremendous job holding their running attack down. Coach Kyle also pointed to some halftime adjustments in the Cats' pass defense, adjustments that came to the fore in the second half.

"We had to get Jack Cook back in the secondary," Coach Kyle continued. "You saw it, you saw it, he had to be out there."

Coach Kyle, emphasizing how much demanding work was put in preparing for St. Xavier, wants his players to enjoy the victory for awhile. After all, they don't need anyone to remind them what is coming up next week and what is at stake.

"I want the kids to feel good about themselves right now," Coach Kyle said, pointing to how much the offense has been supporting the defense. "It was great that the offense kept their faith in the defense. It came to fruition today."

FROM COACH FRANZINGER: "We really cycled through a lot of guys in this game, new guys had to come in and play," Coach Franzinger said. "Nick LaVigna has been bouncing between safety and linebacker. We've had some rough patches on defense, but, as we found out, if you correct it by Week 9 you might still have a chance. They really did play well. I'm proud of them."

FROM NATE KEIRN AND BEN CRAY:  "It was a statement game for us, just to show that we could play against any offense," said Keirn of some of the criticism he and his defensive teammates have received this season. "I have to give credit to our DBs (defensive backs). They played phenomenal today. Everybody was on top of it. We knew we had to come out swinging today. Win or go home, so we just played our hearts out."

"We have to win out and our defense really came to play today," Cray said. "I'm thrilled. We had a good, solid week of practice. The secondary, the front seven, everyone just played together. I am so proud to be part of this one today."

BY THE NUMBERS: Jimmy Andrews rushed for 75 yards on 16 carries, including a highlight-reel run of 35 yards. St. Xavier's Sean Prophit lead all rushers with 104 yards on 19 carries.

Dennis Grosel threw for 177 yards and a touchdown and Sean Clifford passed for 175 yards and no touchdown passes. Grosel was 13-of-27 with no interceptions and Clifford was 21-of-37 with an interception.

Tyler Musbach hauled in 4 passes for 57 yards, Cal Grbac had two catches totaling 51 yards, including the 39-yard TD hookup with Grosel, Jack Cook had three grabs for 31 yards and tight end James Leyden caught two passes for 28 yards.

Davin Brock (4 catches for 41 yards) and Brian Johnston (3 catches for 25 yards) showed the way for the Bombers' receivers.  

         

 

Operating behnd a Seamus McCarthy-led offensive line and a solid defense, the Freshmen Cats make the key plays on the ground and through the air, and go on to defeat previously unbeaten Cathedral Prep, 25-6, on Wasmer Field Thursday night
10/23/2015

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit October 2015

Ohio City - After a scoreless first quarter, Coach Rodney Gallaway's Freshmen Football Wildcats moved to a 6-0 lead on a 4-yard touchdown run by gifted tailback Jahadge "Bo" Floyd with 3 minutes and 49 seconds remaining in the first half.

Jahadge's TD was set up by the receiving of wide receiver Nate Conry and a nice read and run by quarterback Patrick Delahunty, who alertly tucked the ball away on a third down-and-6 from the Erie (Pa.) Cathedral Prep 22-yard line and raced to a first-and-goal at the 4.

On the ensuing kickoff, Saint Ignatius got a pad-rattling tackle from wide receiver/defensive back Nathan Previts, the pride of St. Thomas More, and the Ramblers took possession at their 25.

With 6-foot-4, 212-pound defensive end Aidan Wells and linebacker Griffin Sheehan among those leading the defensive charge for the Cats, Saint Ignatius forced Cathedral Prep to punt from deep in Ramblers territory.

Taking possession at the Cathedral Prep 42, the Wildcats needed just five plays to add to their lead, this time a 3-yard catch and run into the scoreboard end zone by Conry off a smooth, quick-hitting swing pass from Delahunty. Patrick Otter sent home the extra point and Saint Ignatius led, 13-0, with 1:27 left in the first half.

Helping show the way to Conry's determined sweet six were a 12-yard run over the left side by tough-as-nails tailback Jack Kennedy, an effort that saw Jack put his vision and cutback skills on display, and a sure-handed, 16-yard catch and run down the left sideline by wide receiver John Wetula that resulted in a first-and-goal at the 3.

With the exception of one big play, the Wildcats' defense was prowling and pad rattling all night.

That one play came in the final minute of the first half, as the Ramblers' 6-0, 178-pound tailback/defensive back Billy Lucas took the pitch from quarterback Luke Kubiak, cut over the right side, bounced outside and rambled 74 yards down the right sideline and into the Lorain Avenue end zone. A 2-point conversion attempt failed and Saint Ignatius was able to take a 13-6 lead into the halftime break.

Lucas is a talented two-way performer, who made a number of key tackles to go along with his strong second-effort runs. He also ran the ball a few times out of the "Wildcat" formation.

Saint Ignatius' defense continued to make its presence felt in the second half.

With Sheehan, Wells, linebackers Chris Velotta, Tommy Eichenberg and Jack Yontek, and cornerback Michael Mangan continuing to take no prisoners, Cathedral Pep was forced to punt from its 5-yard line.

Following a fair catch of the punt by Conry at midfield, the Wildcats rode a perfectly executed crossing pattern from Delahunty to Previts and another authoritative catch and run by Kennedy to a first-and-10 at the Ramblers' 11-yard line.

Saint Ignatius had to settle for a 26-yard field-goal attempt, however, and it was high, but not true with 1:43 remaining in the third quarter. But hold on!

The Wildcats, taking advantage of two untimely special-teams penalties by Cathedral Prep (holding and roughing the holder), stretched their lead to 19-6 on a 2-yard keeper by Delahunty off a fourth-and-goal with 36.1 seconds to go in the third quarter.

With Mangan, Eichenberg and a cast of Cats flying after the pigskin like it was their last meal and McCarthy, who came to Saint Ignatius from St. Mary's in Berea (can you say Mike Buddie?) blocking with a passion and a purpose, Coach Gallaway's team left no doubt on a 9-yard TD run by Floyd with 1:07 left. Jahadge's frosting on the victory cake score was set up by a booming punt by Otter and a hustle fumble recovery by Mangan off Otter's kiss the Ohio City sky punt.

Cathedral Prep headed back to the Keystone State with its first setback in seven games and Saint Ignatius' full of promise Freshmen improved to 6-3.

The ninth-grade Cats will close their season on Oct. 29, when they make the short trip to West Side rival St. Edward for a 6 PM kickoff. St. Edward's Freshmen Gold Team is 6-1 heading into Saturday's home game versus Archbishop Moeller's Freshmen Program.

HERE ARE COMMENTS FROM SAINT IGNATIUS' SAVVY HEAD FRESHMEN COACH RODNEY GALLAWAY.

Just minutes before he and his young Wildcats headed over to St. Mary of the Assumption Chapel for their traditional post-game prayer, Coach Gallaway told his players that they could enjoy the victory over previously unbeaten Erie (Pa.) Cathedral Prep for a few minutes and then all of their athletic focus had to point to next Thursday, Oct. 29, at St. Edward.

Next Thursday, simply put, is the start of St. Edward Weekend.

That's right folks, as much as some of the faithful followers of Wildcats and Eagles football try to deny it, the Freshmen and Junior Varsity encounters between the storied West Side rivals carry almost as much intensity and bragging rights as the 2 PM Halloween Varsity encounter in Lakewood Stadium. In between the Freshmen and Varsity Games will be a 6 bells Halloween Eve Junior Varsity matchup at St. Edward. That's Friday, Oct. 30th, for those who don't follow October's traditional Holiday passage.

Now on to the Cathedral Prep game.

"I think the defense contained their athletes," Coach Gallaway said of the impressive victory on the campus of Cleveland's Jesuit Preparatory School. "We did what we had to do to stop them.

"They were a physical team, but we got after it a little bit and made sure that we were doing the same," Coach Gallaway continued. "We matched that intensity and the offensive line did a great job.

"It's a learning process for him," said Coach Gallaway of his young and talented field general Patrick Delahunty. "He's still learning, but he will be a good one. His big thing right now is seeing the field and seeing what is happening before the snap. He throws the ball real well."

          

 

It's the Wildcats versus the Bombers. Let the Cannon Bell Ring.
10/21/2015

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit October 2015

Ohio City - In the football season of 2011, a little added incentive was added to an already intense Jesuit School Football rivalry.

"The Cannon Bell" came to life, when students from Saint Ignatius and Cincinnati St. Xavier submitted on-line entries for the naming of a trophy for the rivalry.

Former Saint Ignatius Student Broadcast Network President John Fanta '13, who is currently an outstanding Sports Broadcaster at Seton Hall, submitted the winning entry.

St. Xavier, on the strength of its victory over the Cats in 2013, a 13-10 triumph at John Carroll University's Don Shula Stadium, and its 24-10 victory on the Bombers' Ballaban Field last season, is currently in possession of the Cannon Bell.

Coach Steve Specht's Bombers will bring the Cannon Bell along on their Friday trip for Saturday's 2 PM showdown with Saint Ignatius on Byers Field in Parma's Robert M. Boulton Stadium. They have no intention of giving it up, however. Their attitude is take a nice long look at it, because we're putting it right back on the bus for Cincinnati at approximately 4:30 on Saturday afternoon.

St. Xavier, which sports a 5-3 record and, in the words of computer playoff guru Joe Eitel, "controls its own destiny" in the OHSAA Division I, Region 2 ratings, is coming off a 28-21 road loss to Indianapolis power Warren Central last weekend. Despite that setback, the Bombers sit in the seventh spot in the Region 2 ratings. The top 16 teams at the end of the regular season in both Regions 1 and 2 qualify for the Ohio High School Athletic Association Regional Quarterfinal Playoffs.

For record 11-time Division I state champion Saint Ignatius, the job at hand is clear.

After a stunning 55-52 loss in the final seconds versus Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller at Dublin Coffman High School last weekend, a game that saw Saint Ignatius leading by 24 points late in the second quarter, the 4-3 Wildcats are 23rd in the current Region 1 ratings.

A loss to either St. Xavier this Saturday or Week 10 opponent St. Edward on Halloween afternoon in Lakewood Stadium could prevent Saint Ignatius from advancing to the OHSAA postseason for the 27th time since Coach Chuck Kyle's remarkable playoff run began in 1988, a run that includes three national titles, a national runner-up and a state runner-up to go along with the 11 state titles. The last time the Football Cats were not part of the OHSAA postseason was in 2010, when they finished 4-6. The very next season Saint Ignatius bounced back with its 11th state championship.

The major factor in the Wildcats' low rating in Region 1 is the secondary-level computer points. The four teams Saint Ignatius has defeated - Normandy, Parma Senior, Valley Forge and Walsh Jesuit - are having sub-par seasons. In the simplest terms, under the OHSAA Harbin Computer Playoff System, teams are awarded points for each game they win and each game a defeated opponent wins.

Need we say more about what is at stake on Ridge Road and Day Drive at 2 PM Saturday, when St. Xavier comes calling with the Cannon Bell at its side

Here is a look at the key participants in what will be the 22nd encounter in the Bombers vs. the Wildcats gridiron series, which St. Xavier currently leads, 12-9, followed by comments from Hall of Fame Coach Chuck Kyle '69, the most successful high school coach in the Greater Cleveland area and the winningest Division I Coach in Northeast Ohio with 320 career victories in what is currently his 33rd season as the head of the football program at his alma mater.

Offensively, the Bombers are led by their junior field general, 6-foot-3, 210-pound Sean Clifford. Clifford has completed 102 of 171 passes for 1,178 yards and 10 touchdowns. He has thrown three interceptions and has rushed for 137 yards and 4 touchdowns on 45 carries.

The Bombers' main ground gainers are 6-0, 195-pound senior Sean Prophit, who has 520 yards and 5 TDs on 108 carries, and 6-0, 180-pound junior Quinn Earley with 46 carries for 245 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Clifford's targets include 6-5, 245-pound senior tight end Noah Davis with 23 receptions for 283 yards and 3 touchdowns, senior wide receiver Sam Ankenbauer with 19 catches for 197 yards and a touchdown, and junior wideouts Colton Paul (6-3, 190) and Louis Raines who each have 17 receptions on the season. Raines has totaled 319 receiving yards and 2 TDs and Paul has 161 yards receiving with 2 touchdowns.

Special-teams wise, senior kicker Connor Maciag  has delivered on 4 of 5 field goals for St. Xavier and is perfect on his 26 extra-point attempts.

Senior defensive back Hayden Specht has returned 6 kickoffs for the Bombers totaling 179 yards, with a long of 39 yards. Raines has 5 kickoff returns for 122 yards with a long of 30 yards, and Paul has 2 kickoff returns for 55 yards and a long of 39 yards. As for punt returns, Ankenbauer shows the way with 14 returns totaling 133 yards.

Like any Steve Specht-coached team, the 2015 Bombers can lay down some nasty defense. Just ask the Mentor Cardinals.

Among those rattling the pads for Coach Specht are 6-6, 223-pound senior linebacker Andrew Homer with 52 tackles, including 34 solos and an interception. Junior linebacker Michael Gerbus (6-3, 220) has 44 tackles, including 23 solos; senior linebacker Elijah Payne (6-2, 225) has been in on 37 stops; senior defensive back Griffin Buczek (6-2,180) has 45 tackles, including 21 solos, and has also picked off a pass; Hayden Specht has been part of 34 tackles and has an interception return of 55 yards; and senior defensive back J.P. Bitzenhofer (6-3, 185) brings 60 tackles to the table, including 29 solos, and has 2 interceptions.

Saint Ignatius' offense, led by its outstanding senior quarterback Dennis Grosel, has definitely showed the way through the Cats' first seven games. The Wildcats have a nine-game schedule this fall.

The 6-3, 205-pound Grosel, the latest in the long line of gifted quarterbacks developed by Saint Ignatius' veteran Offensive Coordinator Nick Restifo, has completed 84 of 140 passes for 1,484 yards and 15 touchdowns. Dennis has been intercepted just three times and he has rushed for 413 yards and 9 touchdowns on 48 carries. The amazing thing about the numbers Dennis has put up is that he played just a handful of series in the Normandy, Parma Senior and Valley Forge games combined.

In last week's heartbreaker versus Archbishop Moeller, Grosel threw for three touchdowns, ran for three scores and surpassed his own single-game school record by passing for 457 yards.

Along with the key rushing yards Grosel has provided, junior tailback Jimmy Andrews has carried the pigskin 72 times for 343 yards and 7 touchdowns.

Grosel will be the first to tell you that he is blessed with a talented and deep receiving corps.

Showing the way in that department are senior Cal Grbac, who has 21 receptions for 538 yards and six touchdowns; junior tight end James Leyden, who has hauled in 14 passes for 207 yards and three TDs; multi-skilled senior wideout/defensive back/punt returner Jack Cook with 13 receptions for 187 yards and three touchdowns; senior wideout Jim Berger with 12 receptions for 190 yards, including the game-winning diving-to-the-pylon TD reception versus Walsh Jesuit with 8 seconds remaining; underrated senior wide receiver Tyler Musbach with 12 receptions for 185 yards and two touchdowns; and senior tight end Robert Hilbig with eight grabs for 138 yards.

Of course none of those impressive numbers would be possible without the sturdy offensive line that is under the direction of Coaches Adam Rini '99 and Paul Yappel, and is anchored by senior All-American and All-Ohio tackle Liam Eichenberg, a University of Notre Dame recruit, and junior center John Spellacy, one of the very best at his position in all of Northeast Ohio.  

Like St. Xavier, Saint Ignatius takes great pride in its special teams.

Along with the endless potential that junior kicker/punter Colin Goodfellow and sophomore kicker/punter Matthew Trickett possess, the Cats can call on punt returners Jack Cook (4 returns for 118 yards), Grbac (5 returns for 42 yards) and junior tailback Dean Stowers ( 2 returns for 41 yards).

In the kickoff return department, Saint Ignatius is paced by junior defensive back Alex Ringfield with 5 returns for 85 yards, Stowers with 3 returns for 84 yards and Grbac with 4 returns for 56 yards.

Defensively, the Wildcats have been up and down this fall. Among the leading tacklers for a unit that is definitely not lacking in heart and talent, are junior linebackers Johnny Velotta and Adam Shibley, junior nose tackle Joe Gibbons, senior linebackers Ben Cray, Alex Maruna and Nick LaVigna, senior lineman Nate Keirn and senior safety Joe Evans. When he gets his reps on defense, Leyden has also made his presence felt.

From Coach Kyle: "Usually, they love to establish the run," said Coach Kyle of the Bombers. "They have a little (Jim) Tressel in them, pound away and keep field position. Then they're going to hit you with their bootleg.

"Last year, they were pounding away and then all of sudden they hurt us with a bootleg," Coach Kyle continued. "Our kids were attacking the run and they dragged the tight end and got into the end zone with it.

"Defensively, they're always a very physical team up front, Coach Kyle said. "Our respective defenses are the same philosophy with the stack, doing some blitzes and changing coverages. They're a stingy defense. Over the years, trying to run the ball against them has been very difficult. They really try to stop the run. We'll have our passing yardage, but if we're not able to run, that's not good against this team."

Coach Kyle pointed to the Wildcats' impressive victory at St. Xavier in 2012, when legendary tailback Tim McVey had a big day running the ball, especially late in the third quarter and throughout the fourth quarter.

"If you can't run the ball, they'll come up with some sweet blitzes and now the quarterback is running for his life," Coach Kyle added.

Getting back to the Bombers' offense, Coach Kyle pointed out that Coach Specht, along with the talent and savvy Clifford brings to the quarterback position, is utilizing two tough running backs and banging out 4 or 5 yards a carry. Coach Kyle also referred to the Bombers' special teams and the uncanny ability they have had this fall blocking punts or rushing the punter into poor kicks.

While Coach Kyle is pleased with the production by his offense, he emphasized that the defense is giving up too many third-down plays.

"We have to get to where we're making those type of plays," he said. "The effort is there, the kids are playing hard and everything. But we keep saying, we should have made that play. We had it."

Just a reminder that it is a doubleheader at Byers Field on Saturday. At 10 AM, Coach Paul Yappel will send his 6-1 Junior Varsity Football Cats against the 7-0 Junior Varsity Program from St. Xavier. Once again, the highly anticipated Varsity game will follow at 2 PM.

 

It was a tough Saturday afternoon for both the Freshmen and Junior Varsity Football Wildcats, as the Freshmen were turned away by Archbishop Moeller, 18-14, and the peviously undefeated JV Cats were defeated by Moeller's Jayvees, 24-10.
10/18/2015

By Eddie Dwyer

Dublin, Ohio -  The Freshmen and Junior Varsity Games were part of Saturday's tripleheader at Coffman Stadium on the campus of Dublin Coffman High School.

The Wildcats' Freshmen, who trailed Moeller's Freshmen, 16-0, with 6 minutes and 25 seconds remaining in the third quarter, came storming back behind an exceptional, adjusting-to-the-ball touchdown reception by wide receiver Anthony Pilla and a diving catch for the ensuing 2-point conversion by wing back/defensive back Nate Conry.

Moeller, clinging to a 2-point lead with 1:59 left in the fourth quarter, held on and improved to 6-2 behind the dominant play of 6-foot-2, 215-pound outside linebacker Luke Szabados, who, on the game's final three crucial plays, came up with a sack, a pass deflection off pressure and another sack that resulted in a safety with 1:16 remaining to be played.

The Freshmen Cats made it a 16-14 game on an authoritative 17-yard touchdown run by impressive tailback Jahadge "Bo" Floyd with 4 minutes remaining, before Szabados took over down the stretch and added to an exceptional game that included double-digit tackles and relentless pressure off the edge.

Up Next for Coach Rodney Gallaway's Freshmen Wildcats (now 5-3) is Thursday evening's encounter with the Ramblers from Erie (Pa.) Cathedral Prep. The kickoff from Wasmer Field will be 5:30 PM.

As for Coach Paul Yappel's Junior Varsity Cats, they now stand 6-1 and will focus their attention on the Oct. 24th 10 AM encounter with the Jayvee Football Program from Cincinnati St. Xavier on Byers Field in Parma's Robert M. Boulton Stadium.

The scoring for the JV Cats came off a 27-yard field goal by promising sophomore Drew Alessandro and a picture-perfect touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Kyle Hall to sophomore wide receiver/defensive back Connor Kennedy, who turned in a solid afternoon. Alessandro capped the Hall-to-Kennedy effort with the extra point.

Moeller's Junior Varsity, which displayed a solid ground and an opportunistic defense, improved to 7-1. That one defeat came at the hands of St. Xavier's Junior Varsity, 39-13.    

 

Wildcats Varsity Football storms to a 38-14 lead with 4:58 left in the first half only to watch Archbishop Moeller run off 21 unanswered points before halftime and go on to a 55-52 victory over the Cats on Saturday night
10/18/2015

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit October 2015

Dublin, Ohio - In what was a game all too similar to the Wildcats' 63-56 loss at Mentor in Week 2, the Moeller Crusaders, behind their resilient and talent-rich senior quarterback Thomas Macvittie, run off 21 points in the final four minutes of the second quarter and close to 38-35 by halftime.

The respective offenses continued to trade punches in the second half before two field goals by Moeller's gifted senior kicker and Michigan State recruit Matt Coghlin, a 36-yard effort that knotted the score at 52 with 3:31 remaining in the fourth quarter and a 26-yard game-winner with 10 seconds left to be played, gave the Crusaders their first victory over Saint Ignatius in six meetings on the gridiron.

Setting up Coghlin's game-winner was the second-effort running of Crusaders sophomore tailback Colin Thurman off a short scoring drive that resulted from Saint Ignatius coming up inches shy of a first down after electing to go for it on fourth down. Thurman rushed for 73 yards on 18 carries.     

Moeller sealed its dramatic comeback victory on a leaping interception by senior linebacker/defensive back Tyler Burandt and not only improved its record to 4-4, but also kept its chances alive for an OHSAA Division I, Region 2 playoff appearance.

The final numbers from Coffman Stadium on Saturday night, much like the Mentor game, would give most defensive coordinators insomnia.The Wildcats and the Crusaders combined for 1,229 offensive yards, including 631 by Moeller off 89 plays. Saint Ignatius ran 72 plays for 598 yards.

The Wildcats, who now stand 4-3, got another brilliant performance through the air and on the ground from senior quarterback/co-captain Dennis Grosel, who completed 22 of 38 passes for 457 yards and three touchdowns, and rushed for 84 yards and three TDs on 12 carries. Dennis broke his own single-game school record with the 457 passing yards.

As for Macvittie, the 6-foot-4, 215-pound University of Pittsburgh recruit not only hurt Saint Ignatius with a powerful arm that produced 464 yards and six touchdown passes, but also frustrated the Cats' D with his ability to scramble, throw on the run and avoid sacks with Houdini-like moves.

Some of the other big numbers on the night were produced by Wildcats senior wide receivers Jack Cook (7 receptions for 117 yards), Cal Grbac (5 receptions for 181 yards and two TDs, including an 80-yard hookup with Grosel on the first play from scrimmage) and Tyler Musbach (3 receptions for 79 yards). Cats junior tight end/linebacker James Leyden finished with 4 catches for 52 yards and a touchdown.

Moeller's display of good hands and yards after the catch was led by 6-5, 240-pound senior tight end and The Ohio State University recruit Jake Hausmann (7 receptions for 194 yards and three touchdowns), junior running back Hunter Hughes (4 receptions for 112 yards), 6-5, 225 junior tight end Matt Dotson (2 catches for 40 yards and a TD) and senior wide receiver Cole Ashmore (4 receptions for 76 yards and two touchdowns).

Hausmann, who runs determined routes and brings quickness and a strong burst for a young man with his size, was a matchup that gave the Wildcats' defense headaches all night. Two of Jake's three TD receptions were catches and runs of 57 and 76 yards.   

Along with Grosel's impressive rushing figures, Saint Ignatius received 61 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries from strong and skilled junior tailback Jimmy Andrews.

Note: The numbers above are courtesy of Saint Ignatius' statistician Dave Poplar.

****According to the latest release by computer playoff guru Joe Eitel, Saint Ignatius has slipped from 20th to 23rd place in the Division I, Region 1 ratings. The top 16 teams in Regions 1 and 2 at the end of the regular season qualify for the OHSAA first-round or regional quarterfinal playoffs.

St. Xavier (5-3), Saint Ignatius' opponent this week on Saturday at 2 PM in Byers Field, is seventh in the Region 2 ratings and listed by Joe Eitel as "controlling its own destiny." Region 1's top-rated St. Edward (7-1), the Cats' Week 10 opponent on Halloween at 2 PM in legendary Lakewood Stadium, has clinched a playoff spot.

Head Coach Chuck Kyle on Saturday's loss to Archbishop Moeller.

"The message is to play great football games against great opponents," Coach Kyle said. "That's what football really is. Computer points will take care of themselves."

As Coach Kyle told the corner in its weekly Tuesday preview, he was very impressed with Moeller's running game and its big and athletic receivers coming into Saturday night's game at Dublin Coffman High School. After the game, you could see and hear the admiration Coach Kyle has for Thomas Macvittie, who appeared to be battling an injured leg throughout the action, but still not missing a beat when it came to leading his team to its impressive comeback against the record 11-time Division I state champions.    

 

 

The all-important, three-game stretch begins. Saint Ignatius and Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller meet in what could be a make or break matchup on Saturday at 7 PM in Dublin Ohio's Coffman Stadium
10/14/2015

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit October 2015

Ohio City - The 3-4 Archbishop Moeller Crusaders jumped back into the OHSAA Division I, Region 2 playoff picture with a 49-42 victory over a talent-rich Elder team under the Friday night lights of the Queen City last weekend.

Moeller, which currently holds the 16th and final playoff qualifying spot in Region 2 with three games remaining in the regular season, is winless in five previous gridiron meetings with Coach Chuck Kyle's Wildcats.

Last season, Moeller and Saint Ignatius also met at Coffman Stadium and the Wildcats, behind some outstanding early special-teams play, defeated the Crusaders, 34-20, and locked up their 26th Division I playoff appearance since 1988. Saint Ignatius led, 28-6, by halftime.

Also keying that Oct. 18th victory in Dublin, Ohio were then junior wide receiver Jack Cook, who hauled in a 30-yard touchdown pass from then junior quarterback Dennis Grosel, then sophomore tailback Jimmy Andrews, who powered his way into the end zone from 4 yards out on the first play of the second quarter, senior kicker Cory Griffith, who delivered all six of Saint Ignatius' second half points with field goals of 44 and 32 yards, and senior defensive back/captain Lawrence Birchler, who came up with a game-clinching read and reaction interception.

Of the Wildcats' previous five meetings with the Crusaders, two of them came in Division I state championship games.

In 1989, Saint Ignatius defeated Moeller, 34-28, in the big-school title game at Ohio Stadium in Columbus and brought home the second of its now record 11 state championships and the first of its three national titles. The game featured a tremendous matchup between Wildcats All-Everything senior quarterback Joe Pickens and the Crusaders' gifted signal-caller Adam Hyzdu. Joe is now a prominent Lawyer and Adam went on to play Major League Baseball for the San Francisco Giants.

Saint Ignatius and Moeller also met in the 1993 Division I state championship game at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium on a snowy Saturday afternoon and the Wildcats, behind one of the greatest 1-2 punches in the history of Ohio High School Football - senior quarterback Scott Mutryn and senior tailback Eric Haddad, wore down the Crusaders, 38-20. It marked Coach Kyle's fifth big-school state championship and second national crown.

It's now 2015 and the 4-2 Wildcats, much like Moeller, are rebounding from some key early season injuries. Both teams enter Saturday night's game relatively healthy.

Moeller's standout quarterback Thomas MacVittie, a University Pittsburgh recruit, missed games 2 and 3 this fall with an injury. The 6-foot-4, 215-pound MacVittie has bounced back nicely, however, and now has 886 yards passing, nine TD passes and no interceptions. He has rushed 32 times for 162 yards and a touchdown. In the victory over Elder, MacVittie was 13-of-16 through the air for 222 yards.
 
MacVittie's main targets are 6-5, 240-pound tight end Jake Hausmann, a The Ohio State University recruit, and 5-10, 165-pound Kyle Butz. Hausmann has 23 receptions for 311 yards and four touchdowns and Butz has hauled in 24 passes for 487 yards and four TDs. Hunter Hughes, a 5-11, 195-pound junior, leads the Crusaders on the ground with 573 yards and two touchdowns.
 
Moeller entered the season with arguably one of the top two or three kickers in the state - Michigan State recruit Matt Coghlin. While Coghlin is 21 of 22 on his PATs, he is just 2 of 9 on his field goal attempts, with a long of 44 yards this fall.
 
Saint Ignatius, which in the words of Coach Kyle hasn't been this healthy since the first play of the season, is currently in the 20th spot in Region 1. Depending on which computer expert you talk to, you will get several different scenarios. Some say victories over Moeller and Week 9 opponent St. Xavier will get it done and some even say one more victory will be enough. Then there are others who say a loss to Moeller will not be the end as long as the Cats defeat either St. Xavier or the top-rated team in Region 1, St. Edward. The Eagles and the Cats close out the regular season on Halloween afternoon at 2 PM in Lakewood Stadium.
 
Of course the Cats are going to need a little help from other teams along the way. As of now, their second-level points are on the short side.
 
CAT PAWS: Saint Ignatius' standout senior quarterback Dennis Grosel enters Saturday night's game with 1,027 yards passing and 12 touchdowns through the air. He has rushed for 340 yards and six touchdowns, averaging 9.2 yards per carry.
 
Senior Cal Grbac is the Cats' leading receiver with 16 receptions for 357 yards and four touchdowns, including an 80-yard TD reception.
 
Junior tailback Jimmy Andrews has scored six touchdowns and is averaging 5.4 yards per carry, senior tailback Elijah Wahib has four TDs and is averaging 4.5 yards per carry and junior tailback/kick returner Dean Stowers is averaging 6.5 yards per carry.
 
A CASE FOR THE DEFENSES: Saint Ignatius' leading tacklers heading into Saturday night are senior linebacker Ben Cray with 27.5 stops, senior linebacker/safety Nick LaVigna with 22.5 tackles, junior nose tackle Joe Gibbons with 20.5 takedowns and junior linebacker Johnny Velotta with 20 tackles.
 
Moeller's defense, which has been suspect even during its recent back-to-back state title seasons of 2012 and 2013,  features a strong front seven. The Crusaders' secondary, however, can be a bit inconsistent. If Grosel and Co. handle the blitz, it could be Katy Bar The Door for one of the Queen City's legendary programs.
 
Helping key that hard-nosed front seven for the Crusaders are 6-2, 225-pound senior linebacker John Griga (52 tackles), senior defensive back Tyler Burandt (44 tackles), 6-2, 210 pound senior linebacker Bradley Packer (31 tackles) and 6-2, 225-pound senior linebacker Rick Raga (40 tackles).
 
FROM COACH KYLE: "Their record is really very deceiving," said Coach Kyle of Moeller. "You look at the people they lost to and they, like us, ran through injury situations early. They were down to their third-team quarterback and some other key guys were out.
 
"We were at a point where we were missing some key guys, some senior-leadership players, so we can relate to that," Coach Kyle continued.
 
"Offensively, they like to run the football," Coach Kyle said. "You see the tight end that is going to Ohio State (Hausmann). Last year, he ran over one of our guys and went for a touchdown. They move him around, he'll be a tight end, he'll be a slot and he'll be a fullback So you really have to be conscious of where he's at.
 
"Their quarterback (MacVittie) is tall, can run and has a quick release," continued Coach Kyle. "They'll keep it balanced on offense and their front seven people on defense are very good. They're legit. Strong and hard-nosed. So that's a test for our O-Line and a great test for our running game. It's two teams that lost games early and you can't be embarrassed by the teams they lost to and we lost to, playoff caliber teams. But at this point of the season, you have to beat those type of teams if we're going to be playoff caliber ourselves."
 
FROM THE CORNER'S VIEW: As Coach Kyle hinted to earlier in this report, the Cats are getting most of their key players back, including standout senior wide receiver/defensive back/punt returner Jack Cook, gifted senior tailback James Norris and possibly even tough and talented senior offensive lineman Michael Bodnar, who was in uniform at Tuesday's practice.
 
"I'm knocking on wood," Coach Kyle said. "But we'll see. That's kind of where it's at."
 
NAME LOOK FAMILIAR? On Moeller's roster is sophomore quarterback Sam Wyche.
 
A TRIPLEHEADER IN DUBLIN, THAT'S OHIO NOT IRELAND: Along with the Varsity game on Saturday night, the Wildcats' 5-2 Freshmen Football Team and 6-0 Junior Varsity Team will face Moeller's Freshmen and Junior Varsity programs on Saturday afternoon in Coffman Stadium. The Freshmen will kick off at 1 PM and the Junior Varsity Game is slated for 3 PM.
 
AIR WAVES: As always, the savvy duo of senior Carter Spearry and junior Brendan DeVenney will bring you the live broadcast of Saturday night's Wildcats versus Moeller Varsity Game over The Saint Ignatius Broadcast Network.
 
OUR PRAYERS AND SYMPATHY ARE WITH SAINT IGNATIUS FOOTBALL PLAYERS DANIEL ALEXANDER (SOPHOMORE QUARTERBACK) AND BOBBY AND BILLY MCCORMICK ON THE RECENT DEATH OF THEIR GRANDFATHER, BOB METRO. BILLY IS A FRESHMAN LINEMAN AND BOBBY IS A JUNIOR LINEMAN.
 
BOB METRO WOULD HAVE TURNED 75 ON THURSDAY. MAY HE REST IN PEACE.      
 
 

 

Saint Ignatius' Freshmen Football Cats dominate the second half of Thursday night's game at Erie (Pa.) McDowell and go on to defeat the Trojans, 55-14, on Gus Anderson Field
10/9/2015

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit October 2015

Erie (Pa.) -  After a tight first half that ended with the Cats leading, 20-14, Coach Rodney Gallaway's Freshmen made a few adjustments and completely dominated the final 20 minutes, 35-0. Freshmen Football quarters are 10 minutes.

Saint Ignatius' oh so promising ninth-grade program improved to 5-2 and will now gear up for the Oct. 17th matchup with the freshmen team from Archbishop Moeller at Dublin Coffman High School. The Kickoff will be 1 PM.

Here is a look at Thursday night's memorable showing in Erie, a performance that was impressive in all facets, offense, defense and special teams.

From atmosphere-rich Gus Anderson Field: After making a few coverage adjustments defensively during halftime, the Freshmen Football Cats came out for the third quarter with a passionate approach on both sides of the ball.

Facing a third-and-10 from the Saint Ignatius 44-yard line, Wildcats quarterback Patrick Delahunty rolled out, tucked the ball away and rambled to a first down at the McDowell 32.

From there, a 13-yard run by strong and talented tailback Jahadge "Bo" Floyd put the ball on the McDowell 19 and two plays later Delahunty scored off another heads-up keeper as he dove to the pylon in the left corner of the open end zone on Gus Anderson Field. Patrick Otter's extra-point kick was high and true, and the Wildcats led, 2714, with 4 minutes and 9 seconds remaining in the third quarter.

With Saint Ignatius' defensive front beginning to have its way, the Wildcats took possession at their 49 and covered the 51 yards in five plays. On a first-and 5 from the Trojans' 16, Delahunty found gifted wide receiver Nigel Drummond open on a crossing pattern and Drummond made a diving touchdown reception just across the goal line. Otter was perfect on his PAT and Coach Gallaway's team was taking command at 34-14 with 46.7 seconds left in the third quarter.

Saint Ignatius' special teams, which were money all night, jumped all over a bad snap as McDowell was attempting a punt and the Cats took possession at the Trojans' 35.

It was all Floyd and Saint Ignatius' offensive line on the next two plays, as Floyd powered his way 30 yards to a first-and-goal at the 5 and then went untouched up the gut and into the scoreboard end zone of Gus Anderson Field. Otter added another extra point and it was Katy Bar The Door for McDowell, which now trailed, 41-14, with 9:06 remaining to be played.

With the Cats' defense, offense and special teams continuing to impose their will, Saint Ignatius, which was already substituting freely, completed its 35-0 second half with a 20-plus yard interception return for a touchdown by linebacker Daniel Scelza, a 12-yard TD scamper by backup quarterback Caden Campolieti and two more extra points off the leg and foot of Otter.

"At halftime, we wanted to make sure we were covering our bases on defense with their guys coming out of the backfield on the wheel route," said Coach Gallaway. "Offensively, we just said let's keep doing the things we've been doing and take care of the ball. We thought like we had a game plan with what we were looking to go to and it was there.

"A shutout in the second half is fantastic," Coach Gallaway continued. "A score and a stop. That's what we did coming out of the gate in the second half. And the special teams were just fantastic."

THE EARLY GOING: In the first half, McDowell didn't play like a team that has struggled to find the win column.

Saint Ignatius, sparked by a touchdown catch and run by the versatile Jack Cannon and a 19-yard touchdown burst from tailback Jack Kennedy, who has a nose for first downs and the end zone, led, 13-0.

The Trojans got back in the game on a 7-yard TD reception by Shelby Wiley, only to watch the Wildcats respond with a 70-yard scoring play by Kennedy, who caught a pass in the flat, broke a tackle, juked another defender and outran the pursuit down the left sideline.

McDowell made it a six-point game by halftime behind a touchdown reception by Hunter Sorenson, which came off a fourth-and-7 from the Saint Ignatius 19 with 9.8 seconds left in the first 20 minutes.                             

 

The Junior Varsity Football Wildcats turn back the Parma Redmen Jayvees, 14-0, on Saturday morning at Byers Field, but the Cats' second unit on the freshmen level is defeated by Parma's freshmen, 6-0
10/3/2015

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit October 2015

Parma, Ohio - Coach Paul Yappel's Junior Varsity Team, which improved to 6-0, will now have a bye week before taking on the Jayvee program from Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller on October 17 at Dublin Coffman High School.

As for Coach Rodney Gallaway's 4-2 Freshmen team, the focus turns to Thursday's game at Erie (Pa.) McDowell. The kickoff from the Keystone State will be 5:30 PM.

As for the action that took place in Robert M. Boulton Stadium on Saturday, this old-timer tips his cap to all four teams for doing their best to adjust to the persistent rain and cold temperatures that hovered over Ridge Road and Day Drive.

HERE IS A LOOK AT SATURDAY MORNING'S JUNIOR VARSITY GAME VERSUS PARMA, FOLLOWED BY COMMENTS FROM COACH YAPPEL.

The JV Cats jumped out to a 7-0 lead on a 1-yard keeper by sophomore quarterback Daniel Alexander and the ensuing extra-point kick by sophomore Drew Alessandro with 5 minutes and 47 seconds remaining in the first quarter.

Alexander's TD was set up by a bad snap from center to the Parma punter, who raced after the ball and was swarmed under by the Cats at the Redmen 2-yard line.

With both defenses controlling the remainder of the first quarter and the early stages of the second quarter it remained a 7-0 game.

Parma was threatening with a first down at the Saint Ignatius 21-yard line thanks to an outstanding effort by Redmen linebacker/running back Mark Post, who blocked a punt and hustled after the ball for the recovery.

Following a 12-yard run by Parma running back Thomas Snyder, the Redmen appeared to be sitting pretty with a first-and-goal at the 9.

The Wildcats, sparked by the pursuit of sophomore linebackers Tom Grosel and Logan Joyce, were equal to the challenge however, as Parma netted -minus 3 yards on the next two plays and was turned away by a bad snap from center and a fourth-down stop by Saint Ignatius.

Coach Yappel's Wildcats then took back the momentum by driving 80 yards in 15 plays.

Keying the impressive march were sophomore running back Reilly Casey, sophomore quarterback Kyle Hall and sophomore tailback Josh Crayton-Prioleau. After Hall scrambled to the Parma 21, Casey swept the left side for 18 yards and a first-and-goal at the 3

Two plays later, Casey fought his way into the end zone from a yard out and Alessandro's second extra point made it a 14-0 game with 58 seconds left in the first half.

Saint Ignatius' defense bent a little in the second half, but always seemed to have the resiliency to bounce back.

Following a defensive holding penalty on the Cats that came off a fourth-and-7 from the Saint Ignatius 44, Parma was awarded a first down at the Cats' 29-yard line. But on a fourth-and-5 from the 24, strong and gifted sophomore safety Justin Sands broke up a pass play and the Redmen were turned away again.

Parma had excellent field position in the closing minutes of the third quarter, as Saint Ignatius fumbled and the ball was recovered by Snyder at the Wildcats' 27-yard line.

However, on fourth-and-8 from the Saint Ignatius 25, Cats sophomore defensive back Cameron Toppin had the coverage and a Redmen pass play was broken up.

The Cats' D stood tall during the final seven-plus minutes of play, a stretch that featured another back-to-the-wall stand after Parma, on the strength of some tough inside running by Post, moved to a first-and-goal at the 10.

Saint Ignatius kept the Redmen from advancing any further, however, and preserved the shutout.

"It was a hard-fought game," said Coach Yappel. "We made some mistakes that we had to overcome. Fourteen to nothing I think is indicative of the weather we had. We were able to work a lot of guys in, and that was good for us. But we need to improve. We can't have those self-inflicted wounds, the blocked punt and the turnovers."

HERE IS A RECAP ON SATURDAY MORNING'S FRESHMEN GAME, WITH COMMENTS FROM CATS HEAD COACH RODNEY GALLAWAY.

The weather only got worse as the Freshmen game approached and this corner will offer that as an excuse for both ninth-grade teams.

After a scoreless first half, Parma's freshmen turned the ball over on downs and then forced a Saint Ignatius punt.

Faced with a second-and-13 from their 12-yard line, the Redmen went to the air and Jonah Bagby, who turned in a solid late morning and early afternoon, made a leaping catch in stride and outran the pursuit into the scoreboard end zone of Byers Field for an 88-yard touchdown play. An attempt for a 2-point conversion failed and Parma led, 6-0, with 3:48 remaining in the third quarter.

The Redmen defense, which started to apply some pressure up front, including a momentum sack by Cru Webb, came up with a key fumble recovery with 5:22 left and weathered every challenge down the stretch. Parma sealed the deal behind the running of Bagby.

"The second-team guys that got to play today did a nice job," said Coach Gallaway, who will turn his attention to Thursday's matchup with the McDowell Trojans. "They come to practice every day and help us get better on a daily basis. So it was nice to see what they could do. We played well enough to win, there is no doubt about that.

"No excuses, but if we're able to throw the ball a little bit, that helps us out a lot," Coach Gallaway continued. "They put a lot of guys in the box (defensively) and we had a tough time dealing with that. Kudos to them, they hit that home run ball. That's what I told our guys, that we needed an explosive play at some point to put us over the top and it just didn't happen.

"A tough one for us, but we'll get back to work in preparation for McDowell this coming week."       

    

 

Dennis Grosel's four first-half rushing touchdowns lead the Varisty Football Wildcats to a 55-0 victory over Parma on Byers Field Friday night
10/3/2015

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit October 2015

Parma, Ohio - With their gifted senior quarterback Dennis Grosel reading the Parma defense like his favorite book, the Wildcats improved to 4-2 after dominating what was the renewal of a series that began in 1959 and ended in 1979.

After Friday's one-sided affair, which came on Saint Ignatius' annual Senior Parents Night, the Wildcats now lead their all-time series with the Redmen, 12-8-1. Saint Ignatius and Parma did not meet on the gridiron in 1976.

Grosel, who is having an All-Ohio caliber season with his arm and legs, played just the first half and totaled 123 yards rushing and four touchdown runs on six carries and 176 yards passing. He was 13-of-19 through the air, including a 34-yard touchdown pass to standout senior wide receiver Cal Grbac. Cal made the catch along the visitor's sideline of Byers Field, spun away from the cornerback and raced into the scoreboard end zone.

Affter hard-nosed junior tailback Jimmy Andrews scored the game's first points off a 3-yard touchdown run that saw Jimmy make a nice cut-back move, Grosel followed with scorings runs of 54, 12 and 7 yards.

Following his 34-yard TD toss to Grbac, Grosel scored his fourth rushing touchdown off a smooth 13-yard gallop. Junior kicker/punter Colin Goodfellow, who had an exceptional night powering the pigskin up and through the brisk, strong and tricky winds that swirled around Robert M. Boulton Stadium, produced five of his seven extra points in a first half that saw Saint Ignatius take a 41-0 lead into its locker room at halftime. Colin was also booming kickoffs into the end zone.

While all four of Grosel's touchdown runs were an exceptional display of field vision, cutting ability and deceiving power and speed, one in particular drew a warm smile from this old-timer on a night that was more like mid-to-late November than the second day of October.

With the Wildcats leading, 7-0, Dennis surveyed the field, didn't like what he saw, rolled left, made a highlight-reel cut back across the field that saw him dart to the right sideline and, after freezing a defender with a move that Russell Wilson would have appreciated, completed his 54-yard TD jaunt.

As Saint Ignatius' Hall of Fame Head Coach Chuck Kyle was clearing his bench in order to make sure that all 100-plus of his Wildcats saw playing time, Saint Ignatius added two more rushing touchdowns in a running-clock second half. They resulted from a 9-yard effort by senior tailback Elijah Wahib off a quick burst over the left side and into the Day Drive end zone standing up, and a strong second-effort 1-yard dive into the scoreboard end zone by senior running back David Welcsh.

After Parma (2-4) turned in some successful plays in the early going, the Cats' defense, behind the powerful and relentless penetration by junior nose tackle Joe Gibbons and senior lineman Nathan Keirn, and a leaping interception by senior safety Ryan Berger, put an end to the adrenaline the Redmen were riding in the first quarter. Keirn had 2 and a half sacks in the first half.

Saint Ignatius totaled 410 yards (200 rushing and 210 passing) and Parma had 126 yards of offense (76 rushing and 50 passing).

The Cats' leaders in the receiving department were Grbac with four receptions for 67 yards, senior Jim Berger with three catches for 42 yards and senior Tyler Musbach with two grabs for 26 yards.

The Wildcats will now have a Bye Week and then it will be the demanding three-game stretch that will determine Saint Ignatius' playoff status in Division I - versus Archbishop Moeller at Dublin Coffman High School on Oct. 17 at 7 PM, versus St. Xavier on Oct. 24 in a 2 PM kickoff at Byers Field and versus longtime West Side rival St. Edward on Halloween at 2 PM in storied Lakewood Stadium, aka "The Madhouse on Madison."

JUST FYI from Friday night, Archbishop Moeller lost to La Salle in overtime and St. Xavier was defeated by Elder in two overtimes. Ah yes, those Cincinnati teams just beat up on each other.

HERE ARE COACH KYLE'S COMMENTS FROM FRIDAY NIGHT'S GAME: "If he keeps doing that I'm going to have him on the track team," Coach Kyle said of Dennis Grosel's impressive rushing production in the first half. "I'll tell Coach (Brad) Ganor that he will have to get a new infielder. Dennis is going to run the relays.

"He's got good vision, as people can see," Coach Kyle continued in his assessment of Grosel's effort. "You have some teams that drop into coverage and just rush three. Our offensive line is doing a nice job blocking, so it's like okay, take your seam. And as you see, he will do it. We keep reminding him not to try to run over people. A couple of times tonight I thought he could have just slid in, but he was trying to get a first down. He's got speed and the leverage to break one."

Among other things, Coach Kyle was pleased with the consistent performance by Colin Goodfellow.

"He can kick the ball a mile," said Coach Kyle said. "He's a weapon. Our kicking game is pretty strong. Matt Trickett, our other kicker, is with the soccer team in New York. Our average in punt returns against us is still single digits and the kickoffs go into the end zone. That's the way I like to play football."      

     

            

 

Saint Ignatius vs. Parma. What was once one of the storied football rivalries in all of Greater Cleveland will be renewed on Friday at 7 PM, when the Wildcats and the Redmen meet on Byers Field in Parma's Robert M. Boulton Stadium
10/1/2015

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit September/October 2015

The Wildcats lead the series that began in 1959 and ended in 1979, 11-8-1. Saint Ignatius and Parma did not play in 1976.

Ohio City - Although Saint Ignatius' Chuck Kyle '69 never coached against Parma during his previous 32 years as the Wildcats' Head Football Coach, he recalls vividly that opening night in the fall of 1968 when his head coach, Saint Ignatius legend the late John J. Wirtz, pointed a finger in his direction while the Wildcats were on defense.

Better known for his prowess as an All-City running back for the Wildcats, Kyle was called on to go in and play one of the linebacker positions. Although Kyle had contributed in the defensive backfield, linebacker was a whole new position for him.

With Saint Ignatius clinging to a 2-0 lead over Parma in the late stages of the game, the kid nicknamed "Chico," on the advice of fellow linebacker Mike Noetzel, was told to keep an eye on the Redmen running back and if he flares or goes out to the flat, "you have to pick him up."

So what happened?

The back flared out to the flat and Kyle intercepted the ball and returned it for a 22-yard touchdown in front of a packed house at Byers Field. That effort, along with Larry Berridge's extra-point kick, pushed Saint Ignatius' lead to nine points and the Wildcats hung on for a 9-8 victory.

Yes, the Parma defense threw a shutout, but the Redmen still went down in a loss that was hard to swallow.

Coach Kyle moved to Parma and Holy Family Parish when he was in the sixth grade. As a young man, he would go and watch the outstanding Parma and Valley Forge teams from the early 1960s.

Among those Parma greats was Arnold "Arnie" Chonko, the uncle of current Saint Ignatius defensive back Jeff Chonko. Jeff is also a catcher in the Wildcats' highly successful baseball program.

Arnie Chonko, from the Parma Senior Class of 1961, was a standout in baseball, basketball and football for the Redmen. He was a two-time All-Lake Erie League and two-time All-District selection in baseball and a three-time All-LEL honoree in football.

Arnie was the LEL MVP and the Cleveland Touchdown Club Player of the Year in football in 1960. He earned All-State honors in both football and baseball. Arnie received three letters in baseball and three letters in football while attending The Ohio State University. In baseball, he was a two-time All-Big Ten selection and an NCAA All-American.

In football for the Buckeyes, Arnie was a three-year starting defensive back, earning both All-Big Ten and NCAA All-American honors in 1964. He played in the 1965 East-West Shrine Game. Arnie won numerous Scholar-Athlete awards during his career, including two-time All-Academic Big Ten and two-time Academic All-American honors. Arnie was named to the Ohio State All-Century team in both football and baseball and was elected to the OSU Athletic Hall of Fame. He was selected in both the professional baseball and football drafts, but decided to enter the OSU Medical School and went on to become an accomplished medical doctor.

In what were the first two meetings on the gridiron between the Wildcats and the Redmen, Arnie Chonko led Parma to victories in 1959 (14-6) and 1960 (34-0). Arnie is a charter member of the Parma Senior High School Athletic Hall of Fame.

"I was in the crowd watching Arnie Chonko play, that's amazing," said Coach Kyle, who also recalled his junior season of 1967, when Parma upset a talent-laden Saint Ignatius team, 16-14.

The '67 Cats would go on to finish 9-1 and bring home the annual Charity Game City Championship trophy by defeating Collinwood, 21-0, on Thanksgiving Morning in the Grand Lady on the Lake, old Municipal Stadium.

Ah, the late 1950s and the 1960s, a great era in area high school football.

And now it's the renewal of a rivalry that used to traditionally merit Saturday morning front-page headlines in The Plain Dealer Sports Section, as Saint Ignatius (3-2) and Parma (2-3) are gearing up for what will be their 21st Varsity football encounter after not playing each other for more than three decades.

COACH KYLE ON THE 2015 PARMA REDMEN: "They have some nice schemes that they run offensively," Coach Kyle said of the Redmen, as he was putting his Wildcats through Tuesday afternoon's practice. "The passing scheme, you can tell that they really work at it. The rollout, the drop back, they try to spread you all out.

"And when you're sitting there trying to defend the pass, they will pop a run," Coach Kyle continued. "Defensively, they run a four front, something we've seen all season. So, I think we're comfortable with what they do.

"Defensively, we have to get some stops and get our offense the ball," said Coach Kyle of the defensive problems his Wildcats encountered with Walsh Jesuit's ball control and third-down efficiency last week, a game the Cats pulled out, 30-27, behind an 80-yard drive with 53 seconds remaining to be played. "That can't continue. With the schedule we have there is no way."

After Parma and then a bye week, Saint Ignatius will encounter a three-game stretch that will determine its postseason fate - versus Archbishop Moeller at Dublin Coffman High School, home to St. Xavier at Byers Field and versus longtime West Side rival St. Edward on Halloween afternoon in tradition-rich Lakewood Stadium.

The record 11-time Division I state champion Wildcats are seeking their 27th OHSAA postseason playoff appearance since 1988. In this week's OHSAA Region 1 computer playoff ratings, Saint Ignatius was 21st. The top 16 teams in Region 1 at the end of the regular season qualify for the regional quarterfinal playoffs.

ON THE MEND: Saint Ignatius' All-Ohio and All-American offensive tackle Liam Eichenberg, a University of Notre Dame recruit, was practicing on Tuesday and all-state senior wide receiver/defensive back Jack Cook and gifted senior tailback James Norris have bounced back nicely. The Wildcats' goal is to be at full strength for the key three-game stretch.

PARMA'S LATEST OUTING: The Division I Redmen, who have defeated Normandy and John Marshall, are coming off a 49-7 loss to Elyria Catholic, a talented Division V program that stands 4-1, 2-0 in the Great Lakes Conference. Parma is a member of the newly formed GLC.

Elyria Catholic quarterback Jake Kuchta was 10-for-10 passing against the Redmen for 243 yards and three touchdowns. EC's defense picked off three passes, including a 92-yard interception return for a touchdown by Zac Thurmon.

Parma, which qualified for the OHSAA playoffs as recently as 2009, currently stands 24th in the Region 1 computer ratings.

AIR WAVES: Friday night's renewal of the Saint Ignatius vs. Parma football series will be brought to you live over the Saint Ignatius Student Broadcast Network. The one-two punch of senior Carter Spearry and junior Brendan DeVenney will call it as they see it from Ridge Road and Day Drive.

Friday night's game will also be broadcast live over WHK-AM 1420.

Veteran Ed Daugherty will handle the play-by-play and one of the original radio voices of Saint Ignatius football, Lenny Soeder '85, will provide his veteran analysis. The WHK pregame is slated for 6:30 PM. 

 
 

 

Trailing, 24-11, with just over two minutes remaining in the third quarter, Coach Paul Yappel's Junior Varsity Wildcats rally to a 25-24 victory over Glenville on Wasmer Field Monday night
9/29/2015

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit September 2015

Ohio City - The bells from St. Mary of the Assumption Chapel rang eloquently on the campus of Saint Ignatius High School as the undefeated Junior Varsity Football Wildcats and the Glenville Tarblooders lined up for their 6 PM opening kickoff under a majestic blue-gray sky that highlighted a perfect early fall Monday on Cleveland's near West Side.

A spirited crowd was on hand to witness a game that saw the Wildcats and the Tarblooders test each other's will for nearly the full 40 minutes (JV quarters are 10 minutes) before Coach Paul Yappel's talented, versatile and oh so resilient JV Cats prevailed, 25-24, and completed the halfway point of their season at 5-0.

As a class, the sophomore Wildcats are 15-0 dating back to their 10-0 Freshmen campaign in the fall of 2014.

Trailing by 13 points in the late stages of the third quarter, Saint Ignatius cut the deficit to 24-18 on a 35-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Daniel Alexander to sophomore wide receiver/defensive back/kick returner Connor Kennedy, an effort that saw Connor make an excellent adjustment to the ball along the left sideline and find the corner of the scoreboard end zone in Wasmer Field. Sophomore Matthew Trickett, who doubles as a mainstay on the Wildcats' nationally acclaimed Varsity Soccer team, kicked the extra point and Mr. Momentum was seen pacing the home sideline with 1 minute and 10 seconds remaining in the third quarter.

After Glenville got a big emotional lift on a diving interception by linebacker DeMauris Winbush at the Tarblooders' 4, Glenville gave the ball right back on a fumble that was recovered by Saint Ignatius sophomore linebacker Logan Joyce at the Tarblooders' 13-yard line with just over three minutes remaining to be played.

Behind a smooth sideline reception by sophomore wide receiver Michael Drobnick and the tough, second-effort running of sophomore tailback Mark Bobinski, the Wildcats were in business with a first-and-goal at the 1.

Two plays later, Alexander powered his way over the left side and into the Lorain Avenue end zone. After another high and true PAT by Trickett, Saint Ignatius led, 25-24, with 1:29 left.

Glenville couldn't generate anything on its final possession and the Cats ran out the clock in what was one of the more will-testing and intense Junior Varsity games you will ever witness.

What have left a lasting impression on this old-timer since the first day of mini camps in early June are the class, character and team-first attitude that Alexander and Saint Ignatius' other gifted sophomore quarterback, Kyle Hall, have displayed in sharing the field general duties for Coach Yappel and Quarterbacks Coach Elvis Grbac.

They have truly pushed each other athletically and have supported one another from their freshmen seasons to what is now Week 6 on the JV burner. That will take place on Saturday at 9 AM versus Parma's Junior Varsity at Byers Field in Robert M. Boulton Stadium.

"I think the competition makes us both better," said Hall, who had a solid first half for the Wildcats on Monday night. "We both feed off the adrenaline of giving our best effort out there against teams like this (Glenville). It makes the team better."

"I have to agree 100 percent," said Alexander in responding to Hall's comments. "Kyle and I are obviously going at it. As Coach Restifo says (Wildcats veteran Varsity Offensive Coordinator Nick Restifo), the best teams are the ones with the best backups and guys who are pushing you. Kyle pushes me constantly, making me better. We count on each other and try to make each other better, because overall we want to win as a team."

As for Monday's heart pounder versus the Tarblooders, Alexander said he had to give a shout out to the defense and emphasized that Glenville will help the JV Cats in preparation for their three big games down the stretch versus the Junior Varsity programs from Archbishop Moeller, St. Xavier and St. Edward.

Those last three games on the Cats' JV slate are, said Hall, games of equal talent, games that will show who has the bigger heart and who wants it more.               

THE EARLY GOING ON MONDAY NIGHT: Glenville was impressive in the first quarter, as the Tarblooders took an 8-0 lead on a 36-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jamel Hamm to wide receiver/running back Dray Bailey and the ensuing two-point conversion run by Hamm with 1:56 to go in the opening quarter.

Saint Ignatius, sparked by a fumble recovery by sophomore defensive back Max Mook at the Glenville 33, closed to 8-3 on a 25-yard field goal by Trickett with 4:54 remaining in the first half.

After Trickett's ensuing kickoff sailed into the Lorain Avenue end zone and almost waved down the 22 Express, the Cats' defense forced the Tarblooders to punt from their goal line.

Following an authoritative punt return by Kennedy to the Glenville 29, Saint Ignatius rode a clutch scramble around the left side by Hall that came off a fourth-and-14 from the Glenville 33 and resulted in a first-and-10 at the Tarblooders' 16.

Sparked by a leaping and sure-handed reception by sophomore wide receiver Sam Snyder that gave the Cats a first-and-goal at the 3, Bobinski powered his way up the gut and into the end zone. Hall, off a rollout to the right, tucked the ball away and ran for a 2-point conversion that extended Saint Ignatius' lead to 11-8.

Trailing, 11-8, at halftime, Glenville regained the lead, 16-11, on a 46-yard TD gallop by Bailey and the ensuing 2-point conversion run by Tre Wilson. Wilson would step up big again by intercepting a pass just beyond the Wildcats' 40 and returning the ball for a touchdown. The diminutive, but quick and hard-nosed Wilson then tacked on another 2-point conversion that made it a 24-11 game in favor of Glenville and set the stage for Saint Ignatius' dramatic comeback.

Along with the key fumble recoveries by Mook and Joyce, the Cats' defense got some excellent pressure up front from sophomore nose tackle Aidan Gill, sophomore defensive end Jeffrey Outcalt, sophomore linebacker Andrew Keirn and sophomore tackle Darian Kinnard, just to name a few.

Saint Ignatius' offensive line, keyed by some impressive blocks by 6-foot-3, 270-pound Toby Engel, also turned in a solid workman-like effort.

OUR PRAYERS AND BEST WISHES FOR A SPEEDY RECOVERY GO OUT TO TARBLOODERS TALENTED LINEMAN ANTHONY CANADRY, WHO SUFFERED AN ARM INJURY WITH 8:15 REMAINING IN THE FIRST HALF AND WAS TAKEN BY AN AMBULANCE TO A NEARBY HOSPITAL.              

 

Trailing by four points with 53 seconds left, Saint Ignatius drives 80 yards in seven plays and defeats Walsh Jesuit, 30-27, on a 38-yard Dennis Grosel to Jim Berger hookup with 8 seconds remaining.
9/27/2015

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit September 2015

Parma, Ohio - Walsh Jesuit, which could easily be the best 1-4 football team in Northeast Ohio, if not the entire state, went toe-to-toe with the area's fifth-ranked Wildcats on Saturday night and took a 27-23 lead on a 22-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Mac Shinaberry to wide receiver Pat Keough, and the ensuing extra-point kick by Noah Ball.

It was an effort that saw Keough run a smooth route, secure the ball and fight his way into the scoreboard end zone of Byers Field. Ball's PAT capped an eight-play, 58-yard drive that started with 3:09 left to play and ended with 53 ticks remaining on the clock. 

After the Warriors drove for a first down at the Saint Ignatius 22, Wildcats outstanding senior quarterback Dennis Grosel, already anticipating that he might have to bring his team back in the final seconds, paced the home sideline with his football tucked securely in his arm and hand, and yelled: "Offense, offense, we're not going to lose this game, we're not going to lose this game!"

A gifted field general who can hurt an opponent with his powerful, accurate arm and his legs, Grosel calmly marched his team 80 yards, as he found multi-skilled senior wide receiver/long snapper Jimmy Berger breaking open across the middle.

Jimmy, who had to adjust his route because of a change in the Warriors' coverage, never broke stride as he hauled in what was another strong throw from Grosel, outran the pursuit down the right or visitor's sideline and dove past the pylon into the corner of the Day Drive end zone with eight seconds left. Sophomore Matthew Trickett added a high and true extra-point kick and Saint Ignatius' defense took care of the final eight seconds.

Grosel and Berger will be the first to tell you that the winning play was made possible by Coach Adam Rini's and Coach Paul Yappel's offensive line, as the men up front allowed Dennis to survey the field and Jimmy the time to adjust his route. The O-Line was without the services of two of its mainstays - senior All-Ohio and All-American tackle Liam Eichenberg, a Notre Dame recruit, and senior guard Michael Bodnar. Liam is hoping to be back this coming week and Michael is pointing to the Week 8 game versus Archbishop Moeller.

If you want a key play during the precise and composed winning drive, it came from the press box.

Wildcats veteran Offensive Coordinator Nick Restifo, who said, "I've been saving that one," called for a screen pass to strong and talented junior tailback Jimmy Andrews.

Executing it just as Coach Restifo drew it up, Grosel threw the screen to Andrews, who hauled in the pass while keeping his powerful legs churning and his shoulders pointed up field. Jimmy rambled to the Warriors' 38-yard line off a play that started at the Saint Ignatius 35.

What left a lasting impression on Coach Restifo and Wildcats Hall of Fame Head Coach Chuck Kyle '69 was that Saint Ignatius had all three of its timeouts at its disposal during the winning drive and didn't have to use even one of them.

The Wildcats, who improved to 3-2 with the victory and now lead their all-time football series with their Jesuit brothers from Walsh, 6-4, are focused on their final four games of the regular season. If winning all four of those games, versus Parma (Oct. 2), Archbishop Moeller (Oct. 17) , St. Xavier (Oct. 24) and St. Edward (Oct. 31), is necessary for the record 11-time Division I state champions to earn their 27th trip to the OHSAA postseason playoffs, then so be it.

"We're not going to let other teams determine our fate," said Grosel, referring to the OHSAA Harbin postseason qualifying system, in which teams are awarded points for each game they win and each game a defeated opponent wins.

There were many memorable performances that took place in Parma's Robert M. Boulton Stadium on Saturday night, including Grosel's 203 yards and two touchdowns passing, and his 122 yards rushing that included touchdown runs of 38 and 18 yards. Dennis hit on 12-of-18 passes without an interception and he racked up his 122 rushing yards on just 11 carries.

Andrews rushed for 77 yards on 11 carries and senior wide receiver Tyler Musbach had three receptions for 53 yards, including a 35-yard touchdown reception that wiped out an early 3-0 deficit. Tyler made an excellent adjustment to the ball in the right corner of the scoreboard end zone.

Senior wideout Cal Grbac totaled four catches for 49 yards, Jimmy Berger finished with two grabs for 46 yards and senior tight end Robert Hilbig came up with a key 28-yard reception.

As for the defense, senior middle linebacker Ben Cray was involved in 12 tackles on the night, including a sack and another tackle for a loss, junior linebacker Adam Shibley, a name to remember my friends, was in on nine tackles, senior linebacker/safety Nick LaVigna had his nose for the ball involved in 13 of the Cats' stops and Nick also had a huge interception that thwarted a Walsh Jesuit drive late in the game. Rounding out Saint Ignatius' leading tacklers was senior defensive back Anthony Corte with four solos and two assists.

As for Walsh Jesuit's offensive numbers, workhorse tailback Joe Penna carried the ball 40 times for 198 yards and a touchdown run of 16 yards and Shinaberry completed 16 of 24 passes for 205 yards and two touchdowns. Penna was coming off a victorious performance against St. Francis (Athol Springs, N.Y) that saw him rush 54 times for 318 yards and six touchdowns.

Keough, who also doubles as a defensive back, finished with seven receptions for 113 yards and two touchdowns, and running back/linebacker Josh Bennett totaled 60 receiving yards off six receptions.

GETTING THEIR KICKS: Ball's powerful leg produced field goals of 41 and 42 yards for the Warriors and Trickett, who earlier in the day contributed to the undefeated Varsity Soccer Team's 6-0 victory over Olentangy Liberty on Wasmer Field, kicked his first Varsity field goal, a 23-yard effort with 1:29 left in the first half. After Ball's 42-yard field goal, Saint Ignatius clung to a 16-13 lead at halftime.

*Trickett's first Varsity field goal came at the same location (the Day Drive end zone of Byers Field) that his kicking coach, former Wildcats standout kicker Seamus Hennessey '09, also produced his first Varsity field goal. Seamus' came in the 2008 season opener versus Glenville. And guess what? It was also 23 yards.

FROM COACH KYLE: Although Coach Kyle, who is now 4-0 lifetime versus Walsh Jesuit, couldn't say enough about the poise and execution on the Wildcats' winning drive, he emphasized that his team still has plenty to work on defensively, especially in the third-down department.

Walsh Jesuit was 11 of 16 in third-down conversions and 3 of 3 in fourth-down conversions. The Wildcats were 4 of 7 in third-down conversions.            

 

The hard-nosed, resilient and talented Freshmen Football Cats turn back the Glenville Tarblooders, 14-8, on Wasmer Field Thursday night
9/25/2015

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit September 2015

Ohio City - Cool under pressure, Wildcats quarterback Patrick Delahunty rolled right and found wide receiver Anthony Pilla in the back of the Lorain Avenue end zone for a touchdown that, following the extra-point kick by versatile receiver/running back/kicker Jack Cannon, put the Freshmen Cats in front, 14-8, with five minutes and seven seconds remaining to be played.

Pilla was a study of concentration, calmness and sure hands as he hauled in a ball that had to be placed over the coverage of a Tarblooders secondary that had size and speed.

Saint Ignatius' defense, behind key tackles by linebackers Griffin Sheehan and Tommy Eichenberg, then turned Glenville away and Coach Rodney Gallaway's  tough-minded ninth graders celebrated their fourth victory in five games.

Having reached the halfway point of their season, the Freshmen Cats will now prepare for their meeting with the Parma Redmen on Oct. 3 at Byers Field in Parma's Robert M. Boulton Stadium. The kickoff will be 11 AM.

Along with some timely and resilient plays, Saint Ignatius' Freshmen displayed a lot of heart and toughness in defeating a Glenville team that consisted of freshmen and sophomores.   

"I just wanted the guys not to have that as an excuse this week," said Coach Gallaway of his freshmen facing some older and physically bigger players. "We're a football team, they're a football team. You're going to play guys that are older than you at some point in your life.

"So, just come out and play our type of football," Coach Gallaway continued. "We knew if we could be disciplined, that would go a long way in helping us out. For the most part, we were. We had some special teams miscues, but that happens and we weathered the storm. The defense responded both times."

The Tarblooders had plenty of size and strength, but the big hearts and poise belonged to the Cats down the stretch.

Saint Ignatius, behind some clutch receptions and yards after the catch by Cannon, Nate Conry and Nigel Drummond, took a 7-0 lead on a tough, but sure-handed touchdown reception by Drummond and the ensuing extra point by Cannon with two minutes left in the first quarter.

In what was a display of never quitting on a play, Wildcats defensive back Aidan Morrison made a diving interception near the home sideline after the ball bounced in the air off the pads of an open receiver. It was an effort that allowed the Cats to take that 7-0 lead into the second quarter.

Early in the second quarter, Glenville rode its special teams to an 8-7 lead.

After a bad snap while Saint Ignatius was attempting to punt, the Tarblooders jarred the ball loose and it was alertly scooped up by Tyon Posey, who rambled down Wasmer Field and into the Lorain Avenue end zone for a touchdown. Glenville quarterback Xander Spikes ran for the 2-point conversion and the Cats found themselves trailing by one point with 8:50 to go in the first half.

The Tarblooders had some other opportunities, including a 37-yard touchdown run that was wiped out by a penalty. But a combination of Saint Ignatius' bend a little, but don't break timely defense and Glenville's inopportune mistakes and penalties enabled the Wildcats to pitch a shutout over the final 28 minutes and 50 seconds.

"The team defense tonight was great," said Coach Gallaway, who watched Cats linebacker Chris Velotta recover the football after the Tarblooders snapped the ball over Spikes' head as Glenville was facing a third-and-goal from Saint Ignatius' nine-yard line.

"We did make a lot of first contact with tackles, which was great, because that's a big thing against Glenville," Coach Gallaway continued. "If you let them get outside that's an issue for us. It's a big emotional win. We knew what was out there and we responded."

COACH GALLAWAY ON ANTHONY PILLA'S WINNING TOUCHDOWN RECEPTION: "He's worked hard. Anthony had an early season injury, but I liked his speed and quickness on the outside and he has worked his way back into the mix. He's getting some time now, so that's good for him."             

 

 

With Aidan Gill and Matt Viancourt among those keyng the defense and Sam Snyder hauling in two early touchdown passes, Saint Ignatius' Junior Varsity Wildcats go on to defeat a talented JV program from Kirtland, 32-16, on Monday evening in Kirtland
9/22/2015

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit September 2015

Kirtland, Ohio - Saint Ignatius' gifted sophomore wide receiver Sam Snyder stands 5-foot-7 and weighs around 140 pounds.

But oh my, there is no measuring the impact the big-hearted Snyder can make on a football field.

"I just came out here with the same mentality as always," said Snyder, whose two touchdown receptions on the Wildcats' first two offensive possessions helped spark Coach Paul Yappel's undefeated Junior Varsity Cats to a 32-16 victory over the previously unbeaten Junior Varsity program from Kirtland under the blue skies of a picture-perfect fall evening in Lake County.

Saint Ignatius now stands 4-0 on the JV level heading into next Monday's game versus the Glenville Tarblooders on Wasmer Field, and the tenacious and talented Jayvees from Kirtland are 3-1 after a gutsy effort on the Hornets' natural grass surface.     

"We produced, from the line, to the receivers and the running backs," the humble and hard-nosed Snyder continued.

And that production was fueled by Saint Ignatius' effort on both sides of the ball.

Along with a balanced offense that was directed by promising sophomore quarterbacks Kyle Hall and Daniel Alexander, the Cats laid down an aggressive and opportunistic defense from the get-go.

After Hall and Snyder hooked up on a 39-yard touchdown pass that featured an on-the-money throw and a sure-handed reception, Saint Ignatius got an alert, nose-for the ball fumble recovery by linebacker Deonte Griffin that Deonte scooped up and returned to the Kirtland 15-yard line.

Two plays later, Snyder made a diving catch in the right corner of the end zone for an 11-yard TD reception with 5 minutes and 24 seconds remaining in the first quarter. Sophomore kicker/punter Matthew Trickett booted his second extra point and the Cats held a 14-0 lead. Trickett, who was coming off a solid defensive performance in the Varsity Soccer Cats' 4-1 victory at Copley on Saturday night, flirted with the highway on his first PAT.

"I had a good release and Dan (Alexander) did the rest of the work for me, putting it right where I could only catch it," Snyder said of his second TD reception.

While Kirtland's running game had its moments on Monday evening, Saint Ignatius' defense was relentless with its pressure for most of the 40 minutes (JV quarters are 10 minutes).

"I thought we did a great job of containing on the edge so the defensive ends could force the quarterback to make a decision of whether he wants to go to the middle or the outside," said strong and active sophomore nose tackle/defensive lineman Aidan Gill, who was the lead man in 4 1/2 of the Cats' numerous sacks. "That makes my job that much easier. And If I do a good job, it make the ends' job that much easier. That's why we were able to create that much pressure, we were all working together pretty well.

"We just have to keep our heads up and continue to do our jobs," Gill continued in reference to Kirtland's 16 points, eight in each half. "We didn't hang our heads on the fact that they scored. We came right back and did our job, got the offense back on the field and they scored."

A key member of Saint Ignatius' state-champion (spring and summer singles) Rugby Program, Gill said his rugby competition carries over to the football field.

"Rugby and football are very similar, in the physicality of the game and the way you have to move the bodes around, " said Gill.

Among the other Wildcats who were putting on the heat defensively were tackle Jack Jamieson, end Jeffrey Outcalt, linebackers Tom Grosel and Andrew Keirn, defensive backs Matt Viancourt and Cameron Toppin and safety Justin Sands.

Sands came up with a fumble recovery that led to eight more points for the Cats and a 22-0 lead with 1:25 left in the first quarter. Those eight points came courtesy of the arm and legs of Alexander.

After Kirtland cut the deficit to 22-8 with 7:29 left in the first half, Saint Ignatius took advantage of a high snap that sailed over the head of the Hornets' punter. The punter picked the ball up, but was swarmed under by the Cats' pursuit and Saint Ignatius was in business at the Kirtland 12.

Two plays later, standout sophomore tailback Mark Bobinski scored on an authoritative sweep over the left side and Trickett's PAT made it a 29-8 game with 3:38 to go in the first half.

After Gill and Outcalt combined on a sack, it stayed a 29-8 game entering the second half. Saint Ignatius then turned back a game Hornets team behind a 36-yard field goal by Trickett with 49.7 seconds remaining in the third quarter, some timely defensive play and the powerful second effort running of sophomore tailback Casey Reilly.    

 

 

Behind its gifted junior tailback D'Andre Swift, St. Joe's Prep of Philadelphia jumps on the Wildcats early and defeats Saint Ignatius, 35-6, at Northeast High School in Philadelphia on Saturday
9/20/2015

By Eddie Dwyer

As we reported on the corner in our Wednesday evening preview, Swift is one of the most gifted backs in the nation and one of the most highly recruited Varsity football players in these United States.

The Hawks (2-1), who are the two-time defending PIAA AAAA State Champions, took a 21-0 lead in the first quarter, stretched it to 28-0 by halftime and sealed the deal with a fourth-quarter touchdown.

Coach Gabe Infante's team scored in the first quarter off a 20-yard pass from quarterback Kevin Shaw to wide receiver Darryle Simmons, a 1-yard run by Swift and a 42-yard touchdown connection between Swift and Shaw. Alex Talbot accounted for the three extra points.

Swift and Shaw hooked up again in the second quarter, this time off a 13-yard TD strike. Talbot again added the extra point

D Kidd-Jackson's 7-yard scoring run off an 11-play drive and the ensuing extra point made it a 35-0 game in the fourth quarter, and the Wildcats got on the board off a 27-yard pass from senior quarterback Dennis Grosel to junior tight end James Leyden.

The football series between the two Jesuit schools now stands at 2-2.

Saint Ignatius, which slipped to 2-2 on the season, entered the game as the third-ranked team in the cleveland.com seven-county area poll and the state's 15th-ranked program in Division I by the Associated Press. Up next for Coach Chuck Kyle's Cats is a matchup with Walsh Jesuit on Sept. 26 at Byers Field in Parma's Robert M. Boulton Stadium. The kickoff will be 7 PM.

HERE ARE SOME KEY STATS FROM SATURDAY'S GAME, COURTESY OF WILDCATS STATISTICIAN DAVE POPLAR.

Total Yards: St. Joe's Prep 328, Saint Ignatius 273

First Downs: St. Joe's Prep 20, Saint Ignatius 15

Rushing Yards: St. Joe's Prep 148, Saint Ignatius 111

Passing Yards: St. Joe's Prep 180, Saint Ignatius 162

Saint Ignatius had 2 lost fumbles. St. Joe's Prep was credited by Saint Ignatius' stats crew for having no fumbles.

The Cats were penalized once for 15 yards and St. Joe's Prep was whistled five times for 78 yards.

Saint Ignatius' standout senior quarterback/co-captain Dennis Grosel completed 14 of 25 passes for 134 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. Dennis was sacked twice and rushed for 47 yards on eight carries.

Cats senior wide receiver/long snapper Jim Berger had three receptions for 53 yards and senior tight end Robert Hilbig hauled in three passes for 46 yards.

The Hawks' D'Andre Swift rushed for 109 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries and grabbed four passes for 79 yards and two touchdowns.

St. Joe's Prep senior signal-caller Kevin Shaw was 12-for-23 through the air for 180 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. He was not sacked.

The Hawks were 3-for-3 scoring in the red zone.

Saint Ignatius was 1 for 9 in third-down conversions and St. Joe's Prep converted 7 of 10 third downs.

The Cats were also 1 of 4 in fourth-down conversions.

Time of possession: 26:20 for the Hawks and 21:50 for Saint Ignatius.        

 

The Saint Ignatius versus St. Joseph's Prep Week 4 Varsity Football Preview
9/16/2015

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit September 2015

Ohio City - The Wildcats travel to Northeast High School in Philadelphia for Saturday's 3 PM matchup with the Hawks from St. Joseph's Prep, the Jesuit High School of Philadelphia. It will be just the fourth meeting on the gridiron between Saint Ignatius and St. Joe's Prep, with the Wildcats leading the series, 2-1.

Saint Ignatius defeated the Hawks, 26-6, in 2004 and St. Joe's Prep came back to even the series with a 28-14 victory in 2005. Last year, in what was a Week 3 heart pounder on Byers Field in Parma's Robert M. Boulton Stadium, the Wildcats prevailed, 42-34, behind an outstanding all-around performance by gifted wide receiver/defensive back/punt returner Jack Cook.

This fall, St. Joe's Prep is looking to become only the second school to win three consecutive PIAA AAAA State Football Championships. That was accomplished by the Central Bucks West in 1997, '98 and '99. C.B. West appeared in a fourth consecutive title game in 2000 versus Erie Cathedral Prep, but the Cathedral Prep Ramblers came out victorious and ended C.B. West's state record 59-game winning streak.

Resiliency has certainly been a trademark for Coach Infante's Hawks, as each of the past two seasons St. Joe's Prep started at 1-3 and ended up with 11-3 records that produced their first PIAA AAAA State Football Titles.

A member of the always demanding Philadelphia Catholic League, the Hawks enter Saturday's game at 1-1. St. Joe's  Prep traveled to Louisiana to face traditional power Evangel Christian Academy on Sept. 5 and came away with a 14-0 victory that featured rushing touchdowns by highly recruited junior tailback D' Andre Swift and senior quarterback Kevin Shaw.

Last weekend, the Hawks traveled to Ramsey, New Jersey and were defeated by the Garden State's perennial power, Don Bosco Prep, 55-21. The first quarter told the tale, as Don Bosco outscored St. Joe's Prep, 29-7. Two of Don Bosco's touchdowns came off a 100-yard interception return and a 90-yard kickoff return.

As for Swift, who scored on a 95-yard kickoff return and a 3-yard touchdown run in the loss to Don Bosco, it's safe to say that he is the Hawks' wings.

Carrying a scholarship offer list that includes Florida State, Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, LSU, Penn State, Michigan and Michigan State, just to name a few, the 5-9, 204-pound Swift rushed for 1,045 yards and 13 touchdowns last season. He also had 35 receptions for 495 yards and 6 TDs. Impressive numbers from a sophomore season, to say the least.

Swift, who has been timed at 4.4 in the 40-yard dash, capped his 2014 season by solving Pine-Richland's defense for four second-half touchdowns, including runs of 58 and 47 yards, and a catch and run for 48 yards, in the 49-41 state-championship game victory.

Although St. Joe's Prep graduated a strong nucleus from 2014, including mainstays Olamide Zaccheaus (a Virginia recruit), John Reid (Penn State) and Jon Runyan (the University of Michigan), the Hawks' gridiron cupboard is never bare.

That said, the Hawks' preseason concerns, concerns that might still linger a bit, centered around inexperienced offensive and defensive lines, and an untested quarterback.

Among the other Hawks to keep an eye on are senior running back/defensive back Benny Walls, tight end/fullback/defensive end Joe Dumond, tight end Billy Boyle, wide receivers Darryle Simmons and Terrence Greene, and linebackers Shaun Harris and Nick Vandevere.

FROM WILDCATS HEAD COACH CHUCK KYLE ON THE 2015 ST. JOSEPH'S PREP HAWKS. COACH KYLE WILL BE DIRECTING HIS VARSITY WILDCATS FOR THE 400TH TIME WHEN THE CATS AND THE HAWKS KICKOFF ON SATURDAY. SAINT IGNATIUS (2-1) ENTERS THE GAME AS THE THIRD-RANKED TEAM IN THE SEVEN-COUNTY AREA AND THE 15TH-RANKED DIVISION I PROGRAM IN OHIO BY THE ASSOCIATED PRESS.

"It's a long way to go to play a high school football game," said Coach Kyle, whose Wildcats will again be without All-Ohio senior offensive tackle/co-captain and University of Notre Dame recruit Liam Eichenberg. The Cats have also lost starting senior guard Michael Bodnar to an injury, but are expected to have veteran tailback James Norris back.

"First of all, offensively D'Andre Swift has been offered by just about everybody, you name it," continued the man who has coached against some of greatest running backs in the rich history of Ohio high school football, including the best running back this graybeard ever had the privilege to cover, Euclid High legend Robert Smith. "For Alabama to go all the way up to Philadelphia to get a running back is a bit surprising, but the kid is very good. We played against him last year, he's a player. So we have a challenge there.

"Offensively, they will give you a lot of different formations," Coach Kyle said. "Obviously we have to be concerned about their running game, but yet still handle the passing. And that's been a challenge so far this year in some of the situations. I do think we're getting better, however.

"Defensively, they are blitz oriented," said Coach Kyle. "If you can get through that first onslaught of what they're doing, you can have a very big play. They come at you and try to blow you up right there at the line of scrimmage. We have to have patience, because with a twist and a blitz, and stuff like that, it kind of disrupts a few things. But the next play, you say let's go, because it could be a big play. We had some good runs against them last year, but we threw the ball very well. Stay with it and we can get big plays."

             

 

Please note that Saturday's Varsity Football Game versus St. Joseph's Prep will be played at Northeast High School in Philadelphia. The kickoff is 3 PM.
9/16/2015
Saint Ignatius football remains in third place in the area poll and is ranked 15th in the initial Associated Press Division I State Poll for 2015
9/14/2015

By Eddie Dwyer

DIVISION I State Poll
1, Cincinnati Elder (9) 3-0 221
2, Huber Heights Wayne (4) 3-0 157
3, St. Edward (5) 2-1 128
4, Westerville Central (4) 3-0 111
5, Fairfield 3-0 97
6, Cincinnati Colerain (2) 2-1 96
7, Berea-Midpark 3-0 87
8, Findlay 3-0 81
9, Cincinnati St. Xavier 2-1 80
10, Powell Olentangy Liberty 3-0 54
Others receiving 12 or more points: 11, Mentor (1) 50. 12, Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller 43. 13, Lancaster 30. 14, Columbus Upper Arlington 23. 15, Saint Ignatius 19. 16, Stow 18. 17, Shaker Heights 17. 17, Beavercreek 17.

In the cleveland.com Top 25 area poll, St. Edward took over the No. 1 spot from Mentor, Mentor is now 2 and the Cats remained at No 3. Benedictine and Midview round out the top five.   

 

The 1,000th Game in Saint Ignatius' rich Varsity Football history results in a 41-0 victory over Valley Forge at Byers Field in Parma's Robert M. Boulton Stadium on Friday night
9/13/2015

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit, September 2015

Parma, Ohio - Saint Ignatius, the area's third-ranked team, struck early and often against the Patriots in improving its record to 2-1.

Before the kickoff on Friday night, Valley Forge and the City of Parma Heights paid tribute to Coach Chuck Kyle's late father-in-law, Paul William Cassidy, who had a remarkable four-plus decades as the Mayor of Parma Heights (see the corner's story from Tuesday night).

As part of the recognition, a $1,000 Scholarship was awarded from the Cassidy family to Valley Forge's outstanding senior student/athlete and two way lineman Dustin Nelson.

While Friday night was a milestone game for the storied football program from Cleveland's Jesuit Preparatory School, Coach Kyle '69, the most successful high school football coach in Greater Cleveland and the winningest Division I coach in Northeast Ohio, will direct his Wildcats Varsity program for the 400th time when Saint Ignatius travels to Pennsylvania next weekend (Saturday, Sept. 19) to face the Keystone State's two-time defending AAAA state champions St. Joseph's Prep, the Jesuit School of Philadelphia.

Saint Ignatius defeated St. Joe's Prep, 42-34, last season in what was a wild see-saw game at Byers Field. After Friday night's triumph over the Patriots of Valley Forge, Coach Kyle's career record is 318-80-1. Chuck is currently in his 33rd season as the head of his alma mater's football program.

UNDER THE FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS OF PARMA

The persistent rain that swirled across Byers Field all night couldn't dampen the spirits of the Wildcats, as they were determined to bounce back from last weekend's 63-56 loss at Mentor.

After Friday afternoon's pregame Mass on campus, Coach Kyle turned to his players and said "men of character correct a flaw." Coach Kyle was referring to the Mentor game and the defensive assignments that were not fulfilled.

"Okay gentlemen, we're back on the football field. Correct the mistakes and play like we can," said Coach Kyle as his Wildcats huddled around him just seconds before Friday's opening kickoff.

What the record 11-time state champions and three-time national champions are capable of was more than a game bunch of Patriots (0-3) could deal with.

After a superb punt return by gifted senior wide receiver/defensive back Jack Cook had the Cats purring in Valley Forge territory, a pass from standout senior quarterback Dennis Grosel to promising junior wide receiver Michael Daugenti put the ball on the Patriots' 1-yard line.

Three plays later, tough and talented junior tailback Jimmy Andrews swept the left side and fought his way into the end zone from 2 yards out. Junior Colin Goodfellow kicked the extra point and Saint Ignatius led, 7-0, with 8 minutes and 46 seconds remaining in the first quarter.

Following a strong defensive charge by the Wildcats that was keyed by junior nose tackle Joe Gibbons and senior lineman Nate Keirn, the Cats took possession at their 45.

A 45-yard burst up the middle by Andrews made it first-and goal at the Patriots' 10 and from there Andrews fired up the gut again for his second trip to the Day Drive end zone.

With Gibbons and senior middle linebacker/co-captain Ben Cray helping keep Valley Forge on its heels offensively, Saint Ignatius began to take total control en route to scoring all 41 of its points in the first half.

An on-the-money 15-yard touchdown pass from Grosel to smooth and sure-handed senior wide receiver Tyler Musbach in the back of the Day Drive end zone, a 10-yard scoop and score by quick and aggressive senior outside linebacker Nick LaVigna that saw Nick gobble up the loose ball before the Patriots even knew they fumbled, another as-it's-drawn-up 35-yard touchdown pass from Grosel to multi-skilled senior wide receiver/punt returner Cal Grbac, and an 8-yard touchdown run by big-hearted senior tailback Elijah Wahib closed the book on the first-half TD barrage.

Invaluable senior long snapper/wide receiver Jimmy Berger set up Wahib's second-effort score with a sure-handed 17-yard reception.

By The Numbers: With Jimmy Andrews rushing for 57 yards on just four carries, the Wildcats totaled 99 yards on the ground. Saint Ignatius' defense held Valley Forge to -minus 4 yards rushing. In very limited action, Dennis Grosel was 3-for-4 for 56 yards and the two touchdown passes. Along with his 35-yard TD reception, Grbac had a 34-yard punt return and junior tailback/wide receiver Dean "The Dream" Stowers returned two punts totaling 42 yards.

Cray and Gibbons keyed the dominant D, as Cray finished with six tackles, including five unassisted, and the hard-nosed as they come Gibbons made five tackles, including two for losses.

Some key plays from the second half included a heads-up recovery of the ball by senior defensive back Anthony Corte off an onside kickoff by Valley Forge to start the second half and a fumble recovery by junior linebacker Josef O'Brien.

From Coach Kyle: "He is a very nice young man," said Coach Kyle of the Patriots' Cassidy Scholarship award winner Dustin Nelson. "Dustin has a five-point accumulative average and the Valley Forge coaches and athletic director raved about the young man. He told me he wants to be a good example to the young kids coming up. They picked a great kid.

"Dennis (Grosel) was right on in what he was reading in the limited time he was in there, the defense was solid and Jimmy Andrews is really getting a feel for what we're doing, so that was very nice," Coach Kyle continued. "We got the second group in during the first quarter for a little bit. We got everybody in. And that's a lot of people."

REMEMBERING 9/11: Following Saint Ignatius' daily Examine time for prayer and thought on Friday afternoon, Ryan Franzinger '02, the Dean of Students and the Wildcats' outstanding linebackers coach, organized a "Reverent Moment" for 9/11.

The time included music by junior Allen Morinec, a trumpet player who is a member of the All-State Orchestra. After Allen performed God Bless America and Taps, there was a moment of silence.

AND THIS CORNER WISHES TO EXPRESS HIS HEARTFELT THANKS TO FATHER JACK MURPHY, SAINT IGNATIUS' VARSITY FOOTBALL CHAPLAIN, WHO OFFERED FRIDAY'S PRE-GAME MASS TO THE MEMORY AND SOUL OF MY OLDER BROTHER, JOHN DWYER, WHO DIED EARLIER THIS WEEK AFTER A LONG AND COURAGEOUS BATTLE WITH CANCER.

MY THANKS ALSO GO OUT TO COACH KYLE AND HIS OUTSTANDING STAFF, AND THE YOUNG MEN WHO HAVE KEPT THIS OLD-TIMER'S SPIRITS UP, THE 2015 SAINT IGNATIUS FOOTBALL WIDLCATS. YOUR CONTINUED PRAYERS FOR MY DAUGHTER, SUZANNE PATTON, MEAN THE WORLD TO ME.            

 

The Freshmen Football Cats improve to 2-1 on the season by defeating Solon, 42-0, in what was the home opener for Saint Ignatius' gritty and gifted ninth graders
9/11/2015

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit September 2015

Ohio City - Coach Rodney Gallaway's Wildcats took advantage of excellent field position in rolling to a 28-0 lead by halftime.

The Cats, who displayed a balanced offense and an aggressive and opportunistic defense, made it a 35-0 game with 53.4 seconds remaining in the third quarter and the OHSAA deficit rule brought a running clock into play at that point.

"I think the biggest thing is that all week we talked about how can we play as ourselves, not let the other team dictate what is going to happen and not play to the level of another team, no matter what the competition is," said Coach Gallaway, who will guide his 2-1 Wildcats against the Akron Buchtel Griffins at Buchtel on Sept. 17. The kickoff is scheduled for 5:30 PM.

"That was a focus issue for us last week, I think," Coach Gallaway continued in reference to the Sept. 3, 21-20 loss at Mentor. "We had some turnovers and things like not filling our assignments on defense. Having the focus part in there and realizing we're the better team, playing to our level and not their level, is a good lesson to learn."

That lesson was applied from the get-go on Thursday evening as the young Cats set the tempo with a three-and-out from their defense, an effort that gave Saint Ignatius possession at the Solon 45-yard line.

Three plays later, the Wildcats struck with a 46-yard touchdown pass off what was a smooth and sure route by wide receiver Nigel Drummond and a perfectly thrown ball by quarterback Patrick Delahunty. Patrick Otter's extra-point kick was high and true, and Saint Ignatius led, 7-0, with 7:27 remaining in the first quarter.

After fumbling the ball away at the Solon 14, the Cats, again taking advantage of excellent field position, stretched their lead to 14-0 on an authoritative 5-yard run over the left side by tailback Jahadge "Bo" Floyd and another money PAT by Otter.

Saint Ignatius' defense, which refused to break on a sunny and comfortable evening, set the table for the next seven points off a hustle fumble recovery by linebacker Chris Velotta. The Cats then took the road to the end zone off the hard-nosed running of Jack Kennedy. Otter went 3-for-3 and it was a 21-0 game with 6:44 left in the first half.

Another fumble recovery by Velotta led to a short touchdown sweep by Kennedy and Otter's fourth PAT in the closing seconds of the first half.

"Put them away when we can, that's kind of what the idea was," said Coach Gallaway, who watched Delahunty fight his way into the end zone, an effort that along with another PAT by Otter made it a 35-0 game with less than a minute remaining in the third quarter. "It was also great to see the scout guys execute, the guys that make us better as a team. They put in the time and effort as well, so it was fun to see that."

Coach Gallaway pointed to the special effort Wilson Young made off a reception on a deep sideline route. "He's just a great kid who works so hard to get better," said Coach Gallaway, who also praised the efforts of backup running backs Graeme Agronin and Charlie Smucny, efforts that led to the Cats' final touchdown on the evening.

Before their traditional postgame prayer, the Freshmen Cats received high grades from all of their coaches, including veteran Quarterbacks Coach/Offensive Coordinator Jim Cahill '89, who was pleased that the Cats surpassed their pre-game goal of 35 points.                  

 

 

It's game 1,000 as the Football Cats renew their rivalry with Valley Forge on Friday night. A special tribute to Coach Chuck Kyle's late father-in-law, Paul William Cassidy, will highlight the evening's festivities
9/10/2015
By Eddie Dwyer, September 2015
 
OHIO CITY - WE WOULD FIRST LIKE TO PRESENT SOME HIGHLIGHTS ON THE CAREER OF MR. CASSIDY THAT WERE AUTHORED IN THE PLAIN DEALER BY GRANT SEGALL AND THEN FOLLOW WITH A PREVIEW ON FRIDAY NIGHT'S SAINT IGNATIUS-VALLEY FORGE GAME, WHICH WILL MARK THE 1,000TH IN THE WILDCATS' STORIED FOOTBALL HISTORY.   
 
Mr. Cassidy served as the Mayor of Parma Heights for 43 years.
 
Cassidy’s successor as mayor, Martin Zanotti, described Cassidy as "an outstanding mayor, an incredible family man and an undying patriot.”
 
Mr. Cassidy, who passed away in July 2013 at the age of 94, won the Distinguished Flying Cross in World War II. He flew 28 missions over Europe and navigated the lead bomber on the first daylight raid of Berlin.
 
Cassidy practiced law before, during and after his years as mayor. He represented Cox Cable, Parma Community General Hospital and others from offices downtown, in Parma and in Parma Heights, and was an early champion of regional transit, a regional sewer system and strong regional government.
 
The third of six children, Mr. Cassidy was born in Pittsburgh and sold magazines there when he was just 5 years old. Living in the Glenville area of Cleveland by age 7, he began to deliver newspapers.
 
Mr. Cassidy graduated from legendary Cathedral Latin High School and spent two years at John Carroll University before working at Cleveland Graphite Bronze and attending Cleveland-Marshall College of Law at night.
 
In 1942, Cassidy married Elise A. Romano and joined the Army Air Corps. He served with the 447th Bomb Group in England.
 
After the war, Mr. Cassidy represented General Motors to dealers and graduated from Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. He joined the Ohio bar in 1947 and moved to Parma Heights a year later. He practiced downtown at first, then in Parma and Parma Heights until retiring in 2009 at age 90.
 
In 1953, Mr. Cassidy was appointed to a vacant seat on Parma Heights City Council. He became law director in 1954.
 
Mr. Cassidy was the force behind the building of Greenbrier Commons, with a swimming pool, library, skating rink and theater. He imposed high standards on a housing boom. He started emergency medical services and brought generations of technology to City Hall.
 
Parma Heights has one of the nation’s oldest continuing Memorial Day observances, dating back to the 1800s. Mr. Cassidy spoke there without notes year after year and choked up when talking about his comrades’ sacrifices in World War II.
 
In 1963, Cassidy became the first president of the Parma Bar Association. He was a charter member of the Parma Heights Chamber of Commerce and belonged to many other organizations.
 
Note from the corner: Mr. Cassidy, said Coach Kyle, loved to read and discuss history, especially topics such as George Washington and the Cival War. In fact, Coach Kyle said his late father-in-law played the major role in the naming of Valley Forge High School, which is appropriately located on Independence Boulevard in Parma Heights.
 
In 2011, Zanotti told The Plain Dealer, “Paul Cassidy was Parma Heights’ George Washington.”
 
NOTE: Coach Kyle grew up in Munster, Indiana before his family moved to Parma when he was in the sixth grade. Coach Kyle said he lived near the boarder of Parma and Parma Heights and spent a lot of time in Parma Heights. "I attended a lot of Valley Forge games as a kid," he said.
 
Here is The Corner's preview on what will be the eighth meeting on the gridiron between the Wildcats and the Patriots, and the first since 1992. The Cats lead the series, 6-1.
 
Saint Ignatius and Valley Forge met in football for the first time in 1986, Coach Kyle's fourth year at the helm of his alma mater. The Patriots came away with a 7-6 victory on a Byers Field that was a muddy quagmire thanks to Mother's Nature's week long rain assault.
 
After a 35-6 victory over Valley Forge in 1987, the Wildcats, in what was their first state championship season of 1988, rallied to a 14-13 victory over the Patriots when junior quarterback Joe Pickens scrambled away from heavy pressure on a third-and-20 from Valley Forge 43 and found junior wide receiver Patrick Friend open in the end zone with just over four minutes remaining. The ensuing extra-point kick by Phil Mohr and an interception by senior defensive tackle Dave Vernon helped prevent Valley Forge from pulling off what would have been a major statewide upset.
 
Coach Kyle's Cats would go on to dominate the next four meetings with the Patriots.
 
Here is a look at the 2015 Valley Forge Patriots, followed by comments from Coach Kyle, some quick Cats Stats and the starting lineup for the Saint Ignatius Student Broadcast Network.
 
Marcello DeAngelis, a 2002 graduate of Valley Forge and a former assistant coach for the Patriots, is in his first season as the head man on Independence Boulevard.
 
The Patriots had a rough first few months in 2014 that included some key injuries. After an 0-5 start, Valley Forge finished 4-6.
 
Coach DeAngelis and his Pats are looking forward to their new conference this fall as they join Bay, Elyria Catholic, Holy Name, Normandy, Parma and Rocky River in forming the Great Lakes Conference. Valley Forge was formerly a member of the Northeast Ohio Conference.
 
The Patriots have some nice size along the offensive line and a versatile athlete in safety/quarterback Tim Captain. Seniors Mason Claudio (6-foot-4, 290) and Kevin Russel (6-2, 255) help anchor the O-Line.
 
However, like their neighboring teams, Normandy and Parma Senior, depth is a major issue for the Patriots.
 
Valley Forge enters Friday night's game at 0-2, having lost to North Olmsted, 34-18, and Revere, 21-7.
 
FROM COACH KYLE: "Coach DeAngelis has done a nice job with their various formations. They're doing some interesting things from their formations, so it's kind of fun to defend. At times it's an unbalanced line and some times it's a strong side with a wing pretty heavy, and on the other side there's two wide receivers. A lot of misdirection.
 
"They have the ability to be in a one-back, but it's also some blocking schemes from the Wing-T, which Auburn has made a living off of," Coach Kyle continued. "It's kind of fun to sit down and look at, and get reads.
 
"Defensively, they're out of a four-man front," Coach Kyle said. "We seen a four-man front pretty often now. Every week you set a goal to get better. We like that our running attack is strong, our passing attack is strong and we want to keep working on that to make it even better."
 
Coach Kyle didn't hedge in saying that defensively, his team has many areas to work on. The Cats stand 1-1 after yielding 823 yards in a 63-56 loss at Mentor last weekend.
 
"We got into a shootout and Mentor is not the type of team you want to get in a shootout with. They have ways of getting into the end zone. Certainly we like scoring points, but the idea is that we need to get some stops and let the offense get in good field position. So there's a lot of work to be done (defensively). We have talent on defense, but some inexperienced things showed up, there is no doubt about that."
 
Coach Kyle emphasized that the Mentor film is now a "good teaching tool."
 
CATS STATS: Saint Ignatius enters Friday's game averaging 243.5 yards rushing and 6.5 yards per rush. The Cats have 10 rushing touchdowns. Through the air, Saint Ignatius is averaging 254 yards.
 
And as we told you over the weekend, standout senior quarterback Dennis Grosel set a new school record with his 415 yards passing versus Mentor and tied the school record for touchdown passes in game with six against the Cardinals. Bryan Panteck '01 threw six TD passes versus Toledo St. John's Jesuit in 2000 at legendary Lakewood Stadium.
 
As for touchdowns at this young point of the season, senior wide receiver/defensive back Jack Cook and junior tailback Jimmy Andrews each have three, and Cal Grbac, Elijah Wahib and Ian Forkapa each have two.
 
SIBN!: As always, the thrill-some threesome of Carter Spearry '16 (play-by-play), Brendan DeVenney '17 (color commentary) and Matt MacKenzie (twitter, stats and updates) will bring you Friday night's game live from Ridge Road and Day Drive.
 
ON A PERSONAL NOTE, IF I MAY: PLEASE KEEP THE FAMILY OF MY BROTHER JOHN DWYER IN YOUR PRAYERS, AS JOHNNY HAS PASSED AWAY AFTER A LONG AND COURAGEOUS BATTLE WITH CANCER. JOHNNY WILL BE BURIED ALONG SIDE HIS SON, JAMIE, WHOSE LIFE WAS ALSO TAKEN BY CANCER IN 2012.
 
AND THANK YOU FOR THE CONTINUED PRAYERS FOR MY DAUGHTER SUZANNE PATTON.                           

        

 

Wildcats JV Football responds to an early 7-0 deficit and goes on to a 35-25 victory over Mentor's Jayvees in a Saturday headliner on Wasmer Field
9/6/2015

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit September 2015

Ohio City - Coach Paul Yappel's Junior Varsity Cats, who now stand 2-0 on the season, found themselves trailing the Mentor Cardinals, 7-0, as Mentor struck first on a 21-yard touchdown run by sophomore quarterback Mike Zeuli.

The Cardinals' lead was short-lived, however, as the JV Wildcats were determined to prevent Mentor from going home with what would have been a sweep over Saint Ignatius' Football Program in a matter of three days.

The Freshmen Cats lost a tough 21-20 game at Mentor on Thursday evening that the corner reported on and Friday night the Wildcats' Varsity was defeated by the Cardinals in a wild offensive shootout in Jerome T. Osborne Sr. Stadium, 63-56 (see the corner's Varsity story that was posted last night).

Following Zeuli's early trip to the end zone, the JV Cats got a  strong kickoff return from sophomore wide receiver Michael Drobnick that helped set up an impressive 55-yard touchdown run by gifted and hard-nosed sophomore tailback Mark Bobinski. Sophomore kicker Matthew Trickett added the extra point and the score was knotted at 7 with 5 minutes and 55 seconds remaining in the first quarter.

It was at that point Saint Ignatius' defense began to leave its mark or marks on the game.

In what was a solid read and reaction, Wildcats sophomore linebacker Andrew Keirn made a leaping interception and returned the ball 21 yards for a touchdown. Trickett was high and true on the PAT and the Cats led, 14-7, with 5:08 left in the opening quarter.

It stayed that way entering the second half, as the Cats' defense continued to have the answers.

Sophomore safety Justin Sands, a young man this corner introduced you to in the JV game story versus Central Caholic last week, put his stamp on the second-half action with a fumble recovery at the Saint Ignatius 14-yard line and an interception in the end zone. Endless potential my friends.

With sophomore quarterback Daniel Alexander doing a solid job directing the Wildcats' balanced attack, that young man named Bobinski struck again with an 18-yard touchdown gallop that featured a big time cutback on the sun drenched Wasmer turf. Trickett was money on another extra point and Saint Ignatius' faithful were now into it at 21-7 with 5:15 to go in the third quarter. Junior Varsity quarters are 10 minutes.

Alexander set up Bobinski's second TD by running 20 yards to the Cardinals' 18-yard line. It was a savvy move by Alexander, who dropped back to pass, saw nothing was available through the air and tucked the ball away for a significant gain.

With the blue and gold mojo as hot as the air in Ohio City, it was Alex Schum's time to put his Cat paw imprint on Mentor's defensive secondary.

First it was a 3-yard touchdown reception by Schum from his tight end position that drew a roar of approval from his teammates and, along with sophomore Drew Alessandro's extra point kick, extended Saint Ignatius' lead to 28-7 with 1:49 remaining in the third quarter.

Sophomore defensive back Cameron Toppin's interception kept it a three-touchdown advantage for the Cats entering the fourth quarter.

From there, it didn't take long for Schum to make his presence felt once again.

Following a diving interception by sophomore defensive back Matthew Viancourt at the Cardinals' 21-yard line, Schum made a leaping touchdown reception in the Lorain Avenue end zone that again drew an ovation from his teammates.

Alessandro, a young man who worked endless hours on his kicking throughout the summer, then extended Saint Ignatius' lead to 35-7 with his second PAT on the afternoon.

The Wildcats, going to their bench over the final eight minutes on a humid, nowhere to hide from the sun day on Wasmer Field, withstood a late surge by the Cardinals that was fueled by two touchdown runs by junior tailback Isaiah Gullick and a TD reception by junior wide receiver Jeremy McClure that came off a pass from junior Ryan Hagan.

Up next for the JV Cats is a Sept. 14 matchup with the Fighting Eagles from Cleveland John F. Kennedy on Wasmer Field. The kickoff is scheduled for 6 PM.

FROM COACH YAPPEL ON SATURDAY'S VICTORY: "I thought we responded well. We came out after halftime and had a great third quarter. The bottom line is the turnover battle. That's the most important thing, winning the turnover battle. And we did. Our defense came up big when we needed it to. I think we have to spend more time on special teams, making sure that we're ready to go. That's what we have to work on between now and a week from Monday."                 

   

 

Congrats from the corner go out to Wildcats outstanding senior quarterback/co-captain Dennis Grosel
9/5/2015

By Eddie Dwyer 

Ohio City - Dennis' 415 yards passing and six TD passes in Friday night's 63-56 loss at Mentor place him among the Cats' all-time record holders.

Dennis' 415 yards versus the Cardinals surpassed the mark of 389 yards by Nate Szep in 2001 versus Strongsville and his six touchdown strikes tie the all-time single-game mark set by former All-Ohio, All-District and Plain Dealer All-Star quarterback Bryan Panteck in 2000 versus Toledo St. John's Jesuit.

Again, congratulations to Dennis, his family, Wildcats veteran Offensive Coordinator Nick Restifo, Quarterbacks Coach Elvis Grbac, Head Coach Chuck Kyle '69 and the entire Saint Ignatius Football Program.    

 

An unwavering display of talent and will. Saint Ignatius and Mentor add another memorable chapter to their storied rivalry as the Cardinals prevail, 63-56, in Mentor's Jerome T. Osborne Sr. Stadium on Friday night
9/5/2015

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit September 2014

Mentor, Ohio - No, there wasn't nearly as much at stake as there was in November of 2012, when Ohio's Mr. Football, Mentor senior quarterback Mitch Trubisky, led the Cardinals past Saint Ignatius, 57-56, in three overtimes in what was an OHSAA Division I Regional Championship Game at Parma's Byers Field in Robert M. Boulton Stadium.

The Cardinals-Wildcats Week 2 regular season encounter on Friday night in Mentor, however, had all of the drama of that 2012 night in Parma.

Coach Chuck Kyle's Wildcats and Coach Steve Trivisonno's Cardinals entered the "Game of the Week" as the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the area, repectively.

Meeting for the 19th time in what is the premier Catholic School versus Public School football rivalry in Ohio, if not the entire nation, Saint Ignatius (now 1-1) and Mentor (2-0) tested each other's unbreakable will for nearly three hours before the Cardinals, rallying from a 56-49 deficit with 11:55 remaining to be played, celebrated their eighth victory in the series and their sixth in their last nine gridiron meetings with the Wildcats, 63-56.

The young man who appears to be the next exceptional quarterback out on Center Street, 6-foot-4, 205-pound sophomore Tadas Tatarunas, fired a rope to his gifted senior wide receiver/running back Jason Blizzard and Blizzard, catching the ball in stride, raced 52 yards into the end zone. Cal Tommasone's extra-point kick was good and the score was knotted at 56 with 7:09 left.

Behind  the running of standout senior tailback Alex Mathews and a clutch reception by Blizzard, Mentor drove for a first down at the Saint Ignatius 15 as the seconds were ticking off the clock. On a second down and 5 yards to go from the 10, and 15 seconds remaining on the clock, Tatarunas rolled left under pressure, regained his balance and threw a TD pass into the hands of his other exceptional receiver, senior Malik Porter, who broke free across the back of the end zone. After Tommasone's PAT it was 63-56 with eight seconds on the clock. Porter's game-winner was set up by a leaping interception from Cardinals junior defensive back Michael Ballentine with 1:08 left.  

Saint Ignatius would field the ensuing kickoff and immediately take a knee at its 25-yard line. With eight seconds still on the clock, Wildcats outstanding senior quarterback Dennis Grosel, who threw six touchdown passes on the night, lofted a pass down field that fell incomplete deep in Mentor territory as time expired.

The Wildcats, who trailed, 35-13, with 5 minutes and 21 seconds remaining in the first half, cut the deficit to 35-27 by halftime. Trailing, 49-33, with 6:09 left in the third quarter, the Cats came storming back again behind Grosel's arm and the sure hands and routes of seniors Jack Cook and Cal Grbac. Saint Ignatius tied the score at 49 on a picture-perfect 80-yard touchdown pass from Grosel to Grbac and the ensuing two-point conversion pass to senior tight end Robert Hilbig with 2:50 to go in the third quarter.

A 52-yard drive that was orchestrated by Grosel and featured clutch receptions by Cook, Grbac and Hilbig resulted in a smooth and powerful 13-yard touchdown run by talented and tough junior tailback Jimmy Andrews with 11:55 left. Jimmy's second touchdown on the night saw him power his way over the right side, pick up a block from senior wide receiver Colin Kruchan, bounce outside and race into the right corner of the end zone. Sophomore Matthew Trickett kicked the point after touchdown and the Cats held the 56-49 lead.

Andrews rushed for 104 yards on 19 carries. Grosel picked up 72 yards on the ground off 12 carries and had 415 yards passing to go along with his 6 TD passes.

Cook, who also doubled as a defensive back on the humid night in Lake County, hauled in six passes for 70 yards and three touchdown receptions. Grbac caught five of Grosel's throws for 190 yards and two touchdowns, and endless promise and as hard-nosed as they come junior tight end/linebacker James Leyden had five receptions for 92 yards and a touchdown. Leyden helped fuel Saint Ignatius' comeback before suffering from cramps.

As for the impressive numbers put on the board by Mentor, Tatarunas completed 25 of 34 passes for 531 yards and four touchdowns. Tadas was coming off a 303-yard passing night in his varsity debut against Boardman last week.

Mathews, one the premier running backs in Northeast Ohio, hurt the Cats time and again Friday night, just like he did in the Cardinals' victory over Saint Ignatius at Byers Field last season. Powerful and quick with exceptional balance and vision, Mathews finished with 234 yards and three touchdowns on 30 carries, including a 66-yard TD gallop.

Blizzard, who generates speed and sure hands the moment he takes the field, had 13 receptions for 341 yards and two touchdowns. One of those TD receptions was a 75-yard catch and sprint combo.

Including his winning touchdown reception referred to earlier in this report, Porter turned in a night that included 7 receptions for 125 yards and two TDs. Mentor's first touchdown, the first score of the game, came off a 52-yard run by senior running back Frank Toth.

Another note worthy stat were the 93 yards on six kick returns that Saint Ignatius junior defensive back Alex Ringfield contributed.

WHAT WAS LOST ON FRIDAY NIGHT: Saint Ignatius is sure to drop in the cleveland.com area poll, but that is just window dressing compared to the healthy amount of computer points that slipped away.

UP NEXT: Saint Ignatius will face the Valley Forge Patriots on Friday night, Sept 11th on Byers Field in Parma's Robert M. Boulton Stadium. The kickoff for what will be the 1,000th game in Saint Ignatius' Football History will be 7 PM. That same night, Mentor will travel to Cincinnati to face Queen City power St. Xavier.

THE LAST TIME: An opponent scored 60 or more points against a Saint Ignatius football team was in 1922, when Youngstown Rayen came away with a 69-6 victory.

FROM COACH KYLE: Coach Kyle said he and Coach Trivisonno both agreed after the game that their respective teams have a lot of work to do on defense. Mentor totaled 823 yards of offense and the Cats racked up 615 total yards.

"Offensively, they (the Cardinals) are very good," said Coach Kyle, who was disappointed with the number of big plays his Wildcats yielded. "We thought we could handle that, but now we know better. We'll see if we can get back to having a chance to play them again. That's what you hope for come November."

GREAT ATMOSPHERE: A crowd of 8,200 packed Jerome T. Osborne Sr. Stadium under the Friday Night Lights of Mentor. Both bands were outstanding, the respective student bodies were in mid-season form and two young men who don't live that far apart (Grosel resides in Willoughby) engineered an offensive display of football that the Browns should tape.       

      

 

A tough call down the stretch enables Mentor to rally to a 21-20 victory over Saint Ignatius in a Freshmen Football headliner at Jerome T. Osborne Sr. Stadium on Thursday evening
9/4/2015

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit September 2015

Mentor, Ohio - Leading, 20-14, Saint Ign