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Punt return TD and a blocked FG are difference makers in Freshman Football's win over Cathedral Prep
10/24/2014

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit October 2014

From Dollinger Field in Erie, Pennsylvania - A versatile and hard-nosed running back/linebacker, Mark Bobinski fielded the punt as he was crossing the Wildcats' 20-yard line, cut outside and rambled down the left sideline and into the Ramblers' end zone, breaking three tackles along the way. Place kicker/linebacker Matthew Trickett sent home the point after touchdown and the Cats led, 7-0, with 6 minutes and 37 seconds remaining in the first quarter.

In what was a physical battle, Saint Ignatius' defense was put to the test all night by a Cathedral Prep offense that was big up front and featured three strong second-effort runners in tailback/defensive back Matt Lupe, fullback Chris Smith and quarterback Adam Malesiewski.

The Cats' defense bent a little, but also made some crucial plays despite a size disadvantage.

Cathedral Prep, which closed its season at 7-1, drove 56 yards in 11 plays and scored on a 1-yard keeper by Malesiewski with 9:20 remaining in the fourth quarter. The drive featured a diving catch by the Ramblers' Terry Roberts at the Wildcats' 3-yard line, an effort that came off a fourth-and-13 from the Cats' 38-yard line.  

It was at that point Saint Ignatius' special teams came to the fore again, as tough and talented lineman John Jamieson powered his way past one of the Ramblers' guards and blocked the extra-point attempt by Cathedral Prep.

After the Wildcats' defense turned back the Ramblers in Saint Ignatius territory, quarterback Daniel Alexander combined with wide receiver Hugh Sweeney for a first down off a third--and-11 play from the Cats' 35 with just over two minutes left.

From there, Coach Rodney Gallaway's gifted freshmen ran out the clock and will now take a record of 9-0 into next Thursday's (Oct. 30) season finale against the freshmen team from West Side rival St. Edward. The kickoff on Wasmer Field will be PM.

HERE ARE A FEW SIDEBARS FROM THURSDAY NIGHT'S THRILLER IN THE KEYSTONE STATE.

COACH GALLAWAY, A PROPHET TRUE TO HIS WORDS: Before he combined with Daniel Alexander on a crucial third down that helped seal the Wildcats' victory (see the game recap above), Saint Ignatius' sure-handed receiver Hugh Sweeney missed connections on a pass off the same route during Saint Ignatius' previous offensive series.

"Nice effort Hugh," yelled Coach Gallaway. "Don't worry, we're going right back to that the next time!"

HOW COACH GALLAWAY SAW THE GAME: "Sometimes you wing big, sometimes you win pretty and sometimes you have to grit it out. They had a really good running back combination going for them with heavy runners, strong runners. And with the quick guys, they had a nice change of pace. But we put it on the field and it was great to see the defense step up. They were giving up big chunks, but then they would step up and make plays. The block PAT by Jamieson, that's the game winner right there. Huge. I wanted that route (to Sweeney) all night."

A BLAST FROM THE PAST: During the pregame warm-up, Saint Ignatius defensive back Killian Meehan was adding a little "home" touch to atmosphere rich Dollinger Field by spreading a few small pieces of grass and mud from Kyle Field on the  Dollinger Field turf surface. Kyle Field is the natural grass practice facility for Coach Mike McLaughlin's Soccer Program and the Freshmen Football Team.

In was in November of 1988, Saturday afternoon Nov. 26 to be exact, that Saint Ignatius, despite being designated as the "home team," had to travel to the Glass Bowl in Toledo to face Toledo Whitmer in a Division I state semifinal.

Covering the game for The Plain Dealer, this corner went down to the Glass Bowl sidelines to get a little feel for the pregame atmosphere and there was Coach Chuck Kyle spreading some grass and dirt from Wasmer Field on the Glass Bowl turf. Yes, Wasmer Field was a natural grass surface in those days and in November there was more dirt for Coach Kyle to bring along to Toledo than there was grass.

Hey, don't knock it. Coach Kyle's home spread, along with an emotional pregame speech by Saint Ignatius coaching legend and Coach Kyle's high school coach, the late John J. Wirtz, was followed by a 31-6 victory over Whitmer. From there, the Cats would go on to defeat Cincinnati Princeton, 10-7, in Ohio Stadium for the first of what are Coach Kyle's record 11 Division I state championships.

RUSTIC ATMOSPHERE: Call me crazy, but being an old timer this corner truly appreciated the surroundings of Dollinger Field - old buildings that time seemed to forget, the trains passing behind the fence along the visitor's bench and, within a couple of blocks from the scoreboard end zone, stands an historic church whose pillar includes an old embedded clock that seems to tell time better than my cell phone .

The surroundings were complemented by a beautiful fall day and night that allowed a glimpse of the solar eclipse. Something tells me that Mother Nature enjoys allowing some of her better sunsets to visit the ghosts of those historic buildings. After all, Halloween is just a week away.  

Week 9 Preview: Saint Ignatius vs. Saint Xavier
10/22/2014

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit October 2014

As a persistent cold rain off Lake Erie swept across Wasmer Field during Tuesday afternoon’s practice, Saint Ignatius Head Football Coach Chuck Kyle talked about what makes the rivalry between his Wildcats and the Bombers of Cincinnati St. Xavier so special.

"I say this in all honesty, two schools that are right at the top of the list of Jesuit High Schools in America,” said Coach Kyle. “And when you say Jesuit High Schools in America, that’s pretty good.

“Impressive young men who can do it in the classroom, can do it in service and can do it on the football field, it’s really impressive,” Coach Kyle continued.

As they prepare for Saturday’s Week 9, 2 PM kickoff from Tom Ballaban Field in St. Xavier Stadium, it comes as no surprise that the 6-2 Bombers and the 6-2 Wildcats are playing their best football of the 2014 season.

Saint Ignatius and St. Xavier, ranked ninth and 10th, respectively, in the Associated Press big-school state poll, are sitting strong in the latest Ohio High School Athletic Association Computer Playoff Ratings, which were released on Tuesday afternoon.

The Wildcats, who are coming off an impressive 34-20 victory over two-time defending Division I state champion Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller (6-2), are sixth in Division I, Region 1.The Bombers, who defeated Indiana power
Warren Central, 24-13, last weekend, are third in Division I, Region 2. St. Xavier handed Warren Central only its second loss in nine games. Warren Central entered the game as the third-ranked team in the Hoosier State.

Under the OHSAA Harbin computer playoff system, the top 16 teams in both Regions 1 and 2 at the end of the regular
season qualify for the OHSAA Regional Playoffs and the top eight teams in each of those regions are awarded a home game in the first round.

“Their main focus, it seems, is the running game,” said Coach Kyle of a Bombers rushing attack that came to the
fore against Warren Central and also in solid victories over Cincinnati Greater Catholic League opponents Elder and La Salle. The Queen City’s GCL is arguably the most demanding league in all of Ohio.

“They love sitting there and getting those four yards and five yards, and then they hit you with a little play action and are moving the sticks and controlling the field position,” Coach Kyle continued in his evaluation of St. Xavier’s traditionally strong ground game. “They love that and that’s what keeps me up at night. You stop them, but then you have the ball at the 10-yard line and we have to drive 90 yards. That’s what they do and their kids are well-schooled in what they are doing.”

In last Friday’s victory over Warren Central on Tom Ballaban Field, senior running back Ben Glines (6-foot-1,
210 pounds) rushed for 97 yards and two touchdowns and his running mate and classmate, 170 pound Ronnie Fricke, picked up 66 yards rushing and also found the end zone.

Glines was St. Xavier’s 2013 MVP and he garnered first-team All-GCL honors last fall. In Cincinnati, the high school football gurus put earning All-GCL recognition right up there with being an All-District or All-Ohio selection.

“This always seems to be a real close game,” Coach Kyle said of the Saint Ignatius versus St. Xavier rivalry,
which will begin its 21st chapter in atmosphere-rich St. Xavier Stadium on Saturday.

The Bombers, who hung on for a 13-10 victory over the Wildcats at John Carroll University’s Don Shula Stadium last season, lead the all-time series, 11-9.

“Somebody’s going to make a play in the last four minutes, and then they win,” said Coach Kyle. “The whole game goes, who knows what’s going to happen, and something happens. Every time it seems that way. It’s a real battle. I’ve told the kids that there was a real positive, joyous feeling about beating Cincinnati Moeller, obviously. But on Monday, it’s ‘This is going to be a tougher football game.’ And that’s not knocking Moeller, it just that Moeller hadn’t played us in 19 years and this team (the Bombers) plays us every year. There are no secrets.”

When discussing St. Xavier’s defense, the first name to come up was Bombers’ gifted senior linebacker and The Ohio State University recruit Justin Hilliard (6-2, 232 pounds). A playmaker in every sense of the word, Hilliard was described by Coach Kyle as being in the same mold with former Wildcats All-Ohio linebacker Kyle Berger, who had a monster game in St. Xavier Stadium during the Wildcats’ 32-21 victory in the fall of 2012. Kyle, due to an injury, is a redshirt freshman for the Ohio State Buckeyes.

“We’re playing against a kid like Kyle Berger, good size, athleticism, speed and a nose for the ball,” said Coach Kyle of Hilliard, a first-team All-GCL defender in 2013.

When Coach Kyle referred to there being no secrets between the Cats and the Bombers it is particularly true on defense, where both teams feature a “stack” look.

“Steve Specht (Bombers head coach) has always been kind of an expert on that defense,” Coach Kyle said of the man who served as Coach Kyle’s Defensive Coordinator when Chuck guided Team USA to the Gold Medal Junior World Championship at legendary Canton Fawcett Stadium in the summer of 2009. “He’s the guy people go to for a lot of answers about that defense.

“We’ve gotten passing yardage against them, but we’ve always had difficulty running the ball against them,” Coach Kyle added. “We can’t get into a situation where we’re just passing the ball against them. That’s not a good scenario.”

Coach Specht, who has guided his Bombers to two state championships, three regional titles and six GCLchampionships since taking over as the head man in 2004, enters Saturday’s game with 98 career victories. Coach Kyle, currently in his 32nd season as his alma mater’s head football coach, has a Greater Cleveland area best three hundred and fifteen victories, including a record 11 big school state championships, 14 regional titles, three national titles, a state runner-up and a national runner-up.

Among the other Bombers to note on defense are senior defensive back David Leisring, senior linebacker Cole
Jones and junior linebacker Elijah Payne. St. Xavier’s “Most Improved Junior” for the 2013 season, Leisring also garnered All-GCL recognition last fall.

VETERAN OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR NICK RESTIFO ON THE WILDCATS’ 2014 OFFENSE

“When you talk about the passing game, certainly the quarterback is a huge part of that whole thing,” said Coach Restifo, who has been coaching area high school football for more than four decades and has been with Coach Kyle since Chuck’s first year as the Wildcats’ head coach in 1983. “The way Dennis (junior QB Dennis Grosel) has matured from sophomore year, when he got his feet a little wet in that one game, to the offseason, when he worked to get a little bit better, is impressive. As for his accuracy and decision making, which in my opinion are the two most important things for a quarterback, I think he has done a great job.

“I don’t care if you can throw the ball for 1,000 yards, it doesn’t do any good if you can’t hit the open receiver or put it in a tight window, which Dennis has really gotten better at as the season has gone on,” continued the man who has honed the skills of 16 quarterbacks at Saint Ignatius who earned All-Ohio recognition, either first team, second team, third team or honorable mention. “Obviously, everybody makes mistakes and some of the mistakes are due to inexperience. The good thing about it is that he doesn’t make the same mistake again. He learns from the first time and then corrects it.

“The questions Dennis asks are great questions,” Coach Restifo said. “He’s always thinking ahead. ‘Coach should we run this play or should we check out of this play? This is what I am seeing.' So we have these discussions all of the time, which is great. That’s where it starts.

“You take the receivers, and that’s one thing I’ve always taken for granted here at Saint Ignatius, is that our guys are going to catch the ball,” continued Coach Restifo, who has had four of his former quarterbacks see time in the NFL, including Browns current starting QB Brian Hoyer from the Class of 2004. “There are not too many guys who are going to put the ball on the ground when they are wide open. And so we’re very fortunate and blessed with that. We’ve got Cal (Cal Grbac) and Jack (Jack Cook), who are juniors, and Shibs (senior David Shibley), who is a captain. We just have a great group of guys. J.R. Klonk (a senior) is working his way into the tight end or fullback slot and no matter where he is he has done a good job. Of course Dre’Mont (senior defensive end, tight end, captain and Ohio State recruit Dre’Mont Jones) is a real force when he catches the ball.

“We work really hard at it,” Coach Restifo said of what has been one of the most potent offenses in the state since 1988, the start of the Wildcats’ legendary playoff and state championship run. “From the summer time on, these kids are out there throwing three sessions and a game. And a lot of the things we do are pretty sophisticated for high school. The kids enjoy it. They know going into a game that we always have some tool in the box to get us out of a jackpot.”    

Each side of the ball for Varsity does their part in a huge upset of Archbishop Moeller
10/19/2014

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit October 2014

Dublin, Ohio: The Varsity Football Wildcats, now winners of six of their eight games, have, according to many of the knowledgeable faithful, earned what will be a twenty sixth appearance in the OHSAA Division I Regional Playoffs since 1988.

After a resounding 34/20 victory over the Crusaders from Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller in Coffman Stadium on Saturday night, Saint Ignatius has jumped from 10th to sixth place in the latest Division I, Region 1 ratings by computer playoff ratings guru Joe Eitel. The official ratings from the Ohio High School Athletic Association will be released on Tuesday.

Heading into Week 9, Joe Eitel has the Cats' designation as "control their own destiny."

So we'll leave it at that right now and take care of first things first.

Saint Ignatius, whose only setbacks were to undefeated Mentor by four points in Week 2 and a six point, double overtime loss to national power Paramus Catholic on the Paladins' home field in New Jersey, will now focus on next weekend's annual match up with Jesuit School rival Cincinnati St. Xavier. The kickoff from the Bombers' Ballaban Field will be 2 PM on Saturday.

Here are the corner's takes from Saint Ignatius' fifth victory over Archbishop Moeller in what was the fifth meeting on the gridiron between the perennial powers.

STEPPING UP: After Coach Chuck Kyle's 11 time Division I state champion Wildcats stunned nine time state champ Moeller and its followers to the tune of a 22 point lead by halftime, the Crusaders started to make some noise late in the third quarter.

First it was a 47 yard touchdown reception by highly touted junior tight end Jake Hausmann and the ensuing extra point kick by junior Matt Coghlin that cut Saint Ignatius' lead to 28/13 with 3 minutes and 11 seconds remaining in the third quarter.

Less that a minute later, Crusaders fans had visions of one of Moeller's legendary runs as Crusaders senior defensive back Noah Able made a leaping interception at midfield.

Coming out on the field (after Able's pick), I knew I had to make a play," said Saint Ignatius senior captain and defensive back Lawrence Birchler. "There were plays earlier in the game that I didn't make and I was frustrated. I need to be a leader for this team. A play needed to be made."

And making that play was Birchler, who just seconds after Able's interception, the very next play to be exact, stepped in front of a pass by Moeller's senior quarterback Matt Crable and returned the football to the Crusaders' 48 yard line.

"We prepared all week in doubles for the pass," Birchler said. "I saw two streaks coming out, tried to bait the QB and got lucky."

A nice read and reaction, definitely. But lucky?  Heck no. On Saturday night, there were few things that could be described as lucky when it came to the defeat the Cats laid on the state's sixth ranked Division I team.

"We had the best week of practice we've had all year," Birchler said. "We've seen great teams like Paramus and Mentor and I think we've learned from those experiences. We knew coming in that we could play with any team in the state, any team in the country. The confidence of the defense was really high and that just helped us prepare for these big guys (Moeller's tight ends and receivers) and a top notch offense."

As a captain, Birchler knows what his responsibility is this coming week as Saint Ignatius prepares for another of the Queen City's best, Coach Steve Specht's Bombers of St. Xavier High School. The Bombers will enter Saturday's 2 PM kickoff on Tom Ballaban Field in St. Xavier Stadium with 11 victories in the previous 20 meetings of what is a superb Jesuit School rivalry.

"This is a credit to all of the hard work we put in during the offseason," Birchler said of the Wildcats' current sixth place Region 1 playoff rating by Joe Eitel. "We said at our team dinner (Friday) that this (Archbishop Moeller) was a must win game. But it's my job as a captain, and the other captains, to make sure we really keep our foot on the peddle."

A FIRST HALF BARRAGE: Coach Kyle's Wildcats seemed oblivious to the brisk winds, rain and sleet that hovered over and around Coffman Stadium on Saturday night, as the Cats opened with a flurry that pretty much had the Fighting Crusaders on the ropes for most of 48 minutes.

First it was gifted senior defensive end, tight end and Ohio State verbal Dre'Mont Jones scooping up a fumble and rambling down the field and into the end zone with the game just over two minutes old.

Junior quarterback Dennis Grosel then hooked up with multi skilled junior wide receiver Jack Cook for a 30 yard touchdown pass, promising and powerful sophomore tailback Jimmy Andrews raced over the right side for a 4 yard touchdown on the first play of the second quarter and the Cats' special teams came to the fore when senior defensive back Ian Riley and junior defensive lineman/linebacker Nathan Keirn combined on a blocked punt deep in Moeller territory that saw senior defensive back Michael Mathews take the ball out of mid air and into the end zone.

Senior Cory Griffith, another in the long line of exceptional kickers at Cleveland's Jesuit Preparatory School, booted all four PATS in the first half and accounted for Saint Ignatius' second half points with field goals of 44 and 33 yards.

YETT WAS HEARD FROM IN BOTH HALVES: The Crusaders' junior tailback accounted for a forty five yard touchdown in the final two minutes of the first half and scored with 1:18 remaining to be played on a 1 yard run.

BY THE NUMBERS: Saint Ignatius totaled three hundred and fifty three yards to Archbishop Moeller's 330. Grosel passed for 180 yards and Crable threw for 214 yards. Wildcats senior tailback Luke Russell had 127 yards rushing on 14 carries and Yett picked up sixty five yards rushing on 7 carries.

We said in our Tuesday night preview on the game that Cook and talented junior wide receiver Cal Grbac could do some damage against the Moeller secondary and the numbers backed that up. Cook hauled in six passes for 108 yards and Cal had three key catches for fifty four yards.

STOPS: Dre' Mont Jones, fellow senior defensive end Ray Brown and Ian Ryan combined for 14 tackles, including five solos for Jones and four solos by Ryan.

HOW COACH KYLE SAW IT:  "I'm so proud, these kids are just playing better and better and believing in themselves. Again, the specialty teams came through and the defense and the offense played well. That's just who we are. I don't know if we wow people, I really don't. There was a lot of mismatch at times (with Moeller's big receivers), but we tipped a lot of balls away.

"You saw Jack (Cook) of course, and we thought he would have a good game," Coach Kyle continued. "Cal came through with a couple of real key receptions. It's a group of hard working receivers. We're not the tallest guys, but we have some quickness and execution. Dennis (Grosel) is getting a better feel for them, so that's great."

NOTE: The corner will preview the Saint Ignatius at St. Xavier game on Tuesday night.

Have a great and safe week.             

   

 

Crusaders knock off the previously unbeaten JV Wildcats in the JV action on Saturday afternoon
10/19/2014

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit October 2014

Dublin, Ohio: Coach Paul Yappel's Wildcats experienced their first loss in seven games this season as the Cats and the Crusaders of Moeller showed those in attendance at Coffman Stadium why they also have two of the strongest Junior Varsity Football Programs in Ohio.

Trailing, 7/3, Saint Ignatius moved to a 10/7 lead on a deep touchdown route from sophomore quarterback Patrick Ryan to sophomore tight end/linebacker James Leyden, and the ensuing extra point kick by sophomore Colin Goodfellow with 7 minutes and 12 seconds remaining in the first half.

Archbishop Moeller, which won for the seventh time in eight games this fall, regained the lead by scoring off a 4th down and sixteen yards to go pass play from the Wildcats' 22 yard line. The extra point kick was no good and the Crusaders clung to a 13/10 advantage with 1 minute and thirty six seconds left in the third quarter. Nick Wiehe was on the receiving end of the 22 yard TD.

The team from Cincinnati held a 10 point lead after quarterback Evan Ernst, rolling to his right to avoid a sack, found wide receiver Tre' Whittaker open in the corner of the end zone. The PAT was good and Archbishop Moeller led, 20/10, with just over three minutes remaining to be played. An off sides penalty on Saint Ignatius kept the drive alive.

Refusing to call it an afternoon, the Wildcats took possession at their 27 yard line with 3 minutes and 21 seconds left.

Behind the gritty play in the pocket by Ryan and some spectacular route running and receiving by sophomore Travis Pot, Coach Yappel's team closed to 20/17 on a five yard touchdown pass from Ryan to Pot and another authoritative extra point kick by Goodfellow.

With 2:08 remaining and Saint Ignatius out of timeouts, the Cats were unsuccessful on an on side kickoff and Moeller was able to chew up the clock behind some tough running by Brandon Rabah and a booing punt by Ernst.

Saint Ignatius, which will now prepare for a junior varsity match up with Jesuit rival Cincinnati St. Xavier next Saturday at 10 AM in the Queen City, treated its faithful to what was an outstanding performance by the Cats' front line on defense. Linebackers Adam Shibley, Johnny Velotta and Leyden, and linemen Joe Gibbons, Patrick Viancourt, Mike Chime and Michael Czaja were passionate and relentless from the get go until the final seconds ticked off the clock.         

 

Freshman Football remains undefeated with an all-around win over Archbishop Moeller
10/19/2014

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit October 2014

Dublin, Ohio: Coach Rodney Gallaway's Freshmen Cats made themselves at home in Coffman Stadium as tailback Phil Zuccaro scored on runs of forty five and forty yards, wide receivers Samuel Snyder and Hugh Sweeney hauled in touchdown receptions of 14 and 2 yards, respectively, and Matthew Trickett kicked four extra points and a 22 yard field goal.

A Drew Asadorian led defense was more than Archbishop Moeller could deal with as Saint Ignatius will take its unblemished record into Erie (Pa.) on Thursday evening when they take on the highly regarded freshmen team from Cathedral Prep. The kickoff is scheduled for Five PM.

Along with their offensive output, the Cats also came up with key fumble recoveries by Asadorian, middle linebacker Thomas Grosel and offensive lineman John Jamieson. Grosel's fumble recovery, which came off excellent punt overage by Saint Ignatius, set up Trickett's field goal.

Defensive end/linebacker Bradley Andrich and linebacker Andrew Keirn were also among those who had a nose for the ball, as Andrich paid a visit to Sack City.

Archbishop Moeller scored on a fumble return for a touchdown by linebacker Ryan Smith with 8:22 remaining to be played. The game was called with 1:12 left because of an injury to a Moeller player.

A tip of the corner's cap also goes out to Saint Ignatius' offensive line, which definitely won the battle up front, big time.

 

Dre'Mont Jones invited to play in U.S. Army All-American Bowl
10/16/2014

Posted by Brendan DeVenney '17

According to Steve Wiltfong, Director of Recruiting for 247Sports.com, Saint Ignatius senior defensive end and tight end Dre'Mont Jones has been invited to play in the 2015 U.S. Army All-American Bowl Game. Jones is one of twenty-three players representing the state of Ohio in the bowl game. Dre'Mont is an Ohio State recruit, and one of the top recruits in the nation on the defensive level.

The 2015 U.S. Army All-American Bowl Game will take place on Saturday, January 3, 2015 at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas and will be televised nationally on NBC. The Alamodome has been host the U.S. Army All-American Bowl Game since 2002, and currently houses the UTSA Roadrunners football team, the San Antonio Talons of the AFL, and the annual Valero Alamo Bowl. 

Dre'Mont Jones

Week 8 Preview: Saint Ignatius vs. Archbishop Moeller
10/15/2014

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit October 2014

Saturday night’s highly anticipated match up will be broadcast live by the Saint Ignatius Student Broadcasting Network, as senior James Zajaczkowski and junior Carter Spearry will have the call. The game will also be televised by Time Warner Cable SportsTime Ohio and will be broadcast live over WHKW–AM 1220, with Ed Daugherty on the solo call.

Ohio City – As Saint Ignatius’ 32-year head football coach Chuck Kyle said during Tuesday afternoon’s practice on Wasmer Field, it has been awhile.

Yes, it was nearly nineteen years ago, Oct. 28, 1995 to be exact, that Saint Ignatius and Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller, two of the most storied programs in the history of Ohio High School Football, last met on the gridiron. The Wildcats came away with a 24–12 victory at Cincinnati’s Nippert
Stadium in what was the fourth meeting between the Cats and the Crusaders. Saint Ignatius won all four of those encounters, including state championship game victories over Moeller in 1989, 34–28 at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, and 1993, 38–20 at Massillon’s Paul Brown Tiger Stadium. The Wildcats would also be crowned national champions in 1989 and 1993.

Along with the regular season triumph over Moeller in 1995, which was the season of Saint Ignatius’ third national title, the Wildcats also defeated the Crusaders, 41–7, during the regular season of 1994 at Lakewood Stadium.

The Athletic Departments at Saint Ignatius and Archbishop Moeller were in agreement that it was time to revive a football matchup whose credentials are off the chart.

Agreeing to meet halfway, if you will, the nine–time state champion Moeller Crusaders and the record 11–time Division I state champion Wildcats will match their skills and rich traditions on Saturday at 7 PM in Dublin, Ohio’s Coffman Stadium. The varsity game will be preceded by freshmen (noon) and junior varsity (2 PM) matchups between the two schools.

Saint Ignatius enters the game with a record of 5–2 and a fourth–place ranking in the seven–county area by cleveland.com. Moeller stands 6–1 and currently holds down sixth place in the Associated Press Division I state poll. The Crusaders of Head Coach John Rodenberg have won the last two Division I state championships, including a 55–52 shootout over the Mentor Cardinals in the 2013 big school title match up.

Moeller’s loss this season came at the hands of Greater Catholic League South foe Cincinnati La Salle, 34-9, in Week Six. La Salle’s junior running back Jeremy Larkin rushed for 216 yards and four touchdowns on 32 carries. La Salle’s triumph, which took place in Lancer Stadium, snapped the Crusaders’ 11-game winning streak, a mark that dated back to last season. La Salle is currently 6–1 and ranked fourth in the AP’s Division II state poll.

The Crusaders bounced back last weekend as they defeated GCL foe Cincinnati Elder, 26-17, in Moeller’s Lockland Memorial Stadium. Tailback Sterling Noes accounted for 114 of Moeller’s 231 rushing yards. The Crusaders erased a one-point halftime deficit. Noes scored on TD runs of 54 and 4 yards in a game played in a driving rainstorm. Moeller junior kicker Matthew Coghlin continues to be a key, as he hit two field goals against Elder and is now 10 of 12 for the season.

Elder junior quarterback Peyton Ramsey had some success through the air, connecting on 17 of 27 passes for 215 yards and a touchdown.

Ramsey’s line is something for the Cats to note. Coach Kyle’s 2014 team again features one of Ohio’s strongest passing attacks. Helping key the air assault are junior wide receiver Cal Grbac, junior wideout/safety Jack Cook, senior wide receiver and Co-Captain David Shibley, junior quarterback Dennis Grosel and senior quarterback Jake Kucia.

Grosel returned to action last week and completed 7 of his 8 passes for 114 yards and two touchdowns in helping key a 41-10 victory over Erie (Pa.) McDowell at Parma’s Byers Field. Cook hauled in six passes for 152 yards, Grbac totaled 113 yards on 5 receptions and Kucia threw for 227 yards and a touchdown.

When discussing Moeller’s offense, Coach Kyle was quick to mention the Crusaders’ gifted 6-foot-6, 230
pound junior tight end Jake Hausmann, who has already been offered by The Ohio State University and other major college programs. Moeller actually has a trio of tight ends with significant size.

“The quarterback (senior Matt Crable) has a rocket for an arm and they also have a pretty big offensive line, I mean they’re big,” Coach Kyle said. “They have had an offensive juggernaut the past few years, where they’ve just outscored everyone. There were games like La Salle and St. Xavier this year that were not high scoring games, but they can explode at any time.”

We discussed the Las Salle game earlier in this preview and, as far as the St. Xavier versus Moeller encounter this fall it was the Crusaders’ defense that came to the fore.

Moeller held St. Xavier scoreless over the final two quarters en route to a 13-7 victory on the Bombers’ Ballaban Field. The Crusaders limited St. Xavier to 56 yards rushing on 36 total carries.

As for the 6-4, 220-pound Crable, he is the son of former Moeller All-Ohio and Notre Dame All-American linebacker Bob Crable, who was a former head football coach at Moeller. Bob was the No. 1 pick by the New York Jets in the 1982 NFL Draft and played six seasons of professional football.

Keying Moeller’s defense up front is 6-3, 285 pound senior tackle Elijah Taylor, who is a Notre Dame verbal. Among Taylor’s other offers were Ohio State, Tennessee, Miami (Fla.), Louisville, Rutgers, the University of Cincinnati and Arkansas.

The Crusaders’ defensive backs are aggressive and hard-nosed, but the speed and athleticism Saint
Ignatius possesses at the wide receiver positions could cause some matchup problems for the team from the Queen City. And then there is Wildcats 6-4, 255-pound senior defensive end/tight end Dre’Mont
Jones, an Ohio State verbal who can create a mismatch in the secondary.

“Defensively, they’re in a four-man front,” said Coach Kyle of the Crusaders’ look along the line of scrimmage. “They are very aggressive to the run, very aggressive! Their safeties come up storming and their corners play up tight, so there are nine guys near the ball at the snap. It should be a good match up with their defensive line and our offensive line. Their defensive line, unless they are blitzing, seems to like to hit in there and then control it. You’ll see them hit in and then read and react.

“This is like a major level playoff game, a major level,” Coach Kyle continued in reference to Saturday
night’s headliner. "It’s like a regional championship.”

 

Junior Varsity takes care of McDowell after the bus ride to Erie to remain undefeated
10/14/2014

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit October 2014

Erie, Pennsylvania: The JV Cats jumped out to a 22 point lead by halftime en route to their sixth victory without a defeat.

Tailback Kaden Russell lead the ground game with two second half touchdown runs and Saint Ignatius' first team defense, along with the kicking of Colin Goodfellow, were impressive, to say the least.

Up next for Coach Paul Yappel's junior varsity is a match up with the junior varsity football program from Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller on Saturday at 2 PM on the Coffman Stadium field in Dublin, Ohio. Note the time change.

Here are the corner's takes from atmosphere rich Gus Anderson Field, the home of the McDowell Trojans.

Saint Ignatius sophomore quarterback Patrick Ryan said that as far as the Wildcats' passing game is concerned, he and his junior varsity teammates knew what they were capable of from the start of the 2014 season.

What the Cats are capable of became a nightmare for the Trojans of Erie McDowell on Monday evening as the gritty and gifted Ryan fired four first half touchdown passes in engineering a 41/13 victory and helping Saint Ignatius' gifted sophomores remain unbeaten.

"Tonight, it just kind of blossomed," Ryan said after he combined with wide receiver/safety Travis Pot on touchdown receptions of 9 and thirty five yards and fired on the money TD strikes of sixty four and sixty three yards to quiet, humble but oh so talented wideout Mike Lehto in the first 20 minutes. Junior Varsity quarters are 10 minutes.

"We did well against them last year and just tried to continue the success," Ryan continued. "We minimized the mistakes we've been having in the passing game recently. So we capitalized and really looked good tonight."

After the Ryan to Pot combination and two authoritative extra point kicks by Colin Goodfellow staked the Cats to a 14/0 lead with just over 9 minutes remaining in the first half, Ryan helped stretch the advantage to 21 to zip off a perfectly thrown ball down the right sideline that hit the sure handed and smooth route running Lehto in stride for the sixty four yard scoring play.

The Trojans from McDowell got back in the game on a standout special teams play by their two way sophomore mainstay Ed Nientimp, who blocked a punt, picked up the football and returned it to the Saint Ignatius five yard line. That set up a touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Levi Becker to sophomore wide receiver Collein Christensen with 2:40 left in the first half.

An impressive signal caller who stands nearly six foot four, Becker's TD toss was the result of his third check off. Nientimp scored McDowell's second touchdown off a 42 yard catch and run with 7 seconds remaining in the game.

Just when the Trojans were hoping that Becker's first TD pass would open Mr. Momentum's door, the Ryan and Lehto air express slammed it shut.

Three plays after the ensuing McDowell kickoff, Ryan and Lehto did an encore of their first TD hookup when again Ryan was smooth and accurate on the throw and Lehto ran under the ball, caught it without breaking stride and rambled into the end zone for what was a sixty three yard back breaker for the Trojans. Goodfellow's fourth extra point was again high, true and forceful, and Saint Ignatius was in command with just under two minutes left in the first 20 minutes.

Along with his PATs, Goodfellow completely stymied McDowell's kick return aspirations by consistently booming the ball deep into the end zone.

A tip of this corner's cap also goes out to fullback Ben Delhees, who displayed his hands on swing passes out of the backfield and ran for hard nosed yards after the catch.

AND A CASE FOR THE DEFENSE, THE GROUND GAME AND THE PUNT RETURN TEAM

The Wildcats' defense was superb throughout most of the game, as multi skilled linebackers James Leyden and Adam Shibley, along with defensive back Matt Wiegandt, set the pressure tone from the get go. It was obvious right from McDowell's first offensive series that the Trojans were going to have major problems trying to run the football.

Among the defensive plays that discouraged the team from the Keystone State were an interception by cornerback Alex Ringfield off a nice read and reaction, a leaping block at the line of scrimmage by Leyden that almost deflated the ball, a visit to Sack City by Shibley, a no trespass up the middle order by tough as they come nose tackle Joe Gibbons, Sack City appearances by Leyden and defensive end Patrick Viancourt, two more deflections at the line of scrimmage courtesy of Leyden and Viancourt, and a textbook interception by cornerback Jeff Chonko off a deep route.

As we mentioned in the lead in paragraphs, Kaden Russell was the man as far as the Cats' rushing offense was concerned. Kaden set the tone with a powerful 48 yard run and, before his night was over, slashed his way over the left side twice for TD runs of five and three yards.

And last, but certainly not least, Dean "The Dream" Stowers was working his magic again as he put together multiple punt returns that sat the Cats' O in the driver's seat.

AND NOW THE DEMANDING STRETCH RUN

"The line did a great job tonight and we have to be able to run against these teams," said Patrick Ryan in reference to the final three games of the season for the JV Wildcats, Archbishop Moeller at Dublin Coffman on Saturday, versus Jesuit rival St. Xavier at St. X on October twenty fifth and the Nov. 1 Saturday morning battle with West Side rival St. Edward on Wasmer Field.

"It's kind of our state finals," Ryan continued while speaking of the JV stretch run. "If we're able to perform to our highest level, we should be able to win these games."

Please note that the schedule for Saturday's triple header with Moeller at Coffman Stadium is the Freshmen game at noon, the JV game at 2 PM and the Varsity encounter at 7 PM. 

Wildcats make Senior Night an all around magical night with a big win over McDowell
10/12/2014

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit October 2014

HERE ARE THE CORNER'S TAKES, QUOTES AND A LOOK AHEAD AFTER SATURDAY NIGHT'S IMPRESSIVE VICTORY OVER ERIE (PA.) MCDOWELL.

IT WAS A FITTING SENIOR PARENTS NIGHT FOR THE PLAYERS, MANAGERS AND MEMBERS OF THE WILDCATS' OUTSTANDING MARCHING BAND.  

From Byers Field in Parma's Robert M. Boulton Stadium: Juniors Cal Grbac (five receptions for 113 yards and a touchdown) and Jack Cook (six catches for one hundred and fifty two yards, including an 81 yard catch and run for a TD) caused headaches for the McDowell Trojans, who lost for the fourth time in seven games this season.

The Wildcats, who picked up their fifth victory in seven games, displayed a balanced offense that resulted in a total of 487 yards. Senior tailback Chavez "Chewie" Perez rushed for 70 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries and promising sophomore tailback Jimmy Andrews carried the ball eight times for fifty five yards. Jimmy also had a fifty eight yard TD gallop wiped out by a holding penalty.

Senior quarterback Jake Kucia and junior quarterback Dennis Grosel, who returned to action after missing two weeks with a shoulder injury, were both cool and crafty as they combined for 341 passing yards. Jake hit on 10 of his 17 passes for 227 yards and a touchdown and Dennis was 7 for 8 for 114 yards and two TDs.

The Cats' defense recorded six sacks for minus 27 yards and Saint Ignatius' offensive line, as we projected in our weekly Tuesday preview on the game, did not allow a sack en route to winning the battle up front. Senior linebacker Geoff DiMassa had five tackles, including three solos and two sacks, and senior defensive end Ray Brown had two sacks and a fumble recovery. Senior defensive end, tight end and Ohio State recruit Dre' Mont Jones disrupted much of what the Trojans' offense was attempting to accomplish and Dre' also hauled in a touchdown pass.  

Despite substituting freely in the fourth quarter, Saint Ignatius limited Erie (Pa.) McDowell to 200 total yards, with 73 of those yards coming on one play.

Coach Chuck Kyle's Wildcats are right back where they belong, as they are now in the thick of the OHSAA postseason playoff race. In his Saturday night post, computer playoff ratings guru Joe Eitel has Saint Ignatius in 10th place in Region 1. The top sixteen teams in Region 1 at the end of the regular season qualify for the OHSAA regional playoffs. Eleven time Division I state champion Saint Ignatius is seeking what would be a twenty sixth trip to the postseason since 1988, all under Coach Kyle.

The official OHSAA weekly computer ratings will be released on Tuesday.

Establishing Yourself: Saint Ignatius put together a ninety five yard drive on the game's first offensive possession, a march that featured the receiving of senior tight end JR Klonk, the running of "Chewie" Perez and a big time concentration reception of 40 yards down the left sideline by Grbac, who is a son of Wildcats Quarterbacks Coach Elvis Grbac. Elvis was a standout quarterback at St. Joseph High School (now Villa Angela St. Joseph) and the University of Michigan who went on to an All Pro career in the NFL. Elvis also excelled in basketball at St. Joseph.

"Chewie" capped the impressive drive with a 2 yard touchdown run over the right side and standout senior kicker/punter Cory Griffith kicked the extra point with 8 minutes and 38 seconds remaining in the first quarter. Cory totaled 11 points on the night, including field goals of thirty six and forty seven yards. Cory just missed tying Tim Shenk's school record of fifty five yards on another field goal attempt.

"It feels great to be back!": That was the comment Grosel shared with this old timer along the sidelines just before the start of the second half. Dennis returned to the lineup with 10:37 left in the first half after a two week absence with the shoulder injury. He didn't miss a beat while engineering a seventy six yard drive that included some smooth receptions by Cook and the hard nosed running of Andrews, and was highlighted by a 10 yard touchdown toss from Grosel to Grbac.

"We just wanted to get Dennis back in the flow of it, get in sync with the signals and everything," Coach Kyle said.

That flow continued as Grosel also directed a 71 drive that saw Dennis find Dre'Mont for a 10 yard touchdown. Another big time hookup with Grbac helped set up Dre's catch, which saw Jones overpower the defender and score.       

A tough young man: Although the final stats won't show it, McDowell's gifted and gritty senior quarterback/defensive back Jake Tarasovitch kept plays alive with his elusiveness and combined with senior wide receiver Chris Casella on a 28 yard touchdown pass that, along with the PAT by junior Dan Dalleo, cut the deficit to 17/7 with 4:38 left in the first half.

"He makes people miss and he kept the ball alive," said Coach Kyle of Tarasovitch. "And they got some good yardage on that. The defense was constantly trying to keep him contained, because he's their key guy. For the most part, we did a nice job on that." Coach Kyle also couldn't say enough about how pleased he was with the offensive balance his Wildcats displayed.

Bent, but didn't break: Trailing, 24/7, at halftime, McDowell came up with its longest play of the night off the first possession of the second half, a 73 yard run by 212 pound senior fullback Tyler Hammond that gave the Trojans a first and goal at the 2.

The Wildcats' defense rose to the occasion, however, as McDowell was held to no gain on first down, lost 4 yards on second down and, after a huge sack by DiMassa that resulted in a 9 yard loss, the Trojans had to settle for a 32 yard field goal by Dalleo.

DiMassa helps fuel the final touches: Riding the momentum of DiMassa's sack, the offense responded with an 81 yard catch and run by the multi skilled Cook, who caught the ball one yard over the line of scrimmage off a quick drag route pass from Kucia, broke to the outside, eluded a couple of would be tacklers and raced down the left sideline and into the Day Drive end zone of Byers Field. Jake made an exceptional read as McDowell sent the house on a blitz.

The Cats' final touchdown came off another 2 yard run by Perez with just under a minute remaining in the third quarter.

Sometimes overlooked: Is the blocking provided by the fullbacks and junior fullback/linebacker Ben Cray did a solid job of helping provide space on Saturday night. Ben also had 2 receptions for thirty six yards.

What Grbac, Grosel, Kucia and Cook had to say : "From Week one until like now, everything is improved," said Cal. "I just have to give it to the quarterbacks and the offensive line. The offensive line is giving them (Grosel and Kucia) the time and they're just putting it (the ball) on point. Me, Jack and Shibs (standout senior wide receiver and captain David Shibley) are just all there for them. No matter where they put it, we'll just go up and get it for them."

"Since freshman year Cal, Jack and I have had a great connection," said Grosel. "And this year with Shibs, we're just meshing so well. I'm looking forward to improving more near the end of the year and hopefully helping us do some great things."

"He has everything we need basically," said the smiling veteran Kucia, when asked what he thought of the potential of the young pup, Jimmy Andrews.

"It's great to have Dennis back and Jake did a great job, too," said Cook, a son of former Wildcat and University of Virginia great Kevin Cook and a nephew of former Saint Ignatius standout tailback/defensive back Dean Lamirand. "This was a good win heading into next week and the weeks ahead."

Ah yes, next week and the weeks ahead: Saturday, the Wildcats will travel to Coffman Stadium in Dublin, Ohio to face the state's two time defending Division I state champion, Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller. The kickoff will be 7 PM.

The Wildcats and the Crusaders will be meeting on the gridiron for the fifth time overall and the first time in 19 years. Saint Ignatius won all four of the previous encounters, including state championship game victories in 1989 and 1993. We'll have more on that history when the corner previews Tuesday night what has to be one of the top matchups in the state this coming weekend.

After Moeller, the Cats will close out their regular season with games at Jesuit rival Cincinnati St. Xavier on October twenty fifth at 2 PM and the annual storied match up with West Side rival St. Edward on Nov. 1 at 7 PM on Byers Field.

JUST A REMINDER THAT COACH PAUL YAPPEL'S UNDEFATED JUNIOR VARSITY TEAM WILL TRAVEL TO ERIE MCDOWELL ON MONDAY FOR A FIVE THIRTY MATCH UP WITH TROJANS' JAYVEES.      

 

Freshman Wildcats continue impressive season with a shutout of Cleveland Heights
10/12/2014

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit October 2014

Coach Rodney Gallaway's Wildcats, who also treated their faithful to another crowd pleasing touchdown by Phil Zuccaro, some solid work by quarterbacks Daniel Alexander and Kyle Hall, and a TD by quarterback Bennett Kavlick that was set up by some second effort running by Andrew Phillips, remained unbeaten through seven games.

The Freshmen Cats will now focus on the demanding stretch run of their season, which will include a match up with the Crusaders from Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller on Oct. 18 at 11 AM in Coffman Stadium (Dublin, Ohio), an Oct. 23rd trip to Erie (Pa.) to face the Ramblers from Cathedral Prep at five PM and the highly anticipated Oct. 30, Thursday night showdown on Wasmer Field versus St. Edward at six bells.

Ohio City: After talking about how great it was to be able to empty his bench throughout the second half and give so many young men the opportunity to contribute to another victory, Saint Ignatius Head Freshmen Football Coach Rodney Gallaway spoke of the efforts put forth on Saturday morning by tailback Sean Whalen.

"Sean really gave us a nice change of pace," Coach Gallaway said after Whalen's two touchdown runs off a display of toughness and vision helped lead the Freshmen Cats' offense to 42 points in what was a dominant shutout victory over Cleveland Heights on Wasmer Field.

"Sean's fast, but he's not the same type of runner as Phil (Zuccaro)," Coach Gallaway continued. "So that was really nice to have that change of pace. He (Whalen) does a nice job of finding the hole and he hits it really hard."

Saint Ignatius set the tone against the Heights Tigers by driving 82 yards for the first of its six touchdowns.

The drive, which featured the passing of Kyle Hall, the receiving of tight end Benjamin Ritschel and the running of Zuccaro and Whalen, was highlighted by a leaping touchdown reception by wide receiver Nasir Carter in the right corner of the scoreboard end zone. Matthew Trickett kicked the extra point and the Cats led, 7/0, with 9.4 seconds remaining in the first quarter.

Saint Ignatius, with its offensive line controlling things up front against a Tigers defensive line that had plenty of size, pushed its lead to 14/0 on an authoritative 7 yard touchdown run by Whalen over the left side and the ensuing PAT by Trickett. Helping set up the Whalen score was a key reception by wide receiver Connor Kennedy.

Following Whalen's first TD of the morning, which came with 3:23 left in the first half, Saint Ignatius' defense and offense combined on an 11 second sequence that had Cleveland Heights on its heels.

Defensive end Deonte Griffin, a player Wildcats Freshmen Defensive Line Coach Jack Duffy '09 referred to as having improved significantly over the course of the season, pounced on a Cleveland Heights fumble at the Tigers' 9 yard line with 3:17 to go in the first half.

On the next play, quarterback Daniel Alexander, doing a perfect job of looking off the safety, fired a strike to Ritschel in the back of the Lorain Avenue end zone. Trickett's third extra point was high and true, and Coach Gallaway's gifted ninth graders were starting to take command at 21/0 with 3:12 remaining in the first half.

"A lot of guys contributed and definitely the offensive line played very well," Coach Gallaway said.

It seems like a Saint Ignatius victory wouldn't be complete without a highlight reel play by Zuccaro and Phil wasn't about to let the faithful down under the blue gray sky and occasional sunshine that visited Ohio City Saturday morning.

After the Cats' defense forced Cleveland Heights to punt from deep in its territory, Zuccaro took a swing pass from Alexander in stride, stopped on a dime, cut completely across the field and rambled down the left sideline before diving over the pylon with just under a minute left in the first half. Phil's 47 yard scoring effort was capped by Trickett's fourth PAT.

It was pretty much Katy Bar The Door for the Tigers from that point on, as the OHSAA running clock, point deficit mercy rule came into play after Whalen, following the work of his O Line, powered his way into the Lorain Avenue end zone from a yard out with less than six minutes remaining in the third quarter.

Trickett, who doubles as a linebacker, recovered a fumble at the Cleveland Heights 14. Following a second effort run by tailback Andrew Phillips, quarterback Bennett Kavlick scored off a 2 yard keeper and Trickett closed out the scoring by tacking on his sixth extra point.

The game ended with Saint Ignatius taking a knee at the Tigers' 11 yard line.

Along with their offensive production, the Freshmen Cats displayed relentless defensive pursuit all morning. Helping apply that pressure were linebackers Matt Viancourt, Thomas Grosel, Benjamin Sisko, Andrew Gill and Andrew Boldy, and a cast of thousands along the defensive line.

"This will really be a good test for us to see where we're at," said Coach Gallaway of next Saturday's encounter with Archbishop Moeller. "We haven' played them on the freshmen level. It's going to be a fun week."   

         

 

Week 7 Preview: Saint Ignatius vs. McDowell
10/8/2014

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit, October 2014

Ohio City -  Erie (Pa.) McDowell’s first -year Head Football Coach Brad Orlando and Saint Ignatius’ 32-year Head Coach Chuck Kyle share the same sentiment heading into Saturday’s 7 PM matchup between the Trojans (3-3) and
the Wildcats (4-2) on Byers Field in Parma’s Robert M. Boulton Stadium.

Six weeks into the season and both coaches feel their teams still need more work when it comes to finishing games.

For 11-time OHSAA Division I state champion Saint Ignatius, you only have to look at the two tough losses the Wildcats experienced to appreciate where Coach Kyle is coming from on the finishing issue.

Saint Ignatius lost to Mentor, 37-33, in Week 2 at Byers Field and, after taking leads of 17-0 (in the first half) and 24-10 (with less than 8 minutes left in the fourth quarter), the Cats were defeated by New Jersey national power Paramus Catholic, 37-31, in double overtime at Paramus Catholic on Sept. 27.

While Coach Kyle said his team has to continue learn from those setbacks, the positive grade for the Cats is that those two games also show that Saint Ignatius can play with any team in Ohio or beyond.

Mentor, the Division I state runner-up last season, is currently 6-0 and ranked No. 1 among Ohio’s big schools and currently undefeated Paramus Catholic followed up on its dramatic victory over Saint Ignatius by dominating New Jersey power Bergen Catholic. Bergen Catholic was coming off an impressive victory over St. Edward, the team labeled as the one to beat in Ohio during preseason.

Erie McDowell, which like Mentor steps to the plate and plays Saint Ignatius on all three levels – freshmen, junior varsity and varsity – is coming off a 24-14 Homecoming victory over Pennsylvania District 10 Quad-A foe General McLane. McLane is now 4-2.

Although the Trojans benefitted from big plays by veteran quarterback/defensive back Jake Tarasovitch and running back Jared Carlson, Coach Orlando still addressed his players on how they didn’t finish the game.

Tarasovitch rushed for 166 yards on 21 carries and Carlson finished with 97 yards on eight carries and three receptions for 119 yards. Carlson’s touchdown off a 70-yard swing pass helped increase McDowell’s lead to 24-7 early in the third quarter on what was a rainy night in the Keystone State. Carlson’s contributions also included a 34-yard TD gallop.

The gritty Tarasovitch ran 60-plus yards on the game’s first scoring drive and then capped the march with a 3-yard touchdown run.

"Erie McDowell is a solid football team,” said Coach Kyle, who enters Saturday night’s game with an area-best 313 career victories, all 313 coming at his alma mater, where Chuck excelled as an All-City tailback in the late 1960s under the coaching of the late and legendary John J. Wirtz.

"Defensively, they come out of a five-man front and they give you different looks out of it,” Coach Kyle continued in his evaluation of the Trojans. “They blend their pass coverage in with some nice tools there and they will send five to seven guys (with pressure). That’s something we’ll have to work on all week.”

Among some of McDowell’s playmakers on defense are senior lineman Fernando Frye (6-foot-3, 241 pounds), senior linebacker DeShawn McLaurin and junior linebacker Jacob McAndrew.

Coach Kyle pointed out that Saint Ignatius had grown accustom to seeing McDowell come out in the triple option offense, similar to what you’ve seen from Navy, Georgia Tech and Air Force.

“Now you look on film and see that the new coach has changed to the spread (offense) idea,” Coach Kyle said. “Their quarterback (Tarasovitch) is a weapon. He has a nice arm, but he has really helped them a lot running the ball. He has speed and he finds the seams. And the running back (Carlson) is a strong kid.

“We’ve seen spreads a lot,” said Coach Kyle. “With our defensive package, we’re going to look at it and tune that up.”

Coach Kyle has nothing but respect for the McDowell program and emphasized how he hopes the schools can continue to play.

“They’re good people and we’ve had a great relationship with them,” said the Wildcats’ Hall of Fame coach. “Erie is only an hour and a half away. It’s not a big deal. We’ve traveled much further than that. It is good football and we would like to continue it. We’ll work it out, that’s for sure.”

Hey, anytime you have two class programs from Ohio and Pennsylvania, why not continue it?

BACK FIRING THE PIGSKIN: Returning to practice in full gear on Tuesday was standout junior quarterback Dennis Grosel, who sat out the past two weeks with a shoulder injury.

“One step at a time,” said Coach Kyle of Dennis’ progress. “He’s out here running, throwing and into the team stuff. Right now, it’s Tuesday, and as he works we’ll see how it goes.

“Jake is a reliable guy,” Coach Kyle continued in reference to senior quarterback Jake Kucia, who has stepped up and done an admirable job the past two weeks. “He’s a senior who knows what’s going on. He’s been playing the quarterback position for four years. So we’ll see when we get to the later part of the week and how Dennis feels.”

ALSO ON THE MEND: Gifted junior tailback/kick returner James Norris, the Wildcats’ record holder in the 100 meter dash, was also working out yesterday under the careful observation of Saint Ignatius’ outstanding Head Athletic Trainer Hank Gaughan ATC.

“He’s has the okay to start running,” said Coach Kyle. “We all know that’s a weapon we would love to have. Because James is instant offense anytime he gets the ball.”

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Three major keys on Saturday night will be No. 1, how McDowell deals with Saint Ignatius’ significant size advantage along an offensive line that is anchored by highly recruited junior tackle Liam Eichenberg (six foot six and 280 pounds), senior tackle Kevin Woidke (six foot six, 288) and senior guard Jacob Ready (six foot five, 294).

No. 2, the fact that most of the Trojans’ defensive linemen and defensive backs also play on the offensive side of the ball and No. 3, and probably the most significant key for McDowell fans, how the hard-nosed and gifted Tarasovitch
holds up playing both offense and defense against a Wildcats team that is much deeper.

STRETCH RUN: Saint Ignatius, which is seeking a remarkable 26th appearance in the Ohio High School Athletic
Association’s Regional Playoffs, a run that started in 1988 when the Cats won the first of their record 11 big school state titles, begins a telling stretch on Saturday night.

Currently standing in the 13th spot in the OHSAA computer playoff ratings (the top 16 in Region 1 qualify for the postseason), Saint Ignatius follows its matchup with Erie McDowell by facing two-time defending Division I state
champion Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller on Oct. 18 at Coffman Stadium in Dublin, Ohio, traveling to Cincinnati the following Saturday to face Jesuit School rival St. Xavier on the Bombers’ Tom Ballaban Field in St. Xavier Stadium and
closing its regular season against West Side rival St. Edward on Nov. 1 at Byers Field.

Now that’s what they call playing your way into the big show.      

Wildcats defeat Canada Prep Football Academy Saturday night on Byers Field
10/5/2014

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit October 2014

Parma, Ohio: Fumble recoveries by senior defensive ends Ray Brown and Dre'Mont Jones and interceptions by junior defensive back Quinn Lawless and senior cornerback Valiant Freeman helped set up a 20 point first quarter by the Cats

The early barrage began with a 10 yard touchdown run by senior tailback Luke Russell off Brown's fumble recovery.

Saint Ignatius pushed is its lead to 27/0 by halftime, as gifted junior wide receiver Cal Grbac turned a hitch route off a pass from senior quarterback Jake Kucia into a fifty nine yard scoring play.

Kucia's first touchdown pass of the first half was a 27 yard hookup to senior wide receiver and captain David Shibley, and senior kicker/punter Cory Griffith sent home field goals of 28 and 44 yards and three extra point kicks in the first 24 minutes.

The Wildcats' final TD, a sixty two yard reception by junior long snapper/wide receiver Jim Berger, came late in the third quarter and was a response to Canada Prep's scoring run by Daniel Obiang. It was Jim's first career touchdown at Saint Ignatius, on any level.

Saint Ignatius, which sealed the victory with interceptions by junior defensive backs Joe Evans and Samuel Brick, upped its record to four wins and two defeats and is back in the playoff picture in Division I, Region 1. Although the official OHSAA computer ratings will not be released until Tuesday, computer playoff guru Joe Eitel has the Wildcats moving up from 17th place to the 13th spot. The top sixteen teams in Region 1 at the end of the regular season qualify for the OHSAA regional playoffs.

The record 11 time big school state champion Wildcats are seeking what would be a twenty sixth postseason appearance since 1988.

The Canada Prep Football Academy, which is based in St. Catharines, Ontario Canada and features some exceptional athletes, is now winless after four games.

HERE ARE THE COMMENTS FROM SAINT IGNATIUS HEAD FOOTBALL COACH CHUCK KYLE AND OTHER SIDE NOTES ON THE WILDCATS' VICTORY, WHICH CAME ON WHAT WAS A BRISK SATURDAY NIGHT IN ROBERT M. BOULTON STADIUM.

FROM COACH KYLE: "The defense gave us some turnovers and the offense took advantage of those opportunities and that's what we have to learn. We've seen before where we haven't taken advantage of opportunities. I think the kids realized, hey, there's an immediacy here. We have an opportunity, so let's go. That was good to see.

"We kicked some field goals and it's nice to see we're pretty consistent there, a nice 44 yarder by Cory," Coach Kyle continued "Their (Canada Prep) skilled kids are good, that quarterback (Prep's Jack Vernon) can throw the ball, their receivers can run and they have some capable running backs. It's a nice little team.

"I don't know if we got everybody in the game, but we got a lot of guys in," said Coach Kyle, with the emphasis on a lot.

The Wildcats finally got some significant second level (computer points) help this weekend as Indianapolis Lawrence Central and Philadelphia St. Joseph's Prep, teams the Wildcats have defeated this season, both came away with victories. Under the OHSAA Harbin Playoff System, teams are awarded (first level) points for each game they win and (second level) points for each game a defeated opponent wins.

Although Coach Kyle was pleased with news on the victories by Lawrence Central and St. Joe's Prep, the most successful high school football coach in the Greater Cleveland area says it's still the old adage of one game at a time for his 2014 Wildcats.

"That's what we have to do because we have some very good football teams to play yet," Coach Kyle said of the regular season stretch run that begins next Saturday versus Erie (Pa.) McDowell at Byers Field and is followed by consecutive Saturday games versus Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller at Dublin Coffman, at Cincinnati St. Xavier and versus West Side rival St. Edward on Nov. 1 at Byers Field. "We'll see how we handle it, but all we can do is try to get better."

CREDIT WHERE IT IS DO: While discussing the fifty nine yard catch and run for a touchdown by Cal Grbac, Jake Kucia said to this corner: "Yeah, it was just a hitch (route). It was all Cal!"

A BAD MEMORY: During Saturday night's victory, a form of rain and sleet accompanied the brisk winds that always swirl around Byers Field this time of year. It got cold enough that sideline observers began referring to the regional playoff loss to Mentor in November of last year at Byers Field. That November Saturday night, was, without a doubt, the coldest night this old timer has ever experienced in four plus decades of covering and reporting on high school football.

SOME NUMBERS TO CHEW ON: The Canada Prep Football Academy rolled a seven in the turnover department, Jake Kucia passed for 184 yards before turning the reins over to junior Mike Huber, Ray Brown had two sacks and three other tackles for losses to go along with his tone setting fumble recovery, and Ohio State recruit Dre'Mont Jones had two fumble recoveries.          

   

 

Everyone plays a part in Junior Varsity's Saturday morning victory over Glenville
10/4/2014

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit October 2014

Ohio City: Coach Paul Yappel's Junior Varsity Wildcats remained unbeaten through five games, as once again the defense was both physical and resilient.

Glenville, which lost for just the second time this fall, played tough in the second half, but the Cats had the answers down the stretch.

As the clock was approaching high noon on Saturday, Saint Ignatius' standout sophomore linebacker Johnny Velotta stood under the brisk wind and a blue/gray sky that hovered over Wasmer Field and talked about how he and his teammates laid down the law against a physical Glenville team.

"We had to come intense," said Velotta, who is part of an exceptional junior varsity linebacker trio that includes fellow sophomores James Leyden and Adam Shibley. "They (the Tarblooders) were big, they were hungry and they were aggressive. The defense had to pick it up and get some momentum on our side and that helped us big time. We had too many penalties, but we'll work on that. We just have to keep playing Ignatius football and getting better and better every week."

With their defensive front of sophomore linemen Joe Gibbons, Mike Chime, Pat Viancourt and Michael Czaja complementing the nose-for-the-ball pursuit of Velotta, Leyden and Shibley, and sophomore Matt Wiegandt roaming actively from his defensive backfield position, the Wildcats' defense kept things under control until the offense got into a flow.

And oh my, did the play that ignited the offense ever go with the flow.

With just under four minutes remaining in the first quarter, sophomore quarterback Patrick Ryan sent a picture-perfect pass through the October skies of Ohio City that landed in the soft hands of gifted sophomore wide receiver Mike Lehto. Mike never broke stride en route to the scoreboard end zone, as he and Patrick combined on an 83-yard scoring play that warmed the hearts of the Saint Ignatius faithful on a true football weather morning.

The strong and accurate leg of sophomore Colin Goodfellow delivered the extra point and the Cats led, 7-0.

With Glenville's defense hanging tough, Velotta, who also plays a key role on special teams, reminded the Tarblooders whose turf they were playing on.

Bursting up the middle, Velotta blocked a punt and, in the same motion, scooped up the football and took it into the Lorain Avenue end zone for what was Johnny V's first touchdown as a Saint Ignatius Wildcat.

Goodfellow's second PAT flirted with the Glenville buses that were parked on Lorain Avenue and Coach Paul Yappel's Cats led, 14-0, with 3:21 left in the first half.

"We all shifted to the left side, so I came around and blitzed on the other side," said Velotta of his huge special teams play. "It was wide open and the punter bobbled the ball a bit. I stuck my hands out, blocked it and just ran to the ball. That was a big one for me."

And his day will get even bigger, as Velotta and Shibley were told by the coaching staff this week that they will also be dressing for varsity games starting with tonight's match up versus the Canada Prep Football Academy at Parma's Byers Field. Leyden received the same honor earlier this season.

With its defense continuing to provide good field position, Saint Ignatius increased its lead to 21 points on a diving touchdown reception by Lehto in the Lorain Avenue end zone and Goodfellow's third authoritative PAT. Mike's second TD came off a third and 10 from the Glenville 14 with 1:17 to go in the first half.

The Tarblooders found some whack, thud in their attack, as on the ensuing kickoff the multi skilled Demerius Goodwin returned the ball to the Wildcats' 12, where he was dragged down by Goodfellow, who never gave up on the play.

Goodfellow's hustle played big dividends, as Saint Ignatius' defense stood tall in the red zone and Glenville's threat stalled at the five yard line in the final seconds of the first half.

A tip of the cap goes out to the Glenville coaching staff for keeping the Tarblooders in the game after halftime.

The only score of the second half came off a fourth down and goal, six yard touchdown sweep over the left side by Goodwin with 8:37 remaining to be played.

After the Wildcats turned the ball over, Glenville took possession at the Saint Ignatius 47, only to be turned away on downs at the Cats' 38.

"We were put in some tough situations, but we did what we had to do," said Velotta.

And Velotta and Co. have been doing just that since the fall of 2013, when they took the gridiron under the name of Saint Ignatius for the first time as wide eyed freshmen.   

 

A high powering offense leads the Freshman Wildcats to another victory, defeating McDowell
10/2/2014

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit October 2014

Ohio City: After his Wildcats remained unblemished through six games by defeating Erie (Pa.) McDowell, 28/8, on Wasmer Field Thursday night, Saint Ignatius Head Freshmen Football Coach Rodney Gallaway, in describing his gifted tailback Phil Zuccaro, said: "He can move, that's for sure."

Sweeps left and right, bursts off guard and tackle, and even an occasional crowd pleasing reverse or a stop on a dime dart completely across the field. That's moving, baby.

Okay, he's just a freshman who stands five foot six and weighs in around 127 pounds. However, Zuccaro, along with his God given talents, already possesses that savvy vision, cutting ability and balance that go hand in hand with every successful running back.

Wasting little time in unleashing his speed and vision, Zuccaro fueled a 28 point first half by the Wildcats with a 9 yard touchdown burst over the left side. Tough as nails linebacker/kicker Matthew Trickett sent the extra point through the uprights and Saint Ignatius led, 7/0, with the game not two minutes old.

The Wildcats' defense then took center stage, as active linebacker/defensive back Drew Asadorian made a leaping interception at the McDowell 44 yard line and returned the ball to the Trojans' 4.

From there, Zucarro went left again and scored from 4 yards out. Trickett's PAT was high and true, and the Cats had a 14 point advantage with 7:20 left in the first quarter. Freshmen quarters are 10 minutes.

The McDowell Trojans were knocking on the door with a first down at the Saint Ignatius 11 yard line.

However, the Cats' defense stood tall in the red zone and the Trojans were turned away on clutch third and fourth down plays by Asadorian and Trickett.

Taking over at its 7, Coach Gallaway's team put the ball in Zuccaro's hands again and Phil, after gaining five yards on first down, brought another roar from the Saint Ignatius faithful.

Taking the pitch, reading the blocking and darting to the outside, Zuccaro sprinted down the left sideline and then, in what seemed like endless motion, cut completely across the field to the right sideline, picked up a solid down field block from Joshua Ozanne and was finally dragged down at the McDowell 22 yard line. I have to say it again, folks, that was vintage Frank Solich (look it up).

Zuccaro capped off his highlight reel run by bursting off guard and tackle and going 17 yards into the scoreboard end zone of Wasmer Field. Trickett was money on his third PAT and Saint Ignatius led, 21/0, with six minutes and 22 seconds left in the first half.

"Offensively, we really wanted to attack early," said Coach Gallaway. "We said all week that no one is going to stop us besides ourselves. That has really proven true this whole season. We (the coaches) said, 'Let's get after it,' and I think they answered that call."

The Wildcats answered the call one more time  in the first half.

With the seconds ticking off the clock, quarterback Kyle Hall rolled to his left under pressure and found running back/linebacker Mark Bobinski open in the flat. Mark hauled in the pigskin, broke outside and beat the pursuit into the scoreboard end zone with 12 seconds to go in the first 20 minutes.

Trickett's fourth extra point closed out the scoring for Saint Ignatius, as Coach Gallaway and his staff rotated players in and out in the second half.

The Wildcats' defense turned in several strong efforts, including some steady work by lineman Andrew Ryan and linebackers Andrew Keirn and Matt Viancourt. A good night's work by the offensive line featured the solid technique up front by tackle John Jamieson.

Keirn set the tone early in the second half with a big time sack and he also put halt to a potential drive by the Trojans by picking off a pass.

McDowell had more than a few players who made plays for the Trojans, including running back Xavier Pullium, wide receiver Anthony Al Barba (a touchdown reception) and defensive back/wide receiver Nolan Tupek, who made an exceptional diving reception.

Saint Ignatius was able to chew up the clock down the stretch behind some tough inside running by Sean Whalen.

Up next for the Freshmen Cats is an Oct. 11 match up with the Cleveland Heights Tigers. The kickoff will be at 9 AM on Wasmer Field.   

   

Week 6 Preview: Saint Ignatius vs. Canada Prep Football Academy
10/1/2014

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit September/October 2014

Ohio City: You might have seen them listed on various schedules as the St. Catharines (Ontario, Canada) Pinehurst Spartans.

However, when it comes to the gridiron, Saint Ignatius' varsity football opponent this week plays under the name of the Canada Prep Academy, or the Canada Prep Football Academy Raiders, if you will.

If you would like to verify that go to INFO@CANADA PREP ACADEMY.CA. The Canada Prep Academy is a member of The Ontario Federation of Independent Schools and is the only high school football program in Canada that plays exclusively 11 man football and a schedule that is made up entirely of American schools.

Last season, Canada Prep Football Academy paid a visit to Parma's Byers Field in Robert M. Boulton Stadium to face the Wildcats and went home with a 21 point loss on a rainy Saturday night in Week 10. The same two programs will go at it this Saturday on Byers Field in a 7 PM kickoff. If you can't make it out to the game, the terrific tandem of James Zajaczkowski and Carter Spearry will bring you the live audio and video over the Saint Ignatius Student Broadcasting Network.  

The football gods haven't been very kind to the Canada Prep Academy this fall, as four weeks into the season the Raiders were searching for that elusive win column.

A 40/24 loss to the Poly Prep Blue Devils of Brooklyn, New York on Sept. 20th is pretty much how things have been going this fall for the team from 10 Seymour Street in St. Catharines.

Another of Canada Prep's early opponents was De La Salle out of Michigan in a game played at Wayne State University. Saint Ignatius dominated De La Salle in 2012 at Byers Field.

After Saturday's second encounter with Saint Ignatius, Canada Prep has St. Edward, St. Mary's of Michigan, Stuebenville and Calvert Hall (MD) as its final four scheduled opponents.

"They played some pretty good teams," said Saint Ignatius Head Football Coach Chuck Kyle, as he sent his Wildcats through the first full work day of the week on Tuesday. "Defensively, they give you a four three, but with a lot of different looks out of it. They've got some skill guys, so they will latch on to man coverage. We'll see how we respond to that.

"Offensively, a lot of what they do is running bubble screens, just trying to create little mismatches one on one in the secondary," Coach Kyle continued. "So we have some work to do just to read our keys."

Saint Ignatius (3 wins and 2 defeats) went back to work this week on Wasmer Field after experiencing one of the toughest regular season setbacks in the Jesuit Preparatory School's rich football history.

Last Saturday, the Wildcats traveled to New Jersey to face one of the Garden State's powers, Paramus Catholic, and saw leads of 17/0 (in the first half) and 24/10 (just over 7 minutes left in the fourth quarter) slip away. Paramus Catholic came away with a 37/31 double overtime victory.

Ranked 17th in this week's Division I, Region 1 OHSAA computer ratings (the top sixteen qualify for the postseason playoffs), the Wildcats know their margin of error is very limited, if not down to zero.

"We've been going against some good people, so we'll just have to respond," Coach Kyle said.

Although he will wait to see how Saint Ignatius' outstanding medical staff responds to the therapy standout junior quarterback Dennis Grosel has been going through with his shoulder (Dennis did not play against Paramus Catholic), Coach Kyle said there is a chance he and his staff will rest Dennis another week.

"It's just Tuesday, but it sounds like that," said Coach Kyle.

The Wildcats hope is that Grosel will be ready to go for a demanding stretch run that includes Erie (Pa.) McDowell at Byers Field, Ohio's top ranked and two time defending big school champ Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller at Dublin Coffman, at perennial Cincinnati power St. Xavier and versus West Side rival St. Edward at Byers Field.

It was great to see senior linebacker Joe Conway back working out on Wasmer Field Tuesday afternoon. Joe, as Coach Kyle emphasized, did some very good things for the defense during Weeks 1 and 2, and his return would be a definite boost.

"The positive thing (coming off the heart pounding loss at Paramus Catholic) is that we can play with teams like that, teams that are ranked nationally," Coach Kyle said. "We're right there. We just have to play our A game."

Just a reminder that the Wildcats' freshmen and junior varsity teams will put their undefeated records on the line this week. The Freshmen Cats will face the Trojans from Erie (Pa.) McDowell on Thursday evening at five thirty on Wasmer Field and the JV Cats will take on the Glenville Tarblooders Saturday at 10 AM, also on Wasmer Field.

Have a great and safe week and weekend.      

 

Junior Varsity remains undefeated with a win over the Ironmen
9/30/2014
BY EDDIE DWYER, CLEVELAND'S SLAVIC VILLAGE
 
After his Junior Varsity Wildcats improved to 4/0, Head JV Coach Paul Yappel emphasized how much it pleased him and his staff to see so many of the Cats' sophomores get significant playing time on Monday.
 
"Especially for jayvee players that are working day in and day out, it is important to get them time as well and give them the opportunity to compete," said Coach Yappel, moments after his Wildcats defeated a spirited bunch of Ironmen from Cleveland Central Catholic, twenty one to six, on a sun drenched turf in the impressive football setting known as Stefanski Stadium.
 
"They (second and third unit players) work hard and everyone deserves that chance to play, but it doesn't always work out," Coach Yappel said. "We've had some lopsided games early on, but we're going to have some tough games in the weeks ahead."
 
And that demanding part of the schedule begins on Saturday, when the JV Cats host the Glenville Tarblooders at 10 AM on Wasmer Field.
 
Yes, many of the key parts of the Saint Ignatius junior varsity attack saw little, if any playing time on Monday. That said, you have to tip your cap to a game bunch of young Ironmen (CCC has several freshmen on its JV team) for hanging tough and making it a competitive 40 minutes (JV quarters are 10 minutes).
 
The Wildcats struck on their second offensive possession after defensive back Dante Cipriani made a leaping interception at the Central Catholic 44 yard line.
 
From there, Coach Yappel and his staff turned to the running of small in stature, but oh so big in heart and talent Tyson Long.
 
With Long picking up steady and significant yards, and tight end Robert Soeder making a diving catch at the one, Saint Ignatius overcame a loss of 3 yards on first and goal and scored off a picture perfect 4 yard sweep over the left side by Long. Luis Medina's PAT made it 7/0 with just under five minutes remaining in the first quarter.
 
Sparked by the first of two strong punt returns by Dean Stowers, the Wildcats, overcoming a penalty after they drove for a first and goal at the 9, scored on a 22 yard pass from quarterback Luke Baker to wide receiver Michael Spear. The TD toss, which came off a fourth and goal from the 22, saw Spear do an excellent job of outmaneuvering the defender as he made a leaping catch in the end zone. Medina's second extra point kick was also on the money and the Cats led, 14/0, with 8:42 left in the first half.
 
After Saint Ignatius' defense shook off a 20 yard catch and run by Central Catholic's standout freshman two way player Jayvon Benton and forced a punt, Stowers did his thing again and set up the Cats' O at the Ironmen 44.
 
Saint Ignatius turned the solid field position into another touchdown strike from Baker to Spear, an effort that saw Baker roll to his left under heavy pressure and, keeping his composure, find Spear inside the 10 for what was a fifteen yard score. Medina's third PAT made it a 21/0 game with 2:34 to go in the first 20 minutes.
 
The Wildcats' defense, which along with Cipriani's interception featured a big time sack by end Michael Czaja, was, for the most part, rock solid in the first half.
 
Coach Yappel's Cats, sparked by some superb blocking by the offensive line and fullback Ben Delhees, and the outstanding inside and outside running by Nicholas Kilbane and Anthony Pellegrino, dominated the time of possession in the second half.
 
A fumble that resulted in a touchback wiped out another Saint Ignatius TD and Central Catholic, which hurt itself with holding penalties, got on the scoreboard off a crowd pleasing 73 yard catch and run by Benton with 2:04 left to be played.
 
Along with Benton's steady contributions, the Ironmen got some impressive defensive secondary play from Cedric Taylor and resilient efforts from quarterback David Moss.
 
"They did," said Coach Yappel, when it was mentioned how hard the Ironmen played. "And you know, they were just looking for a game and they will play anybody (no matter what Division). It fit our schedule and worked out well for us."
 
Especially well, in the words of Coach Yappel, for those players who had the opportunity to perform in front of their families and friends. At Saint Ignatius, everything is defined by hard work. 
 
 
Wildcats play four tough quarters of football vs. Paramus, but fall in double overtime
9/28/2014

BY EDDIE DWYER

The Paladins, trailing by 14 points with 7 minutes and thirty six seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, displayed the credentials that have carried them to consecutive Non Public Group 4 State Championships in New Jersey.

As we reported during our updates on the game, Coach Chris Partridge's team refused to call it an evening after Saint Ignatius' gritty senior tailback Luke Russell scored on a six yard run that, along with the extra point kick by senior Cory Griffith, pushed the Cats' lead to 14 points.

Paramus Catholic (undefeated after four games), the third ranked team this week in the Top 20 poll by the outstanding staff at The Star Ledger in New Jersey, came back on a 4 yard touchdown run by senior quarterback Willy Hansen and an interception return by sophomore linebacker Drew Singleton. Singleton's Pick Six came with 2:29 left in the fourth quarter.

In the first overtime, the Paladins scored on a touchdown pass from Hansen to senior wide receiver Marquis Spence and Saint Ignatius answered with a TD strike from senior quarterback Jake Kucia to gifted junior wide receiver/safety/punt returner Jack Cook.

It was Spence's second touchdown reception on the day and Cook's seventh TD on the season. Jack also had two interceptions on the afternoon.

Saint Ignatius had the ball first in the second overtime, but came up empty after a field goal attempt was wide.

With Hansen taking care of business on the ground, Paramus Catholic celebrated the 37/31 triumph off the winning touchdown by Hansen from a yard out.   

The Wildcats (3 wins and two losses), ranked fourth in the cleveland.com Top Twenty Five area poll and 11th in this week's Division I state poll by the Associated Press, appeared to have the answers for the exceptional skill that Paramus Catholic brings to the table. Saint Ignatius' 32 year head coach Chuck Kyle described the Paladins' skill earlier this week as the best his team would see at the halfway point of the season.

Saint Ignatius, the winner of a record 11 Ohio big school state football championships, rode a defense that finished with five interceptions, including four in the first half, to its 14 point, fourth quarter lead.

In the first half, senior linebacker Geoff DiMassa retuned his interception for a touchdown and senior safety Derek Smith had an interception that set up a touchdown pass from senior quarterback Jake Kucia to standout senior tight end/defensive end Dre' Mont Jones. Dre' has given a verbal commitment to Coach Urban Meyer and The Ohio State University.

Kucia, who Coach Kyle describes as "like having a coach on the field," took over the starting role after it was determined by the Wildcats' outstanding medical staff that junior Dennis Grosel (shoulder injury) wouldn't be able to go under center. Dennis has passed for 801 yards this season.

Trailing, 17/0, after DiMassa's Pick Six, Paramus Catholic was able to convert a fumble recovery into Spence's first touchdown reception and went to its locker room at halftime trailing by 10 points.

The Paladins, who also defeated the Saint Ignatius, 44/10, in the first meeting between the two programs at Parma's Byers Field last season, closed to 17/10 in the third quarter. Coach Partridge's team was able to move the ball early on in the second half, but the Wildcats' defense continued to make key third down plays that resulted in Paramus Catholic converting one of its two third quarter field goal attempts.

It appeared that Mr. Momentum was riding sidekick with the Cats after a sixty three yard march by Saint Ignatius had Coach Kyle's team up by 14 at that 7 minutes plus mark of the fourth quarter.

However, as the Wildcats' faithful witnessed, seven minutes can be an eternity for a team with the quick strike ability that Paramus Catholic possesses.

The official stats on the game have the Paladins with four hundred and sixty nine yards of offense and Saint Ignatius with one hundred and sixty six yards of total offense. Hansen passed for 181 yards and rushed for 91 yards on fifteen carries. 

Up next for the Wildcats is a match up with the Pinehurst School Spartans from St. Catharines Ontario, Canada. The game is next Saturday, Oct. 4, at 7 PM on Parma's Byers Field in Robert M. Boulton Stadium. Saint Ignatius defeated Pinehurst by 21 points in what was the first meeting between the schools during Week 10 of 2013. That game was also played by Byers Field.  

  

Freshman Wildcats remain undefeated with a win over Bishop Watterson
9/26/2014

Presented By Saint Ignatius' outstanding Student Manager Kyle Kostura and By Eddie Dwyer

FROM KYLE '15: Here are some notes on tonight's 27-12 win by the Freshmen Football Cats at Ashland University. The Cats move to 5-0 and Bishop Watterson falls to 3-2. 

The Cats started off with the ball and drove down to the Watterson 10. On second down the Watterson corner stepped in front of the receiver at the 2 and went down to the Cats' 20. Phil Zuccaro would be the man to stop the potential pick 6.  Watterson would score first with 2:15 left in the first quarter. Scoring for Watterson was Nate Myer. 

The Cats would drive and Zuccaro would punch through for a 7 yard TD run. Matthew Trickett would add the PAT. With 4:22 left in the second quarter, it was 7-6 Cats.

Maybe the big play of the night was made by Andrew" Drew" Keirn, who went 46 yards for a pick 6. That was with 40 seconds left in the first half. The kick was no good and the Cats led, 13-6.

Watterson would score on a TD reception by Holden Jones after Myer had a big catch to set it up. The score was 13-12 as time expired in the first half. 

In the second half, the Cats got a break when Watterson had a high snap. Saint Ignatius would take over on the Watterson 18 with 5:32 left in the third quarter. 

After Mark Bobinski galloped to the Watterson 3, Zuccaro would score his second TD of the night and Trickett's PAT pushed the Cats' lead to 19-12. 

Standing out for the defense was Drew Asadorian with two picks.

With 7:15 left in the fourth quarter, linebacker Tommy Grosel would recover a fumble. Zuccaro's 30-plus yard gain set up a big 4th and 7 conversion - a 32 yard throw from Daniel Alexander to Michael Drobnick. All with 4:13 left in the game. 

Leading, 27-12, the Cats sealed it on Cameron Toppin's pick.

Zuccaro had a great night with several big runs. I asked Phil what he thought about the night.

"It was a beautiful team effort, and it's clear that the team can't wait to get back at it next week," Zuccaro said. 

Week 5 Preview: Saint Ignatius vs. Paramus Catholic
9/24/2014

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit September 2014

Ohio City When a coach with Chuck Kyle’s rich resume talks about an opponent, you listen very carefully.

Late Tuesday afternoon on a sun-drenched Wasmer Field, Coach Kyle looked this corner right in the eye and said, “A talented football team. Their skills, right now, will be the best we faced so far this year.”

The talented football team Coach Kyle was referring to are the Paladins from Paramus Catholic High School in New
Jersey.

Saturday at 2 pm, Paramus Catholic will host Coach Kyle’s Saint Ignatius Wildcats (3-1) in what will be the second
meeting between the gifted programs. Last season, Paramus wore down the Cats, 44-10, in a Sept. 28 afternoon matchup at Parma’s Byers Field.

After winning its second consecutive state championship by defeating another of the Garden State’s elite, St. Peter’s Prep, 13-6, in the 2013 Non-Public, Group 4 final, the Paladins of Coach Chris Partridge stand 3-0 and are ranked third in The Star-Ledger/NJ.com Top 20 poll.

Don Bosco Prep, currently ranked No. 1 in the nation, is The Star-Ledger’s top-ranked team and St. Peter’s Prep
holds down the No. 2 spot.

En route to its 2013 state title, Paramus Catholic defeated Don Bosco Prep, 21-20, in the state semifinals. It marked the Paladins’ first victory over the Don Bosco Prep Ironmen since 1999.

Coach Partridge and his staff had some rebuilding to do this summer as Paramus Catholic said goodbye to a starting offensive line that showed the way for an average of  more than 350 yards per game. The Paladins also graduated one of the nation’s premier players in the University of Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers and a savvy and strong-armed quarterback in Steve Shanley. This old-timer thought Shanley was the difference maker in the Paladins’ triumph over Saint Ignatius last year. And Shanley’s 285 yards passing and three touchdown tosses substantiated that.

The “rebuilding” cupboard Coach Partridge opened in June was far from bare, however, as evident by Paramus Catholic’s impressive start right out of the gate this season.

Yes, the skills Coach Kyle referred to are in abundance again at the Sisters of Charity Roman Catholic School that is located on Paramus Road in Paramus, NJ.

Both of the Paladins’ quarterbacks have had impressive performances, as last weekend, 6-foot-2, 200 pound freshman Allan Walters passed for 150 yards and two touchdowns during a 32-point victory over St. Frances in Baltimore, Maryland.

Senior signal-caller Willy Hansen (also listed at 6-2, 200), in what was his first starting assignment, completed
11 of his 1
passes for 166 yards and a touchdown in helping fuel a 35-0 victory over Gilman in John Unitas Stadium on the campus of Towson University.  Hansen also rushed for 5o yards and a TD.

When talking about special skills, Paramus Catholic’s 6-3, 218-pound senior wide receiver/defensive back Najee Clayton is among the best of the best in New Jersey – on both sides of the ball.

Clayton, who is rated among the Garden State’s Top 20 college recruits, is very similar to Saint Ignatius’ standout junior wide receiver/safety/punt returner Jack Cook in that he is a game-changer who never wants to leave the field.

Among the other Paladins to pencil in are 6-foot-4 junior wide receiver Donald Stewart, who can climb the ladder for the ball and looks for big yards after the catch; junior tailback Ahmad Thomas, who is another in the long line of tough, durable and sure-handed New Jersey running backs; sophomore halfback/kick returner Alijah Jackson, who brings speed and moves to the table; senior linebackers Saleem Brightwell (100 tackles in 2013) and Jamad Thomas and their knack for the big play and forced turnovers, and junior defensive lineman Rashan Gary (6-6, 290), a transfer from Scotch Plains-Fanwood with five-star potential.

“Their running backs are very good and their quarterbacks put it there and can run around,” said Coach Kyle, whose 11-time state champion Wildcats enter Saturday’s game as the fourth-ranked team in cleveland.com’s seven county
area poll and the 11th-ranked Division I program in Ohio by the Associated Press.

“They like tall receivers, and sure enough they have tall ones again,” Coach Kyle continued. “One of the favorite things they do is run four verticals, put it up and try to out-jump you. So we’re working on ways where we can get a safety two-deep to help on that situation. The way they set up their offensive formation, it is a one-on-one situation at times. We’re working on it and pressure (up front) and taking away the running game, so we can focus in on the pass, would surely help.”

Coach Kyle emphasized that the Paladins, who limited their 2013 opponents to an average of 13 points a game, turn to the blitz quite often in their defensive approach.

“They want to come after you,” Coach Kyle said. “We have to be able to run the ball and percentage passing would be important against this team. Just move the sticks. We don’t have to hit the home run all of the time, just move the sticks, be balanced and sustain drives. If we can do that, it’s going to be a heck of a ballgame.”

Wildcats talented junior quarterback Dennis Grosel, who left the field during the first half of last weekend’s game with a “sore shoulder,”  had x-rays taken on the shoulder that were negative. Grosel was scheduled to see an orthopedic doctor on Tuesday and is expected to receive those results sometime on Wednesday or Thursday.

"He was feeling better, but we want him to be 100 percent,” Coach Kyle said emphatically. “To put him on the
field if he’s not 100 percent is not right. We’ll be okay. Jake Kucia knows the offense really well and is a good leader. We’ll see where we're at as the week goes on. The doctors will handle it and we’ll be fine.”

Kucia, a senior with big game experience, took over for Grosel in last weekend's victory over Assumption College School (Brantford, Ontario Canada) and was impressive both passing and running the football.

*If you can't make the trip to New Jersey, the Saint Ignatius Student Broadcasting Network will bring you live audio and video coverage from Paramus Catholic. The savvy call on the game will be made by the terrific twosome of James Zajaczkowski and Carter Spearry.   

 

Saint Ignatius ranked 12th in first OHSAA Division 1, Region 1 computer ratings
9/23/2014

By Eddie Dwyer

Division I  (the top 16 teams at the end of the regular season will qualify for the playoffs)

Region 1 - 1. Hudson (4-0) 11.4, 2. Solon (4-0) 10.175, 3. Westerville Central (4-0) 9.85, 4. Massillon Jackson (4-0) 9.3, 5. Stow-Munroe Falls (4-0) 9.2, 6. Findlay (4-0) 9.175, 7. Mentor (4-0) 9.15, 8. Strongsville (3-1) 7.675, 9. Brunswick (3-1) 7.625, 10. Powell Olentangy Liberty (3-1) 7.575, 11. Austintown Fitch (3-1) 7.4293, 12. Saint Ignatius (3-1) 7.352, 13. St. Edward (3-1) 7.1071, 14. Wadsworth (3-1) 6.975, 15. Berea-Midpark (3-1) 6.925, 16. Marysville (3-1) 6.75, 17. Lorain (3-1) 6.65, 18. Warren G. Harding (2-2) 5.675, 19. Toledo Whitmer (2-2) 5.275, 20. Canton GlenOak (3-1) 5.175.

There are seven football divisions, with the largest 72 schools placed in Division I and the remaining schools placed in Divisions II through VII (approximately 108 schools in each division). There are two regions in Division I and four regions each in Divisions II through VII. The top 16 teams in both Division I regions will qualify for the playoffs, while the top eight schools in Divisions II through VII will qualify.

After 24 years in Stark County, the OHSAA football state championship games will return to Ohio Stadium on the campus of The Ohio State University in 2014. The championship games were hosted in Ohio Stadium throughout the 1980s but needed to find a new home in 1990 when natural grass was installed in the stadium.

*Saint Ignatius won the first two of its record 11 Division I state football championships at Ohio Stadium (1988 and 1989).

For a complete look at the computer ratings for the entire state and all seven divisions, go to www.OHSAA.org and click on football.

 

Wildcats are too much to handle for the Lions in a 49-13 triumph
9/21/2014

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit September 2014

Coach Chuck Kyle's Wildcats, now winners of three of their first four games, will travel to New Jersey next Saturday, Sept. 27, to face one of the Garden State's powers, the Paladins from Paramus Catholic High School. As always, we will preview the Saint Ignatius versus Paramus Catholic match up on Tuesday night.    

HERE ARE THE CORNER'S CUTS FROM  SAINT IGNATIUS' 49/13 TRIUMPH OVER THE LIONS FROM ASSUMPTION COLLEGE SCHOOL, WHICH IS LOCATED IN BRANTFORD, ONTARIO CANADA.

Parma, Ohio: Junior Jack Cook continued to display his catching and running skills as he found the Byers Field end zone twice in the early going off throws from junior quarterback Dennis Grosel.

With Coach Adam Rini's and Coach Paul Yappel's offensive line controlling things up front, senior tailbacks Chavez "Chewie" Perez and Luke Russell chewed up the yards (no pun intended), with "Chewie" scoring twice in a first half that ended with Saint Ignatius on top, 28/7.

Sophomore tailback Jimmy Andrews put together a memorable series on the first drive of the second half, efforts that were highlighted by Jimmy's first varsity touchdown from a yard out. Jimmy displayed his catching and running skills during an eight play, sixty five yard march that was engineered with precision by senior quarterback Jake Kucia.

Kucia did an outstanding job when called on to take over for Grosel after Dennis had to leave the game in the first half with a sore shoulder. Off a tremendous ball fake, Kucia ran thirty six yards for a first and goal at the 7. On the next play, Jake called his own number again and swept the right side for a 7 yard touchdown run.

Junior quarterback David Welcsh engineered Saint Ignatius' final scoring drive, as his on the money 40 yard swing pass to junior tailback Daniel Volpe set up a first and goal at the six. Two plays later, Volpe powered his way over the left side from 3 yards out with 1 minute and 18 seconds remaining in the third quarter. 

Gifted senior kicker/punter Cory Griffith didn't have to call on his exceptional punting skills, but it was business as usual for Cory on his PATS and booming  kickoffs out of the end zone. Sophomore kicker Colin Goodfellow displayed his strong leg in the final stages of the game.

It was also a case for the defense.

The Cats' D line, featuring senior Ohio State recruit Dre'Mont Jones at one end and the ever present senior Ray Brown at the other, aka "The Dre' and Ray show," senior nose tackle Michael Penn, the linebackers and the secondary each put their stamp on the dominant victory.

Senior safety Derek Smith was all over the coverage batting down passes, as was senior safety Michael Mathews. And how about the effort by junior defensive back Samuel Brick? After missing an interception opportunity on the previous play, Samuel climbed the ladder and came down with a pick that set up Saint Ignatius' final touchdown.

The Lions from Assumption College School, who have now split their first two games after coming off a banner undefeated season in 2013, have some players who, despite the final score, left their mark on the game.

Assumption quarterback Liam Putt was as advertised. Putt displayed a quick release and a strong and accurate arm en route to two touchdown passes, one to his brother Nolan in the first half and another to the versatile Andre Toic in the fourth quarter.

"You guys have a heck of a team," said Lions defensive back Ben Crocock, who came up with two interceptions, one off Grosel and one off Kucia.

Yes, the OHSAA's thirty five point deficit, running clock rule came into play after the above mentioned 7 yard TD gallop by Kucia. By the way, for you old timers like me, Jake is a nephew of former Saint Ignatius standout quarterback Scott Mutryn '94. Scott helped guide the Wildcats to state championships in 1992 and 1993, and a national title in '93.

COACH CHUCK KYLE'S COMMENTS ON THE VICTORY

"He was good," said Coach Kyle of Lions QB Liam Putt. "They throw the ball a lot, that's what they do in Canada. He was accurate, very accurate. A windy day, and there were times when he put it right there. And they have a couple of good receivers.

"They couldn't run the ball, we stopped that, but the young man (Putt) was mobile and poised," Coach Kyle continued. "He kept himself alive in the pocket.

"We have great faith in Jake (Kucia)," Coach Kyle said. "He's a veteran, he knows what we're doing. At this point, he's like an assistant coach at times. We always feel confident when Jake goes in there that he will put us in the right play."

"I think we got everybody in (the game)," said the man who has an area best 312 victories in what is his 32nd season as the head football coach at his alma mater. "And that's good. It's Homecoming. We have some running backs who are pretty solid, but Jimmy Andrews, we've moved him up to varsity because he's a varsity back. He's very good. So we gave him a chance to get a taste of it and he looked good."

JAKE KUCIA ON HIS PERFORMANCE: "I always come into every game thinking I have to be ready at all times," Jake said. "I make sure I know what I am doing in practice and then when it comes to the games I know what I'm doing. It's just repetition.

"It's mental reps, to be able to see what I have to do in order to be successful," Kucia continued. "I've been in this system for four years now. It's just second nature as to what I have to read and where I need to go at all times. It's fun getting out there and being able to play, fun being with the seniors, the juniors, the sophomores, everybody."

SOME CATS STATS: Junior quarterback Dennis Grosel completed six of 8 passes for 120 yards and now has 921 passing yards through four games.

Senior quarterback Jake Kucia completed four of five passes for forty six yards and rushed for 80 yards on just four carries.

Junior wide receiver/defensive back Jack Cook had three receptions for fifty yards and two touchdowns.

Saint Ignatius totaled four hundred and eighty five yards of offense and Assumption College School had 240 yards of total offense.       

      

 

 

Junior Varsity defeats Mentor for second time this season on Saturday morning
9/21/2014

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit September 2014

Coach Paul Yappel's JV Cats, who also defeated the Cardinals, 41-7, at Mentor on Sept. 8, improved to 3-0 with Saturday morning's triumph.

Saturday's 9:30 AM kickoff on Wasmer Field became a rematch reality when Twinsburg canceled its scheduled junior varsity game versus Mentor.

HERE ARE THE CORNER'S CUTS FROM THE WILDCATS VERSUS THE CARDINALS SEPTEMBER REMATCH

Ohio City:  Saint Ignatius' thirty six to twenty two victory was fueled by a name to remember my friends, sophomore linebacker/tight end James Leyden.

Leyden caught a pass in the right flat from sophomore quarterback Patrick Ryan and rambled down the sideline and through a couple of would be tacklers en route to the right corner of the scoreboard end zone. The 31 yard touchdown was capped by an extra point off the powerful leg of sophomore Colin Goodfellow with five minutes and 31 seconds remaining in the first quarter.

The first of two interceptions on the day by Mentor cornerback Joe Lampert set up a five yard touchdown run by the Cardinals' man for all positions, Tadas Tatarunas, who played quarterback and wide receiver on Saturday.

Mentor had its faithful in good spirits after defensive tackle Kyle Ulschaaretin penetrated into the backfield, intercepted a pass and outran the pursuit into the Lorain Avenue end zone, as the big man dove the final five yards to pay dirt, or pay turf in this case.

Trailing, 14/7, with twenty five seconds remaining in the first quarter, Saint Ignatius put together an eight play, sixty five yard drive that was highlighted by a 2 yard touchdown run by talented sophomore tailback Kaden Russell and the ensuing tying extra point kick by Goodfellow with six minutes and fifty five seconds left in the first half.

LEHTO LAND: Riding the emotion of Russell's TD, the Cats turned their attention to the soft hands and solid route running of sophomore wide receiver/tight end Mike Lehto.

The first of Ryan's three touchdown tosses to Lehto, a 20 yard effort, put Saint Ignatius back in front with 4:04 to go in the first half and the Cats stretched that to 27/14 when Ryan rolled to his left and found Lehto in the corner of the scoreboard end zone. Lehto made an exceptional in stride, over the shoulder two handed reception and alertly got his feet down before going out of bounds with just under four minutes remaining in the third quarter.

Ryan's trifecta to Lehto, Patrick's fourth TD pass of the morning, pushed Saint Ignatius' lead to 33/14 and, after a 34 yard field goal by Goodfellow, the Wildcats were able to withstand a late touchdown and a two point conversion by Mentor.

"DEFENSE GET TOUGH, DEFENSE GET TOUGH"!: That was an old cheer from the fifties and sixties and Saint Ignatius' D, led by the charge of its exceptional front six, was tough enough on Saturday morning.

Sophomore nose tackle Joe Gibbons was a load once again, as were Pat Viancourt, Mike Chime, Leyden, Johnny Velottta and Adam Shibley. Viancourt and Velotta visited sack city at key times and momentum killing pick city efforts were turned in by Travis Pot and Jeff Chonko, with Chonko's interception sealing the deal.

AND YOU WILL HAVE TO EXCUSE THIS OLD TIMER FOR ADDING MORE TO THE MIX, BUT A TIP OF THE CAP GOES OUT TO DEAN STOWERS FOR HIS ATHLETIC, BIG HEARTED AND CROWD PLEASING PUNT RETURNS.

     

 

 

Freshman Wildcats pull out a close one versus Buchtel Griffins
9/19/2014

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit September 2014

Ohio City - The focus level wasn't where Saint Ignatius Head Freshmen Coach Rodney Gallaway wanted to see it and the rest of the staff described it as an "ugly win."

Despite receiving an unsatisfactory grade for their performance on Wasmer Field Thursday night, the Freshmen Cats stand 4-0 after a 21-12 victory over a Buchtel team that has more than one playmaker.The Griffins are now 2-2 with victories over Cleveland Heights and Youngstown Cardinal Mooney, and setbacks to Archbishop Hoban and Saint Ignatius.

"We got the ball off turnovers and didn't really do a whole lot with it," said Coach Gallaway, whose young Wildcats will face Columbus Bishop Watterson at Ashland University next Thursday at six bells. "We turned the ball over ourselves. It wasn't like we weren't doing things going against their defense, we played well in that sense. It's just frustrating because you know we could have put up a few more scores and given ourselves a little more of a cushion."

Saint Ignatius took the opening kickoff and, behind the passing of quarterback Daniel Alexander and the receiving of wide receiver Connor Kennedy and tight end Benjamin Ritschel, marched from its 43-yard line to a first down at the Buchtel fifteen.

However, on third-and-9 from the 14, Griffins talented quarterback/safety Brandon McGinnis intercepted a pass at the Buchtel five-yard-line and returned the ball to his team's 44.

The Griffins, who were their own worst enemy throughout most of the first half, fumbled on the very next play and the Wildcats' ever-present linebacker/kicker Matthew Trickett recovered the ball at the Buchtel 40.

Three plays later, Alexander rolled to his right and found Kennedy once again, as Connor made a diving catch for a 9-yard touchdown in the corner of the Lorain Avenue end zone. Trickett's extra-point kick was high and true, and Saint Ignatius led, 7-0, with four minutes and fifty eight seconds remaining in the first quarter.

The Wildcats had excellent field position once again after Buchtel shanked a punt. That point of field advantage was wasted, as Saint Ignatius fumbled the ball right back to the Griffins.

After the teams exchanged turnovers, a sequence that featured Trickett's second fumble recovery on the night, Saint Ignatius put together a solid drive that featured a key pass completion from Alexander to wide receiver Michael Drobnick, the running of game-changing tailback Phil Zuccaro and an authoritative catch and run by Ritschel that gave the Cats a first-and-goal at the 3. From there, Zuccaro swept the left side for a touchdown and Trickett's second PAT made it a 14-0 game with 7:34 left in the first half.

"That's what young teams have to learn," Coach Gallaway said. "When you have a team down you have to capitalize on that."

One of those young players who capitalized almost every time he had the opportunity was Trickett, who along with his kicking and two fumble recoveries had a huge sack and a leaping interception.

The Griffins weren't short on big play efforts either, as a diving interception by cornerback/safety London McCray, a climb-the-ladder reception by wideout/safety Treyshon Goley at the Saint Ignatius 10 and a touchdown pass from McGinnis to Goley off a fourth-and-goal from the 8 cut the Wildcats' lead to eight points by halftime.

Early in the third quarter, Buchtel forced another turnover by stripping the ball away from a Cats receiver and recovering it in the Lorain Avenue end zone for a touchback.

Late in the third quarter, the Griffins' faithful were heard from again as Goley's highlight reel punt return to the Saint Ignatius 22 set up another McGinnis-to-Goley TD strike that saw McGinnis roll to his right off a second-and-10 from the 22 and find Goley in the corner of the scoreboard end zone. Another two-point conversion attempt by Buchtel came up short of its destination and the Wildcats clung to a 14-12 lead with 2:10 to go in the third quarter.  

In a game that had Coach Gallaway and his staff shaking their heads for most of the night, Saint Ignatius rebounded from the touchback and the McGinnis-to-Goley hookup and regained control on a huge momentum-changing interception return by savvy free safety Justin Sands that put the Cats in business at the Griffins' thirty-five yard line.

Riding the emotion of Sands' pick, the Wildcats turned to the running of Zuccaro, another sure-handed grab by Drobnick off a pass from quarterback Kyle Hall that made it first-and-goal at the 9, and a wouldn't-be-denied 9-yard TD sweep by Zuccaro that along with Trickett's third extra point put Saint Ignatius ahead to stay, 21-12, with 9:11 left to play.

The game ended with the Wildcats taking a knee twice after moving to the Griffins' 10-yard line.     

 

Week 4 Preview: Saint Ignatius vs. Assumption College School
9/17/2014

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit September 2014

Ohio City - If you are looking for the one obvious advantage that Saint Ignatius will take into Saturday afternoon’s
match up with Assumption College School, a Roman Catholic Secondary School out of Brantford, Ontario Canada, it starts with the number of players on the field.

The Lions will, in the words of Wildcats Head Coach Chuck Kyle, have to make the adjustment from the 12-man football
they play in Canada to the 11-man game that fans throughout Ohio and other parts of the country are crazy about.

Many of Saint Ignatius’ players, after looking at film on Assumption College School, described the Lions’ offense as
having the appearance of Arena Football in terms of some of the wild plays Assumption runs.

How much operating with one less player will hamper that offense remains to be seen. It also remains to be seen if the
Lions can hang with one of the most storied programs in these United States – the record 11 time Ohio Division I State Champion and three-time National Champion Wildcats from Ohio City on Cleveland’s near West Side.

The answers will come with Saturday’s 2:30 PM kickoff from Byers Field in Parma’s Robert M. Boulton Stadium. If you
can’t make it out to the game, the talented and tenacious tandem of James Zajaczkowski and Carter Spearry will provide you with the live audio and video over the Saint Ignatius Student Broadcasting Network.

Coming off a banner undefeated season in 2013, the Lions kicked off the Brant County high school football campaign with a 36-17 win over St. John's College Secondary School on Sept. 9 in a senior game at the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre's Bisons Alumni Football Complex. A senior game is what is referred to as a varsity game in the United States and yes, week day senior games are prevalent in Canada.

Putting the roar in the Lions’ offense versus St. John’s were running back Kurtis Loewig, who scored three touchdowns, highly regarded quarterback Nolan Putt with two TDs and kicker/receiver Andre Toic, who delivered a field goal and three converts (extra points).

Putt, who has competed at the national level for Canada, is described by those in the know as one of the top quarterbacks in Brant County football history.

Assumption is currently the four-time defending champion of the Brant County and Central Western Ontario Secondary Schools Association. The Lions won their first Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations championship in November 2013 by defeating Hamilton's Westdale Secondary School in a bowl game. Lions head coach Raj Saini retired after the 2013 season, thus the return of former Assumption Coach Kent Dixon.

Dixon founded the program at Assumption and compiled a record of 48-4 during his six previous seasons with the Lions.

Coach Dixon has inherited a team that is considered one of the best in the province, as Assumption garnered preseason rankings of fourth in Ontario and 10th in Canada according to CanadaFootballChat.com.

Defensively, the Lions boast a deep and talented line. The name to remember is Doug Jamieson, who is looked upon as Assumption’s best lineman on both sides of the ball. Oh yeah, Jamieson also sees time at fullback.

Coach Kyle is certainly no stranger to Canada’s bran of football.

In the summer of 2009, with Coach Kyle at the helm, the United States wrapped up a successful debut in the eight- nation IFAF Junior World Championship by wearing down Canada, 41-3, in the Gold Medal Game at Canton’s legendary Fawcett Stadium.

HOW COACH KYLE SEES SATURDAY’S ENCOUNTER AT RIDGE ROAD AND DAY DRIVE, WHICH WILL BE THE FIRST MEETING BETWEEN THE 2-1 WILDCATS AND THE 1-0 ASSUMPTION LIONS.

FROM COACH KYLE: “They play 12-man football (in Canada), so they’re going to have to eliminate one receiver, a defensive back or something similar to that. Scheme wise, they’re in the shotgun all of the time. So there will be trips (receivers) on one side and one guy on the other, or 2 and 2, or something like that. It’s not something that you don’t see.

"The quarterback (Putt) is very good, he’s a good athlete,” Coach Kyle continued. “He has a nice throwing motion and is well-schooled. As for their receivers, we’ll see what patterns they run because it's going to be different (with 11 players). They like to throw the ball and they have a good running back (Loewig), so if you go all coverage they’ll hit
the run a little bit. They’ve shown they can put points on the board.

"Defensively, again it’s an extra guy that they normally play with,” said Coach Kyle. “We’ve talked with their coaches about this is what they do and this is what we do. We’re definitely going to play 11-man. We’re in Ohio. They’ll be in a four-man front, which we’ve seen a lot. So if there’s any adjustment, we’ll just make it from the bench a little bit and go from there.

"Their linemen go both ways and they have size,” said Coach Kyle. “They have been very successful there (at Assumption) and Ohio computer points wise, they’re Division II. After three games, there are certainly things we have to work on. We’re playing pretty well, but there are things we have to get sharper on and it’s a good week to do it, too. This is the fourth game already, it’s moving pretty quickly. We played a very good football team (last weekend’s 42-34 victory over defending Pennsylvania AAAA State Champion St. Joseph’s Prep, the Jesuit School of Philadelphia). We turned the ball over and still won, and that’s a credit to the defense. And we hit a few big plays.

“We want to be resilient and I thought the kids were very resilient,” said the man who picked up a Greater Cleveland area-best 311th career victory with the gritty win over the Hawks from St. Joe’s Prep. Coach Kyle now has the most wins by a Division I coach in Northeast Ohio in what is his 32nd season as the head of the football program at his alma mater. “They (the 2014 Cats) don’t lose heart on anything. This is what they do. And that’s a good sign.”

COACH KYLE ON THE SOLID PLAY OF JUNIOR QUARTERBACK DENNIS GROSEL, WHO COULD BE ON HIS WAY TO BECOMING THE 17th SAINT IGNATIUS QB UNDER VETERAN OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR NICK RESTIFO TO RECEIVE EITHER ALL-OHIO FIRST, SECOND OR THIRD TEAM, OR SPECIAL MENTION.

"Physically, his throwing has improved,” Coach Kyle said of a young man who has passed for 801 yards and 7 touchdowns in just three games. “And you see the athlete he is running around out there. His ability to run helps a lot. His decision making is fine and he has maturely taken over the huddle. All of that adds up to being a quarterback. With the teams we’ve played and the challenges that are out there, he’s kept his composure very, very well. He’s made some big plays and I’m very pleased with the maturity of handling everything. He’s very resilient.”

****In closing, this old-timer wishes to express my congratulations to former Saint Ignatius great Dan Fox ’09, who has
been promoted to the roster of the New York Giants. Dan, a standout safety on the Wildcats’ 10th state championship team of 2008 and a mainstay at linebacker for the University of Notre Dame, also excelled in basketball at Saint Ignatius under veteran Coach Sean O’Toole.

It was a privilege and a pleasure to cover and report on Dan’s accomplishments for the Cats. He was and is the
epitome of class.      

 

Defense comes up big versus a tough Saint Joseph's Prep team as the Wildcats defeat the Hawks
9/14/2014

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit September 2014

Parma, Ohio: Behind a remarkable performance by junior wide receiver/defensive back Jack Cook on both sides of the ball; an outstanding defensive effort that featured the relentless pressure of senior ends Ray Brown and Dre'Mont Jones; clutch plays by senior nose tackle Aidan Carr and senior safeties Derek Smith and Michael Mathews; the resiliency of junior quarterback Dennis Grosel; big time receptions by senior wide receiver and captain David Shibley; tough yards on the ground by senior tailbacks Chavez "Chewie" Perez and Luke Russell, and another tireless effort by the offensive line, Saint Ignatius won for the second time in three games this season.

With the victory, the Wildcats will now count on Pennsylvania power St. Joe's Prep to rebound from a 1 win and 2 losses start and go on to have another successful season. A strong stretch run by the Hawks will enable the Cats to secure some significant secondary computer playoff points from Saturday evening's triumph.

The first official OHSAA computer ratings are released after Week 4. 

*Here is the game story from Saturday evening's memorable match up.

After Saint Ignatius’ outstanding Athletics Director Rory Fitzpatrick announced to the Saint Ignatius Football Wildcats that they had just made their legendary Head Coach Chuck Kyle the most successful high school football coach in Greater Cleveland and the
leader (311 career victories) among Division I coaches in Northeast Ohio, the roar from the home locker room in Parma’s Robert M. Boulton Stadium could be heard out on Ridge Road.

"Guys, you don’t win that many games without people like you. God Bless You,” said the man who has directed his alma mater to a record 11 Division I state championships,
including five in a row (1991
-1995), three national titles, a national runner up, 14 regional
championships, a state runner up finish and twenty five OHSAA playoff appearances.

Now in his thirty second season as the head of the football program at Cleveland’s Jesuit Preparatory School, Coach Kyle will remember Saturday evening’s heart pounding 42-34 victory over a talent rich Philadelphia St. Joseph’s Prep team for more than just the milestone he reached in his brilliant career as a teacher and a coach.

"We’ll talk about that when I am in my rocking chair,” said the man who also directs the fortunes of Saint Ignatius’ successful track and field program.

What Coach Kyle preferred to put an emphasis on was the resiliency his Wildcats showed time and again under the blue gray skies on Byers Field.

"We had some turnovers and the defense just came through,” said Coach Kyle of the slugfest between his 11 time Ohio state champions and the defending PIAA Class AAAA state champs.

"The offense then put us ahead by two scores with two good drives that featured huge plays,” Coach Kyle continued in reference to a perfectly executed 7 yard keeper up the gut for a touchdown by talented and tough minded junior quarterback Dennis Grosel with thirty five seconds remaining in the third quarter, and a scoring strike of thirty six yards from Grosel to senior wide receiver and captain David Shibley with 9:19 left in the fourth quarter.

The ensuing extra points by gifted senior punter/kicker Cory Griffith had Saint Ignatius holding a 42/28 lead.

The Hawks from St. Joe’s Prep had some flight left in them, however, as they scored with 2:17 remaining to be played on a 14 yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Jack Clements to senior defensive back/wide receiver John Reid, who is a Penn State recruit.

An ensuing extra point kick went wide for St. Joe’s Prep and, after the Wildcats’ big hearted senior fullback Aaron Shields recovered an onside kick, the Cats ran out the clock.

"They’re a very physical team and we were having trouble,” said Coach Kyle. “They were coming at us (defensively) from left and right, and all over. And they have Division I (college recruits) cornerbacks covering our guys.”

Like St. Joe’s Prep, Saint Ignatius had several players who stepped up at crucial times.

Along with the big plays by Grosel and Shibley, there were the 8 yard and 1 yard touchdown runs by senior tailbacks Luke Russell and Chavez “Chewie" Perez, respectively, efforts that enabled the Wildcats to go to their locker room at halftime tied at 21.

Perez’s second 1 yard TD brought Saint Ignatius back in third quarter after the Hawks had taken a 28/21 lead on a 4 yard run by Virginia recruit Olamide “OZ” Zaccheaus. “Chewie"’s second trip across the goal line preceded the scores by Grosel and Shibley.

The Wildcats had plenty of memorable moments on defense, most notably the play of senior end Ray Brown, whose strength and speed off the ball caused problems for St. Joe’s Prep’s six foot six, 288 pound offensive tackle Jon Daniel Runyan, a Michigan recruit and the son of former Philadelphia Eagles perennial All Pro offensive tackle Jon Runyan.

Saint Ignatius senior safety Derek Smith made a diving interception and climbed the ladder to bat down a Clements pass that appeared to be targeted for a significant gain.

"The way we looked at it was that we had to prove that we deserved to be on the field with them,” said the good natured, passionate and relentless off the ball Brown. “They were ranked in the nation, but we have the heart. We want to be state champs just as bad as anybody else does.”

Yes, there were many who came to the fore in what was another true team victory for the program from Cleveland’s near West Side.

That said, Coach Kyle will probably tell you that if he had to pick a player of the game, it would be the son of a young man he also coached at Saint Ignatius.

"He’s on the field a heck of a lot, and he’s going to stay on field,” said Coach Kyle of his oh so multi skilled junior wide receiver, defensive back, punt returner and kick coverage athlete Jack Cook.

Like his father, Kevin, a former Saint Ignatius and University of Virginia standout, did while playing for Coach Kyle in the mid to late 1980s, Jack was truly all over Byers Field on Saturday night.

It started with the game’s first score, as Jack hauled in a fifty four yard pass from Grosel, never broke stride and raced into the Day Drive end zone.

When he wasn’t making pad rattling tackles on special teams, Jack was batting away passes from big time recruits and intercepting a pass in the end zone that if successful could have led to a different outcome.

As for being asked to operate on both sides of the ball and on special teams, that suits the easy to smile Jack Cook just fine.

"It was awesome, honestly. That was one of the best games I ever played in my life,” Jack said. “The guys came in knowing we needed to win this one. There was so much heart, no one gave up. Our defense was phenomenal and Dennis threw some nice balls to everyone. It was just a great all around effort by everyone in refusing to lose."

In totaling some of the Cats' final numbers, Grosel passed for 284 yards, Cook had four receptions for 142 yards and senior defensive end Dre'Mont Jones, a captain and an Ohio State recruit, had 10 tackles. Saint Ignatius now leads its series with St. Joe's Prep, 2 games to 1. 

Up next for the Cats is Saturday's afternoon game versus Assumption College School, a Roman Catholic secondary school from Brantford, Ontario Canada. The corner will preview the 2:30 PM kickoff from Byers Field on Tuesday night.    

 

Pat Ryan, Jimmy Andrews help lead the JV Wildcats over Cardinal Mooney Saturday morning
9/14/2014

The JV Cats win for the second time in as many outings this young season and Cardinal Mooney, the pride of Youngstown, experiences its first loss in what was its third game.

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit September 2014

Ohio City: As Saint Ignatius Head Junior Varsity Football Coach Paul Yappel said, anytime you take care of the ball you're going to be in good shape.

Coach Yappel's JV Cats came out for Saturday morning's match up with the previously unbeaten JV Cardinals from Cardinal Mooney on Wasmer Field intent on doing just that and more.

With its return team getting excellent field position on the opening kickoff, Saint Ignatius took possession at the Cardinal Mooney 40 yard line.

Four plays later, gifted sophomore tailback Jimmy Andrews grabbed a swing pass from savvy sophomore quarterback Patrick Ryan in stride, broke down the left sideline and, off a nice outside, back inside move, powered his way into the end zone for a 37 yard touchdown.

Sophomore kicker/quarterback Colin Goodfellow then put his powerful leg on display by booming the extra point through the uprights, over the fence and into the yard of one of the houses that sits on the street behind the scoreboard end zone.

Helping stet up the first of Andrews' three TDs on the day was a nice catch and run off a deep ball from Ryan by sophomore wide receiver Riley Kinzel. Our prayers and best wishes go out to Riley, who moments later suffered an arm injury.

With their defense dominating from the get go, the JV Cats forced Cardinal Mooney to punt from its end zone. After a strong 22 yard return by sophomore tailback Dean Stowers, Ryan and Co. were in business again at the Cardinals' 28.

From there, a couple of nice hookups between Ryan and sophomore receivers Michael Spear and Michael Lehto helped lead to Andrews' second touchdown, an effort that saw Jimmy fight his way into the end zone from a yard out. Goodfellow again said hello to the neighbors with another towering extra point into the backyard gardens.

Saint Ignatius, which doesn't have another junior varsity game scheduled until the Glenville match up during the first week of October (yes, even on the JV level scheduling teams is difficult), continued to display its depth and talent by driving eighty five yards in 10 plays and scoring on another 1 yard run by Andrews.

Goodfellow's third PAT was high and true, and Saint Ignatius led, 21/0, with six minutes and 33 seconds remaining in the first half. A smooth catch and run by sophomore receiver Travis Pot and a second effort run by sophomore tailback Kaden Russell off a swing pass fueled the long scoring drive.

"We cut down on a lot of the penalties from Monday (the 41/7 season opening victory at Mentor) and that was a big step forward for us, too," Coach Yappel said. "If we play smart and play physical, we'll be in good shape." 

You can't say enough about the defense the JV Cats play, a D that is fueled by sophomore linemen Joe Gibbons, Mike Chime and Pat Viancourt, and an athletic and aggressive group of sophomore linebackers in Adam Shibley, Johnny Velotta and James Leyden.

The defensive secondary also makes its mark, as sophomore Matt Wiegandt did by intercepting a pass just over the Cardinal Mooney thirty five yard line and rambling down the sideline and into the Lorain Avenue end zone.

A fourth extra point by Goodfellow, which came off  another authoritative kick that flirted with Lorain Avenue, made it a 28/0 game by halftime.

The JV Cats, led by the hard nosed inside and outside running by Russell, would march to pay dirt, or pay turf, one more time and score on a 1 yard touchdown blast by Russell. Sophomore Luis Medina provided the PAT and received several congratulations from his teammates.

Under the new OHSAA thirty five point deficit rule, the fourth quarter was played under a running clock.

It was great to see so many of the JV Cats earn playing time in the second half, including sophomore Josh Royak, who came up with a sack.

"We try to get everyone in and with 80 plus on the roster that can be difficult some times," said Coach Yappel. "But the coaches do a great job of trying to get everyone playing time."

     

A gritty comeback by the Freshman Wildcats puts Saint Ignatius over North Royalton
9/12/2014

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit, September 2014

North Royalton, Ohio: Special Teams show the way as a huge blocked punt and recovery by middle linebacker Tom Grosel sets up the go ahead 37 yard touchdown run by gifted tailback Phil Zuccaro.

The Cats get some breathing room on a 40 plus yard punt return for a touchdown by hard nosed running back/linebacker Mark Bobinski with just under five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter and turn the Bears away inside the 10 in the final 1:39.

Saint Ignatius' ninth graders win for the third time in as many outings this young season and North Royalton experiences its first loss in three games.

*Here is a full story on Thursday's gritty comeback.

They are referred to many times as the game's third phase.

That said, anyone who has played, coached or followed the great game of football for a length of time knows that Special Teams have a role of importance that is crucial.

Yes, offense and defense lend opportunities for headlines and glory.

Championship trophies are not raised, however, without sound play from the Special Teams. Every great team on every level, high school, college and the NFL, places a huge emphasis on Special Teams. That's why they're special.

At Saint Ignatius, the message of Special Teams begins with the freshmen and is expected to be honed to near perfection by the time the varsity years come around.

On Thursday evening on Gibson Field in North Royalton High School's Serpentini Chevrolet Stadium, the hometown ninth grade Bears had aspirations of continuing a run of success that started when they were just in the seventh grade.

After Saint Ignatius, behind the running of tailback Joshua Crayton Prioleau, took a seven point lead on a 1 yard touchdown run by Crayton Prioleau and the ensuing extra point kick by Matthew Trickett, those young Bears from North Royalton had their faithful roaring.

Forcing the Wildcats to punt from their end zone, North Royalton took possession at Saint Ignatius' 39 and turned the short field into a twenty five yard field goal by Dominic Palko.

With Saint Ignatius clinging to a four point lead, the start of the second half was a bit dubious for the Cats.

After a penalty for an illegal block while returning the second half kickoff, Saint Ignatius' offense took possession at its 9 yard line.

Once again, the Wildcats were forced to punt from deep in their territory and, after a short punt, the Bears were in business at the Saint Ignatius twenty six.

Turing to the running of Gio Jones, North Royalton took advantage of a short field one more time and moved to a 10/7 lead after Jones fought his way across the goal line from five yards out and Palko added the extra point with 4 minutes and 27 seconds remaining in the third quarter.

Just when the home or press box side of Serpentini Stadium was anticipating a victory that would be the talk of the weekend on Route 82, the young Cats, still trailing by three points, made those Specials Teams special once more.

Setting the tone was linebacker Tom Grosel, the brother Saint Ignatius' standout junior quarterback Dennis Grosel.

Overpowering the would be blocking with his aggressiveness and speed, Grosel blocked a punt with authority and, in almost the same motion, hustled after the football and recovered it at the Bears' 37 yard line.

It wouldn't be a Saint Ignatius Thursday evening freshmen football game without tailback Phil Zuccaro doing something exciting or crowd pleasing.

On the very next play after Grosel's thundering blocked punt, the five foot six, 127 pound Zuccaro took the handoff, swept the left side in a blur, cut back inside and then back outside en route to outrunning the pursuit into the left corner of the end zone. Phil's 37 yard TD gallop was followed by an extra point kick by Colin Burns and Saint Ignatius, led, 14/10, with just under eight minutes left in the fourth quarter.

"That was a game changer," said Saint Ignatius Head Freshmen Coach Rodney Gallaway of Grosel's blocked punt "We needed to flip the field. We were getting the ball deep in our territory and they were getting real good field position. Obviously that was huge.

"We put a lot of time in that," Coach Gallaway continued in reference to Special Teams play. "So we have to make sure that we're doing it right, that these guys buy into their assignments. If you happen to break one or get a block, that's all the better."  

With the Cats' defense forcing the Bears out of their comfort zone by applying pressure up front, and cornerback Cameron Toppin roaming the secondary, Coach Gallaway's team applied the take command blow on another big time Special Teams play.

This time it was the tough and versatile running back/linebacker Mark Bobinski, or "Bo Bo," as some of the coaches call Mark, fielding a punt inside the North Royalton forty five yard line, breaking a tackle, darting to the outside and going 40 plus for a TD. Trickett kicked his second PAT and the Cats were smelling a big road win, 21/10, with just under five minutes to go.

Saint Ignatius' defense helped set up Bobinski's telling blow by forcing the Bears to punt from their 3 yard line.

North Royalton wasn't about to call it a night, as the Bears, converting a fourth down and 17 play, were inside the Wildcats' 10 in the closing moments.

The Cats had the answer again, however, as pass breakups by Toppin and strong and talented safety Justin Sands settled any doubts. Not to put any pressure on him at such a young age, but this corner can't help but think of former Wildcats brilliant safety Barry Alvis '89 every time I watch the savvy Sands make a play.

Week 3 Preview: Saint Ignatius vs. Saint Joseph's Preparatory
9/10/2014

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit, September 2014

Ohio City – After studying film on Monday and working out the bumps and bruises, Saint Ignatius went through a “work day” on Tuesday in preparation for Saturday’s varsity football match up with St. Joseph’s Preparatory School, the Jesuit High School of Philadelphia.

The Wildcats and the Hawks will match 1-1 records in what will be a rare kickoff time of 4:30 PM on Parma’s Byers Field in Robert M. Boulton Stadium. If you can’t make it out to the game, the Saint Ignatius Student Broadcasting Network will bring you live audio and video of the action beginning with the pregame at 4 PM.

Saint Ignatius and St. Joe's Prep have met twice previously, with the Wildcats coming out victorious in 2004, 26-6, and the Prep prevailing in 2005, 28-14. The 2004 game was played at Byers Field and the rematch in ’05 was held west of
Philadelphia at Plymouth Whitemarsh High School Stadium.

Under the direction of Head Coach Gabriel Infante, St. Joe’s Prep had a banner 2013 season that saw it bring home its first PIAA Class AAAA state championship by defeating perennial Pennsylvania power Pittsburgh Central Catholic, 35-10, in the title game at Hersheypark Stadium. Prep scored 28 unanswered points in the second half against the alma mater of NFL Hall Famer Dan Marino.

With 15 starters returning from their state champion team, the Hawks received plenty of preseason national hype. After defeating perennial Illinois power Mt. Carmel by one point on opening weekend, St. Joe’s Prep was ranked as high as eighth in the nation.

Then came last weekend’s matchup with one of the most talent-rich programs these United States have to offer – the big, bad and oh so talented Ironmen from Don Bosco Prep out of New Jersey.

Don Bosco Prep quickly turned three mistakes by the Hawks into points off short fields and went on to a 35-7 victory in a game that was shortened because of lightning. The game was played in Plymouth Meeting, Pa. The one-sided victory was far from a
surprise, as Don Bosco Prep defeated St. Joe’s Prep, 42-0, in 2013.

Taking the same “learn from it and move on” approach that Saint Ignatius has taken after its tough 37-33 Week 2 loss to Mentor on the turf at Byers Field, St. Joe’s Prep will attempt to refuel an offense that produced just one touchdown against
Don Bosco – a 10-yard run by junior tailback/defensive back Benny Walls. Walls’ effort was set up by a 
57-yard run by sophomore tailback/defensive back De’Andre Swift.

"They have some very good athletes,” said Coach Kyle of a St. Joe’s Prep program that has now fallen significantly in the fickle national polls. “Fifteen starters back from a state championship team, that’s ideal experience. Their running backs are very quick and make good reads. We have to work all week on that because Mentor’s two running backs (Eddie Daugherty and Alex Mathews) were finding some seams.”

Coach Kyle quickly referred to the exceptional size the Hawks have across their offensive line, including Jon Daniel Runyan, the son of former Philadelphia Eagles perennial All-Pro offensive tackle Jon Runyan. Jon Daniel is following in his father’s footsteps by accepting a scholarship to the University of Michigan.

"They have some guys who are going to play some major college football, big time,” Coach Kyle said. “So let’s see how we handle it up front. I think our defensive line is pretty good.”

The Cats’ D Line features senior end Dre’ Mont Jones, an Ohio State recruit, senior end Ray Brown, who is emerging as one of the area’s best, junior nose tackle Tito Vazquez II and senior nose tackle Michael Penn, who is expected to practice on
Thursday after missing two weeks with a shin problem.

"Defensively, I think their corners are very good,” said Coach Kyle of a Hawks’ secondary that played a major role in the 2013 state championship run. “Their corners can lock on man coverage and their blitzing packages come with a lot of it from the
outside. So we have to adjust our blocking schemes a little bit to handle that.

"They’re a very good football team that traveled all the way to Chicago and beat a great program there,” Coach Kyle continued in reference to St. Joe’s Prep’s victory over Mt. Carmel.

Along with Runyan, the Hawks’ other big names include senior running back/defensive back/wide receiver Olamide Zaccheaus, a Virginia recruit known as “OZ”, and senior wide receiver/defensive back John Reid, a Penn State
recruit.

Saint Ignatius, coming off the tense playoff-like atmosphere that existed throughout the Mentor game, remained in the fourth spot in this week's cleveland.com seven-county poll.

“I think it’s clear that we’re a team that can play with major playoff caliber teams,” said Coach Kyle. “We’re right there, nose to nose. We’ve shown we can throw the ball, we’ve shown we can run the ball and our kicking game produced a fifty two yard field goal last week (by gifted senior Cory Griffith). We’re right there.”



 

 

Junior Varsity Wildcats kick off season with a huge victory at Mentor
9/9/2014

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit September 2014

After he made his debut as Saint Ignatius’ Head Junior Varsity Football Coach on Monday evening in Mentor’s Jerome T. Osborne Sr. Stadium, Paul Yappel referred to the challenge his team faced after the home team's first possession.

“We were challenged early on and I think we responded to that challenge pretty well,” said Coach Yappel, who is also an assistant offensive line coach for Coach Chuck Kyle’s highly successful varsity program.

“We played together as a team. Offense, defense and special teams, all three phases played a big role in this win.”

And what an impressive 41-7 victory it was for the Class of 2017, which left a lasting impression as freshmen football players and even a bigger mark on what was their first game as JV sophomores in the Blue, Gold and White of Cleveland’s Jesuit Preparatory School.

The challenge Coach Yappel referred to came from a program that has developed a solid Public School versus Catholic School rivalry with Saint Ignatius on all three levels – freshmen, junior varsity and varsity.

Mentor’s jayvees, riding the emotion of their varsity team’s 37-33 victory over Saint Ignatius at Byers Field this past Saturday night, stunned the Wildcats’ faithful when tailback Isaiah Gullick, off the Cardinals’ first possession, rambled 81 yards over the left side and into the end zone. Kyle Ulbrich’s extra-point kick made it a 7-0 game with just over 7 minutes remaining in the first quarter.

During Monday’s bus ride from Saint Ignatius to Mentor and along the sideline minutes before the opening kickoff, several of the JV Cats expressed how much they wanted this game, especially after the varsity experienced such a tough loss (see the corner’s story from over the weekend).

Seemingly undaunted by Mentor’s early points, Coach Yappel’s physical and tough-mined sophomores turned a key special teams play - a fumble recovery by the ever smiling and ever present defensive back Jeff Chonko at the Cardinals’ 23 - into the first of two touchdown runs by standout tailback Jimmy Andrews. Jimmy’s first TD was set up by a pass from quarterback Patrick Ryan to multi-skilled tight end/linebacker James Leyden, which gave the Cats a first-and-goal inside the 9.

After blocking the extra point attempt, Mentor clung to a 7-6 lead with 5:07 left in the opening quarter.

Little did the Cardinals or their faithful realize the complexion the game was about to take on.

Mentor did threaten again after defensive back Tommy Klepcyk intercepted a pass deep in Cardinals territory and returned the ball to his 42. Klepcyk’s effort seemed to lend some spark to the Mentor offense, as the team from Center Street in Lake County marched into the red zone before seeing its drive stall at the Saint Ignatius 10.

From that point on, the Wildcats established their superiority big time.

In he closing minutes of the first half, Saint Ignatius scored 14 points and took a  20-7 lead into the halftime break. Ryan, shaking off the interception by Klepcyk, rolled right and found sure-handed wide receiver Travis Pot in the corner of the end zone for a 13-yard touchdown. A two-point conversion run failed, and the Cats took their first lead, 12-7, with 1:30 to go in the first half.

The first of Pot’s two TDs on the evening was set up by a highlight reel catch and run by wide receiver/tight end Mike Lehto.

The Ryan-to-Pot combo would click again in the final 30 seconds of the half, as on first-and-10 from the Saint Ignatius 17, Ryan fired a smooth steamer that hit Pot in stride down the middle of Mentor’s new turf. Pot made the catch, went into a second gear and left the defenders behind on an 83-yard scoring play.

After Ryan connected with Leyden on a two-point conversion pass across the middle,  Coach Yappel’s Wildcats were only getting started.

The emotion Saint Ignatius built in its late first-half charge grew even stronger after the break.

With their defensive front applying relentless pressure and Alex Ringfield (an early second half interception) and Matt Wiegandt keying the secondary, the Wildcats continued what would end up being a run of 41 unanswered points.

If there is a better front six defensively in area JV football than the Cats’ Joe Gibbons, Mike Chime, Patrick Viancourt, Leyden, Adam Shibley and Johnny Velotta, this corner wants to see it.

Accounting for the 21 second-half points were the special two-way skills of Leyden, who grabbed a pass from Ryan, broke three tackles and ran through a defender en route to a 42-yard touchdown, another determined TD run by Andrews, an 83-yard scoring
burst by tailback Kaden Russell that put Kaden’s power and second and third gears on display, and three booming extra-point kicks by Colin Goodfellow.

"It was a starting point for us and we want to get better from here on out,” Coach Yappel said. “This was our first JV game and I think some nerves set in. There is always room for improvement and will be throughout the season. But right now, we’re happy with the win. Patrick (Ryan) played well as the game went on. He improved, like a lot of them. It was a well-rounded win.”     

Wildcats can't stop the Cardinals in fourth quarter, fall to 1-1 on the year
9/7/2014

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright September 2014

Parma, Ohio: Saint Ignatius, trailing, 22-9, with just under six minutes remaining in the third quarter, storms back to take a 30-22 lead entering the fourth quarter.

Mentor, the 2013 Division I state runner-up to Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller, rides the arm of quarterback Jake Floriea, recovers two of its own fumbles and outscores the Wildcats by 12 points over the final 12 minutes.

The Cardinals, who trail their all-time football series with Saint Ignatius, 7-11, have now won five of their last eight meetings with the Wildcats, including playoff victories in 2012 and 2013.

On this corner, we refer to it as one of the most competitive and classiest Catholic School versus Public School rivalries in the nation.

If their past three meetings in the OHSAA Division I post season playoffs didn’t substantiate that, then maybe the tension-packed regular season encounter they put together on Saturday night in Robert M.
Boulton Stadium’s Byers Field did.

When Mentor’s small in stature, but oh so large in heart and skill halfback/receiver/punt returner/safety Eddie Daugherty intercepted a pass on the game’s final play, the Cardinals walked away with a 37-33 victory.

Saint Ignatius head coach Chuck Kyle (310 career victories), who is one victory shy of becoming the winningest high school football coach in Greater Cleveland, and Steve Trivisonno, who has molded his Cardinals into one of the premier programs in the state, if not the entire nation, seem to bring out the
best in each other.

And what they add to the fields of teaching and coaching certainly brings out the best in the young men whose skills they hone.

Saturday night was the 18th edition of the varsity gridiron encounters between the power on Center Street in Lake County and the storied Wildcats from Ohio City on Cleveland’s near West Side.

No, we’re not going to try to sell you that it was comparable to the now legendary triple overtime regional final in 2012, won by Cardinals, 57-56.

Obviously, there was more at stake that November night.

But oh my, for a Week 2 matchup, what took place on Ridge Road and Day Drive Saturday night was what you come to expect from two of Ohio’s best  a punch-counter punch test of pride and wills, a test that both teams will only become stronger having faced it.

Mentor, now 2-0, entered the game as the third ranked team in cleveland.com’s seven-county Top
25 poll.

After Saint Ignatius (1-1), ranked fourth in the area Top 25, took a 3-0 lead on a 52-yard field goal by senior Cory
Griffith, the Cardinals, sparked by the running of quarterback Jake Floriea and tailback Alex Mathews, drove 80 yards
on six plays and scored off an 11-yard keeper by Floriea.

The Wildcats responded with a 34-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Dennis Grosel to gifted junior wideout/defensive
back Jack Cook. Grosel threw for 203 yards and now has a total of 
517 yards passing through two games.

Trailing, 9-7, at halftime, Mentor got both phases of its offense in gear and put together impressive scoring drives that were highlighted by two touchdowns and a two point conversion from Mathews. On the night, the unsung Mathews rushed
for 132 yards on 18 carries.

With their team leading by 13 points with 5:58 remaining in the third quarter, the Cardinals’ faithful were chanting “Why So
Quiet” to the Saint Ignatius strong.

What is that saying about never wake a sleeping giant, or in this case an 11- time state champion?

Coach Kyle’s Wildcats responded in a fashion they have displayed since 1988, the start of their remarkable state championship
run.

After 21 unanswered points, Saint Ignatius led, 30-22, with 27 seconds left in the third quarter. The big blows were a 39-yard
interception return for a touchdown by junior defensive back Quinn Lawless, a hard-nosed 2-yard TD run by senior tailback Chavez “Chewie” Perez that was set up by a 38-yard strike from Grosel to senior wide receiver David Shibley off a third-and -7 from the Mentor 40, and a 30-plus yard, in stride scoring toss from Grosel to Shibley.

"It was a great football game and again two playoff caliber teams,” said Coach Kyle. “Our kids played really hard and it was one of those games that could have gone either way. Some play, some call, whatever, is going to happen in your football game and tonight it went for them.”

Mentor, which matched the Wildcats’ will to win, knotted the score at 30 on a 20-touchdown pass from Floriea to the ever-present Daugherty and another 2 point conversion with 9:31 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Saint Ignatius, which plays host to Pennsylvania power St. Joseph’s Prep next Saturday at 4:30 PM on Byers Field, turned to its
offensive line and the running of Perez and regained the lead on a 39-yard field goal by Griffith with 7:32 left.

The final telling blow was landed by the Cardinals, however, as Floriea, after missing connections with junior wide
receiver Jason Blizzard on a first-and-10 from the Mentor 3
5, went right back to Blizzard and hit him in stride down the
visitor’s sideline for a sixty
-five yard catch and run with 7:18 remaining.

"When they came back out for the second half, they were running the ball well and we had to adjust to that,” Coach Kyle said.
“Eddie Daugherty is a heck of a back and he and Mathews were hitting the seams. But we had to get the ball back and never got it back (down the stretch). We have to learn to do that and we will.

"We’re playing a team next week that is ranked in the top 10 in the nation, so there is not much time to sulk about this," Coach Kyle continued. "We have to get moving, and that’s what we’ll do.”

Mentor outgained the Wildcats, 525 to 377. Floriea threw for 265 yards off an 18 for 31 performance and Daugherty had 101 yards receiving and 91 yards rushing. Saint Ignatius senior tailback Luke Russell led the 'Cats' ground game with 102 yards rushing on 15 carries.  

 

Second half rally is the difference maker as the Freshman Wildcats defeat Mentor
9/5/2014

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright September 2014

Ohio City – As he stood near the Lorain Avenue end zone of Wasmer Field, Saint Ignatius Head Freshmen Football
Coach Rodney Gallaway talked about what was one of the finest “team efforts” in the history of the Wildcats’ ninth-grade program.

“Team effort is really what we’re looking for out of them in every game, and sometimes you get that and sometimes you don’t,”
Coach Gallaway said after his Wildcats improved to 2-0 by rallying to a 35-21 victory over a strong freshmen squad from Mentor on Thursday night.

“On offense, we knew we could attack, do some things and make it count, as long as we could eliminate those small penalties,”
Coach Gallaway continued. “We got going and that gave the defense confidence. I told the guys at halftime, ‘Hey, the thing is here, we’re going to score, we’re going to get a stop and we’re going to flip the momentum.’”

Mission accomplished.

Trailing, 21-14, after the first 20 minutes (freshmen quarters are 10 minutes), the Cats’ nose-for-the-ball defense came up
with stop after stop in the second half and, behind the running of tailbacks Phil Zuccaro and Josh Crayton Prioleau, the field generalship of quarterback Kyle Hall and some strong work by the offensive line, Saint Ignatius outscored Mentor, 21-0, over the final 20 minutes.

The Cardinals’ freshmen, who came away with an impressive victory at St. Edward last week, stunned the Wildcats in the early
going with an 82-yard touchdown run by their gifted tailback Matt Gianfagna. The ensuing extra-point kick by wide receiver/kicker Matt Hartmann made it 7-0 with 6 minutes and 40 seconds remaining in the first quarter.

Saint Ignatius has always been known for its solid play off special teams, no matter what level we’re talking about - varsity,
junior varsity or freshmen.

That came to the fore Thursday evening when fullback/linebacker Mark Bobinski turned in a strong punt return to the Mentor
40-yard line that featured a pad-rattling block by linebacker Thomas Grosel. From there, Coach Gallaway and his staff turned to some tough second-effort running by Crayton Prioleau that resulted in a first-and-goal at the 8-yard line.

With the Wildcats’ faithful making their presence felt, the 6-foot-2 Hall rolled to his right and found wide receiver
Alexander Schum, who hauled in the pass and fought his way into the Lorain Avenue end zone. The versatile Matthew Trickett sent home the extra point with authority and the score was knotted at 7 with 5:06 left in the first half.

Mentor had plenty of fuel left in its first half tank, however, as the Cardinals regained the lead on a long touchdown catch
and run by Hartmann. The attempt for the extra point was botched and Mentor led, 13-7, with 4:09 to go in the first 20 minutes.

Keeping its composure, Saint Ignatius took its first lead on a 31-yard TD gallop by Zuccaro and the ensuing extra point by
Trickett. It was the first of three scores on the evening by Zuccaro, who almost had a fourth one. We’ll get to that later.

Just when Mr. Momentum was about to take a seat on the home bench of Wasmer Field, the Cardinals’ Gianfagna, a name to remember, returned the kickoff following Zuccaro’s first touchdown and rambled into Saint Ignatius territory.

Gianfagna’s second gear capability led the way to a smooth touchdown reception by Tadas Tatarunas. Mentor quarterback Mike
Zeuli then hooked up with Steven Baird on a two-point conversion that saw Baird make a nice catch in the right corner of the scoreboard end zone.

Baird’s sure hands closed out the scoring in the first half, with Mentor clinging to a 21-14 lead.

That lead was short-lived, however, as on the second play off the first possession of the second half, Zuccaro was Phil the
Thrill once more, as the 5-foot-6, 127-pound dynamo took the handoff, burst to the outside and outran the pursuit down the visitor’s sideline for a 75-yard touchdown. Trickett’s extra point was high and true, and the score was tied again at 21-21 with 9:04 remaining in the third quarter.

Over the final 19 minutes, the Wildcats’ defense bent very little and its offense broke Mentor’s hopes of a St. Edward-Saint
Ignatius freshmen level sweep.

Relentless defensive work by linebacker Andrew Keirn, clutch interceptions by defensive backs Cameron Toppin and Sean Whalen, a fumble recovery by running back/linebacker Aidan Gill, a “Coffin Corner” punt by Trickett that went out of bounds at the Mentor 2, and an ensuing interception return by savvy and skilled safety Justin Sands, his second pick on the night, had the Cardinals on their heels.

By the way, former Detroit Lions standout and NFL Hall of Famer Yale Lary would have loved Trickett’s corner shot.

After Sands’ INT return put the Wildcats in business with a first down at the Mentor 4, Zuccaro slashed over the left side
and it appeared that a defender stripped the ball just as Phil was about to cross the goal line. Bobinski was Johnny on the Spot, however, as he recovered the ball in the end zone for a TD. Trickett was money on the PAT and Saint Ignatius was back on top, 28-21, with 1:48 left in the third quarter.

The Wildcats, who travel to North Royalton’s Serpentini Stadium for a 5:30 PM freshmen matchup with the Bears on Sept. 11,
left no doubt when Zuccaro swept the left side and picked them up and laid them down en route to the Lorain Avenue end zone for another 30-plus yard score. Trickett’s fifth extra point closed out the scoring with 3:31 remaining to be played.

Prior to Zuccaro’s sealer, Saint Ignatius was able to chip away at the fourth quarter clock behind some sure-handed receptions by Hugh Sweeney and Michael Drobnick.

“It’s a beautiful thing when it works as planned,” said Coach Gallaway.

Some of Zuccaro’s moves on Thursday night brought back memories of another “small,” but oh so special tailback who once worked his magic at a gridiron that stood proud not that far from Wasmer – former Holy Name and Nebraska great Frank Solich, who ran to daylight so often at legendary West Tech Field.

*See you at Byers Field on Saturday night for the varsity version of what is one of the most competitive, yet classiest
rivalries in the nation, the Wildcats versus the Cardinals. See the corner’s preview from Wednesday.

IT'S MENTOR WEEK! #BEATMENTOR #WILDCATFOOTBALL
9/4/2014

VS.    

Week 2 Preview- Saint Ignatius vs. Mentor
9/3/2014

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright September 2014

After opening their 2014 season by turning back a talented and hard-nosed Lawrence Central team, 28-21, in Indianapolis, Indiana, the Saint Ignatius Wildcats went back to work on Labor Day.

The focus is now centered on what is arguably the most intriguing matchup in Northeast Ohio this weekend, Saturday night’s 18th edition of what is one of the classiest Public School versus Catholic School rivalries in the nation – Coach Chuck Kyle’s Wildcats and Coach Steve Trivisonno’s Mentor Cardinals.

A large and enthusiastic crowd is expected to pack Parma’s Byers Field for the 7 PM kickoff. If you can’t attend the game, the Saint Ignatius Student Broadcasting Network will bring you live audio and video coverage beginning with the 6:30 PM pregame. Senior James Zajaczkowski and junior Carter Speary are expected to have the call.

Mentor and Saint Ignatius, ranked third and fourth, respectively, in cleveland.com’s Top 25 area poll, both graduated deep and football savvy senior classes from 2013. So, in many of the “expert” circles from around the state, the Cardinals were supposedly rebuilding this summer and the Wildcats’ current senior class continued to be questioned by fans and neutral observers to the point that Dre’Mont Jones, ‘Cats senior defensive end/tight end, captain and Ohio State recruit, has turned it into his personal motivation and fire.

“From the time we were freshmen, they were questioning our potential as a class,” Dre’ said. “I love my senior class!”

For the past three seasons, Mentor’s offense was fueled by two of the finest quarterbacks ever to come out of the Greater Cleveland area in Ohio’s Mr. Football Mitch Trubisky from the Graduating Class of 2013 and Conner Krizancic from the Class of 2014.

Krizancic, who also excelled in basketball for the Cardinals under his dad, Bob, garnered all-state honors as both a quarterback and a wide receiver while wearing the scarlet and gray of Mentor. Moving from wide receiver to a full time quarterback after the Cardinals’ early regular season setback to Saint Ignatius in Mentor last year, Krizancic led a charge that saw the Cardinals go 13-2 and finish as Ohio’s Division I state runner-up to the storied program at Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller.

Among Mentor’s 2013 postseason triumphs were a regional final victory over Saint Ignatius and a state semifinal win over St. Edward, marking the second consecutive season that Coach Trivisonno’s Cardinals eliminated both the Wildcats and the Eagles from the OHSAA playoffs.

OK, when you take all of that into consideration, the “experts” were well in their rights to pose one major question this summer – who is going to follow the Trubisky/Krizancic legend out on Center Street in Lake County?

Well, as any knowledgeable football fan realizes, one game does not make a memorable career.

That said, during the Cardinals’ 48-14 opening night victory at Boardman last Friday, the new kid on the block, senior Jake Floriea, put up some numbers that the Mentor faithful have grown accustom to.

Floriea completed 16 of his 20 passes for 228 yards and four touchdowns. He had one interception and wrapped up his debut as the Cardinals’ signal caller by receiving praise from Coach Trivisonno for what Trivisonno described as solid decision making.

Complementing Floriea and giving Mentor the balance every coaching staff on every level strives for were junior tailback Alex Mathews and gifted senior tailback, receiver and kick returner Eddie Daugherty.

Mathews finished with 70 yards rushing on six carries, including a 55-yard touchdown gallop, and Daugherty, an Eastern Michigan recruit, hauled in a TD pass and threw for a touchdown.

Daugherty throwing for a touchdown, sound familiar?

The word from some of Mentor’s longtime faithful is that defense could be the heart and soul of the 2014 Cardinals. That defense is led by its front four, including returning starters Trevor Morrison, Nico Lautanen and Billy Hudson. J.D. Matsko will key Mentor’s linebackers and Marc Walton has been described as having lockdown capabilities at cornerback.

Lautanen is a 6-foot-4, 275-pound Bowling Green State University recruit and Hudson, a junior, checks in at 6-3, 290 pounds.

Saint Ignatius’ outstanding head coach Chuck Kyle certainly does not look at Coach Trivisonno’s Cardinals as being in a rebuilding mode.

“First of all, what everybody would witness here is that Mentor has developed a program,” said the man who is one win shy of securing the most career victories by a coach in the Greater Cleveland area. “Their junior highs are loyal to their senior high. They use the same terminology and the same schemes, both offensively and defensively. So it’s an organization similar to baseball, where you have single A, double A and triple A. Steve’s young kids come up and they’re into it. And they work hard.

“We’re all in the business of graduating kids, letting them go on and having faith that the young kids will step up,” Coach Kyle continued.

After studying film on the Cardinals’ dominant victory at Boardman, Coach Kyle was impressed with how well Mentor threw the ball right out of the gate, and with a new quarterback.

“They’re tossing it a lot and they’re 60 percent or better, something like that,” Coach Kyle said, emphasizing that it appears Floriea, much like Bart Tanski from Mentor’s 2007 state runner-up team, Trubisky and Krizancic, also can run for key yards.

“He understands the whole concept of their scheme,” said Coach Kyle of Floriea.

Coach Kyle has nothing but respect for Mentor’s front seven on defense, describing them as “good-sized tough kids.” The man with 310 career victories in what his now his 32nd season as his alma mater’s head football coach said he can appreciate why the Cardinals feel good about their defense.

As for his Wildcats, Coach Kyle was very pleased with how his players handled the distractions of a five-plus hour bus ride to Indianapolis, staying in a hotel and getting up bright and early for Mass, breakfast and an afternoon football game.

“I was really happy with how hard they played and with great energy,” Coach Kyle said, pointing to the Wildcats’ near flawless third quarter, when they outscored Lawrence Central, 14-0.

The Wildcats’ faithful were treated to outstanding performances by junior quarterback Dennis Grosel (314 yards passing, three touchdown passes and just one interception); junior wide receiver/defensive back Jack Cook (two touchdown receptions and numerous key pass breakups); Dre’ Mont Jones (a force at both defensive end and tight end); junior tailback James Norris (two strong kickoff returns and an 18-yard touchdown run that featured balance and vision); senior wide receiver and captain David Shibley (a diving TD reception); junior wide receiver Cal Grbac (clutch time-consuming catches down the stretch); senior safety Ian Ryan (who made a huge momentum-changing interception at the 1-yard line) and senior kicker/punter Cory Griffith, who was money.

If there is one area where Coach Kyle wants to see some improvement it is the running game. The ‘Cats, said Coach Kyle, did “OK” running the football against Lawrence Central, but he felt they could have done more damage on the ground.

Saint Ignatius’ big and talented offensive line, which is anchored by highly recruited junior tackle Liam Eichenberg (6-foot-6, 280 pounds), got that message in practice this week.

THE SERIES: Saint Ignatius leads its all-time series with Mentor, 11-6. The Cardinals have won four of the last seven meetings, including playoff victories in 2012 and 2013.

*If you enjoy such tidbits, since 2011 the team that has won the ‘Cats-Cardinals regular season encounter has go on to lose the playoff matchup between the two schools.

THE COACHES: Coach Kyle enters Saturday night’s game with a career record of 310-74-1. As we mentioned in the story text, Coach Kyle is currently in his 32nd season as the Wildcats’ head football coach. Chuck has guided his alma mater to a record 11 Division I state championships, including a state mark of five in a row (1991 through 1995), a state runner-up finish in 1996, three national titles (1989, 1993 and 1995) and a national runner-up in 2008. His teams have made a record 25 OHSAA playoff appearances and have brought home 14 regional championships. Coach Kyle, an All-City tailback for Saint Ignatius in the late 1960s, is a member of the Ohio High School Football Coaches Hall of Fame, as is the man who guided Chuck’s football career, Wildcats coaching legend, the late John J. Wirtz. John coached Wildcats football from 1951 through 1970 and also served as Saint Ignatius’ head basketball coach, head baseball coach and athletic director during most of those years.

Coach Trivisonno will take a career mark of 148-55 into Byers Field on Saturday night. Now in his 18th season as the head football coach at his alma mater, Coach Trivisonno has guided the Cardinals to 11 of their 14 OHSAA playoff appearances. His Cardinals were Division I state runners-up in 2006, 2007 and 2013, and state semifinalists in 2012. Coach Trivisonno has helped hone the skills of two Ohio Mr. Football performers, Bart Tanski in 2007 and Mitch Trubisky in 2012.

FROM THE CORNER: Coach Chuck Kyle has now tied the late coaching legend Bill Gutbrod of St. Joseph (now Villa Angela-St. Joseph) and Gilmour Academy for the most career wins (310) by a high school football coach whose career was/has been entirely in Greater Cleveland.

****Note that Coach Kyle's 310 career victories have come at one school, Cleveland's Jesuit Preparatory School, while Bill Gutbrod, a man I admired and a man who had a tremendous impact on my career, coached at two Greater Cleveland schools. Also note that another Cleveland coaching legend, the late Augie Bossu (I had goose bumps the first time I interviewed Augie), won 308 games as a coach from the Greater Cleveland area (Cathedral Latin School and Benedictine), and two while coaching in New York.

Coach Kyle emphasized to this corner the other day that when he thinks of Coach Gutbrod, Coach Bossu and his mentor, Coach Wirtz, he thinks first of how those men fought for their country with pride, courage and dignity in World War II.

After seeing friends lose their lives in battle, Coach Gutbrod, Coach Bossu and Coach Wirtz came home and became teachers and coaches of young men, guiding and having a major impact or influence on those young lives.

Coach Kyle, who coached against Coach Bossu and Coach Gutbrod, said it is amazing just to have his name mentioned alongside of them.

“What they did as coaches was truly special,” said Coach Kyle, who was part of the remarkable season of 1989 that saw Coach Kyle’s Wildcats win their second state championship in Division I and first national championship, and Coach Gutbrod’s Vikings of St. Joseph bring home Ohio’s Division II state title.

Among the many outstanding players that Coach Gutbrod guided at St. Joseph is Saint Ignatius’ Quarterbacks Coach Elvis Grbac, who went on to a standout college career as a quarterback for the University of Michigan and an NFL All Pro career.

LAST, BUT CERTAINLY NOT LEAST: We send out Happy Birthdays to two of Saint Ignatius’ “Fantastic Four” Student Managers, senior Josh Jaroz, who turns 17 on Thursday, and tireless senior Kyle Kostura, who, as he puts it, turns 18 the night of the Mentor game. Gentlemen, have a great one.

SEE YOU AT THURSDAY EVENING’S FRESHMEN GAME VERSUS MENTOR (FIVE THIRTY) ON WASMER FIELD AND AT BYERS FIELD IN ROBERT M. BOULTON STADIUM ON SATURDAY NIGHT.

NOTE: MENTOR’S FRESHMEN ARE COMING OFF A VICTORY OVER ST. EDWARD ON THE EAGLES’ HOME TURF. 

 

Second half adjustments help lift the Wildcats over the Bears in Indianapolis in Week 1
8/31/2014

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Aug./Sept. 2014

Indianapolis, Indiana: Senior defensive end/tight end and captain Dre'Mont Jones dominates on both sides of the ball, junior wide receiver/defensive back Jack Cook has a memorable afternoon in his first varsity start, senior kicker/punter Cory Griffith was money, and junior quarterback Dennis Grosel, his receivers and the defense answered many of the challenges a talented and gritty Lawrence Central team presented. Senior safety Ian Ryan provides a huge momentum-changing pick.

Coach Chuck Kyle, who has now tied the late coaching legend Bill Gutbrod of St. Joseph (now Villa Angela-St. Joseph) and Gilmour Academy for the most career wins (310) by a high school football coach in Greater Cleveland, will send his Wildcats against 2013 Division I state runner up Mentor next Saturday night at Parma's Byers Field. The kickoff will be 7 PM. Mentor won its season opener at Boardman on Friday night, 48-14.

From Smysor O. Bruce Field in Ray Skillman Stadium: In leading his alma mater to a record 11 Division I state championships, three national titles and 310 career victories, Saint Ignatius Head Football Coach Chuck Kyle certainly knows a good team when he sees one.

After his 2014 Wildcats turned back the host Bears from Lawrence Central on Saturday, Coach Kyle had plenty of compliments for the team from Indianapolis and more than a few good words for his own Cats.

"I mean they're (Lawrence Central) a good football team," Coach Kyle said after Saint Ignatius opened its new season with a 28-21 victory in the Hoosier State. For Lawrence Central it was game two of 2014, as the Bears lost their opener to Avon, Indiana, 38-31, on Aug. 22 in Lucas Oil Stadium.

"The have good running backs and their secondary reacted really well," Coach Kyle continued in reference to a program his Wildcats also defeated in 2013, 24-21 in overtime at Byers Field. "And their quarterback (senior Brian Haas), when he threw a fade, we had to make great plays to tip it away. He makes huge plays."

There were plenty of huge plays to go around on Saturday.

Trailing, 3-0, in the early going, Saint Ignatius got a strong kickoff return from junior tailback James Norris and was in business with a first and 10 at the Bears' forty-six yard line. Seven plays later, junior quarterback Dennis Grosel rolled right and found junior wide receiver/defensive back Jack Cook for a 23-yard touchdown pass off a smooth route. Gifted senior kicker/punter Cory Griffith was high and true on the first of his four PATs and Saint Ignatius led, 7-3, with just over two minutes remaining in the first quarter.

The Wildcats' lead was short-lived, however, as Haas, off a third and 10 from his 30, let loose with a deep fade down the right sideline that saw Bears senior wide receiver Gennaro Penn go high in the air against tight coverage, haul in a tipped pass and outrace the pursuit for a 70-yard scoring play. Lawrence Central's Nash Griffin tacked on the extra point and the Bears were back on top, 10-7, with 1:24 to go in the opening quarter.

In what was a huge turning point in the second quarter, Lawrence Central's outstanding senior linebacker and Michigan recruit Darrin Kirkland picked off a pass and returned the ball for a first and goal at the Saint Ignatius 9-yard line.

Three plays later, however, Haas was flushed to his right off heavy pressure and attempted to needle a pass into the corner of the end zone. Up stepped Wildcats senior safety Ian Ryan, who made a text-book interception at the 1-yard line while staying in bounds off some nice footwork.

Riding the momentum of Ryan's defensive gem, Coach Kyle's Cats regained the lead on the second of Grosel's three touchdown passes on the day - an 18-yard strike to senior wide receiver and captain David Shibley, who made a diving catch in the end zone. Griffith kicked the extra point and Saint Ignatius led, 14-10, with 4:08 left in the first half.

Lawrence Central, whose head coach Jed Richman was with his wife on Saturday as they welcomed a six pound, 12 ounce baby boy into the world, closed to 14-13 by halftime on Griffin's second field goal of the afternoon - a 30-yard effort as time expired in the second quarter.

Saint Ignatius, ranked fourth in cleveland.com's preseason Top Twenty Five area poll, pushed its lead to eight points on an 18-yard touchdown run by Norris that saw James unleash his balance and vision as he darted over the right side. Griffith's extra point made it 21-13 with just over 9 minutes remaining in the third quarter.

Cook, who overcame a fumbled punt in the first half by excelling on both sides of the ball, clicked again with Grosel as the classmates were on the same page for a forty-five yard TD pass that saw Cook haul in the pigskin off a smoking seam route, make a slick move and race to the scoreboard end zone in Ray Skillman Stadium.

"Coach Restifo put me in position to make a lot of good plays," said Cook of the play calling by Wildcats' savvy offensive coordinator Nick Restifo, who was running the O from the press box at Ray Skillman Stadium.

"I'm healthy, so that's always a good sign," a smiling Cook continued when asked how he would evaluate his first varsity start, a performance that along with two TDs included several clutch pass breakups. "I'm sure the film will show some stuff that maybe I didn't see. I'm happy with that so far."

Trailing, 28-13, Haas refused to go away quietly.

Firing a TD pass off a fourth and seven from the Saint Ignatius 22 and following it up with a 2-point conversion toss to a leaping six-foot-six Jeremy Patton in the back of the end zone, the five-foot-9 Haas made it a seven-point game with five minutes and thirty six seconds left in the fourth quarter.

Grosel and Co. had the answer again, however, as the Wildcats ate up the clock on clutch receptions by junior wide receiver Cal Grbac, Shibley and senior tight end/defensive end Dre'Mont Jones. A junior varsity/varsity performer during the Wildcats' injury riddled 2013 season, Grosel surpassed the 300 yard passing mark on Saturday.

The powerful and athletic Jones, an Ohio State verbal, was too much for the Bears' offensive line and secondary. All day, Dre' got several yards after he caught the ball and he was too quick with backside pursuit and too strong off the ball from his D-Line position.

"My goal is that when I get the ball, I want to catch it and go," said the six-foot-five, two hundred and fifty- five pound Dre'. "Being a big help for this team on both sides of the ball, that has always been my focus."

Focus and what Dre' also described as "Senior Heart" from a class that since freshman year has always heard some doubts. "I love my senior class," said the young man who was selected by his teammates as one of the Wildcats' four captains. "I want to bring it home for them."

*As always, we will preview the Mentor game on Tuesday night. Have a safe and wonderful Labor Day Weekend. 

VIDEO: Across the Table 2014 - Week 1
8/29/2014

Coach Gallaway's Freshman Wildcats make debut by defeating Cardinal Mooney
8/27/2014

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Aug./Sept. 2014

Ohio City: Sure, there are plenty of things to sharpen.

And that cutting edge will be developed by one of the finest Freshmen Football Coaching Staffs in Northeast Ohio as the young season goes along.

That said, Saint Ignatius Head Freshman Coach Rodney Gallaway walked off Wasmer Field on Wednesday night feeling pretty good after his big, strong and oh so promising ninth grade Wildcats rode 13 first half points and a more than capable defense to a shutout over an always aggressive Cardinal Mooney team in the season opener.

"I really liked how the defense played," said Coach Gallaway. "There are some strong runners for Mooney and we stepped up and for the most part made good plays on them. Offensively, we had our moments. We ran the ball well at times, Phil Zuccaro had a couple of nice runs and Josh Crayton as well. So that means our guys up front (the offensive line) are doing some good things. We just have to tweak a few things and make sure we are seeing all of the holes and things like that. We'll get there."

Behind the receiving of tight end Benjamin Ritschel and the running of Zuccaro, Saint Ignatius drove from its 21 yard line to a first down at the Cardinal Mooney 27. However, Zuccaro had a 27 yard touchdown gallop wiped out by a penalty.

With the Wildcats' defensive pursuit controlling the field position and continuously forcing the Cardinals to punt from deep in Cardinal Mooney territory, Saint Ignatius got on the scoreboard when Zuccaro fielded a punt at his 47, made a nice cut to his left, rode the sideline with balance and speed, and rambled fifty three yards into the scoreboard end zone of Wasmer Field. The versatile Matthew Trickett kicked the extra point and the young Cats led, 7 to zip, with five minutes and 27 seconds remaining in the first half.

Saint Ignatius closed out the scoring when quarterback Daniel Alexander rolled out under pressure late in the second quarter and found wide receiver Michael Drobnick in the right corner of the scoreboard end zone from 11 yards out. In what was a highlight reel reception, Drobnick went airborne, hauled in the pigskin and retained possession in bounds before rolling out of the end zone.

Drobnick's TD was set up by a nice one handed catch and run along the right sideline by Hugh Sweeney.

Among the many Wildcats who played some pad rattling defense were middle or mike linebacker Thomas Grosel, the brother of Saint Ignatius' starting varsity quarterback Dennis Grosel, Trickett at mike linebacker and linebackers Drew Asadorian and Andrew Keirn.

Although the second half was scoreless, Saint Ignatius did have two other scoring opportunities that were turned away by an interception and a bad snap on a field goal attempt.

Zucarro also treated the blue and gold faithful to a second effort run that saw never say die Phil take the handoff, sweep the left side, reverse his field and cut it up the sideline for a 32 yard gain.

For the most part, the Wildcats' special teams were solid as the hard nosed Mark Bobinski left an impression on this old timer with his hustle and tackling on the kickoff team.

"We have to improve on our passing game a little bit," said Coach Gallaway of Alexander and Kyle Hall, who both made some timely and on the money throws, but also had a few tosses they wish they could have taken back.

"Michael Drobnick is one of our best receivers, if not the best one," Coach Gallaway continued. "He works extremely hard at being a leader, so I commend him for anything he gets success wise."

The Freshmen Cats are back in action next Thursday evening (Sept. 4) for a home game versus the Freshmen Team from Mentor. The kickoff on Wasmer Field is scheduled for five thirty.

 

The defensive line leads the Wildcats to an outstanding Jamboree versus McKinley
8/23/2014

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright August 2014

CANTON, OHIOIT ALL ADDED UP TO A THIRTY FIVE TO TWENTY VICTORY OVER MCKINLEY IN THE ANNUAL PRESEASON JAMBOREE AT FOOTBALL RICH FAWCETT STADIUM ON FRIDAY NIGHT, A FINAL SCORE THAT TRULY WAS NOT INDICATIVE OF HOW MUCH THE WILDCATS' FIRST TEAM UNITS DOMINATED.

THE FOCUS IS NOW ON SATURDAY, AUG. 30, WHEN SAINT IGNATIUS TRAVELS TO INDIANAPOLIS FOR ITS SEASON OPENER AGAINST THE LAWRENCE CENTRAL BEARS AT 2 PM. *LAWRENCE CENTRAL LOST ITS SEASON OPENER ON FRIDAY NIGHT, 38/31, TO THE AVON ORIOLES OF INDIANAPOLIS IN LUCAS OIL STADIUM.

HERE ARE THE HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE JAMBOREE, FOLLOWED BY COACH CHUCK KYLE'S COMMENTS.

FIRST QUARTER: After an early drive by the Wildcats ended up in a missed field goal from 48 yards out, Canton McKinley took over possession at its 31. On first down, Saint Ignatius' heady and hard nosed senior safety Derek Smith stepped in front of a pass in the flat and rambled into the end zone. Senior Cory Griffith kicked the extra point and the 'Cats held a 7 to zip lead.

The defense continued to make its case as standout senior defensive end/tight end Dre'Mont Jones, an Ohio State verbal recruit, scooped up a fumble and went untouched into the end zone. Griffith was high and true on his PAT and Saint Ignatius extended its advantage to 14 points with 8:08 remaining in the opening quarter.

Under the direction of junior quarterback Dennis Grosel, the Wildcats marched from their 42 to a first and goal at the 10 on the strength of a 33 yard reception by senior tight end JR Klonk. Tough and elusive senior tailback Luke Russell then swept the left side for a 10 yard TD and Griffith's third extra point had the 'Cats purring to the tune of a 21 point lead.

On the ensuing kickoff, the big hearted and talented Russell, who also excels in the defensive secondary and on special teams, raced down the field and made a tackle that helped pin the Bulldogs at their 13.

Senior linebacker Joe Conway, who was part of Saint Ignatius' dominant first team defense, went high in the air to bat down a pass and the first 12 minutes ended with the McKinley faithful a bit stunned, to say the least.

SECOND QUARTER: Grosel, staying calm in the face of defensive pressure, connected with Klonk on a touchdown pass that saw JR make a diving catch across the goal line on a third and goal from the seven yard line. Griffith sent another PAT through the uprights and it was 28 for the 'Cats and still zero for the Bulldogs with 8:28 remaining before the break.

Following an impressive and authoritative sack by junior end Nathan Keirn, McKinley was forced to punt from deep in its territory. After the ball was snapped over the punter's head and into the end zone, the punter raced after the ball, picked it up and, after running out of the end zone, kicked the ball on the run.

Saint Ignatius' gifted junior Jack Cook fielded the punt off the turf surface and made a crafty return to the Bulldogs' 21 yard line. The versatile Cook then turned his return into a sixteen yard touchdown reception that saw Cook catch the throw from Grosel inside the five yard line and make a spin move into the end zone.

Sophomore kicker/quarterback Colin Goodfellow tacked on the extra point and it was thirty five to nothing with five minutes and 33 seconds remaining in the second quarter.

****A tip of the cap goes out to Coach Thom McDaniels' Bulldogs for staying in the game and to McKinley junior quarterback Lee Hurst for firing TD passes of sixty one and six yards late in the second quarter. Yes, the passes came against second unit defenders, but Saint Ignatius has a deep secondary and the young Hurst made some impressive throws.

Other Saint Ignatius highlights of the first two quarters featured the strong work at nose tackle by junior Tito Vazquez, who was playing in the place of injured senior Michael Penn, and the passionate running of senior tailback Chavez "Chewie" Perez and junior tailback Daniel Volpe.

In the third quarter, or the final 12 minutes of action, McKinley, with both teams substituting freely, added a third TD on a 14 yard run by sophomore tailback Quovadis Young.

"Defense!" said a smiling Coach Kyle when asked what pleased him most about the game conditions Jamboree. "We scored two touchdowns right away on defense and you know you work on coverages to get a pick and work on scoop and score. If you get a good bounce, scoop it up and score. It happened! So that was wonderful.

"The defense was keeping field position and the offense got it going," Coach Kyle continued. "We were moving it pretty well with the running game near the end of the first quarter into the second quarter.

"That's Luke Russell, he likes playing," said Coach Kyle when this corner expressed how impressed I was with Luke running for a touchdown and then just seconds later making the tackle on the ensuing kickoff. "Offense, defense, special teams, let's go, I want to play."

Coach Kyle added that he was pleased with the final preseason test Grosel faced in his starting role.

"Certainly he's going to look at the video and there's things on this read or that read," Coach Kyle said. "But he was in command, and that's the first thing you must have. His vision was fine and he wasn't very nervous about it. He took command very nicely."          

 

      

 

2014 Wildcat Football Season Preview
8/18/2014

BY EDDIE DWYER, COPYRIGHT AUGUST 2014

Coach Kyle, who has entered his 32nd season as the head football coach at his alma mater with 309 career victories, is just two victories shy of becoming the all time coaching leader in the history of Greater Cleveland area high school football and the all time leader in career wins among the coaches from the larger division schools in Northeast Ohio.

Jim France of Akron Manchester, a small division school, has three hundred and sixty five career victories.

Led by their offensive and defensive lines, the 2014 Wildcats have the size, strength and depth to take them to what would be a twenty sixth OHSAA Division I Playoff Appearance. Leading those lines are two of the premier players in Ohio, senior defensive end and Ohio State verbal recruit Dre'Mont Jones and highly recruited junior offensive tackle Liam Eichenberg.

Another demanding regular season schedule awaits, one that has been described by MaxPreps as the 10th most difficult schedule in the country. Among the challenges are three defending state champions in Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller (Week eight), Paramus Catholic out of New Jersey (Week five) and St. Joe's Prep from Philadelphia (Week three). Of course the schedule also includes 2013 Division I state runner up Mentor (Week two), perennial Cincinnati power St. Xavier (Week 9) and a 2013 Division I state semifinalist in St. Edward (Week 10).

Moeller has brought home the last two big school state trophies and the nationally ranked Eagles from St. Edward have been labeled as the team to beat in Northeast Ohio. The Wildcats have won seven of their last nine meetings with St. Edward, including an impressive triumph as an underdog at Lakewood Stadium last season that vaulted the 'Cats into the playoffs. For a complete look at the schedule, go to ignatius.edu, click on athletics and click on football.       

Here is a look at the 2014 Football Cats, as they prepare for their final preseason tune up on Friday versus the Canton McKinley Bulldogs in the annual game conditions Jamboree at legendary and football rich Fawcett Stadium. The varsity action gets underway at 7 PM.

OHIO CITY: Saint Ignatius' junior quarterback Dennis Grosel is not only a student of the rich history that has accompanied Wildcats football, but also the storied line of athletes who have played the quarterback position at Cleveland's Jesuit Preparatory School.

From Tom Forrestal to Brian Dowling, Oliver Luck, Joe Pickens, Kevin Mayer, Scott Mutryn, Sean Grady, Jon Blevins, Dave Ragone, Tom Arth, Geoff and Bryan Panteck, Nate Szep, current Browns starting quarterback Brian Hoyer, Andrew Holland, Eric Williams and more, the signal callers at West 30th and Lorain Avenue have a tradition that covers more than seven decades.

Under Saint Ignatius' veteran offensive coordinator Nick Restifo, the Wildcats have produced sixteen quarterbacks who have received some form of All Ohio recognition, whether it was first team, second team, third team or honorable mention.

"Oh yeah," said Grosel, when asked if he entered Saint Ignatius as a wide eyed freshman two years ago with the knowledge of the accolades earned by so many of the Wildcats' QBs.

"From Brian Hoyer with the Browns and how that all transitioned, and even before," Grosel continued. "My cousin, Andrew Piscioneri, played quarterback here. So that kind of got me into it."

Because of the numerous injuries Saint Ignatius experienced last season, Grosel was called up from the junior varsity to start the Wildcats' game against Maryland power Eastern Christian Academy. He also took about 10 other varsity snaps. Not bad for a young man who didn't even play the position in grade school at St. John Vianney in Mentor. The center and defensive backfield positions were where Grosel saw most of his action during his grade school years.

"With the great history of the quarterbacks, coming in you think how can I be like them, how can I follow in their footsteps?" said Grosel, who emphasized that his varsity experience last season has helped him tremendously, that the game is 10 times faster and more mental on the varsity level.

Grosel, a starting third baseman for Coach Brad Ganor's varsity baseball team this past spring, said he can't say enough about the tremendous support he has received from the Wildcats' other quarterbacks, senior Jake Kucia and junior David Welcsh.

"Competition just makes you work harder and we all started off equal as Coach Restifo said," said Grosel, who enters the final preseason tune up against Canton McKinley on Friday night as the starter. "The spot was open for the taking and consistency and accuracy are a big part of it. I feel like I have to keep up my consistency and calmness."

As Coach Kyle pointed out, Grosel did a solid job in the offseason and preseason working on his release, getting the ball out quicker and with more authority and accuracy.

"Last season, there were dips in the road," Grosel said. "But these guys (the 2014 Wildcats) learned from that experience and they know how to bounce back. It's a good group of guys with positive attitudes. As cliché as it sounds, we're a never say die group of brothers who will do everything possible to win a state championship and make it the best season possible."

HOW COACH KYLE SEES HIS 2014 WILDCATS

DEFENSE

The strengths: "Certainly the defensive line for us is living up to expectation. We are experienced there and we are strong and pretty athletic."

Along with the gifted and dominant Dre'Mont Jones, Coach Kyle and veteran defensive coordinator Dan Corrigan can turn to senior nose tackle Michael Penn and senior end Ray Brown, who have had solid pre seasons.

The linebackers: "These young men got some experience last year because of the injuries and that certainly has helped quite a bit this year. So our front six to eight people there on defense looks very solid."

Seniors Bob Zavagno, Geoffrey DiMassa, Joe Conway and Brady Wells are being supported nicely by juniors Ben Cray, Alex Maruna and Nick LaVigna.

The secondary: "At this point we're very pleased, because we did graduate pretty heavily in the secondary. The guys you see on the field this year realized that in order to get better they had to go against the first team offense last year. They didn't stand around on the sideline and it certainly improved them. So far, the secondary has been solid, very good. We change our coverage a lot, so everybody has to be on the same page back there especially with the blitz packages, where we're going from zone to man."

Coach Kyle emphasized that in order to keep people fresh, there will be a lot of rotation going on, especially with the cornerbacks, where there is an abundance of running, intensity and skill required. Among the defensive secondary players to watch are senior Michael Mathews, senior Valiant Freeman, junior Quinn Lawless, junior Jack Cook and seniors Luke Russell, Ian Ryan, captain Lawrence Birchler and Derek Smith. And there will be more names surfacing because of the rotation. Ryan, said Coach Kyle, has matured mentally and physically and has had a real good camp. Ian is the brother of former Wildcat mainstays Jake Ryan (a University of Michigan captain), Connor Ryan and Zack Ryan.

OFFENSE

"The skill guys are kind of young and inexperienced as far as based from last year. But I think the skill is there, the talent's there."

Receivers: Senior captain David Shibley, whom Coach Kyle praised for his work ethic in the off season, will show the way. "He ran track to get his conditioning and speed up, and it shows on the field," Coach Kyle said. "He's just a very reliable guy."

Shibley will be supported by a deep receiving corps that also features the good hands, smooth route running and endless potential of junior Cal Grbac. Jack Cook, who Coach Kyle describes as one of the busy guys on this year's team, will also play offense and return punts. Dre'Mont Jones and fellow senior JR Klonk will handle the tight end position, an area that Coach Kyle wants to see the offense get back to utilizing like it did on so many of the program's record 11 state championship teams.

The Line: "It's coming along very nicely. When we get off the bus, we are big. With the size we have this year, this will be one of the biggest offensive lines we've had in a long time."

Along with the six foot six, 280 pound Eichenberg, who is described by Coach Kyle as a great player, veteran offensive line coach Adam Rini can turn to six foot six, 288 pound senior Kevin Woidke, the son of one of the greatest running backs ever to come out of Saint Ignatius of Antioch elementary school, Jim Woidke; six foot five, 293 pound senior Jacob Ready; six foot two, 270 pound senior Kyle Paul and six foot two, 280 pound senior Andras Bajusz. Among the younger names to watch are six foot, two fifty plus sophomore John Spellacy, who has had an exceptional camp, six foot three, 240 pound junior Michael Bodnar and six foot four, 247 pound junior Richard McGraw.

Quarterback: See lead in on junior Dennis Grosel.

Running Backs: As Coach Kyle said, senior tailback Chavez "Chewie" Perez has waited his turn and is now making the most of it with his toughness, balance, vision and deceiving quickness, and junior tailback James Norris, one of the fastest backs in all of Northeast Ohio (10.six standout sprinter on the varsity track team) is an exceptional athlete you want to create space for, whether it's running or catching the football.

Special Teams: Senior Cory Griffith is an outstanding punter with tremendous distance and hang time, and Cory will also handle the kicking chores, where Coach Kyle said he won't hesitate to line up and go for a field goal from fifty yards out with Cory. Sophomore Colin Goodfellow is backing up Cory.

James Norris and Luke Russell are expected to be the main kickoff returners and, as we mentioned above, Jack Cook will be called on to return punts, as will Cal Grbac.             

Highlights from Saint Ignatius' scrimmage versus the Tigers of Twinsburg
8/16/2014

BY EDDIE DWYER, COPYRIGHT AUGUST 2014

Twinsburg, Ohio: Although his Wildcats controlled Tuesday's scrimmage with Solon on Wasmer Field, Saint Ignatius Head Football Coach Chuck Kyle was looking for a little more "energy and enthusiasm" from his team as it took the field for Friday morning's scrimmage at Twinsburg.

And, for almost the entire morning, the Wildcats gave their head coach just what he wanted.

As Coach Kyle emphasized, sure, you want to polish the technique, especially with the opening game of the 2014 season just two weeks away (at Indianapolis Lawrence Central on Aug. 30 at 2 PM).

However, as Coach Kyle said, the energy and enthusiasm that Saint Ignatius brought to Twinsburg's Tiger Stadium are vital parts of that technique.

The Wildcats, a talented and slightly under the radar team this year, if a record 11 time Division I state champion and three time national champ can be under the radar, will now focus on the summer's final tune up.

On Friday, August 22, Saint Ignatius will travel to legendary Fawcett Stadium to face Coach Thom McDaniels' Canton McKinley Bulldogs in the annual preseason Jamboree. The Varsity Jamboree, which is scheduled for 7 PM and will be played under game conditions, will be preceded at five PM by split field freshmen and junior varsity scrimmages between the 'Cats and the Bulldogs.

Coach Kyle emphasized that he is looking forward to seeing his friend and longtime coaching colleague, as Coach McDaniels, a legend among the Stark County coaching ranks and the entire state, has come out of retirement for his second stint with the McKinley Bulldogs.

HERE ARE SOME OF THE HIGHLIGHTS FROM FRIDAY'S SCRIMMAGE AT TWINSBURG, BROUGHT TO YOU WITH ALL OF THE ENTHUSIASM IN THE WORLD.

The Wildcats got excellent penetration en route to disrupting some of Twinsburg's extra point attempts during the scrimmage's opening PAT drill.

On the other hand, Saint Ignatius' standout senior kicker/punter Cory Griffith and promising sophomore kicker/quarterback Colin Goodfellow were solid in their PAT attempts.

In the punt return drill, Cory's punting was outstanding, deep and into hang time city.

Saint Ignatius' defense was flying to the ball in an early morning O versus D drill. Senior defensive end Ray Brown was causing some havoc and senior defensive back Ian Ryan made an exceptional open field tackle.

In the 7 on 7 drill, junior quarterback Dennis Grosel and senior quarterback Jake Kucia both looked sharp and a deep and gifted receiving corps, which on Friday was headed by senior captain David Shibley, senior Matt Sarko and juniors Cal Grbac, Jack Cook, Nick Freund, Jim Berger and Tyler Musbach, were rolling sevens.

What could be described as the Wildcats' most impressive efforts on the day came during the nine versus nine running game drill and the 11 versus 11 team competition.

The offensive line, including a couple of the younger players in juniors Michael Bodnar and Richard McGraw, was very impressive during the running drill as were the lead blocks provided by junior fullback Ben Cray and senior fullbacks Brendan Novak and Aaron Shields.

Juniors James Norris and Daniel Volpe, and senior Chavez "Chewie" Perez were among the running backs taking full advantage of the above mentioned blocking and capping it with their own second efforts.

Saint Ignatius' defensive front, with Brown continuing to provide a spark and senior linebacker Joe Conway recovering a fumble, controlled almost the entire 11 on 11 series.

The Tigers, who appear to be down a bit in total numbers this season, did complete a pass down the seam and got a long touchdown run down the left sideline from Shawn Smith.

However, as Coach Kyle emphasized in his post scrimmage address to his team, the 'Cats were laying down some leather in the city of twins.

*JUST ANOTHER REMINDER that Coach Mike McLaughlin's preseason nationally ranked Varsity Soccer Wildcats and Coach Dr. Mike Gallagher's defending District and Regional champion Varsity Cross Country Team will begin their 2014 seasons on Saturday.

The Soccer Cats will host the Solon Comets at 3 PM on Wasmer Field. The varsity encounter will be preceded by a Junior Varsity match up at 1 PM. The Saint Ignatius Student Broadcasting Network will bring you the varsity game live and the corner will be on hand for game coverage.

Coach Gallagher's Harriers are traveling to the National Trails Raceway in Hebron, Ohio for Saturday's OHSAA Invitational. The race, which will feature some of the strongest teams the state has to offer, is scheduled to begin at 10 AM on what is the course for the annual State Finals Meet in early November.

Highlights from the Wildcats' scrimmage versus Solon
8/12/2014

BY EDDIE DWYER, COPYRIGHT AUGUST 2014

Ohio City: After junior tailback James Norris took it into another gear on Wasmer Field and galloped through the Solon defense for two impressive runs, including a touchdown, and junior quarterback Dennis Grosel unleashed a perfect throw into the hands of senior wide receiver and captain David Shibley for another score, Saint Ignatius head football coach Chuck Kyle commented on what were the closing acts of Tuesday's annual practice/scrimmage with Coach Jim McQuaide's Solon Comets.

"We went into a little bit of the first (team) groups at the end because everybody needed water and they (the Comets) have a lot of guys going both ways," said Coach Kyle. "We came back out and finished it and that was nice. James (Norris) broke a couple of big ones and we had a nice long pass. So that was good to see, that we're executing like that.

"Defensively, I thought we were doing okay," Coach Kyle continued. "In the morning (the scrimmage started at 10 AM) I thought we were a little energy down. I would like to see more energy, to be honest with you. But we were lined up right (defensively) and we didn't miss too many calls. I know it sounds simple, but at this time of the year you want to make sure everybody is on the same page."

Coach Kyle was also pleased with his kicking game, which has a long standing tradition of success, but emphasized that there is still some technique stuff that his Wildcats can "channel in on."

"I think we can hit better than we did," Coach Kyle said. "Maybe it was the morning, but it seemed like a bunch of guys kind of grabbing. I know we can be a good, hard tackling team, so we'll work on that some more because that should be part of our M.O."

Coach Kyle was very pleased with the work turned in by Grosel in the 10 play portion of the scrimmage, particularly his vision downfield. Along with the picture perfect toss to Shibley, Grosel connected with junior wide receiver/safety Jack Cook and senior tight end JR Klonk on TD passes. Coach Kyle also pointed to a run Grosel made off a clever read, a play that calmed a strong and spirited defensive sequence by Solon's front seven, and the way Dennis, senior quarterback Jake Kucia and junior quarterback David Welcsh controlled the huddle.

"There's things to work on, so that's okay," said Coach Kyle, who will send his team back into double sessions on Wednesday at 2 PM as the Wildcats prepare for Friday's10 AM scrimmage at Twinsburg.

Coach Kyle emphasized that with school starting next week (Aug. 21) and orientation days coming before that, there are very few double session practice days left.

Here are some more highlights from Tuesday's scrimmage.

On their touchdown receptions from Dennis Grosel, Jack Cook and JR Klonk ran solid outes and again displayed their sure hands.

Junior defensive back Quinn Lawless came up with an interception off a heady read, Solon scored on a tipped pass and senior quarterback Jake Kucia combined with junior wide receiver Eric Piechowski on a nicely timed sideline route.

Junior quarterback David Welcsh picked up some tough yards off an authoritative keeper and clicked with junior wide receiver/tight end Robert Hilbig on a pass in the flat, and sophomore quarterback Patrick Ryan combined with sophomore wide receiver Travis Pot on two positive routes.

****Solon's defense had a series in which it was flying to the ball, forced a fumble and recovered it, but the defensive front that laid down the law was Saint Ignatius' thrillsome threesome of seniors Ray Brown, Michael Penn and Dre'Mont Jones (Ohio State verbal). Brown drew Coach Kyle's praise on a play that saw Ray surge off the snap in the blink of an eye and make a fumble forcing tackle in the backfield.

See you on Wednesday at Wasmer Field.   

Wildcats continue to get better at Saturday's practice, Cleveland Browns legend Bernie Kosar visits the 'Cats
8/10/2014

BY EDDIE DWYER, COPYRIGHT AUGUST 2014

Ohio City: "I commend you for your hard work this week," said Saint Ignatius Head Football Coach Chuck Kyle moments after his Wildcats completed Saturday's double sessions on a sun drenched Wasmer Field.

In preparing for Tuesday's first preseason scrimmage versus the Solon Comets, the Wildcats worked from 9 AM until 2 PM on Saturday, with a half hour break for lunch and some time out to listen to one of Ohio's greatest sports figures.

Bernie Kosar, a legendary quarterback for Boardman High School, the Miami Hurricanes and the Cleveland Browns, stopped by to watch Saint Ignatius' practice on Saturday afternoon and was gracious enough to lend some outstanding words of advice to the 2014 Wildcats.

Bernie told the young 'Cats that despite all of the major games he competed in during his storied college and NFL career, the plays he stills remembers the most are the ones that took place during his days as the field general for the Boardman High School Spartans.

With the wide eyed Wildcats hanging on Bernie's every word, he encouraged them to take advantage of the outstanding opportunities they have and not to be in a position later in life in which they have regrets because they didn't make the proper decisions or sacrifices.

Watching practice near the Lorain Avenue end zone of Wasmer Field, Bernie shared with this corner how impressed he was with the way Coach Kyle's 2013 Wildcats overcame the adversity of major preseason and regular season injuries and still went on to defeat St. Edward in the annual October match up and advance to the third round of the OHSAA Division I playoffs.

As for Saturday's double sessions, the morning hours saw crisp passing by junior quarterback Dennis Grosel as Dennis worked some nice routes to senior two way end Dre'Mont Jones. Dre', who has accepted a football scholarship from Coach Urban Meyer and The Ohio State University Buckeyes as a defensive end, is also a load as a receiver.

Grosel capped off the opening drill with an authoritative pass down the seam that was hauled in by gifted junior wideout Jack Cook in the Lorain Avenue end zone.

Senior quarterback Jake Kucia and junior quarterback David Welcsh also turned in a solid opening series, senior wide receiver Jaylin McDonald put on another good hands display and Cook recorded his second TD reception off a strong throw from Welcsh.

Senior Ian Ryan and junior Quinn Lawless did some timely work in the defensive secondary during the morning session and senior defensive end Mike Profancik came off the ball with authority, tipped the pigskin in the air at the line scrimmage and nearly intercepted it.

Ian Ryan is the younger brother of former Wildcat greats Connor, Jake and Zack Ryan and is also a cousin to current Saint Ignatius sophomore quarterback Patrick Ryan. Jake Ryan will again captain the University of Michigan's Football Wolverines this season.

Saturday's practice ended with an entertaining and highly spirited "four minute drill" between the offense and the defense.

Among the highlights of the four minute, game conditions drill were a powerful second effort run over the left side by senior tailback Chavez "Chewie" Perez, some impressive work up front by Coach Adam Rini's and Coach Paul Yappel's offensive line and another headliner by Perez that saw "Chewie" take a swing pass in stride and ramble for more big yardage en route to the red zone.

The wouldn't be denied efforts by "Chewie" helped set up a twenty six yard field goal by Saint Ignatius' talented senior punter/kicker Cory Griffith.

Also bringing a loud cheer from the stands was a play by Kucia that saw Jake read the defense, cut up the middle and burst to the outside for a long gain down the home sideline of Wasmer Field. Jake's gallop set up a 28 yard touchdown dash by senior tailback Luke Russell as Luke outran the pursuit into the Lorain Avenue end zone.

Monday's practices get underway at 2 PM and just a reminder that Tuesday's scrimmage/practice with the Solon Comets is scheduled for 10 AM on Wasmer Field.

Have a great weekend.

Mini Camps come to a close on Saint Ignatius' feast day, two a days begin Friday
8/1/2014

BY EDDIE DWYER, COPYRIGHT JULY AND AUGUST 2014

Ohio City: Friday's first session is scheduled to begin at 2 PM after the various position meetings with the coaching staff.

The mini camps or separate junior varsity and varsity practices, if you will, came to an end on Thursday evening.

Here are some of Thursday's highlights from the junior varsity and varsity practices.

VARSITY

Senior defensive back and captain Lawrence Birchler displayed strong tight coverage all evening and came up with a savvy and athletic pass breakup in the Lorain Avenue end zone off a pass intended for talented senior tight end JR Klonk.

Junior defensive back/wide receiver Jack Cook made another visit to pick city, senior defensive back Derek Smith had a pass breakup off a heady read and Klonk and junior tight end Robert Hilbig continued to run smooth routes in hauling in authoritative passes from junior quarterback Dennis Grosel. Dennis had a solid day tossing the pigskin.

Junior long snapper/wide receiver Jim Berger drew a roar of approval from his teammates by alertly catching a pass that was intended for another receiver and deflected in the air.

Standout senior defensive end Dre'Mont Jones continues to make his presence felt as on Thursday evening the Ohio State Buckeye recruit flashed into the backfield, went airborne and nearly swatted the life out of the football. It brought back memories of the play Dre' made against Hudson in the 2013 regional playoffs, a play you see highlighted many times on the Wildcats' athletics pages.

Another roar from the players took place on the final play of the evening, an effort by junior quarterback David Welcsh that saw David put a defender on his back off a QB keeper.

JUNIOR VARSITY

Sophomore defensive back Jefferey Chonko had an interception and a strong return off a heads up read, sophomore tailback Kaden Russell ran with balance and authority, and sophomore running back/linebacker Jimmy Andrews had some moments at both positions.

Lineman Brian Almady, another sophomore, drew some praise from Wildcats veteran offensive line coach Adam Rini '99 for his work up front late in the JV practice.

Sophomore wide receiver/tight end/defensive back Travis Pot had a well timed interception and Dean "The Dream" Stowers continued to impress as the sophomore running back/wide receiver went up in the air against a taller defender and came down with a reception along the visitor's sideline near the Lorain Avenue end zone.

See you at two a days on Friday.        

Wildcat Football Update and Freshman Football has a full 10-game schedule
7/29/2014

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright July/August 2014

Ohio City

As he addressed the Saint Ignatius junior varsity team following the JV practice on Monday afternoon, Wildcats Head Football Coach Chuck Kyle reminded the jayvees that later this week they will begin practicing with the varsity for the remainder of the season. Double sessions are set to get underway on Friday.

Coach Kyle emphasized to the junior varsity players that they will experience a different level of competition and intensity once they join the varsity players on an everyday basis.

Monday's conditioning provided the jayvees with a little reminder on just how high they are going to have to raise their competitive level. Despite the cool temperatures, the running drills proved there is work to be done.

Here are some highlights from Monday's junior varsity and varsity practices, followed by a note on the Freshmen Football 'Cats and a congratulations to former Wildcat standout John Haneline.

JUNIOR VARSITY

Sophomore quarterback Patrick Ryan stood sharp, confident and accurate as he put together another impressive series of plays.

Patrick fired an on the money pass in the right flat to sophomore wide receiver Justin Perpar and made a heady read on a long throw to sophomore receiver Riley Kinzel that saw Riley make a sure handed grab near the Lorain Avenue end zone.

Making yet another confident read, Ryan picked up some tough yards off a QB draw.

Speaking of reading the play, sophomore linebacker James Leyden was active again as he batted down two more passes and sophomore safety Michael Getty made a nice move on the ball and came up with an interception in the early going.

VARSITY CAMP

Junior quarterback David Welcsh produced some throws and reads that drew the approval of Wildcats Quarterbacks Coach Elvis Grbac, a former St. Joseph High School and University of Michigan standout quarterback who went on to an All Pro career in the NFL. David is a nephew of St. Vincent St. Mary's outstanding head football coach Dan Boarman.

And once again, Dre' and Ray, Wildcats senior defensive end and Ohio State recruit Dre' Mont Jones and senior defensive end Ray Brown, made things uncomfortable for the offense in the team drills. But then there were the reliable receptions by senior wide receiver and captain David Shibley that helped keep the defense honest.

WILDCATS FRESHMEN NOW HAVE A FULL 10 GAME SLATE

Saint Ignatius Head Freshman Football Coach Rodney Gallaway shared with the corner on Monday that he has secured a 10th game for the upcoming season.

The Freshmen 'Cats will travel to Ashland University on Thursday, September twenty fifth, for a match up with the Columbus Bishop Watterson Eagles. For a complete look at the Wildcats' 2014 freshmen schedule, go to ignatius.edu, click on athletics and click on football.

Coach Gallaway and his veteran staff sent the promising ninth graders through their first practice on Monday evening. A team of eighty six strong took Wasmer Field under the brisk blue/gray skies and that number could increase before the start of school on Aug. 21.

This seasoned corner was impressed with the size of some of the freshmen.

CONGRATULATIONS FROM THE CORNER GO OUT TO FORMER SAINT IGNATIUS AND BOWLING GREEN STATE UNIVERSITY MAINSTAY JOHN HANELINE '04, AS WILDCATS VETERAN OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR NICK RESTIFO REPORTED THAT JOHN WAS RECENTLY HIRED AS A DEFENSIVE GRADUATE ASSISTANT AT MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY.

AMONG JOHN'S TEAMMATES AT SAINT IGNATIUS WERE BROWNS STARTING QUARTERBACK BRIAN HOYER AND CURRENT WILDCATS WIDE RECEIVERS COACH JOSIAH "JUICE" KEDZIOR, aka "The Difference Maker."

JOHN EARNED ALL OHIO RECOGNITION AS A LINEBACKER FOR SAINT IGNATIUS DURING THE 2003 SEASON.

Practice resumes on Tuesday at Wasmer Field, with the junior varsity getting things started at 3 PM.           

  

Assumption College School completes a 10-game schedule for Saint Ignatius
7/22/2014

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright July 2014

CLEVELAND, OHIO

Saint Ignatius Athletics Director Rory Fitzpatrick '88 continues to work his magic, as pending the signing of the contract, the Varsity Football Wildcats will have filled their Week 4 open date by playing host to the Lions from Assumption College School. Assumption College School is a Roman Catholic Secondary School located in Brantford, Ontario, Canada.

The game will be played on Saturday, September 20 at Byers Field in Parma's Robert M. Boulton Stadium, with the kickoff on Ridge Road and Day Drive at 2:30 PM.

In November of 2013, Assumption College School, which has won four consecutive Brant County and Central Western Ontario Secondary Schools Association senior football championships, brought home its first Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations bowl championship with a 23-14 victory over Hamilton's Westdale Secondary School. The Lions posted a 9-0 record last fall in what was head coach Raj Saini's final season at Assumption College School.  

Just when it appeared Saint Ignatius was going to have to settle for nine regular season games, Rory continued to make every effort to find a 10th game. Just today Rory shared with the corner that in Assumption College School he found a program also in need of a Week 4 matchup despite the fact the start of the season is just over a month away.

For a look at the Wildcats' preseason slate, see the corner's story from Monday.

    

ESPN recognizes standout OT Liam Eichenberg
7/12/2014

By Eddie Dwyer

At No. 39, Liam is the highest ranked Ohio player in ESPN’s latest release of its top 300 high school football players from the Class of 2016.

For the full list, click here: ESPN Football Recruiting - Player Rankings - ESPN

Mini Camp Update: Part 3
6/20/2014

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright June 2014

As he was running the final 100-yard sprint on Wasmer Field early Thursday night, Saint Ignatius' John Spellacy glanced over at the home sideline where the Wildcats' head Student Manager Kyle Kostura was standing and said: "This has been a long day."

And the gritty and gifted Spellacy, a sophomore with endless potential and a heart bigger than the Jesuit Preparatory School's scenic campus, loved every minute of it.

Spellacy's Thursday began at 7:30 AM as a Counselor for Saint Ignatius' Summer Enrichment Program. The time given to the SEP is part of Spellacy's "Sophomore Service."

Following his service to his school, Spellacy took part in the Wildcats' junior varsity football mini camp, where he played with passion from 3:15 PM until 5:15. Things were just heating up for the 'Cats' young center.

After some hydration, Spellacy was ready for the varsity mini camp, which ended after 7 PM and was followed by the traditional post-camp 100-yard sprints. During the varsity camp, Spellacy more than held his own against the Wildcats' senior defensive linemen, so much so that a few of those seniors, before leaving Wasmer Field, approached Spellacy and acknowledged his efforts.

A TEST OF WILLS UP FRONT: Early in the varsity mini camp, a spirited battle took place between the offensive and defensive lines and some of the work by the O-Line drew words of approval from the coaches, especially veteran offensive line coach Adam Rini '99.

It's not officially summer yet and, as senior Jacob Ready pointed out, there is a lot of technique work to be done. That said, Saint Ignatius' offensive line, anchored by the tall timber of the 6-foot-5 Ready, highly touted 6-5 junior Liam Eichenberg and 6-6 senior Kevin Woidke, shows signs of developing into a unit Coach Rini and Coach Paul Yappel will be proud of come November.

LIAM EICHENBERG TO BE RECOGNIZED BY TOM LEMMING AND CBS: Liam, who is being recruited by many of the premier programs in the nation, including Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State and Notre Dame, to name a few, is going to be part of Tom Lemming's prestigious ratings as one of the Top 10 players in his class.  

SOME STRONG PITCH AND CATCH: Senior quarterback Jake Kucia and junior signal-caller Dennis Grosel fired some nice throws on Thursday evening and among those hauling in those passes were senior captain David Shibley, senior Anthony Paoletta, junior Robert Hilbig, senior Lenny Soeder and junior Alex Kucinski.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Gifted junior wide receiver Cal Grbac displayed a strong foot on Thursday as he got off some impressive punts that sailed high with hang time near the Lorain Avenue end zone.

JV HIGHLIGHTS: Sophomore receivers Michael Daugenti, Michael Lehto and Ryan Cook were part of the Good Hands Club on Thursday, sophomore quarterbacks Patrick Ryan and Colin Goodfellow had their moments in the sun and sophomore tailback Kaden Russell ran with authority.

On the defensive side of the ball, multi-skilled sophomore linebacker James Leyden had two interceptions, promising sophomore LB Adam Shibley, David's brother, came up with a pick, and the young men up front continued to make their presence felt.

CAMP RESUMES ON JULY 24: The Wildcats' junior varsity and varsity programs will return to Wasmer Field next month. According to the football web page, that date will be July 24. The JV practice will begin at 3:15 PM followed by the varsity at 5:15.

     

Mini Camp Update: Part 2
6/12/2014

By Eddie Dwyer

Cleveland, Ohio  - Saint Ignatius' veteran Defensive Line Coach and Defensive Coordinator Dan Corrigan '78, who has helped develop some of the finest players in Saint Ignatius' rich football history, doesn't need to be told that it is way too early to project what the 2014 Wildcats junior varsity and varsity defenses will look like.

That said, Coach Corrigan, following the junior varsity portion of Thursday's third preseason Mini Camp on Wasmer Field, said he liked what he saw out of some of the sophomores along the defensive line.

Joe Gibbons, Patrick Viancourt and Mike Chime were among the names Coach Corrigan referred to.

As for the varsity defensive line, senior Dre' Mont Jones continued to display the power and burst off the ball that one associates with a big time recruit. Dre' Mont's partners up front - seniors Ray Brown and Michael Penn -  were also in a pressure mode for most of the early evening.

Getting back to the junior varsity, sophomore quarterback Patrick Ryan continues to play with a gritty confidence, sophomore wide receiver Michael Spear made a smooth diving catch along the home sideline during the JV 11 on 11, and sophomore tight end/wide receiver Michael Lehto put his sure hands on display. Lehto is coming off a varsity track and field season that saw him garner the program's Most Valuable Freshman honor.

Among the highlights of the varsity 11 on 11 or "team" drill were a textbook deep route and soft hands catch by senior wideout Lenny Soeder, an all-out effort diving reception across the middle by junior tight end Bob Hilbig and another deep route by the offense that featured a nice throw and catch by the combination of junior quarterback Dennis Grosel and senior wide receiver Jaylin McDonald.

Also making a case for the varsity defense were senior nose tackle Aiden Carr, who made a fumble recovery as the ball was floating in the air, and senior linebacker Geoffrey DiMassa, who came up with an interception off a nice anticipation move on the pigskin.

And last, but certainly not least, standout junior offensive tackle Liam Eichenberg, who shared with the corner last week a list of college offers that are topped by The Ohio State University, the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame and the Michigan Wolverines, was throwing his authoritative weight around all evening.

Coach Chuck Kyle '69 will put his Wildcats through another Mini Camp on June 19th at Wasmer Field. The junior varsity will begin at 3:15 PM, followed by the varsity at 5:15.           

Dadich, Hyland to play in All-Star Game
6/10/2014

By Eddie Dwyer

Ryan, a two-way lineman, and Jack, a wide receiver/defensive back, are part of the West Roster for Friday night's 42nd annual Greater Cleveland Football Coaches Association Cuyahoga County East versus West All-Star Game.

The game, which features some of the top graduated seniors from both sides of town, will kickoff at 7 PM in Baldwin Wallace University's Finnie Stadium.

Ryan and Jack are both bound for John Carroll University this summer, where they will play under the Blue Streaks' outstanding Head Coach Tom Arth, who was a former Saint Ignatius, JCU and NFL quarterback.

 

Mini Camp Update: Part 1
6/5/2014

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright June 2014

Cleveland, Ohio - Saint Ignatius Head Football Coach Chuck Kyle '69, in addressing his 2014 Varsity Wildcats following the preseason's first mini camp on Wasmer Field Wednesday afternoon, emphasized how important it is to become a better football player "in between" the camps.

Coach Kyle stressed to his players that in absorbing what they learned at camp, and sharpening that knowledge while on their own, will allow the Saint Ignatius staff to add more to the learning the process at the next camp, instead of constantly repeating what was applied at the previous camp.

The Wildcats, coming off an injury-riddled 2013 season that saw them finish 8-5 and advance to the OHSAA Division I playoffs for the 25th time since 1988, were anxious to "get back it" on Wednesday.

In starting their mini camp with special teams drills and drills at their specific positions, the Wildcats seemed oblivious to the persistent, but light rain showers that fell throughout the two hour session.

That enthusiasm carried over to a spirited 11-on-11 competition, with the emphasis on passing and pass coverage.

"Way to go down and get it, way to go down and get it," yelled Saint Ignatius Wide Receivers Coach Josiah "Juice" Kedzior '04 after Wildcats gifted junior wideout Cal Grbac extended his body and made a sure-handed diving catch across the middle. "That was a heck of a catch right there," Juice added. High praise coming from one of the top receivers in Saint Ignatius' rich football history.

Cal Grbac is a son of former St. Joseph High School and University of Michigan standout, and former NFL All-Pro quarterback, Elvis Grbac. Elvis is currently Saint Ignatius' Quarterbacks Coach.

The receivers had their way at the first mini camp as senior Lenny Soeder made a smooth leaping catch in which he used his body and hands in taking the ball away from the defender. Senior tight end JR Klonk showed the ability to get deep, both along the sideline and in the seam, senior Matt Sarko made a text-book diving catch along the home sideline of Wasmer Field, and senior wideout and captain David Shibley put his sharp route running and sure hands on display.

All of the Wildcats' quarterbacks had some impressive throws and throws they would like to take back. But for the most part, junior Dennis Grosel, senior Jake Kucia, junior David Welcsh and junior Mike Huber were sharper than one would expect for the first camp.

Grosel hooked up with Shibley on a perfectly timed slant route and combined with senior receiver Anthony Paoletta on a deep throw and catch near the Lorain Avenue end zone. Welcsh was money on his long toss to Klonk along the left sideline near Lorain Avenue.

Speaking of Klonk, JR has added 30 solid pounds this season and seems ready to make the transition from wide receiver to tight end.

Making a case for the defense on Wednesday were the men up front. Leading that charge was one of the premier recruits in Ohio and one of the standout defensive ends in the nation, senior Dre'Mont Jones. Dre' also displayed his exceptional athleticism while spending some time at tight end, which he will do throughout the season.

Speaking of the recruiting trail, Saint Ignatius' outstanding junior offensive tackle Liam Eichenberg said his offer list currently reads as follows: The Ohio State University; the University of Michigan; the University of Notre Dame; Boston College; Big Ten and Rose Bowl Champion Michigan State; Tennessee; the Miami Hurricanes; Florida State and Illinois.

*The Wildcats' next mini camp will be on June 12, with junior varsity taking the field at 3:30 PM and the varsity following at 5 PM.

AT WASMER FIELD ON WEDNESDAY: John Carroll University Head Football Coach Tom Arth and members of his staff. Tom, of course, was a former standout quarterback at Saint Ignatius and John Carroll before going on to the NFL.

OH CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN: David Shibley and senior defensive back Lawrence Birchler were named as two of Coach Kyle's Captains for 2014 during the annual winter Football Banquet and a third captain, which usually comes from the area of special teams, will be selected during two-a-days later this summer.

THE 2014 SCHEDULE: Week 4 remains as an open date. For the Wildcats' nine-game slate go to ignatius.edu, click on athletics and click on football. Yes, two-time defending Division I state champion Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller graces the 'Cats' schedule in a Week 8 encounter at Dublin Coffman High School.   

PRESEASON SCRIMMAGES: As has been the case for awhile now, Saint Ignatius' preseason tune ups will be home to Solon (Aug. 12), at Twinsburg (Aug. 15) and at Canton McKinley for the Bulldogs' annual Jamboree (Aug. 22). The Jamboree features scrimmages on all three levels - freshman, junior varsity and varsity.

Thom McDaniels, a name that needs no introduction to veteran Wildcats football fans, is back for a second stint as Canton McKinley's head football coach.

ALL OF THE BEST TO ONE OF THE ALL-TIME BEST: The corner had the privilege of running into former Wildcats two-time All-Ohio Offensive Tackle Jim Byrne '14 on the way into Wasmer Field on Wednesday afternoon.

Jim said he will be leaving for the University of Notre Dame within a week, where he will be furthering his education and football career for the Fighting Irish under the Golden Dome.

Here's wishing nothing but all of the best to Jim as he takes that next step in his young life and football career. A Class Act, to say the least. 

An interview with Brian Hoyer '04 at the 2014 Scholarship Drive
3/12/2014

SIBN Co-President Pat McGuire '14 got the chance to sit down with former Saint Ignatius quarterback and current Cleveland Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer '04 Tuesday afternoon. Hoyer was the special guest at the 2014 Scholarship Drive Rally, picking the three winning tickets for the Scholarship Drive. Here the interview between McGuire and Hoyer here:

Interview with Browns QB Brian Hoyer '04 by SIHSEye on SoundCloud - Hear the world’s sounds

Parma Redmen agree to play the Wildcats in 2015 and 2016
2/27/2014

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright February 2014

Brooklyn, Ohio - Just a few weeks after securing Normandy and Valley Forge to Saint Ignatius' 2015 and 2016 varsity football schedules, Wildcats Athletics Director Rory Fitzpatrick '88 told the corner this afternoon that he has also locked up Parma for 2015 and 2016. 

Parma has agreed to play the Wildcats in Week 6 of 2015 and 2016. The 2015 agreement gives Saint Ignatius nine games for that season.

The Wildcats have just one open date for the upcoming 2014 season and that is Week 4.

Saint Ignatius and Parma have a gridiron history that shows the Wildcats leading the all-time series, 11-8-1. The 'Cats and the Redmen started playing in 1959, a game won by Parma, 14-6, and their last previous meeting took place in 1979, a 31-0 triumph by the Wildcats. Saint Ignatius and Parma did not play in 1976, thus the 20-game history.

Wildcat Football to face Normandy and Valley Forge in 2015 and 2016
2/14/2014

By Eddie Dwyer

Saint Ignatius Athletics Director Rory Fitzpatrick '88 told the corner on Thursday night that he has an agreement with Normandy and Valley Forge for Weeks 1 and 3 of the 2015 and 2016 varsity football seasons.

The Wildcats would play Normandy in Week 1 and Valley Forge in Week 3 of 2015 and the same schedule would apply for 2016.

Saint Ignatius' match up with Normandy in 2015 will mark the first meeting between the Wildcats and the Invaders on the varsity football level.

The Wildcats have won six of their previous seven varsity football encounters with Valley Forge. However, this old-timer will always recall the 1988 match up with the Patriots, which occurred during Saint Ignatius' first state championship season. The 'Cats came away with a hard-earned, to say the least, 14-13 victory on that Oct. 8 night.

As for the upcoming 2014 season, Saint Ignatius has just one open date to fill and that is Week 4.

Berger, Byrne, McVey, Siragusa, and Willis sign letters of intent
2/5/2014

By Brendan DeVenney '17

Five oustanding Wildcat football stars signed letters of intent Wedesday afternoon saying that they'll play for their colleges of their choice next year. Those student athletes were LB Kyle Berger, OT Jim Byrne, DB Matt McVey, WR Michael Siragusa, and LB/FB Dameon Willis. Berger commited to playing for Big Ten runner-up Ohio State playing for the Buckeyes in the fall. Byrne commited to the tradition filled University of Notre Dame long before the 2013 football season began. Matt McVey will become a Golden Knight next year and play for Division II Gannon University. Siragusa will head to the supreme Ivy League and play for the Yale Bulldogs, where former St. Ignatius QB Eric Williams is currently playing. And finally Dameon Willis will go to head-to-head with Berger next year as he'll play in the Big Ten for the Hoosiers of Indiana.

You were hearing about these young men all the time during the football season, and hopefully we'll be hearing about these rising stars on the college level in years to come. Each one of these schools are getting superb men for others and we wish them best of luck wherever they end up in the future.

Wildcats to take on the Pinehurst Spartans in Week 6 of the 2014 campaign
2/4/2014

By Eddie Dwyer

Saint Ignatius Athletics Administrator Rory Fitzpatrick '88 confirmed today that he has reached an agreement with the Pinehurst School (Canada Prep Football Academy) for Week 6 of the 2014 varsity football schedule. The game will be played on Parma's Byers Field in Robert M. Boulton Stadium and will kick off at 7 PM. 

The agreement with Pinehurst comes on the heels of last Friday's announcement on the corner concerning the confirmation of a Week 3 game at Byers Field versus St. Joseph's Preparatory, the Jesuit School of Philadelphia. Saint Ignatius now has just one open date to fill and that is Week 4. Coach Chuck Kyle's 'Cats defeated Pinehurst, 35-14, in Week 10 of the 2013 season at Byers Field.

With the addition of the Pinehurst School (Canada Prep Football Academy), this is how the Wildcats' 2014 schedule currently stands: Week 1 Indianapolis Lawrence Central (away game); Week 2 Mentor (home); Week 3 St. Joe's Prep (home); Week 4 (Open); Week 5 New Jersey Paramus Catholic (away): Week 6 Pinehurst (home); Week 7 Erie McDowell (home): Week 8 Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller (at Dublin Coffman High School); Week 9 Cincinnati St. Xavier (away) and Week 10 St. Edward (home).

Again, all of the credit in the world goes out to Rory Fitzpatrick for his endless work in filling these open dates every year.

Week 3 set- Saint Ignatius, St. Joseph's Prep set to compete in the fall of 2014
1/31/2014

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright January/February 2014

Coach Chuck Kyle's Wildcats will face St. Joseph's Preparatory, the Jesuit School of Philadelphia, on a Saturday in Week 3 at Parma's Byers Field. The time of the game is to be announced.

The agreement with the Hawks gives Saint Ignatius eight games for 2014, the number you must have in order to be eligible to qualify for the OHSAA postseason playoffs.

Wildcats Athletics Administrator Rory Fitzpatrick '88 said he has secured a two-year contract with St. Joe's Prep. The Wildcats will travel to play the Hawks in 2015, but a date and time of the 2015 encounter has not been set.

St. Joe's Prep is coming off a banner 2013 season that saw it capture its first PIAA Class AAAA state championship by defeating perennial Pennsylvania power Pittsburgh Central Catholic, 35-10, in the title game at Hersheypark Stadium. The Prep Hawks scored 28 unanswered points in the second half.

Saint Ignatius and St. Joe's Prep have met twice previously, with the Wildcats coming out victorious in 2004, 26-6, on a warm afternoon at Byers Field and the Hawks from Prep prevailing in 2005, 28-14. The 2005 meeting was played at
Plymouth Whitemarsh High School Stadium, which is West of Philadelphia.

As we reported on Jan. 17, Saint Ignatius reached an agreement with Erie (Pa.) McDowell for a seventh game, which will take place in Week 7 at Byers Field.

With the addition of St. Joe's Prep, this is how the Wildcats' 2014 schedule currently stands: Week 1 Indianapolis Lawrence Central (away game); Week 2 Mentor (home); Week 3 St. Joe's Prep (home); Week 4 (Open): Week 5 New Jersey Paramus Catholic (away): Week 6 (open); Week 7 Erie McDowell (home): Week 8  Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller (at Dublin Coffman High School); Week 9 Cincinnati St. Xavier (away) and Week 10 St. Edward (home).

Wildcat Football close to securing an 8th game for the 2014 campaign
1/27/2014

By Eddie Dwyer

Coach Chuck Kyle's varsity football Wildcats have the makings of an eighth game for the 2014 season which, it if comes to fruition, would leave Saint Ignatius with two open dates to fill.

Wildcats Athletic Administrator Rory Fitzpatrick '88 said Saint Ignatius and St. Joe's Prep, a Jesuit School out of Philadelphia, are discussing a date for the game, which would be a home game for the 'Cats.

St. Joe's Prep is coming off a banner 2013 season that saw it capture its first PIAA Class AAAA state championship by defeating perennial Pennsylvania power Pittsburgh Central Catholic, 35-10, in the title game at Hersheypark Stadium. The Prep scored 28 unanswered points in the second half.

Saint Ignatius and St. Joe's Prep have met twice previously, with the Wildcats coming out victorious in 2004, 26-6, and the Prep prevailing in 2005, 28-14.

As we reported on Jan. 17, Saint Ignatius reached an agreement with Erie (Pa.) McDowell for a seventh game, which will take place in Week 7 at Parma's Byers Field.

Under the Ohio High School Athletic Association rules, a member school must secure at least eight varsity football games in order to be eligible for the OHSAA postseason playoffs. That is why an agreement with St. Joe's Prep is vital.

St. Joe's Prep would, and we emphasize would until it becomes a reality, join Indianapolis Lawrence Central (away game), Mentor (home), New Jersey Paramus Catholic (away), Erie McDowell (home), Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller (at Dublin Coffman High School), Cincinnati St. Xavier (away) and St. Edward (home) on the Wildcats' 2014 schedule. 

As for filling the final two open dates, Saint Ignatius has been in discussion, and we emphasize discussion, with Pinehurst School Canada Prep Football Academy and Erie (Pa.) Cathedral Prep. Pinehurst, based in Ontario, Canada, was defeated by the Wildcats, 35-14, in Week 10 of 2013.             

Week 7 is filled in the 2014 Varsity Football schedule
1/17/2014

By Eddie Dwyer

Saint Ignatius Athletics Administrator Rory Fitzpatrick '88 told the corner on Friday that he has secured a Week 7 game against Erie (Pa.) McDowell for 2014. It is a two-year contract that will have the Wildcats hosting McDowell in 2014 at Byers Field and traveling to Erie in 2015.

Coach Chuck Kyle's Wildcats now have three openings for 2014 - Weeks 3, 4 and 6. Rory is burning the midnight oil trying to fill those dates. Under the OHSAA football playoff system, you must have at least eight regular season games in order to be part of the postseason computer qualifying system.

This is how Saint Ignatius' schedule stands after the McDowell commitment. Week 1 - At Indianapolis Lawrence Central; Week 2 - Versus Mentor at Byers Field; Weeks 3 and 4 - Open; Week 5 - At New Jersey Paramus Catholic; Week 6 - Open; Week 7 - Versus Erie McDowell at Byers Field; Week 8 - Versus two-time defending Division I state champion Archbishop Moeller at Dublin Coffman High School; Week 9 - At St. Xavier; Week10 - Versus St. Edward at Byers Field.

Wildcat Football comes to an end in a heartbreaker against Mentor in the Division 1 Regional Final
11/23/2013

By Eddie Dwyer

Led by a defense that we referred to in Wednesday's corner preview as being immensely improved compared to the one Saint Ignatius faced earlier in the season, and the savvy and skilled play of its outstanding senior quarterback Conner Krizancic, Mentor improves to 12-1 and advances to next Saturday night's state semifinal matchup with St. Edward (12-1) at a site to be determined by the Ohio High School Athletic Association on Sunday. Coach Steve Trivisonno's team is making its 14th OHSAA playoff appearance and was the Division I state runner-up in 2006 and 2007 and a state semifinalist last season.

The Cardinals' defense recorded a safety, came with two key interceptions and, winning the battle up front, limited the Wildcats to less than 130 yards of offense.

Mentor, with Krizancic rushing for 174 yards and passing for 88 yards, including a game-sealing 28-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Brandon Fritts, totaled 375 yards of offense.

The weather experts were right on the money, as Saturday night's game at Byers Field featured temperatures in the low 20s, strong wind gusts and blowing and swirling snow showers that were heavy at times.

Coach Chuck Kyle's Wildcats end their 2013 season with an 8-5 record against a demanding schedule and a rash of injuries, and finish among the top eight Division I teams in the OHSAA playoffs after advancing to the postseason for the 25th time. All of those 25 appearances have arrived under Coach Kyle, with the first coming in 1988 and resulting in the first of what are a record 11 state championships. Chuck will enter next season, which will be his 32nd as the head coach at his alma mater, with a career mark of 309-74-1.      

Here is a look at Saturday night's game, which marked the third consecutive season that Mentor and Saint Ignatius have met in a third-round OHSAA playoff game. En route to their record 11th state title, the Wildcats defeated Mentor, 23-17, in a Region 1 final at Lakewood Stadium (now First Federal Lakewood Stadium) in 2011 and last season the Cardinals, behind two-time All-Ohio quarterback Mitch Trubisky (now at North Carolina), defeated Saint Ignatius, 57-56, in triple overtime on Byers Field.  

Parma, Ohio - No excuses offered and none accepted.

Saturday night on Byers Field in Robert M. Boulton Stadium, the Mentor Cardinals of Coach Steve Trivisonno were the better team.

Yes, the conditions were less than desirable as Mother Nature made her first serious guest appearance of the late fall season.

Adjustments had to be made by both teams.

Maybe Saint Ignatius' outstanding Hall of Fame head football coach Chuck Kyle '69 said it best when he emphasized that his Wildcats just couldn't get anything going. Coach Kyle was quick to point out that Mentor's defensive charge, fueled by 6-foot-4, 250-pound two-way senior lineman Kent Berger, had a lot to do with his team's offensive frustrations.

No folks, this wasn't the same Cardinals defense that Saint Ignatius totaled nearly 400 yards of offense against in a 20-point Week 2 victory at Mentor.

Strong and active up front and opportunistic in the secondary, the Cardinals' D made just about every big play it had to. Mentor's defensive secondary is coached by another Hall of Famer - former Mayfield, Solon and Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin head coach Byron Morgan.

Coach Kyle also gave well-deserved praise to one of the top athletes in Ohio - Cardinals standout senior quarterback Conner Kirzancic. Conner, a mainstay for Mentor's defending Division I state champion basketball team and a football recruit by the University of Cincinnati as a wide receiver, accounted for 262 of the Cardinals' 375 yards of offense.

"He would just find a seam," Coach Kyle said of Krizancic's ability to negotiate the icy surface on Byers Field. Conner entered Saturday night's game having rushed for more than 1,900 yards and 18 touchdowns and having passed for 2,400 yards and 27 touchdowns.

With the gales of November biting their way through the storied stadium on Ridge Road and Day Drive, Saint Ignatius, on the strength of a 21-yard field goal by 2012 All-Ohio pick Matt Colella, held a 3-0 lead with 18 seconds remaining in the first quarter.

Colella's three points came after Mentor was forced to punt from deep its territory and the Wildcats got excellent field position. Mentor's punt was the result of a possession that saw Saint Ignatius senior wide receiver Jake Helton and sophomore long snapper Jim Berger down a Wildcats punt inside the Cardinals' 1-yard line.

Actually, Saint Ignatius was hoping to get more than three points out of its possession, but a pass from senior quarterback John Thomas to junior defensive end/tight end Dre'Mont Jones off a third-and-goal from the 4 sailed high in the right corner of the Day Drive end zone.

Mentor's special teams and defense came to the fore in the final 7 minutes of the first half and the offense followed suite.

After downing a punt at the Saint Ignatius 2, Coach Trivisonno's defense came up big on the very next play and recorded a safety off a Wildcats running play with 6:58 left in the first half.

A 29-yard gallop by Krizancic led to the first of three field goals by senior Mike Muzic and the Cardinals' first lead of the night at 5-3 with 2:57 to go in the first half.

What could easily described as the key play in the game, Mentor, just as it did in last year's regional-final thriller against Saint Ignatius at Byers Field, burned the Wildcats on an option pass.

This time it was a 41-yard TD toss from tailback Eddie Daugherty to underrated senior receiver Corey Plavcan that was followed by a two-point conversion pass from Krizancic to senior wide receiver and North Carolina recruit Brandon Fritts with 1:57 remaining in the first half.

The Daugherty-to-Plavcan stunner was set up by an interception by Cardinals' active senior linebacker Justin McMahon.

Leading, 13-3, Mentor took a 16-3 into its locker room at halftime after Muzic's 34-yard field goal was high and true with just one second left in the first 24 minutes.

The Cardinals, who despite trailing their all-time series with Saint Ignatius, 11-6, have now won four of the last seven games in a series that is one of the finest Public School versus Catholic School rivalries in the nation.

And that 4-3 lead in the past seven encounters was locked up in the second half on a 25-yard field goal Muzic that was the result of an interception by Mentor senior defensive back Austin Hankins and a 28-yard TD strike from Krizancic to Fritts.

As has been the story all season, Saint Ignatius suffered key injuries during Saturday night's game, the most significant being senior defensive end Chris Keane, senior middle linebacker John Gibbons and senior safety/corner Dameon Willis Jr., who suffered a late leg injury.

On a personal note, I would like to thank Coach Kyle and his entire staff, Wildcats Athletics Administrator Rory Fitzpatrick '88 and the Administration at Cleveland's Jesuit Preparatory School for having the privilege to cover and report on another group of outstanding young men, the 2013 Varsity Football Wildcats. 

Offensive and Defensive Plays of the Week - Week 12
11/17/2013

John Thomas gets the rally started with a great throw to Jack Hyland for a TD.

Mike Vitale knots the game at 14-14 with a with a quick burst to the left.

Stan Elad gives the Wildcats their first lead with his power running.

Nick Fabian seals the game off a reverse with seconds to play.

 

On defense, Scott Arthrell get his second pick of the night to thwart any comeback attempt of Hudson.

 

http://www.hudl.com/athlete/o/2867833/highlights/101768856

 
Wildcats rally from 14 down to defeat Explorers, 28-17
11/17/2013

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyrigt November 2013

 

Brunswick Auto Mart Stadium, Brunswick Ohio - As he was being congratulated along the visitors’ sideline of Brunswick Auto Mart Stadium on Saturday night, Saint Ignatius’ Scott Arthrell, in a polite, but right to the point manner said: ‘Thank you, but it’s not over yet."

Arthrell’s remark came with 3 minutes and 29 seconds remaining in an OHSAA Division I, Region 1 second-round football playoff game between the Wildcats and the gritty and
bag-full-of-tricks Hudson Explorers.

Scott had just intercepted a pass off a fourth-and-10 play from the Wildcats’ 40, his second huge INT of the night, and 11-time state champion Saint Ignatius, which trailed by 14 points for most of the first half, went on to defeat the Explorers, 28-17, on Judy Kirsch Field.

With the victory, their 65th triumph in what are now 78 OHSAA playoff games, the Wildcats (8-4) advanced to next Saturday’s third-round match up with the 11-1 Mentor Cardinals. The site for the 7 PM kickoff will be determined by the OHSAA on Sunday.

Mentor, behind another outstanding all-around performance by senior quarterback Conner Krizancic, overpowered Stow, 43-0, in Saturday’s Region 1 second-round game at Solon High School’s Stewart Field. Krizancic ran for three touchdowns, passed for one and
for good measure added a touchdown reception.

“I want the ball every time it is in the air, I love the challenge,” said Arthrell, who along with his two interceptions made several clutch deflections off passes in his direction. Simply put, the 6-0, 185-pound senior played lock-down coverage all night.

“Things weren’t going our way, obviously,” Arthrell continued, in reference to a first half that saw Saint Ignatius trailing, 14-0, until tough and sure-handed senior wide receiver Jack Hyland hauled in a 7-yard touchdown pass in the back of the end zone with 1 minute and 15 seconds remaining in the first 24 minutes. “We knew we had the ability to come back, we never doubted that for a second.”

Hudson (10-2), which was making its seventh appearance in the OHSAA football playoffs and its sixth since 2002,took its 14-0 lead on a 65-yard interception return for a touchdown by Jake Brooks, a razzle-dazzle, 49-yard TD reception by Colton Whited that saw the Explorers’ gifted junior quarterback Mitch Guadagni threw a quick screen to John Zuccaro, who then fired the ball down field to Whited, and two extra-point kicks by 2012 All-Ohio selection Pierce Royster. Brooks’ interception was definitely questionable, as the ball might have, and we emphasize might, hit the ground before Brooks scooped it up.

After Hyland’s clutch receiving got Saint Ignatius back in the game, Guadagni and Co. almost burned the Wildcats with another trick play in the final seconds of the first half.

Faced with a second-and-2 from the Saint Ignatius 12, Guadagni took the snap and pitched it to Zuccarro, who threw it in the direction of Guadagni as the savvy signal-caller was breaking to the right corner of the end zone. Reading the flight of the ball all of the way, Arthrell picked it off and rambled 50-plus yards down the home sideline before being tackled. An illegal block was called during Arthrell’s return and the Wildcats went to their locker room at halftime trailing, 14-7.

“He’s the only guy I saw in my area,” said Arthrell of Guadagni’s attempt to swing out of the backfield and catch Saint Ignatius napping by heading to the corner of the end zone. “When I saw him (Guadagni), I peeled off my guy.”

Saint Ignatius, currently in its 25th playoff appearance, an impressive run that began in 1988, played the type of defense in the second half that one associates with a record 11-time state champion.

And, along with Arthrell, no one stepped up bigger than 6-4, 25o-pound junior defensive end Dre’Mont Jones.

When Dre’ wasn’t creating havoc with sacks and other tackles behind the line of scrimmage, he was running down the ball carrier from the back side. And oh yeah, he also took the elevator to the next floor, or spike city, if you will, and slammed down a pass at the line of scrimmage so hard it would have made an All-American volleyball player smile.

“When we came into the locker room at halftime, we were all tense and everything,” said Dre’. “We talked about it all week, consistency. That was our main focus. After halftime, we came out and played Wildcat football.”

In giving credit to Wildcats assistant coach Mark Sullivan, a former Lake Catholic and Ohio State standout nose tackle who is also Saint Ignatius’ head wrestling coach, ‘Dre said he used a lot of hand-fighting technique in warding off offensive linemen in the second half.

That fight, both physically and mentally, by the Wildcats’ entire defense in the second half enabled Coach Chuck Kyle’s team to score on touchdown runs of 7 yards by senior tailback Mike Vitale and 2 yards by senior fullback Stan Elad before adding a 9-yard touchdown
sealer by multi-skilled senior wideout Nick Fabian off a reverse in the final seconds.

Hudson, which was hampered by an injury to Guadagni in the second half, finished with 219 yards of total offense.

Saint Ignatius racked up 368 yards, including 8 receptions for 101 yards by Hyland and 110 yards rushing on 31 carries by Vitale. Whited was outstanding for the Explorers, as the smooth receiver hauled in 10 passes for 164 yards.

“They’re really athletic and fast,” Dre’ said of the Explorers’ skilled players. “And they’re creative, too. They’re good players. I give them their props.”

Coach Kyle ‘69, who now has 309 career victories in what is his 31st season as his alma mater’s head football coach, including a 65-13 mark in the OHSAA playoffs, emphasized that the first quarter was not good for his Wildcats, either offensively or defensively.

“We got that big interception right before the half, took the wind, went to kind of a hurry up (offense), put two scores on the board and got the lead,” Coach Kyle said. “And then we battled it out in the fourth quarter. I preach to the kids that in the playoffs you can’t have a bad quarter. And we did. So somehow we had to battle back and find a way to win.”  

 
Offensive and Defensive Plays of the Week - Week 11
11/10/2013

John Thomas finds Nick Fabian deep for a 55 yard TD strike to put the Wildcats on the board first.  

Nick Malarik picks off an errant Bulldog pass and returns it deep into Bulldog territory.

http://www.hudl.com/athlete/o/2867833/highlights/98188051

 

Wildcats drub the Bulldogs, 38-14, move on to Round 2
11/10/2013

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright November 2013

 

Canton, Ohio - Saint Ignatius head football coach Chuck Kyle ’69 said his Wildcats seemed to be a little jittery in the early going of Saturday night’s OHSAA Division I, Region 1 opening-round playoff game against the Canton McKinley Bulldogs.

Hey, even an 11-time state champion making its 25th postseason appearance since 1988 has the right to have a brief case of the nerves, especially on the opening weekend of win or go home and put the gear
away until next summer.

That said, when Coach Kyle’s Wildcats did settle down, it was Katy Bar the Door for the Bulldogs and their faithful.

With McKinley answering Saint Ignatius’ big play – a 55-yard touchdown reception from multi-skilled
senior receiver Nick Fabian – by scoring on a 60-yard catch and run by its “Mr. Everything,” Bulldogs junior Eric Glover-Williams, there was, if only for a brief time, a feeling that this could be one of those Saint Ignatius versus McKinley thrillers from the past.

Then came a 35-yard run by tough and smooth senior tailback Mike Vitale, who was making his fourth consecutive start after injuring a toe during the ‘Cats’ impressive Week 2 victory at Mentor. Vitale’s effort set up a 47-yard field goal by All-Ohio senior kicker Matt Colella that gave the Wildcats a 10-7 lead with 4:32 remaining the first half.

Under Coach Kyle, Saint Ignatius has always been known for its sound special-teams play.

With less than two minutes having gone by since Colella gave his team the three point advantage, 
those special teams that Coach Kyle is so proud of landed a blow that might not have been the knockout
punch just yet, but it certainly staggered the Bulldogs and left their fans feeling a little uneasy, jittery if you will.

Senior Kyle Daugenti, whose selfless attitude and immeasurable heart were the main focus of last week’s game story, fielded a McKinley punt at his 38, darted up the middle, cut to his right, cut back on a dime to his left and rambled 62 yards down the press box sideline of Fawcett Stadium and into the end zone. Colella kicked the second of his five PATs and Saint Ignatius led, 17-7.

It was more of the same right off the bat in the third quarter, as hard-nosed senior receiver and captain Jack Hyland gave the Wildcats a first down at the McKinley 47 by making a sure-handed solid return of a second-half kickoff that was pooched by the “Pups.”

Another powerful burst by Vitale that saw him display excellent balance and vision, and a 29-yard pass from senior quarterback John Thomas to Fabian had Saint Ignatius in business again at the McKinley 3. Three
plays later, senior fullback Stan Elad fought his way for a 1-yard touchdown.

Vitale finished with 127 yards rushing on 19 carries and Fabian totaled 123 yards on five receptions.

With its defense and special teams continuing to frustrate the Bulldogs, Saint Ignatius completed its 24-point unanswered run on a 6-yard touchdown pass from Thomas to one of the most underrated receivers in Ohio – senior Mike Siragusa. Mike made an exceptional leaping catch in the back of the end zone off a ball that had some smoke on it and following Colella’s extra point it was a 31-7 game with 7:34 left in the third quarter.

The Thomas to Siragusa third-down TD strike was set up when McKinley, forced to punt from deep in its territory, sailed the snap over its punter’s head and into the end zone. The punter hustled after the ball, picked it up and somehow managed to advance the pigskin to the Bulldogs’ six, where he was swarmed under.

McKinley (9-2), the sixth seed in Region 1 and the eighth-ranked team in the Associated Press Division I state poll, got a 28-yard touchdown run from Glover-Williams off a Wildcats turnover late in the third quarter, but Saint Ignatius left no doubt when Vitale sliced his way over the right side for an 11-yard touchdown with 6:02 remaining to be played. Vitale helped set up his score by running 31 yards off a third-and-8 from the Saint Ignatius 30.

Glover-Williams, an Ohio State recruit who plays tailback, wide receiver, cornerback and quarterback, ran for 68 yards on 13 carries.

“The defense played so well, all the way through,” said Coach Kyle, who will send his 11th-seeded Wildcats (7-4) against the third-seeded Hudson Explorers (10-1) next Saturday night (Nov. 16). The site for the 7 PM kickoff will be announced by the OHSAA on Sunday. Hudson was ranked seventh in the AP's final state poll for 2013.

“And the special teams were huge," Coach Kyle continued. "We work pretty hard at them and all week I reminded the kids to go through the history (of Saint Ignatius playoffs) and look at how special teams have made big plays for us over the years. And I think our kids believe that.”

Wildcats standout senior defensive lineman Chris Keane, who combined with gifted junior defensive lineman Dre’Mont Jones in keeping things in order up front, was disruptive all night.

When he wasn’t recovering a fumble, coming up with key sacks and batting away a pass that he almost turned into a touchdown, Keane was occupying the Bulldogs’ offensive line all night.

And while we’re on the subject, the ‘Cats’ offensive line, under the direction of Adam Rini ’99 and Paul Yappel and anchored by All-Ohio senior tackle and University of Notre Dame recruit Jim Byrne, more than made its presence felt.

“We got after it and gave up only 14 points. We did pretty well,” said a smiling Keane, after he helped Ohio’s 10th-ranked team and the fourth-ranked program in the cleveland.com seven-county area poll to its 64th
victory in what are now 77 OHSAA playoff games.         

 
Wildcats finish regular season with a big win over Pinehust
11/4/2013

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright November 2013

PARMA, OHO - Senior tailback/kick returner Kyle Daugenti can easily be described as the prototypical Saint Ignatius football player.

They have come in bunches at Cleveland's Jesuit Preparatory School, those young men who won't overwhelm you with their size or speed, but have a heart that won't fit on any statistical sheet and a mental toughness that can't be timed by a watch or a computer.

Daugenti, a player who from the time he was a freshman has always been there when called on, helped his teammates settle the issue early on Saturday evening at Byers Field and, as a result, send the Wildcats into a remarkable 25th OHSAA Division I playoff appearance. The first of those 25 trips to the postseason took place in 1988, when Coach Chuck Kyle's storied program brought home the first of its Ohio-record 11 Division I state championships.

With Daugenti scoring three first-half touchdowns, Saint Ignatius roared to a 35-0 lead with just over three minutes remaining in the first half and went on to defeat the Pinehurst School (St. Catharines, Ontario) Canada Prep Football Academy, 35-14.

The Wildcats, who completed their demanding and injury-riddled regular season at 6-4, will now focus on Saturday's Region 1 first-round playoff match up with the Canton McKinley Bulldogs (9-1). The kickoff from Canton's atmosphere - and history-rich Fawcett Stadium will be 7 PM.

Although McKinley and Saint Ignatius have established a summer tradition of meeting in a preseason "Jamboree" at Fawcett Stadium, they haven't played in a game that counts since 2003, a 34-14 victory by a Wildcats team that was directed by Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer '04. Saint Ignatius leads its all-time series with the Bulldogs, 10-6, including 10-4 under Coach Kyle. McKinley and the 'Cats have split four postseason encounters.

The corner will preview Saturday's match up and lend a little Wildcats-Bulldogs nostalgia on Tuesday night.

"This means a whole lot to us, to be battling adversity week after week with all of these injuries," said Daugenti of the one-for-the-record books 25th OHSAA postseason appearance in 26 seasons. "Going out 6-4 and into the playoffs, now it is 0-0 and everything is wiped out."

Saint Ignatius accomplished pretty much everything it set out to do in its regular season finale.

Taking the opening kickoff, the Wildcats, behind the strong inside and outside running by one of running backs coach Terry Fergus' other Italian Stallions - senior tailback Mike Vitale - and a 34-yard reception by senior wide receiver Nick Fabian, drove 74 yards in eight plays. Vitale powered his way over the right side for a 2-yard touchdown and the ensuing extra point by senior Matt Colella pushed the score to 7-0 with 8 minutes and 58 seconds remaining in the first quarter.

With Saint Ignatius' first-team defense making things even more uncomfortable than Mother Nature's rain, sleet and cutting winds, senior linebacker Jake Maruna pounced on a fumble at the opponent's 16-yard line. Maruna's effort resulted in a 13-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback John Thomas to junior wide receiver David Shibley, a play that saw Shibley make a diving catch in the video scoreboard end zone off a tipped pass. Colella's extra point was high and true, and the 'Cats led, 14-0, with 2:51 left in the opening quarter.

After Pinehurst School Canada Prep made a visit to Shank City off a punt, Saint Ignatius took possession at the Spartans'/Raiders' 32.  Five plays later, the 5-foot-8, 174-pound Daugenti scored the first of his three TDs by slicing his way into the Day Drive end zone off a fourth-and-goal from the 1 with 9:22 to go in the first half.

With their defense keeping the team from Canada searching for answers, the Wildcats made it a 28-0 game on a perfectly executed 45-yard screen pass from Thomas to Daugenti and Colella's fourth PAT. Daugenti, a product of the legendary St. Thomas More CYO program, caught the toss from Thomas in stride and galloped down the left sideline and into the Day Drive end zone after eluding a defender near the 10.

"The line stepped it up and Mike Vitale got it started," said Daugenti, who credited the block on the outside by standout senior wide receiver and captain Jack Hyland for helping spring him loose on the screen pass.

A botched snap on a punt attempt saw the 'Cats, led by senior safety Evan O'Malley, swarm all over the punter at the 9. From there it took Saint Ignatius one play to reach the Day Drive end zone, a 9-yard sweep over the right side by Daugenti. Colella punched home his fifth extra point and it was 35-0 with 3:15 left in the first half.

In what was truly a team defense by the No. 1 unit, some of the many who made their presence felt included linemen Chris Keane, Ray Brown, and Dre'Mont Jones, linebackers Maruna, John Gibbons and John Simeone, defensive backs Jack Lavelle and Nick Malarik (diving interception at the 'Cats' 23) and safety Dan Jamieson. Jamieson appeared to be all over the field. The Wildcats also benefited from some strong punting by Corey Griffith against adverse weather conditions.

Coach Kyle and his staff were able to employ several players throughout the second half, including some of the numerous junior varsity 'Cats who were just promoted this week.

 

Defensive Play of the Week - Week 10
11/4/2013

The Wildcats pounce on an errant habd off deep in Spartan territory.

http://www.ezstream.com/play/index.cfm?fuseaction=plclip&id=5958

 

Offensive Play of the Week - Week 10
11/4/2013

John Thomas find Kyle Daugenti for a 45 swaing pass and run for a TD

http://www.ezstream.com/play/index.cfm?fuseaction=plclip&id=5954

Defensive Play of the Week - Week 9
10/27/2013

Matt McVey picks off a Bomber pass in the 4th Quarter.

http://www.ezstream.com/play/index.cfm?fuseaction=plclip&id=5912

Offensive Play of the Week - Week 9
10/27/2013

John Thomas finds Damian Willis on a five yard TD pass to knot the game at 7.

http://www.ezstream.com/play/index.cfm?fuseaction=plclip&id=5911

Wildcats come up inches short against St. X
10/27/2013

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright October 2013

It wasn’t the way Saint Ignatius wanted to head into the postseason.

That said, the Wildcats, despite Saturday afternoon’s tough 13-10 loss to a Cincinnati St. Xavier team that was playing
for a spot in November’s big-school regional playoffs, aren’t exactly going through the back door.

The 25th Division I, Region I playoff appearance since 1988 that computer playoff guru Joe Eitel has the Wildcats securing didn’t come without impressive victories over two of the strongest programs in Northeast Ohio, if not the entire state – Mentor (8-1) and St. Edward (7-1). Ah yes, those all-important, but many times forgotten, second-level points.

Saint Ignatius, which entered Don Shula Stadium on the campus of John Carroll University as the second-ranked
team in the seven-county area and the 10th-ranked big-school program in the state, struggled offensively for a significant part of Saturday’s match up with its Jesuit School rival.

While Wildcats head coach Chuck Kyle ’69 said his team played hard, the man who has guided an Ohio-record 11
Division I state championship teams and three national championship squads, added “But when you only score 10 points ---.”

Saint Ignatius (5-4) had some moments on Saturday afternoon, but not enough of them. And part of the credit
for that goes to Coach Steve Specht and his Bombers defense and more than capable offense.

St. Xavier (5-4), which has played a who’s who schedule this fall, took an early 7-0 lead on a 1-yard run by senior tailback and Iowa recruit CJ Hilliard and the ensuing extra-point kick by Trevor Bechtold. Bechtold’s PAT capped a 12-play, 55-yard drive.

The Wildcats, who now trail their all-time series against the Bombers, 11-9, got on the score board when senior
quarterback John Thomas rolled out and found senior safety/fullback and Indiana recruit Dameon Willis Jr. in the right flat for a 5-yard TD toss with 8 minutes and 37 seconds remaining in the first half. Senior place kicker Matt Colella,
an All-Ohio selection in 2012, knotted the score at 7.

Bechtold’s 19-yard field goal in the second quarter allowed St. Xavier to take a 10-7 lead into the halftime break. Colella would cap a 13-play, 66-yard march by sending a 30-yard tying field goal through the uprights with 4:44 to go in the third quarter.

Without question, Saint Ignatius’ offensive standout was senior wide receiver Jack Hyland, who made six impressive move-the-chains receptions.

The ‘Cats made their case on defense behind linemen Chris Keane, Dre’Mont Jones and Ray Brown, middle
linebacker John Gibbons, cornerback Jack Lavelle, Willis Jr. and fellow safety Matt McVey (strong interception return). 

The turning point of the game came after St. Xavier took what turned out to be the final lead on a 28-yard
field goal by Bechtold with 2:15 remaining to be played. Bombers 6-foot-5 senior southpaw quarterback Nick Tensing used his arm and legs in setting up Bechtold’s second 3-pointer.

With 2:10 on the clock, Saint Ignatius took possession at its 23-yard line and, behind another big-time grab by Hyland, moved to a first down at the St. Xavier 38 with 1:35 left.

Faced with a fourth-and-1 from the Bombers’ 29, Coach Kyle and his staff elected to go for the first down and pass on what would have been a 46-yard field goal attempt against the wind and into a college goal post.

The decision appeared to be a wise one when senior tailback Mike Vitale ran for what looked like a first
down. The ball was spotted inches short, however, and the Bombers went on to run out the clock.

"It's all on the spot,” said Coach Kyle. “Who knows what's going to happen? That's the human aspect of the
game. It was college goal posts so I thought we maybe had a better chance to go ahead and get the first down and then try to get a touchdown and win the game.”

The Wildcats will close out their regular season next Saturday (Nov. 2) when they take on the Pinehurst School
(St. Catharine’s Ontario) Canada Prep Football Academy Spartans on Byers Field in Parma’s Robert M. Boulton Stadium. The kickoff is scheduled for 7 PM.

 

Offense, Defense and Special Teams Plays of the Week - Week 8
10/20/2013

Offense

Mike Vitale scores the Wildcats' first TD of the game on a 4 yard scamper, John Thomas finds Mike Siragusa on a 7 yard scoring strike to to tie the game a 14.

 

Defense

Geoff DiMassa jumps on an errant hand off to set the Wildcats up deep in Eagle territory.

 

Special Teams

Jack Helton recovers a muffed punt late in the 4th quarter that allows the Wildcat offense to run out the clock on a 23-17 win.

 

http://www.hudl.com/athlete/o/2867833/highlights/87555330

Wildcats upset previously unbeaten and #1 ranked St. Edward, 23-17
10/20/2013
10/19/2013

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright October 2013

As he was making sure the Lakewood Stadium Bunts Road locker room was in order before his team boarded the buses, Saint Ignatius’ outstanding head football coach Chuck Kyle ’69 looked around at the players who were still packing up their gear and said, “This

is a great victory."

“Honestly, Saint Ignatius graduates all over the world right now should be very, very proud of these kids,” continued the man who is writing one of the greatest chapters in the history of Ohio High School football, a storied run that has produced a record 11 big-school state championships, including a state-best five in a row, a state runner-up, three national titles, a national runner-up, 14 regional championships and 306 career victories in what is now his 31st season as his alma mater’s head coach.

“We’ve gone through injuries, all sorts of things you can think to get depressed,” Coach Kyle said, after his Wildcats defeated the previously unbeaten and No. 1-Ranked (area and state polls) St. Edward Eagles, 23-17, in front of a Lakewood Stadium crowd on Saturday night that was among the largest this old-timer has seen since the atmosphere-rich facility was built in the mid-1980s.

“These kids are resilient,” said Coach Kyle. “We lost one last week in the last few seconds to a team (nationally acclaimed Eastern Christian Academy) that on paper was a lot better than we were. You wonder what’s going to happen the following Monday coming back from that. They were ready, they said let’s go, let’s do this thing. Because we know we can play against the best teams in the nation.

“What we had here tonight was a great team effort, the special teams, defense, the offense, running the ball and hitting key passes. Just playing as a team, that’s how we can win.”

St. Edward (6-1), which now trails the all-time series with its West Side rival, 28-22-1, wasted little time in taking a 7-0 lead. On the first play from scrimmage, multi-skilled
junior tailback/defensive back Shaun Crawford shot through a seam over the right side and galloped 80 yards into the Madison Avenue end zone. Matt Ramser’s extra-point kick was good with the game just 15 seconds old.

After Wildcats veteran defensive lineman/linebacker Sean Luskin recovered a fumbled punt at the Eagles’ 16, Saint Ignatius senior tailback Mike Vitale took a second down carry to a first-and-goal at the 4. Two players later, Vitale fought his way over the right side and into the end zone for a 4-yard touchdown. Senior Matt Colella, a 2012 All-Ohio selection, kicked the extra point and the score was knotted at 7 with 1:59 remaining in the first quarter.

St. Edward, which has lost seven of its last nine meetings with Saint Ignatius, answered with a 16-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Brett Kean to sure-handed wide receiver Alex Stump and another PAT by Ramser. The four-play, 80-yard drive featured a 59-yard catch and run by D.J. Thomas.

It was at that point Saint Ignatius, the overwhelming underdog as per the local media, showed the heart of a big-game tested program.

Riding hard-earned yards by Vitale and powerful senior fullback Stan Elad, and some clutch receptions by seniors Jake Helton, Mike Siragusa and Jack Hyland, the Wildcats tied the score on a 7-yard touchdown strike from senior quarterback John Thomas to Siragusa, who made a nice diving catch in the right corner of the Madison Avenue end
zone. Colella’s extra point capped off a 13-play, 67-yard drive and the score was tied, 14-14, with 7:51 left in the first half. It remained that way entering the third quarter.

With hard-nosed senior safeties Matt McVey (fumble recovery), Evan O’Malley and Dameon Willis Jr., big, strong and quick junior defensive end Dre’Mont Jones (a momentum-shifting forced fumble), senior defensive lineman Chris Keane, senior linebackers John Gibbons and Jake Maruna and junior linebacker Geoff DiMassa (fumble recovery) among those leading the defensive charge, the Wildcats were able to limit the Eagles to just three points over the entire second half - a 24-yard field goal by Ramser.

St. Edward had scored 40 or more points, including 63- and 56-point outputs, in each of its previous six games.

“We watched a lot of film on St. Eds,” said Jones, who led a pursuit that saw the Eagles’ offensive line give up sacks and quarterback hurries for the first time all season. “We knew about their counter, we knew about their screens. We really worked hard (in practice)
against those plays.

“They have a strong offensive line,” Jones continued in reference to St. Edward. “We knew we had to do something about that. Coach (Dan) Corrigan ’78 taught us a lot of technique. We all feel amazing right now, this game was truly for Coach Kyle.”

Jones, who also competes in basketball for the ‘Cats, has drawn the interest of a number of major-college football programs, including Missouri, Penn State, Florida State and Michigan State. Penn State was on hand to watch the Wildcats’ Friday practice.

St. Edward, which hosts defending Division I state champion Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller on Saturday afternoon, stayed within striking distance thanks in a large part to two diving interceptions by Matt Carandang.

The sealers down the stretch, however, were the Wildcats’ defense, the running of Elad, who picked up a crucial first down that ripped time off the clock, and the Cats’ special teams, which produced three field goals by Colella of 37, 24 and 36 yards, some strong
returns by senior tailback Kyle Daugenti and a key fumble recovery by Helton with 3:38 remaining to be played.

Saturday night’s game was part of the tenth anniversary of The United States Marine Corps’ Great American Rivalry Series. Saint Ignatius received the series’ championship trophy and the game MVP trophy went to Colella. The night was also dedicated to the area’s Safety Forces and following the game, Cleveland Police Officer Tim Riley, a former football standout for St. Edward, presented an historic red Emergency Alarm to Saint Ignatius.

“Obviously it’s a huge game, it means a lot to me and to everyone else,” said Colella, who will help lead the Wildcats (5-3) against Jesuit rival Cincinnati St. Xavier (4-4) on Saturday at 2 PM in John Carroll University’s Don Shula Stadium. “I’m just happy to be able to help our team come out victorious. It’s awesome.”

As part of the Great American Rivalry Series, former Saint Ignatius football standout and Notre Dame captain Dan O’Leary ’96 and former St. Edward and Ohio State mainstay Rodney Bailey were inducted into the Hall of Fame for the Wildcats-Eagles rivalry. Dan, who was recently inducted into the Saint Ignatius Athletic Hall of Fame, was
accompanied on to the field by his little son, Shane, who prefers to be referred to by
his middle name of Dan or Danny.

And last, but certainly not least, congratulations go out to Saint Ignatius senior defensive back and Class President Mike Zupan, who was honored before the kickoff for his outstanding service to his school and his academic achievements, which include a 4.39 GPA.    

 

Offensive Play of the Week - Week 7
10/13/2013

Dennis Grosel completes his first career TD pass.

http://www.ezstream.com/play/index.cfm?fuseaction=plclip&id=5811

Special Teams Play of the Week - Week 7
10/13/2013

The Wildcats block a punt and recover it in the endzone to pull within three point of Eastern Christian Academy.

http://www.ezstream.com/play/index.cfm?fuseaction=plclip&id=5813

Defensive Play of the Week - Week 7
10/13/2013

Nick Fabian picks off a David Sills pass deep in Saint Ignatus territory.

http://www.ezstream.com/play/index.cfm?fuseaction=plclip&id=5814

Honey Badgers TD with :10 left spoils Wildcat comeback, 32-29
10/13/2013

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright October 2013 

PARMA, OHIO - After you tip your cap to Eastern Christian Academy's gifted junior quarterback David Sills, you look back on Saint Ignatius' 32-29 loss to Sills' Honey Badgers and shake your head thinking about how so many of Coach Chuck Kyle's Wildcats were called on to assume new or extra roles on Saturday afternoon at Byers Field in Robert M. Boulton Stadium.     

Talented senior wide receivers Nick Fabian and Mike Siragusa were asked to double as defensive backs in order to try to offset the height, speed and skill of ECA's big-time receivers. Because of injures to the running game, senior tailback Kyle Daugenti was not only counted on for his steady punt and kick off returns, but given a regular diet of the tailback chores. Also contributing to the ground game was senior fullback Stan Elad, who is better known as one of the area's premier blocking backs.

Then there was sophomore Jim Berger, who was called up from the junior varsity team to handle one of the most important, but often taken for granted roles there is in football - the long snapper. Senior defensive back and holder Jack Lavelle praised the young Berger for the job he did.

The most significant role change, however, was given out to promising sophomore quarterback Dennis Grosel.

After leading the Wildcats' junior varsity team to a 5-0 start, Grosel was named the starter for Saturday's game, his first assignment on the varsity level. Saint Ignatius started the week with just three healthy varsity quarterbacks - juniors Jake Kucia and Simon Vadas and Grosel, who was moved up to the varsity on Monday.

Although Grosel had some growing pains, especially going up against an ECA team that is laden with major-college recruits, he was, in the words of Coach Kyle, "just fine, composed."

The numbers weren't overwhelming, 192 yards passing, a touchdown pass and two interceptions. But for the most part, Grosel made good decisions, including a 9-yard touchdown pass under heavy pressure to Daugenti. Daugenti caught the ball in stride and dove past the pylon in the left corner of the video scoreboard end zone at Byers Field. The Grosel-to-Daugenti combination enabled Saint Ignatius to close to 26-16 with 4 minutes and 25 seconds remaining in the third quarter.

In what was a roller coaster of emotions, the Wildcats started strong and led, 10-0, with 6:50 left in the first quarter. Saint Ignatius' early lead featured a fumble recovery by standout senior defensive lineman Chris Keane on the second play of the game. Keane's recovery put Saint Ignatius in business at the Honey Badgers' 16-yard line and senior tailback Enzo Cannata provided the game's first points on a 1-yard touchdown run with less than a minute gone in the opening quarter. Senior kicker Matt Colella, a 2012 All-Ohio selection, followed with the extra-point kick and Matt made it a 10-0 game on a 43-yard field goal that was set up by smooth receptions from Siragusa and Fabian.

Behind strong pressure by hard-nosed senior middle linebacker John Gibbons and some tight coverage by veteran senior cornerback Scott Arthrell, Saint Ignatius took that 10-0 lead into the second quarter.

It was in the second quarter, however, that Sills and Company began to flash some of their nationally ranked credentials.

Taking possession at their 40-yard line, the Honey Badgers rode a 21-yard completion by Sills and the running of junior tailback Jahmee Ballard to a 9-yard touchdown keeper by Sills with 10:44 to go in the first half. Sills' 35-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver and Michigan recruit Freddy Canteen and his 1-yard quarterback keeper for a TD, along with a 2-point conversion pass to senior wide receiver Nieko Creamer, enabled ECA to take a 20-10 lead to its locker room at halftime. Sills' 1-yard keeper and 2-point conversion pass capped off a 10-play, 90-yard drive.

The momentum the Honey Badgers built at the end of the first half grew larger after Sills fired an one-the-money, 60-yard touchdown strike to Canteen with just over seven minutes remaining in the third quarter. Canteen finished the day with five receptions for 139 yards.

However, just when the handful of Honey Badger loyalists in attendance began to feel comfortable in Robert M. Boulton Stadium, Coach Kyle's Wildcats answered with an emotional surge that was fueled by the above-mentioned Grosel-to-Daugenti TD and a huge special teams play by gritty senior safety Evan O'Malley that saw Evan block a punt as ECA was kicking from deep in its territory and then hustle after the ball and recover it for a touchdown in the end zone. After another PAT by Colella, it was game on again as Saint Ignatius trailed, 26-23, with 3:45 left in the third quarter.

And no one was more game that Colella down the stretch as his 52-yard field goal tied the score with 7:52 remaining to in the fourth quarter and his 42-yard effort with 4:26 to go gave the 'Cats a 29-26 lead. Matt surpassed the 51-yard field goal that he kicked against Glenville last season at Byers Field. The Wildcats' record for the longest field goal is 55 yards by Tim Shenk (now at Air Force) in 2011.

"We were up by three with just over two minutes to go, what else could you ask?" Coach Kyle said of what he described as an admirable effort by Grosel. Coach Kyle also pointed out that Sills threw "some beauties," passes that were almost impossible to defend.

Although Saint Ignatius turned in some exceptional special teams and defensive play in the second half, including a fumble recovery by junior linebacker Joe Conway off a pooched kickoff and some pad-rattling stops by senior safeties Matt McVey and Dameon Willis Jr., Sills still had a few "beauties" up his sleeve down the stretch. And they were the difference makers.

After the Wildcats were unable to convert a fourth-and- 1 from the ECA 12, the young man who was offered a scholarship from the USC Trojans when he was just 13 directed the game-winning, 88-yard march. Sills' near masterpiece started with 2:38 remaining on the clock and ended with 10 seconds left after a cool and calm Sills, off some nice footwork, found freshman wide receiver Jordan Swan open in the middle of the end zone for the 4-yard game winner. Sills spiked the ball before tossing the winning TD, so the decisive play started with 14 ticks on the clock.   

The key plays in Sills' sealer were his 43-yard pass to junior wide receiver Isaiah Esdale that saw Esdale make an impressive yards-after-the-catch gallop to the Saint Ignatius 45 and a 23-yard scramble by Sills off a fourth-and-14, an effort that drew a "You got to be kidding me" from Coach Kyle.

Sills' 287 yards passing helped the Honey Badgers overcome 16 penalties for 150 yards.

"It was a full team effort," said Fabian, who added an interception to another solid day of receiving. "We got the loss, obviously. But I think this game, more importantly than the loss or the win, which could have potentially happened, will help us in building toward the St. Ed game, the biggest game of the season. Guys were stepping up and a lot of heart came out this afternoon. I really think it's going to carry over to the St. Ed game."

 

Wildcats rally late and edge Lawrence Central in OT, 24-21
10/6/2013

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright October 2013 

Parma, Ohio - Saint Ignatius' unassuming, but tough and talented junior linebacker Geoffrey DiMassa said he and his defensive teammates knew that time wasn't on their side late Saturday afternoon.

"Defensively, we were working on coming up with some kind of turnover and I was just in the right place at the right time," said DiMassa, whose interception return for a touchdown and the game-tying ensuing extra-point kick by senior Matt Colella enabled Saint Ignatius to storm back from a 14-point deficit and go on to defeat Indianapolis Lawrence Central, 24-21, on Colella's 28-yard field goal in overtime.

In what was a play that DiMassa will tell his grandkids about some day, the 6-0, 210-pound outside backer, off a perfectly timed move, stepped in front of a pass in the flat and rambled down the sideline and into the Day Drive end zone of Byers Field.

After Colella's extra point and his ensuing kickoff, the Wildcats, who trailed, 21-7, with 5 minutes and four seconds left in the fourth quarter, were now knotted at 21 with Indiana's 11th-ranked program as 2:29 remained on the clock.

"I knew it was a pass right at the start," DiMassa said. "I back-peddled, the quarterback was getting heavy pressure and just threw it. I got a real good block from Rea (Wildcats junior nose tackle Realle Brown) and I got to the pylon."

While DiMassa's play was something all young defensive players dream about, it also spoiled what had all the makings of a dream day for Lawrence Central quarterback Jarrett Montgomery.

Making his first varsity start, Montgomery passed for 192 yards and two touchdowns and also ran for a TD. He fired a 25-yard touchdown pass to Will King in helping the Bears to a 7-0 lead after the first quarter and his 83-yard scoring pass to Kenny Jones and 2-yard touchdown run sparked Lawrence Central's 12-point third quarter. Jones, who finished with 141 yards receiving, made a highlight-reel leaping catch, eluded two defenders, and ran 57 yards in capping his 83-yard score.  

Saint Ignatius, on the strength of a 2-yard touchdown run in the second quarter by talented and gritty senior tailback Enzo Cannata, went to its locker room at halftime with the score tied at 7. Enzo rushed for 110 yards.

Although the Bears failed to convert on a PAT and a 2-point conversion attempt following their third-quarter TDs, they moved to a 21-7 lead early in the fourth quarter by sacking Saint Ignatius starting junior quarterback Christian Klink in the end zone for a safety. Klink was later shaken up on another sack and had to be replaced by junior Jake Kucia.

While no excuses are being offered by Wildcats head coach Chuck Kyle and his staff, Saint Ignatius has now experienced injuries to its first three quarterbacks - starter Pete Mahoney (season ending ankle injury in the preseason), senior John Thomas (shoulder) and now Klink, although Christian appeared to be okay after the game.

Just when Lawrence Central, Indiana's 2012 undefeated 5-A state champion, appeared to be in control, Saint Ignatius set the stage for DiMassa's clutch pick 6 by turning to the receiving of gifted senior wideouts Nick Fabian and Mike Siragusa.

With Fabian and Siragusa (4 catches for 78 yards) showing the way, the Wildcats drove from their 45 to a first-and-goal at the 1. Then a little fortune came the 'Cats' way, as they fumbled the ball only to have standout senior safety Dameon Willis Jr., who was in the offensive backfield at tailback, scoop up the ball and take it into the end zone. Colella's extra point was high and true and it was a 21-14 game with 4:09 to go in the fourth quarter.

From that point on, Saint Ignatius' defensive front, fueled by junior end Dre'Mont Jones, senior end Chris Keane and Brown, who was making his first appearance of the season, took over the game. For that matter, Jones and Keane made their presence felt all afternoon.

"Once we saw the scoreboard (down 21-7 with 5:04 left), we (the defense) came together and talked on field, no more yards, no more first downs," said Keane, whose authoritative fourth-down sack in overtime gave the ball to the offense and the All-Ohio leg of Colella. "All day long we knew we could get pressure on them and in the second half we just stepped it up with speed rushing. All thanks go to Geoff DiMassa, a game-changing player."

In securing his 305th career victory in what is now his 31st season as his alma mater's head football coach, Coach Kyle said the feeling that everything was going against you was pretty heavy during an afternoon that started with a thunder and lightning delay and featured a persistent rain throughout most of the first half.

"But those kids kept believing," said the man who has guided his program to the most storied run in the history of the OHSAA playoffs.

 

Special Teams Play of the Week - Week 6
10/5/2013

Matt Collela drills a 28 yard game winner in overtime to complete the comback over Lawrence Central, 24-21.

http://www.ezstream.com/play/index.cfm?fuseaction=plclip&id=5746

 

Defensive Play of the Week - Week 6
10/5/2013

Geoff DiMassa gets a pick six to pull the Wildcats even at 21-21.

http://www.ezstream.com/play/index.cfm?fuseaction=plclip&id=5742

 

Offensive Play of the Week - Week 6
10/5/2013

Damian Willis recover a fumble and dives forward for a TD to pull the Wildcats within one score.

http://www.ezstream.com/play/index.cfm?fuseaction=plclip&id=5743

Play of the Week - Week 5
9/29/2013

Christian Klink finds Nick Fabian on a short pass and Fabian does the rest for a 59 yard TD for the Wildcats.

http://www.hudl.com/athlete/o/2867833/highlights/77299550

Paladins prove to be too much for Wildcats
9/29/2013

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright September 2013  

Parma, Ohio - As they were shaking hands with Saint Ignatius' football coaches and players following their 44-10 victory over the Wildcats on a sun-drenched Byers Field Saturday afternoon, a couple of the Paramus Catholic (NJ) Paladins said: "Thank You Sir, for allowing us to come here and play."

As one of the persons who received that Thank You, let me just say it was very sincere. Of course this old-timer had nothing to do with Saint Ignatius scheduling Paramus Catholic nor the "great hospitality" that Wildcats Athletics Director Rory Fitzpatrick  '88 and the Saint Ignatius community always bestow upon an out-of-the-area or out-of-state visiting team.

However, as someone who has now been covering and reporting on high school sporting events for 44 years, I can tell when a coach and a player are just putting up the obligatory front in what they say, or if they sincerely mean it.

Of course for most of Saint Ignatius' football fans, seeing Paramus Catholic again might be too soon. So just ignore my reminder that the 'Cats travel to play the Paladins next season.

As was pointed out by Wildcats head coach Chuck Kyle in the sub-head or lead-in paragraph, the Paladins are a very gifted team. And when you present early opportunities to team like Paramus Catholic, it usually turns out to be a long day or night. Such was the case on Ridge Road and Day Drive Saturday afternoon.      

After the Wildcats fumbled on their first play from scrimmage and the ball was recovered by Paladins junior linebacker Denis Mucha at the Saint Ignatius 20, it took Paramus Catholic five plays to reach pay dirt. Senior cornerback/running back Keyon Washington scored on a 5-yard run with 9 minutes and 36 seconds remaining in the opening quarter.

A short punt led to the Paladins' second touchdown, a 10-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Steven Shanley to senior slot Dejon Harrison. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound Shanley was one of the game's big factors, as he threw for 285 yards and three touchdowns.

Shortly after Paramus Catholic extended its lead to 16-0 on a 34-yard field goal by senior Matt Golabek, Saint Ignatius struck on a 59-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Christian Klink to swift and sure-handed senior wide receiver Nick Fabian (6 catches for 166 yards). The six-play, 80-yard drive, which featured an exceptional catch and run by Fabian off a curl route, was capped by senior Matt Colella's extra point with 2:51 left in the first quarter.

Klink passed for 265 yards, but was victimized by the Paladins' pass rush and active secondary. Paramus Catholic tipped numerous passes at the line of scrimmage.

With Paladins' all-everything senior standout Jabrill Peppers shaken up early in the first half and out of the lineup (see lead-in paragraph), the Paladins displayed another of their many weapons - senior wide receiver/cornerback Tyrone Washington.

Facing a second-and-10 from its 41 after Saint Ignatius senior cornerback Scott Arthrell made a nice one-on-one deflection, Shanley, off a solid read of the coverage, went to Washington again and the two combined on a perfectly executed 59-yard touchdown.

Colella, an All-Ohio selection last season, cut the deficit to 23-10 by halftime when he connected on a 20-yard field goal with 13 seconds to go in the second quarter.

Down just 13 points at halftime despite playing a shaky 24 minutes, the Wildcats looked to get back in the game with a strong defensive stand to start the third quarter.

Enter Peppers.

With Peppers' return to the lineup lighting even a stronger emotional surge around Paramus Catholic, the Paladins put together the telling drive -  a 10 play, 80-yard march that featured a leaping 25-yard touchdown reception by Peppers in the right corner of the Day Drive end zone.          

"At halftime, you say, okay, we just have to come out and get the job done," said Coach Kyle. "But, when they drove down the field and got that touchdown, that was not good.

"Again, they're very good. But with the (five) turnovers, that certainly was not good football from us," Coach Kyle continued. "Tomorrow morning (Sunday), we're going to get ready for Lawrence Central. We played a lousy game, fine. Now let's go out and play a good one."

Paramus Catholic wrapped up the scoring on a 97-yard interception return for a touchdown by Tyrone Washington and a 1-yard TD run by sophomore tailback Ahmad Thomas. Thomas' score was set up by a leaping interception at the line of scrimmage by senior defensive end Marcus Pantoja, who picked off the tipped pass and rambled deep into Wildcats' territory.

 

Saint Ignatius versus Paramus Catholic football preview
9/27/2013

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright September 2013

Junior Christian Klink could be called on to duplicate his memorable first varsity start of last weekend, as senior quarterback John Thomas (sore shoulder) remains day to day. With gritty and gifted senior tailback Enzo Cannata sidelined for a week (concussion
symptoms) and standout senior tailback Mike Vitale questionable (injured toe), senior tailback Kyle Daugenti will get the starting assignment.

There are no excuses being offered at West 3oth and Lorain Avenue, however, as Saint Ignatius (3-1) prepares to face New Jersey’s national power Paramus Catholic (3-0) on Saturday at 2:30 PM on Byers Field in Parma’s Robert M. Boulton Stadium. It will be the first meeting between the Paladins and the Wildcats. Saint Ignatius enters the game as the sixth-ranked team in the Associated Press Division I state poll and Paramus Catholic is ranked third nationally in the highly respected USA Today Super 25.

If you are unable to attend the game, the triple-option of Cole Larson ’14, Patrick McGuire ’14 and Carter Spearry ’16 will bring you the action live over the Saint Ignatius Student
Broadcasting Network.

Ohio City - During what was the first heavy work day of the practice week, Saint Ignatius head coach Chuck Kyle ’69 took time out late Tuesday afternoon to discuss Saturday’s opponent – the Paladins from Paramus Catholic High School in New Jersey.

“I would compare this (Paramus Catholic) team to a very good Glenville team,” Coach Kyle said in paying head coach Chris Partridge and his Paladins an extremely high compliment. “They have experience and they are disciplined.”

Coach Kyle went on to also make comparisons between Paramus Catholic and the Maurice Clarett-led Warren Harding team of 2001. Saint Ignatius, with Wildcats current varsity linebackers coach and head junior varsity coach Ryan Franzinger ’02 helping show the way, defeated Harding, 40-33, in the 2001 Division I regional finals.

“They have size, they have skill, so it is quite a challenge, which is okay,” Coach Kyle said. “Our kids like the challenge idea."

Throughout an outstanding 30-plus year career that has produced 304 victories, an Ohio record 11 state championships and three national titles, Coach Kyle has faced many special players – including Clarett and the player recently selected by The Plain Dealer as the greatest area high school football performer of the past 50 years, the brilliant Robert Smith of Euclid High School.

Robert, currently an outstanding college football analyst for ESPN, excelled for the Panthers in the falls of 1987, ’88 and ’89 and was a two-time Ohio Mr. Football. He went on to star at The Ohio State University before becoming an All-Pro record-setting tailback
for the Minnesota Vikings.

When discussing Paramus Catholic's personnel, Coach Kyle, without hesitation, started with the Paladins’ gifted “Mr. Everything and Everywhere,” senior Jabrill Peppers. And Coach Kyle spoke of Jabrill in some of those same glowing terms he used when preparing for Robert Smith.

The 6-foot-1, 207-pound Peppers, a Michigan recruit as a defensive back, is rated among the top five all-around players the nation has to offer.

“He’s all-world, he’s known all over the country,” said Coach Kyle of Peppers. “They (Paramus’ coaching staff) don’t let you lock in on him. He’ll be at quarterback some times, he’ll be at running back and he’ll be at receiver. So when you prepare the defense and he
breaks the huddle, we’re not totally sure what he is going to be doing on his next play.

“That presents some issues,” Coach Kyle continued in his analysis of Peppers’ exceptional versatility. “If he’s at quarterback, we have to keep this in mind and if he’s at running back,
keep this in mind, etc. So that is sort of the idea that we have been working on.”

The God-given versatility and 10.6-10.8 100 meters speed that Peppers possesses also allow him to fly around the Paladins’ defensive secondary or, if need be, move up to linebacker, where he can help contain the running game and apply pressure on the quarterback.

Heard enough about “Mr. Everything and Everywhere”? Well, keep in mind that Coach Partridge’s defending NJSIAA Non-public Group 4 state champions have some other players to watch.

Leading that supporting cast are 6-6, 325-pound offensive lineman and Michigan recruit Juwan Bushnell-Beatty, 6-4, 295-pound offensive lineman Billy Ray Mitchell, who has committed to Virginia Tech, and 6-3, 245-pound defensive end Terrence Harris, who has given Iowa a verbal commitment.

Also complementing Peppers are 6-3, 210-pound senior quarterback Steven Shanley and Rivals.com four-star junior wide receiver Najee Clayton. The 6-3, 210-pound Clayton doubles as a safety.

“Defensively, they are not afraid to lock on to man coverage,” said Coach Kyle. “They’ll commit to a five- to six-man rush. They’ll send six guys a lot, trying to rattle you and get you out of your tempo. We’ve been balanced, and the idea of passing the ball will loosen
up the running game I think. They have great speed and we are going to be clearly tested by these guys.

“Not many teams have been able to run on them, so we’re spending time to see what we can do to open some seams up,” Coach Kyle continued. “That’s a very good team, but again, that’s okay. You look and say, yeah, we belong right out there with these guys. We
like the challenge of it.”

COACH KYLE ON JOHN THOMAS: “We’re going to prepare as we did last week. John is seeing the doctor and checking with the therapist. As the week goes by, we’ll see how he is throwing.”

KYLE DAUGENTI ON HIS FIRST START AT TAILBACK: “I’ve been working hard, we’ve all been working hard,” said Kyle, who is a product of the highly successful St. Thomas More CYO program. “I got a little nervous when Coach Fergus (Wildcats running backs coach Terry Fergus ’72) pulled me aside and told me. He said, 'You’re going to get a lot of reps.' I am excited about the opportunity and I’m just mentally preparing, watching film
and stuff like that.

“We’ve been tight since freshman year,” Daugenti continued. “We’ve wanted this since we were freshmen. These injuries (including season-ending injuries to tough and talented senior quarterback Pete Mahoney and All-Ohio senior linebacker and Ohio State recruit
Kyle Berger) hurt us, but we have the players who can step up. We know we are going to be all right.”

THE CORNER’S OFFENSIVE AND DEFENSIVE PERFORMERS OF THE WEEK

Defense: Senior safety/linebacker Dameon Willis Jr., who disrupted Erie (Pa.) McDowell’s vaunted running game from the get-go in the Wildcats’ 49-10 victory at Byers Field. Dameon refused to be blocked by the Trojans.

Offense: Junior quarterback Christian Klink, who, in his first varsity start, stayed calm and composed en route to 226 yards passing and two TD passes against McDowell.

AND, IN RESPONSE TO A QUESTION FROM SOME OF MY ST. EDWARD FRIENDS WHOM I GREW UP WITH IN SAINT IGNATIUS OF ANTIOCH PARISH: Yes, Jabrill Peppers was a sophomore sensation at perennial New Jersey power Don Bosco Prep. He transferred to Paramus Catholic after a sophomore year at Don Bosco Prep that saw him score 24 touchdowns.

Have a great rest of the week and we’ll see you at Byers Field on Saturday afternoon.  

 

Congratulations to Coach Kyle on his induction into the Greater Cleveland Sports Hall of Fame. Christian Klink is preparing for his second varsity start under center, a Happy Birthday goes out to Pete Mahoney and some other pigskin items to chew on.
9/27/2013

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright September 2013

Ohio City - As we projected in the corner's Tuesday preview on the Paramus Catholic game, junior quarterback Christian Klink will make his second varsity start and second consecutive start when the Wildcats (3-1) face the nation's third-ranked Paladins (3-0) on Saturday at 2:30 PM on Byers Field in Parma's Robert M. Boulton Stadium. The corner's Performer of the Week on offense, Christian threw for 226 yards and two touchdowns in last weekend's 49-10 triumph over Erie (Pa.) McDowell.   

Senior quarterback John Thomas (shoulder) told the corner on Thursday that he is "hoping" to return for next week's game against Indianapolis Lawrence Central at Byers Field.

In what was also reported in the corner's Tuesday preview, senior tailback Kyle Daugenti will get the starting nod on Saturday afternoon as senior tailbacks Mike Vitale (toe) and Enzo Cannata (concussion symptoms) will not play against Paramus Catholic. Enzo said he is confident that he will return to the lineup next week. The Wildcats' running game will also be supported by starting senior fullback Stan Elad, sophomore tailback James Norris, junior tailback Chavez Perez and standout senior safety/linebacker Dameon Willis Jr., who provides plenty of power and quickness when called on.

I WAS 18 ONCE UPON A TIME, YOU KNOW, WHEN REGULAR GAS WAS 34 CENTS PER GALLON: On that note, this old-timer wishes to extend Happy 18th Birthday Wishes to senior quarterback and captain Pete Mahoney, who has provided tremendous encouragement and leadership while recovering from a season-ending ankle injury that occurred during the first official day of hitting this summer.

HOOSIERS ON WEST 30TH AND LORAIN: Members of Indiana's coaching staff were at practice on Thursday taking a look at Wildcats gifted senior receiver Mike Siragusa. Indiana has already offered a scholarship to Dameon Willis Jr.

****AND LAST, BUT CERTAINLY NOT LEAST: Our congratulations go out again to Saint Ignatius' outstanding head football coach Chuck Kyle '69, who was inducted into the Greater Cleveland Sports Hall of Fame during an official dinner and ceremony at LanderHaven on Thursday night.

Coach Kyle, now in his 31st season as his alma mater's head football coach, will enter Saturday's game versus Paramus Catholic with 304 career victories, a record 11 Division I state championships, including a state-best five in a row (1991-95), three national titles (1989, '93 and '95), a national runner-up in 2008 and a Division I state runner-up in 1996.

In 2009, Coach Kyle was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission and in 2010, Chuck was inducted into the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

Again, congratulations to Coach Kyle, his wife, Pat, the entire Kyle family, Saint Ignatius High School and the nationally recognized and respected Wildcats football program.  

 

 

Offensive and Special Teams Plays of the Week - Week 4
9/23/2013

A Klink to Siragusa stike puts the Wildcats on the board on offense and a blocked punt and fumble recovery on a punt, both for TDs, sees the Wildcats special teams score twice.

http://www.hudl.com/athlete/o/2867833/highlights/73674808

Wildcats roll as Klink shines in first varsity start
9/22/2013

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright September 2013

Parma, Ohio - Saint Ignatius' outstanding senior offensive tackle and captain Jim Byrne, a University of Notre Dame recruit, said what impressed him most about Wildcats junior quarterback Christian Klink during Saturday night's game against the McDowell Trojans was Christian's ability to stay calm.

"Nothing riled him," said Byrne, after Klink, making his first varsity start, helped engineer a dominant 49-10 victory over one of Erie (Pa.)'s top high school programs. "It was good to see him develop like that. He delivered, credit to him."

Klink, who, like all of his teammates, was huddled around Saint Ignatius head coach Chuck Kyle '69 after practice on Thursday when Coach Kyle made it official that Christian would get the starting nod against McDowell. Klink was being called on by Coach Kyle, veteran offensive coordinator Nick Restifo and quarterbacks coach Elvis Grbac to fill in for senior starter John Thomas, who was battling a sore shoulder all week.

Whether it turns out to be just one night or a couple of games, you can bet Klink will never forget his first performance at the most celebrated position in the Wildcats' rich football history, a storied history that has produced an Ohio-best 11 state championships and three national titles.

"Nerves, excitement and eagerness," said Klink of what he was experiencing before he took Byers Field under a blue-gray sky and ended up throwing for 226 yards and two touchdowns. "I wanted to be out there so bad. This is the best prepared I have ever been for a game. Coach Restifo took the time to show me how to study film and everything. The game really slowed down and I was able to make the right reads."

With his offensive line, receivers and running backs rallying around him, Klink faced a 7-0 deficit when he took over the varsity offense for the first time.

McDowell, which slipped to 2-2 on the season, received the opening kickoff and marched 80 yards on 13 plays. Capping off a drive that ate up nearly six minutes were a touchdown keeper from 1-yard out by quarterback Jake Tarasovitch and the ensuing extra-point kick by Ethan Stark. A photo of the Trojans' touchdown revealed that Tarasovitch was actually down at the 1-yard line before he went into the end zone.

Displaying the composure that Byrne referred to, Klink orchestrated a 79-yard drive that featured his clutch passing, the sure hands of senior receivers Jake Helton and Nick Fabian, the hard-nosed running of big-hearted senior tailback Enzo Cannata and the blocking of senior fullback Stan Elad and the O-Line.

Cannata, who rushed for 112 yards, took the handoff from Klink on a second-and-7 from the Trojans' 33-yard line and, behind two crunching lead blocks by Elad, rambled down the left sideline and into the Day Drive end zone. All-Ohio senior kicker Matt Colella was high and true on his PAT and the game was tied with 3:36 remaining in the first quarter.

Sparked by a diving interception by Wildcats senior safety Evan O'Malley at the Saint Ignatius 17, it took Coach Kyle's team just three plays to cover the 83 yards.

After two consecutive runs by Cannata produced five yards, Klink dropped back, quickly surveyed the field and found gifted senior wide receiver and captain Jack Hyland open down the seam. Jack made the sure-handed grab, spun away from the coverage and, flashing that old St Chris CYO tailback form, outran the pursuit into the video scoreboard end zone for a 78-yard touchdown. Colella added the extra point and Mr. Momentum was now trying on some blue and gold with 9:18 to go in the first half.

McDowell, which was also defeated by Saint Ignatius in Erie last season (34-10), made it a 14-10 game on a 41-yard field goal by Stark with 4:31 remaining in the first half.

From that point on it was Katie Bar The Door for Trojans fans as the Wildcats' Senior Parents Night crowd was treated to 35 unanswered points.

The 35-point devastation started with a nine-play, 80-yard drive that was courtesy of Cannata's carries and a 43-yard pass from Klink to the swift and sure Fabian. Cannata's 4-yard TD run behind another smash-mouth block by Elad and Colella's third extra point made it a 21-10 game with 48 seconds to go in the half and the final 24 minutes were all Saint Ignatius in all forms - offense, defense and special teams.

After forcing the Trojans to punt from their end zone, the 'Cats took over at the McDowell 39. That gracious field position led to a 2-yard scoring run by Cannata. Cannata was shaken up on a hit during the second half and had to leave the game.

A 23-yard pass from Klink to standout senior wide receiver Mike Siragusa that saw Siragusa make a highlight-reel catch in the left corner of the video scoreboard end zone, a fumble recovery for a touchdown in the back of the Day Drive end zone by senior defensive back Nick Malik and a blocked punt by junior defensive back Lawrence Birchler that saw Birchler recover the ball and take it into the Day Drive end zone for the game's final TD gave the Wildcats' faithful plenty to talk about on the way home.

"The O-Line, I'm taking them out to dinner. I didn't get touched the whole game," said Klink. "They did a tremendous job."

As for Saint Ignatius' defense, it was more than McDowell could deal with from the second quarter on.

Spirited and skilled senior safety Dameon Willis Jr. refused to be blocked and promising junior defensive end Dre'Mont Jones was disruptive all night. O'Malley continued to fly to the ball, senior linebacker Michael Ferry, senior safety Matt McVey and senior linemen Chris Keane and Dan Cartolin made their presence felt, and senior middle linebacker John Gibbons came up with a crowd-pleasing, pad-rattling tackle that would have drawn a smile from Dick Butkus.

"I thought he did a really wonderful job," said Coach Kyle of Klink's performance. "And I thought the kids did a wonderful job in just making him feel confident. The offensive line gave him a lot of time to make his decisions and the running game was very good."

 

Coach Chuck Kyle's Wildcats are preparing for the Wishbone McDowell Trojans. Congratulations and well wishes go out to Brian Hoyer.
9/20/2013

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright September 2013

The Trojans (2-1) and the Wildcats (2-1) are meeting for only the second time, as the Wildcats
traveled to Erie last year and rode the passing of Mike LaManna (now at Ashland University) and the dominance in the middle by nose tackle Dave Katusha (now at Air Force) to a 34-10 victory.

Saturday’s kickoff from Byers Field in Parma’s Robert M. Boulton Stadium will be 7 PM.

If you are unable to attend the game, Saint Ignatius’ thrill-a-minute threesome of Cole Larson ’14, Patrick McGuire ’14 and Carter Spearry ’16 will bring you the game live over the Saint Ignatius Student Broadcasting Network.

Here is the corner’s look at the Wildcats-Trojans match up.

Ohio City – It is no secret that the Erie (Pa.) McDowell Trojans love to run the football.

The wishbone attack employed by Head Coach Mark Soboleski has been good to the formidable program from Western Pennsylvania.

But hold on for a minute, what was that we saw last weekend?

Yes, three touchdown passes by Trojans quarterback Jake Tarasovitch as McDowell coasted to a 38-14 victory over Lancaster Catholic at Altoona (Pa.) High School. Tarasovitch also ran for a TD during a decisive surge that saw the Trojans rack up 31 unanswered points.

McDowell will always be known as a run-first team, but establishing some balance within the wishbone is definitely a priority for Coach Soboleski and his staff.

“That’s one thing this year we’re seeing, that they are being effective throwing the football,” said Saint Ignatius head coach Chuck Kyle ’69 of the Trojans’ 2-1 start. “There’s no kidding that we kind of cheated on that defensively last year (the run-dominated offense by McDowell). So credit to them, they know if
they can get a little more out of their passing they can keep defenses honest.”

A lot of football gurus look upon the wishbone offense as a dinosaur. After all, it’s 2013 and offensive coordinators are supposed to spread the defense out and kiss the sky.

So, with so few teams turning to the once vaunted attack that the Texas Longhorns, among others, made famous in the 1970s and ‘80s, defenses have to put in a little extra time preparing for it. McDowell is a team that has shown it will go for it on a fourth-and-2 or 3. The Trojans consider the opponent’s 40-yard line as good field position for a fourth-down play.

And, as vital as a sly-of-hand quarterback and a tough, quick-hitting running back are to the wishbone, it all starts up front where the linemen have to be just as athletic as they are strong.

“They probably have the fastest offensive line that we are going to see,” said Saint Ignatius’ gritty senior linebacker and captain Patrick Hopkins of a McDowell O-Line that is anchored by Pennsylvania District All-Star Scot (one t is correct) Augustine. “They really come off the ball. So we’re going to have to make our proper reads and fill those holes.”

Along with Tarasovitch’s ability to pass and run, the Trojans can turn to the gifted threesome of two-way senior back Tyree Spearman, running back Austin Becker and multi-skilled senior wide receiver/running back Jamie Szymczak.

Saturday’s match up will also feature two outstanding kickers in Wildcats All-Ohio senior Matt Colella and McDowell senior District All-Star Ethan Stark.

As for the Trojans’ defense, Coach Kyle expects to see a couple of different looks – a 4-front and a 3-front.

“The situations will kind of dictate that,” Coach Kyle said. “They’ll have a 3-front with different coverages ready, but we’ve run the football pretty well. So I think they’re in kind of a situation where, OK, we have the two-headed monster coming at them. We are running the ball well.”

Leading Saint Ignatius’ ground assault will be senior tailbacks Enzo Cannata and Kyle Daugenti, junior tailback Chavez Perez and promising sophomore tailback James Norris. Those young men benefit from an offensive line anchored by All-Ohio senior tackle and captain Jim Byrne (6-foot-4, 296 pounds), who is a University of Notre Dame recruit, and underrated senior tackle Ryan Dadich (6-4, 267). The backs are also the beneficiaries of some smash-mouth blocking by senior fullbacks Stan Elad and David Boylan.

Wildcats tough and talented senior tailback Mike Vitale said he will not play on Saturday night, as he is still recovering from the sprained toe he suffered during the 26-6 victory at Mentor. Mike is hoping to give it a go next week against the nationally acclaimed program from Paramus (NJ) Catholic.

“I don’t think they’ll change their (defensive) philosophy, but as the game goes on it will be interesting to see how much 4-front they give or the 3 (front)," said Coach Kyle. "That’s something we’ll be certainly looking for.”

As for special teams, we referenced to the skillful Stark above. However, Coach Kyle said it is obvious the Trojans also put in a lot of time on their punt-return team and on blocking punts. McDowell changes its looks every week in those areas in seeking those big momentum plays.

“They’re a playoff-caliber team and they’ll go deep in their playoffs, no doubt about it,” Coach Kyle said of Coach Soboleski’s Trojans.

Do not be fooled by McDowell’s 7-6 finish last season. The Trojans advanced to the playoffs and closed their season by winning five of their last six games. Four of the Trojans’ five regular-season losses in 2012 were to Ohio teams, with three of those setbacks – to Mentor, St. Edward and Cardinal Mooney – going down to the wire.

McDowell, which was a little short-handed on offense, also lost to Mentor, 44-30, at Mentor during Week 1 of this season. The Trojans led, 16-0, at one point.

ALL OF THE BEST TO BRIAN HOYER ’04: The corner wishes to express its congratulations to former Saint Ignatius and Michigan State mainstay Brian Hoyer, who will make his second NFL start at
quarterback when he directs the Browns against the Minnesota Vikings at Minnesota on Sunday.

Brian, who did a solid job in a starting role for the Arizona Cardinals against the powerful San Francisco 49ers last season, had spent most of his pro career as a backup to perennial All-Pro Tom Brady at New England.

Along with Brian, Saint Ignatius’ veteran offensive coordinator Nick Restifo has honed the skills of former NFL QBs Dave Ragone ’98 and Tom Arth ‘99. Dave is currently the quarterbacks coach for the Tennessee Titans and Tom is the head football coach of the John Carroll University Blue Streaks.

The legendary Brian Dowling ’65 and the versatile Oliver Luck ’78, the father of the Indianapolis Colts’ outstanding quarterback Andrew Luck, are among the Wildcats' Hall of Famers to have played quarterback in the NFL. Oliver is the Athletics Director at West Virginia, where he had an outstanding college career for the Mountaineers before playing for the Houston Oilers.

“It’s well-deserved,” said former Saint Ignatius football and baseball standout, and current Wildcats’ receivers coach, Josiah “Juice" Kedzior ’04, who teamed with Brian Hoyer in football and baseball at Saint Ignatius. “I told Brian that when I texted him to congratulate him.

“It was an honor being his teammate,” Kedzior continued. “Brian made everyone around him better.”

“Juice” and Brian combined on two of the most memorable plays in Saint Ignatius’ rich football history – the 39-yard touchdown pass from Hoyer to Kedzior that came off a third-and-35 in the 20-17 victory over St. Edward in 2003, a game that was won on Kedzior’s field goal, and the Hoyer-to-Kedzior 46-yard touchdown pass in the 24-21, 2003 playoff victory over a Ted Ginn Jr.-led Glenville team.

Again, all of the best to Brian on Sunday. God Bless, Eddie.   

The offense shows the way as Saint Ignatius' freshman team wears down Youngstown Ursuline, 40-14. *Junior quarterback Christian Klink will make his first varsity start versus McDowell on Saturday night.
9/20/2013

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright September 2013

Jimmy Andrews and Tom Barrett fuel a potent ground game as Saint Ignatius' freshmen improve to 4-0.

On the varsity level, senior quarterback John Thomas, who was day to day with a sore shoulder, will rest his arm this week. Wildcats head coach Chuck Kyle '69 told his team after practice on Thursday that junior Christian Klink (6-foot-2, 210 pounds) will get the starting nod in Saturday's game against the Erie (Pa.) McDowell Trojans at Parma's Byers Field. The kickoff is 7 PM. For a preview on the game, see the corner's story that was posted on Wednesday night.

HERE IS THE FRESHMAN FOOTBALL GAME STORY.

Ohio City - The coaching staff of Saint Ignatius' freshman football program knew all summer that there was not only an abundance of depth this season, but quality depth as well.

That versatility and deep bench came to the fore on Thursday evening at Wasmer Field, as the young Wildcats came at Youngstown Ursuline early and often and wore down the Fighting Irish, 40-14.

Saint Ignatius, which will take a 4-0 record into its Sept. 26, 5:30 PM freshman game at Warren Harding, got up off the canvas in the early going on Thursday evening and landed the telling blows the rest of the way.

Ursuline, which slipped to 2-1, stunned the 'Cats on the game's first series as Fighting Irish gifted tailback Daylin Harris rambled 72 yards for a touchdown.

Undaunted, Coach Rodney Gallaway's Wildcats responded with an impressive nine-play, 60-yard march that featured the authoritative running of tailback/linebacker Jimmy Andrews. Andrews tied the score by powering his way up the middle and into the end zone from 2 yards out. Quarterback Colin Goodfellow kicked the extra point and Saint Ignatius led, 7-6, with 4 minutes and 40 seconds remaining in the first quarter. Freshman football quarters are 10 minutes.

With linebacker and captain Johnny Velotta helping lead the charge, the Wildcats' defense forced a three-and-out and Andrews struck again.

Taking possession at its 40-yard line, Saint Ignatius put the ball right back in the hands of Andrews and the former CYO standout from Our Lady of Angels powered his way over the left side, busted outside and, finding another gear, outran the pursuit for a 60-yard score. Goodfellow's kick was high and true, and the 'Cats extended their advantage to 14-6.

"It was good to see some fresh faces on offense," said Coach Gallaway. "We had Kaden Russell (starting tailback) down with a little bit of a knee tweak and so it was good to see Jimmy step up and have some nice runs. He's been learning the position the entire preseason and throughout the season, but he didn't have any solid carries until tonight. He definitely responded."

Determined to take the fight out of Ursuline's Irish, Saint Ignatius got an impressive pad-rattling special teams tackle from Travis Pot on the kickoff following Andrews' second touchdown. Pot's pop seemed to fire up the defense as nose-for-the-ball defensive back Matt Wiegandt stepped in front of a pass just over the Ursuline 30, picked it off and went the distance for a touchdown return with 1:48 to go in the first quarter.

Leading, 20-6, entering the second quarter, the Wildcats moved to a three-score lead on a touchdown pass from Goodfellow to sure-handed wideout Riley Kinzel and another extra point by Goodfellow.

The Irish had some fight left, however, as Harris raced 47 yards for his second touchdown and made it a 27-14 game by also scoring on the ensuing 2-point conversion run with 7:11 left in the first half.

The 'Cats just kept counter punching, this time in the form of a take-command, second-effort 6-yard touchdown run by Tom Barrett. Barrett's strong and deceptively smooth running style gave the Ursuline defense fits all evening.

Only an interception by Fighting Irish safety Dakota Dobbs prevented Saint Ignatius from doing further damage in the first half. Leading, 34-14, the Wildcats huddled with their coaches in the Lorain Avenue end zone in preparation for the final 20 minutes.

With several players rotating in and out in the second half, Saint Ignatius left no doubt on a fumble recovery for a touchdown by defensive lineman Mike Chime in the scoreboard end zone. Chime's bell-ringer came with five minutes remaining in the third quarter.

"The O-Line play was certainly better tonight," Coach Gallaway said. "We're still improving there. We have a lot of guys working in and trying to get reps. But they're improving and that's a good thing, because come weeks 7, 8 and 9 (St. Vincent-St. Mary, Erie Cathedral Prep and St. Edward) we're going to need those guys big time." 

Offensive and Defensive Plays of the Week - Week 3
9/15/2013

Enzo Cannata dashes 40 yards down the sidelines for the Wildcats TD and Dameon Willis make a tackle in the back field to lead another strong defensive effort.

http://www.hudl.com/athlete/o/2867833/highlights/69620714

Wildcats take care of business vs Strong Vincent
9/15/2013

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright September 2013

Parma, Ohio - Throughout the week, Saint Ignatius head football coach Chuck Kyle '69 promised his players that everyone who was healthy would see playing time during Saturday night's home opener against Erie (Pa.)Strong Vincent.

Mission accomplished.

Coach Kyle was also pleased with the way senior quarterback John Thomas came out throwing in the 35-8 victory over the Colonels, as it took JT just three plays to get his team on the scoreboard.

Taking advantage of a short field, which resulted from Strong Vincent's failed attempt to catch the Wildcats napping by squibbing the opening kickoff, Saint Ignatius took a 7-0 lead on a 22-yard touchdown pass from Thomas to gifted senior wide receiver Mike Siragusa and the ensuing extra-point kick by senior Matt Colella with the game not a minute old.

Saint Ignatius rode a defense keyed by senior safety Evan O'Malley and senior defensive back/linebacker Dameon Willis Jr. until Thomas was ready to fire again.

Sparked by a strong punt return by senior tailback Kyle Daugenti, the Wildcats took possession at their 49. Three plays later, Thomas hooked up with talented senior wideout and captain Jack Hyland on a 32-yard scoring play and Colella's extra point extended the 'Cats' lead to 14-0 with 5 minutes and 41 seconds remaining in the first quarter.

Forcing Strong Vincent to punt from deep in its territory, Saint Ignatius took over at the Colonels' 40-yard line. After a first-down run resulted in no gain, senior tailback Enzo Cannata displayed his toughness, balance and speed as he galloped 40 yards down the left sideline and into the video scoreboard end zone of Byers Field. Colella's third PAT pushed the 'Cats' lead to 21-0 and it stayed that way entering the second quarter.

Strong Vincent, which slipped to 0-3 on the season, turned to some trickery again and faked a punt on fourth down. Ah, those Colonels.

O'Malley and junior linebacker Geoffrey DiMassa weren't buying it, however, as they swarmed all over the ball carrier at midfield. After an incomplete pass, Thomas went right back to the air and fired a deep throw down the seam to Hyland, who made a nice catch on the run and outran the pursuit for a 50-yard scoring play that was capped by another Colella PAT with 4:02 left in the first half.

Although Coach Kyle emphasized that his defense was pretty vanilla on Saturday night, there were some nice individual efforts from the first, second and third units.

Among those making key stops were multi-skilled senior linebacker Jake Maruna, senior safety Nick Malarik and senior cornerback Ryan Cooper, who laid down an authoritative text-book tackle near the sideline that resulted in no gain for the Colonels off a fourth-and-2 play from the Saint Ignatius 33.

Other Wildcats flying to the ball in the second half were senior defensive lineman Austin Bedinghaus, junior linebacker Joe Conway, senior linebacker Jacob Rossi, senior defensive backs Paddy White and Dan Filuta, junior defensive back Lawrence Birchler, junior defensive end Michael Profancik and junior defensive back Valiant Freeman, who came up with a nice breakup of a pass in the Day Drive end zone against a much taller receiver.

As for Saint Ignatius' offense in the second half, junior quarterback Jake Kucia completed some nice throws to senior receivers Bennett Kinzel and Hunter Baker, senior fullback David Boylan, aka "Coach Boylan," blocked with authority and sophomore tailback James Norris displayed his speed and vision (see the junior varsity game story from Saturday afternoon).

HOWEVER, the highlights of the Wildcats' offense over the final 24 minutes were the balance, power and speed unleashed by junior tailback Chavez Perez, who left no doubt with an impressive cut-back touchdown run of 39 yards with 3:32 remaining in the fourth quarter.

And speaking of impressive runs, Strong Vincent's talented sophomore fullback Brandon Williams prevented a shutout when he raced 75 yards down the visiting team sideline for a touchdown with 1:56 left.

Saint Ignatius will now focus its attention on the Erie (Pa.) McDowell Trojans and their Wish-Bone attack, as the Trojans come calling to Byers Field next Saturday night at 7. We will preview the game on the corner Wednesday night. 

 

Offensive and Defensive Plays of the Week - Week 2
9/10/2013

For the second straight week a John Thomas to Michael Siragusa TD pass gets the Wildcats on the board, this good for 64 yards.   On defense Chris Keane registers one of 5 sacks by the Wildcats against the Cardinal passing game.

http://www.hudl.com/athlete/o/2867833/highlights/63256891

Offensive and Defensive Plays of the Week - Week 1
9/1/2013

John Thomas connects with Michael Siragusa on an 80 yard scoring strike to get the Wildcats on the board in the second quarter and Scott Arthrell makes a huge defensive play with his interception in the end zone of Brother Rice.

http://www.hudl.com/athlete/o/2867833/highlights/63256891

Wildcats are turned away by Brother Rice, 29-20
9/1/2013

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright August/September 2013

Detroit, Michigan - The Saint Ignatius Wildcats dug themselves a deep hole on Saturday afternoon and then almost clawed their way out of it.

However, a tough, strong-armed and heady junior quarterback from Brother Rice named Alex Malzone and his more than capable supporting cast refused to let that happen.

The Warriors, behind Malzone's pin-point passing, the soft hands of gritty senior wide receiver Corey Lacanaria and the multiple skills of senior safety/place kicker/punt returner Jason Alessi, turned back the Wildcats, 29-20, in what was the first match up between the storied football programs.

Played on Wayne State University's Tom Adams Field, the game was part of the Detroit Sports Commission Prep Kickoff Classic.

"We did not play well in the first half at all," said Saint Ignatius head coach Chuck Kyle '69 after he watched Brother Rice lock up the victory on a punt by the Warriors' Jonathon Forster that was downed at the Wildcats' 6, and the ensuing sack of senior quarterback John Thomas in the end zone by senior defensive end/tackle Alberto Sandoval with 45.3 seconds remaining.

"Their quarterback (Malzone) is very good," Coach Kyle continued. "He played last year in half of their state championship game. He was pretty accurate last year, so we knew it was going to be a challenge. And he lived up to it."

Brother Rice, a nine-time state champion that won back-to-back Michigan Division II state titles in 2011 and 2012, rode Malzone's pocket savvy, the receiving of Lacanaria, junior Grant Perry and seniors Joshua Flye and Damaris Woods, and the productive when needed to be running of seniors Shon Powell and Brian Walker to a 14-0 lead with 1 minute and 58 seconds left in the first half.

Malzone hooked up with Woods on an 18-yard scoring pass for the game's first points and Walker fought his way into the end zone from 1-yard out. The gifted Alessi was true on both extra-point kicks. Walker's touchdown highlighted a 21-play drive.

Saint Ignatius, which has brought home an Ohio-best 11 big-school state championships and three national crowns, got back in the game on an 80-yard touchdown pass from Thomas to Wildcats standout senior receiver Mike Siragusa. The extra-point attempt was no good and Saint Ignatius trailed, 14-6, with 1:46 to in the first half.

Siragusa and Malzone were selected as the game's outstanding players.

Brother Rice wasn't content to run out the first-half clock, however, as one of the many big-time connections between Malzone and Lacanaria led to a 31-yard field goal by Alessi and 17-6 Warriors lead at halftime.

"There were times when our coverage wasn't bad, but the ball was right there," said Coach Kyle of the crisp throws into seams by the 6-foot-3, 200-pound Malzone. "He had a great game and we struggled getting a pass rush on him. He got into a flow and when a quarterback gets into the flow, look out."

The Warriors, who are dedicating this fall to their legendary 80-year-old head coach Al Fracassa, who is retiring after this season, pushed their advantage to 24-6 on a highlight-reel 70-yard punt return for a TD by Alessi and his ensuing extra point kick with the second half not a minute old.

Two more receptions by Lacanaria, including one of the two-handed diving variety, helped set up another field goal by Alessi. The no-doubter from 41 yards out pushed Brother Rice's lead to 27-6 with 1:30 remaining in the third quarter and had the Warriors' faithful shouting with confidence.

The Wildcats did their best to shake that confidence as Thomas threw his second 80-yard touchdown pass of the game - a quick toss to senior receiver Nick Fabian that saw Nick secure the ball on his hip, elude a defender and outrun the pursuit down the left sideline. Matt Colella's extra point was high and true, and the 'Cats trailed by 14 points entering the fourth quarter.

Displaying the heart one associates with Saint Ignatius football, the Wildcats marched 74 yards and, behind a clutch third-and-10 scramble to the Warriors' 6 by Thomas, closed to 27-20 on a 5-yard sweep over the left side by senior tailback Mike Vitale and another extra point by Colella with 2:05 left on the clock.

Overtime was not in the cards, however, as the clutch punt and the downing of it deep in Wildcats territory set the stage for Sandoval's explosion off the line that gave him a clear path to Thomas for the safety and the nine-point victory.

"It wasn't the best first half offensively, but we settled down a bit in the second half." Coach Kyle said. "We kind of put ourselves in a hole and you have to learn from that. Credit to them, they executed really well especially in the passing game. They hit key passes, third-and-long with perfect timing."

The Wildcats have to put this one behind them in a hurry, as they travel to Mentor on Friday night. The Cardinals, ranked No. 1 in cleveland.com's preseason Top 25 poll, opened their season by rallying to an impressive victory over Erie (Pa.) McDowell.

 

A "test of faith" awaits the Saint Ignatius varsity football team as it prepares for its season opener against Brother Rice.
8/28/2013

8/27/2013

    Posted By Eddie Dwyer

The Wildcats, without their gifted All-Ohio senior outside linebacker Kyle Berger, will rally behind their faith and the teaching of Coach Chuck Kyle '69 and his staff. Seniors Michael Ferry and Jake Maruna are among those who will be called on to step up.

Saint Ignatius' Director of Athletics Rory Fitzpatrick '88 said Tuesday it appears that Kyle Berger, an outstanding athlete, student and young man, will be sidelined for the entire season following the knee injury he suffered during Friday's Jamboree preview against Canton McKinley (see posts from Friday and Saturday).

Our prayers and support are with Kyle Berger and his family at this time, as we call on our faith for a healthy and complete recovery.

HERE IS THE CORNER'S PREVIEW ON THE SAINT IGNATIUS VS. BROTHER RICE FOOTBALL OPENER:

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright August 2013

Two of the nation’s premier high school football coaches will match strategy on Saturday afternoon at Wayne State University, when Coach Chuck Kyle sends his 11-time Ohio big-school state champion Wildcats against Coach Al Fracassa’s nine-time Michigan state champion Warriors from Brother Rice. The 1:30 PM kickoff is part of the Detroit Sports Commission Prep Kickoff Classic.

If you can not make it to Michigan on Saturday, Pat McGuire (color) and Cole Larsen (play by play) will have the call live over the Saint Ignatius Student Broadcasting Network.

Ohio City – Two years ago this month, Saint Ignatius linebacker Michael Ferry suffered a serious knee injury during the annual preseason Jamboree preview against Canton McKinley.

“It was my JV year," Ferry said. “I tore my ACL, MCL and Meniscus. So I was out for about a year.”

Two years later, and Ferry is being counted on as one of the Wildcats who will help fill the huge void that occurred this past weekend when Saint Ignatius’ All-Ohio senior outside linebacker Kyle Berger injured his left knee in the McKinley Jamboree at Fawcett Stadium.

Yes, Berger, one of The Ohio State University’s top verbal recruits from the Class of 2014, went down with a season-ending knee injury in the same setting where Ferry’s career was challenged just two seasons ago.

Although Ferry and his teammates were obviously upset over the news of Berger’s injury, they also realize that their dominant defensive leader expects only one thing from them – a total and intense effort.

And that starts on Saturday afternoon at 1:30, when the Wildcats, ranked third in cleveland.com’s seven-county preseason poll and third in WTAM’s Power 11 poll, open their 2013 football season against the storied program from Brother Rice (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.) at Wayne State University.

“I was a ball boy with Hopkins and Byrne growing up,” said Ferry of his childhood experiences on the Saint Ignatius sideline with two of the Wildcats current captains - senior outside linebacker Patrick Hopkins and All-Ohio senior offensive tackle and University of Notre Dame recruit Jim Byrne. “During my CYO days (at St. Bernadette) I would watch those guys (the Wildcats) and dream about playing here.”

Saint Ignatius senior Jake Maruna, probably the most versatile performer on the Wildcats’ roster, has ties with Kyle Berger that go back to their days as teammates at A. I. Root Middle School in Medina.

“Kyle was the quarterback our seventh-grade year and I was a receiver,” said the multi-skilled Maruna, who is better known for his outstanding talents in lacrosse. “But then Kyle actually broke his femur his eighth-grade year and then I was the quarterback.”

The ties that bind Berger and Maruna have to remain strong, as Jake is also being pointed to by Saint Ignatius’ highly successful linebackers coach Ryan Franzinger ’02 as a player who can handle the outside linebacker position.

“I’m excited about it,” Maruna said of his chance to play linebacker. “I played it a little bit last year, then I moved to defensive back, then to receiver and then back to defensive back. It will be a great opportunity for me to get out there.”

As Coach Franzinger emphasized after the news of Kyle Berger’s status for the season became a reality on Tuesday, the Wildcats’ faith as a team will be tested, as will the teaching the coaching staff has done.

In what has been a challenging month, Berger’s injury occurred less than two weeks after senior quarterback Pete Mahoney went down with a season-ending ankle injury.

Ferry, in responding to what has been a tough emotional stretch, said he is confident that his class of seniors will hold things together, especially the captains – Hopkins, Byrne, Mahoney and standout senior wide receiver Jack Hyland.

“They have been true leaders, never letting us get our heads down,” emphasized Ferry. “Everybody is going to step up now. It’s next man up.”

And Brother Rice and its legendary head coach Al Fracassa will be testing that faith and leadership from the get-go on Saturday.

“It’s going to be a physical game with their big front and triple backfield,” Maruna said. “We have to come up, fill those holes and challenge it. There are responsibilities we have to take care of.”

A TALE OF TWO GREAT COACHES: Very seldom does a high school football fan get the opportunity to watch two of the nation’s best match their coaching strategies.

Such will be the case on Saturday at Wayne State University, when the Wildcats’ Chuck Kyle begins his 31st season as his alma mater’s head coach with 301 career victories, an Ohio-record 11 Division I state championships, including a state-best five in a row (1991-95), and three national titles (1989,1993 and 1995).

Across the field from Coach Kyle will be Brother Rice’s savvy veteran Al Fracassa, who is closing out a storied career this fall. The young 80-year-old Fracassa is Michigan’s all-time winningest high school football coach with 416 victories. His teams have captured nine state championships. Fracassa has begun his 57th year as a football coach, including 54 as a head coach. This is his 45th year at Brother Rice.

Last season, Brother Rice won back-to-back state titles for the first time when the Warriors outlasted Muskegon, 35-28, for the Michigan Division II title on Thanksgiving Day Weekend at Ford Field. Brother Rice finished 12-2 in 2012.

Like Coach Kyle, Coach Fracassa has turned down offers to coach at the next level in order to remain at the school he loves. Coach Fracassa also turned down the opportunity to become the Detroit Lions’ offensive backfield coach. Coach Kyle and Coach Fracassa have received national honors throughout their careers and they are members of the Coaches Hall of Fame in their respective states.

HERE ARE SOME OF THE WARRIORS TO WATCH:

Senior safety Jason Alessi: 14 tackles and a 91-yard kickoff return in last year’s state title game.

QB Alex Malzone: the 6-foot-3, 200-pound junior has a big-time arm and is described by Coach Kyle as a “tough kid.”

Senior OL/DL Dominic Perkovic, 6-5, 235: Anchors the offensive and defensive lines.

****The 1-2 tailback punch of Brian Walker and Shon Powell: Combined for 35 touchdowns and nearly 2,400 yards on the ground in 2012.

Linebacker Shaun Jones; defensive back Chris Carter; wide receiver/defensive back Grant Perry; wide receiver Corey Lacanaria; 6-1, 260-pound offensive lineman Sage Baltrusaitis; 6-4, 255-pound defensive tackle Alberto Sandoval and running back/defensive back Navin Abro.

COACH KYLE ON THE LOSS OF KYLE BERGER: “For the kid, it’s rough. His senior year, he loves football and he loves to be out there with his friends. It is our job to make sure he is handling it well. And we will do our best to do that. When you practice this hard, there has to be that feeling of next guy up, time for the next guy to step up. That’s why you work. This is reality and we have to handle it. It might be more of a committee situation at linebacker, but we can do that quite easily. You put the kid in the best scenario that fits what he can do."

COACH KYLE ON BROTHER RICE: “Al Fracassa has always had a good quarterback. He’s a quarterback guy. It’s classic football in that he will spread you out, but also get the running game going and then hit you with play action right on the button, well called. Offensively they have several nice running backs. Their guys will make nice cuts and get yardage and then the quarterback will hit a big one. That’s the balance our offense has to prepare for all week.

“Defensively, they will play a seven-man front. We have to keep working on the running game, because McKinley (in last weekend’s Jamboree) was pretty stubborn about stopping the running game. I think when we start spreading out (offensively), Brother Rice will be more in a three front, making sure of their coverage. They have some speed in their secondary and they are patient with what they do.

“They are certainly a program that is not intimidated by anybody. They are used to being in big games.”

COMMON FOE: De LaSalle (Warren, Mich.) faced both the Wildcats and the Warriors in 2012, with Saint Ignatius overwhelming De LaSalle, 49-13, in Week 2 and Brother Rice blanking De LaSalle, 28-0, in Week 4.

OH CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN: With the recent selection of Jake Ryan as a captain for the 2013 Michigan Wolverines, it marked the fifth time that a former Wildcat football great was chosen to be a Wolverine captain. The other four are Frank Gusich John Arbeznik, Pat Massey and Mike Massey.

AND LAST, BUT CERTAINLY NOT LEAST: Congratulations go out to Kyle Berger, Jim Byrne, Matt Colella, Mike Siragusa and Dameon Willis Jr. for being selected to cleveland.com’s Top 90 preseason players in the seven-county coverage area.

Saint Ignatius controls most of the annual Jamboree against Canton McKinley, but suffers another key injury.
8/26/2013

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright August 2013

Canton, Ohio - "Say a prayer for Kyle tonight," Saint Ignatius head football coach Chuck Kyle '69 said to his players after the Wildcats controlled their annual Jamboree preview against the Bulldogs from McKinley on Friday night in storied Fawcett Stadium. "He wants you guys to keep playing!"

Coach Kyle was referring to his standout All-Ohio senior outside linebacker Kyle Berger, who was assisted from the field after injuring his left knee while assisting on a tackle with 7 minutes and 40 seconds remaining in the first quarter. Berger, who after being attended to by Saint Ignatius' outstanding medical staff, supported his team from the sideline on crutches and with an immobilizer supporting the injured knee.

Part of Ohio State's verbal commitment class for 2014, Berger said he hopes to have an MRI on the knee this weekend. It was just two weeks ago that Saint Ignatius' gifted senior quarterback and captain Pete Mahoney suffered what appears to be a season-ending ankle injury.

As for the final tune-up of the preseason, the Wildcats, with senior quarterback John Thomas (370-plus yards passing) and senior wide receiver Mike Siragusa fueling the offense, and the defense more than holding its own, wore down the Bulldogs, 34-13, through the first three quarters. The first three quarters were played under game conditions and the final session was an overtime drill, which McKinley won, 6-0, on a touchdown run by senior tailback Jarrod Smith.

During his post-Jamboree address to his team, Coach Kyle looked at his watch and said, "It's 9:35 (PM) fellas. It's now officially Game Week."

Yes, the focus is now on the Warriors of Brother Rice.

Saint Ignatius will board the buses bright and early on August 31 and travel to Wayne State University, where the Wildcats will face Brother Rice at 1:30 PM as part of the Detroit Sports Commission Prep Kickoff Classic.

"You did a lot of good things out there tonight, but we still have some work to do," Coach Kyle said. "But if we can do that against McKinley, we can do it against anyone."

The Wildcats and the Bulldogs entered the Jamboree ranked fifth and seventh, respectively, in the JJ Huddle preseason Top 10 for Division I.

HERE ARE THE HIGHLIGHTS FROM FAWCETT STADIUM.

A deep route from Thomas to Siragusa set up a 24-yard field goal by All-Ohio senior kicker Matt Colella with 9:21 left in the opening quarter.

After a weak punt by McKinley rolled out of bounds at the Bulldogs' 41, Thomas found Siragusa with a quick hitter and Mike galloped and stiffed armed his way down the right sideline and into the end zone. Colella's extra point was high and true, as the 'Cats increased their lead to 10-0 with 8:15 to go in the first quarter.

McKinley's multi-skilled junior Eric Glover-Williams should everyone in Fawcett Stadium why his recruiting offer sheet includes Ohio State, Michigan State, Arkansas, Illinois and others when he fielded a punt deep in his territory, ran up the middle, broke a couple of tackles, busted to the left side and, after picking up two key blocks, cut back across the middle of the field in another gear and outran the pursuit into the right corner of the end zone.

It didn't take long for the Wildcats to silence the excitement Glover-Williams created, however, as Thomas and Siragusa struck again, this time on a 23-yard reception that came off a third-and 17 from the Saint Ignatius 21. Shortly after that clutch throw and catch, Colella was true from 32 yards and the 'Cats led, 13-7, with four seconds remaining in the first quarter.

It was more of the JT to Siragusa show in the second quarter.

Standing tall under pressure, Thomas found Siragusa on a crossing pattern and big Mike cut across the field and outran three defenders into the end zone for a 68-yard scoring play.

In a 50-second, no-timeouts-left drive that left both Coach Kyle and Wildcats quarterbacks coach Elvis Grbac excited, Thomas found talented senior wideout and captain Jack Hyland on a fade pattern in the right corner of the end zone. Jack came down with the ball off what was a picture-perfect catch and throw with just five seconds left in the second quarter.

Another big-time catch and run by Siragusa and a key block by senior center Frank Rolf helped set up the JT-to-Hyland strike. Heady senior safety Evan 'O'Malley then ended the first two quarters with an interception.

The third quarter featured some strong special teams work by the Wildcats, as senior tailback Kyle Daugenti came up with his second field-position kickoff return of the night and junior Corey Griffith got off a nice high punt that was downed deep in McKinley territory by the all-out hustle of senior tailback Enzo Cannata.

Junior Jake Kucia, who along with junior Christian Klink serves as a backup to Thomas, led a solid third-quarter drive that was capped by a 1-yard touchdown run by promising sophomore tailback James Norris. Norris set up his touchdown with an impressive catch and run.

Junior wide receiver David Shibley came up with one of his trademark Good Hands Club receptions in keeping the Norris-capper drive alive and the 'Cats also got an impressive tackle for a loss by senior defensive end Austin Bedinghaus.

Saint Ignatius' junior varsity and freshman teams were also victorious in their split-field scrimmages against the Bulldogs. The JV Wildcats prevailed, four touchdowns to three, and the freshmen threw a shut out and scored two touchdowns.

Norris, who did double duty on Friday, got the Jayvees on the board with a good morning, good afternoon and good night 40-yard run that saw the 10.66 sprinter take the pitch from sophomore quarterback Dennis Grosel, run left, cut inside and, off exceptional vision, bounce to the outside and accelerate into the end zone.

Grosel was also holding a hot hand as Dennis combined with sure-handed receivers Cal Grbac and Tyler Musbach on smooth TD tosses.

Saint Ignatius assistant coach Jim Cahill, a former Wildcats signal-caller, said the Wildcats' freshman defense was very good and that the young 'Cats also ran the ball with authority behind an offensive line that communicated well.

Pete Mahoney's surgery goes well; a reminder on the Twinsburg scrimmage and some pigskin notes to chew on.
8/16/2013

Posted By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright August 2013

Ohio City - Good news hit Wasmer Field early Thursday afternoon, as gifted senior quarterback and captain Pete Mahoney underwent successful surgery on his damaged ankle at Lutheran Hospital on Thursday morning.

Pete suffered a season-ending ankle injury (see the corner's story from Sunday) during the second session of last Saturday's two-a-days.

Several of Pete's teammates sent him well wishes via videos and this corner and the entire Saint Ignatius football program can't wait to have Pete back on the sidelines.

God Bless and rest up Pete, we all miss you.

TIGERS COME CALLING: Just a reminder that the Twinsburg Tigers and the Saint Ignatius Wildcats will continue their summer-scrimmage tradition on Friday at Wasmer Field. The action begins at 10 AM.

SIBN!: If you can't make it out to Wasmer Field, the Saint Ignatius Student Broadcasting Network will provide live comments on the Twinsburg scrimmage.

PICK CITY: Senior cornerbacks Paddy White and Ryan Cooper, off nice reads and reactions, each came up with interceptions on a sun-drenched Wasmer Field Thursday afternoon.

AIR CATS: Junior varsity quarterbacks Mike Huber and Dennis Grosel fired some nice passes during Thursday's two-a-days, junior quarterback Christian Klink had a solid first session and senior quarterback John Thomas was sharp for most of the day, as were the 'Cats' veteran receivers.

****BUS FOR THE SEASON OPENER: Saint Ignatius has reserved a Fan Bus for the August 31 varsity football opener against Brother Rice. The game kicks off at 1:30 PM at Wayne State University and the bus will depart from Saint Ignatius at 9 AM. The cost is $20 and to reserve a seat please contact Athletics Department Secretary Jennifer Fight atjfight@ignatius.edu.

See you bright and early Friday morning.

Wildcats football tuning up for Twinsburg scrimmage. Saint Ignatius will have a fan bus for the Aug. 31 opener against Brother Rice.
8/15/2013

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright August 2013

Ohio City - Coach Chuck Kyle's varsity and junior varsity football teams, coming off many positive moments during Tuesday's drills/practice sessions with the Solon Comets, went back to their two-a-day practices on Wasmer Field Wednesday in preparation for Friday's scrimmage against the always talented and physical Twinsburg Tigers.

The scrimmage will begin at 10 AM on Wasmer Field.

As for Wednesday's double sessions, the one-on-one match up drill that saw the running backs take on the defensive backs and linebackers was the highlight of the day.

There were some spirited encounters that featured middle linebacker John Gibbons and linebacker/safety Joe Conway going against tailback James Norris and running back Brandon Novak, respectively. Yes, the pads were rattling and even a couple of pancake blocks kissed the Wasmer Field turf.

The QB combo struck again: For the second time this week, sophomore quarterbacks Dennis Grosel and David Welcsh hooked up on a touchdown pass, with Welcsh on the receiving end both times. Grosel also combined with sophomore receiver Ryan Berger on a nice throw and catch off a post pattern that resulted in a touchdown.

Arthrell sets the tone: After doing a solid job of covering Solon's speedy receivers on Tuesday, Saint Ignatius' veteran senior cornerback Scott Arthrell turned right around on Wednesday and played lock-down coverage from the get-go. Versatile senior Jake Maruna also made a case for the defense with an early pick.

Junior quarterback Christian Klink hooked up with junior wide receiver Jaylin McDonald on another TD toss, a play that saw Jaylin make a smooth two-handed grab in stride.

****BUS FOR THE SEASON OPENER: Saint Ignatius has reserved a Fan Bus for the August 31 varsity football opener against Brother Rice. The game kicks off at 1:30 PM at Wayne State University and the bus will depart from Saint Ignatius at 9 AM. The cost is $20 and to reserve a seat please contact Athletics Department Secretary Jennifer Fight atjfight@ignatius.edu.

FOR THOSE WHO HAVE INQUIRED: Saint Ignatius' gifted senior safety/linebacker Dameon Willis Jr. currently has scholarship offers from Indiana, Toledo, Wake Forest, Kent State, Western Michigan, Cincinnati, Bowling Green, Ohio University, Marshall and Miami of Ohio.

See you at Wasmer Field for practice on Thursday and for the much-anticipated Twinsburg scrimmage on Friday.  

Saint Ignatius football performs well in a spirted drill session with a vastly improved Solon team.
8/14/2013

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright August 2013

Senior quarterback John Thomas makes some impressive throws, senior tailback Mike Vitale leaves his mark on Solon's beautiful new turf surface, the Wildcats' receivers continue to perform as advertised and there was some serious pad rattling applied from both sides.

Solon, Ohio - Saint Ignatius head football coach Chuck Kyle '69 was pleased with the results of his team's first go of it against an opponent who wasn't wearing a Wildcats practice uniform.

Wildcats veteran offensive coordinator Nick Restifo was also happy, for the most part, with Saint Ignatius' flow on Tuesday and the throws made by senior quarterback John Thomas.

Tuesday marked JT's first full day as the 'Cats' offensive leader, following the season-ending ankle injury that senior Pete Mahoney suffered during Saturday's practice on Wasmer Field (See the corner's stories from SUNDAY and Monday). JT and Pete were competing for the 2013 starting role.

Yes, all in all it was a good day, as Saint Ignatius and Coach Jim McQuaide's Solon Comets took part in their traditional preseason encounter of drills that included blocking, tackling, punting, kicking, inside running, passing and one-on-one pass coverage. There was a little 7-on-7 thrown in and the day wouldn't have been complete without the usual spirited and highly competitive 11 versus 11.

"You did some real nice things today and the best part is that you are just going to get better and better," said Coach Kyle to his Wildcats before they boarded their buses and headed back to Ohio City.

Not everyone on the Saint Ignatius staff was totally pleased on Tuesday. The Wildcats' outstanding varsity linebackers coach and head junior varsity coach Ryan Franzinger '02 said that on a scale of 1 to 100, with 100 being the best, he thought his part of the defense was about a 48.

One thing this old-timer observed is that Coach McQuaide's Comets, a perennial playoff team that failed to qualify for the OHSAA postseason in 2012, appears ready to make another November charge.

Among the Comets making an impression on this corner were wide receiver/tailback/defensive back Kollyn Crenshaw, running back/defensive back Antwain Hamilton and running back/linebacker Braxton Alexander.

Solon's All-Northeast Lakes District and All-Northeast Ohio Conference linebacker John Sensibaugh certainly has the blood lines, as John is the grandson of former Ohio State standout Mike Sensibaugh, who played safety in the National Football League for the Kansas City Chiefs and the then St. Louis Cardinals.

With the always strong and physical Twinsburg Tigers visiting Wasmer Field on Friday at 10 AM for the first official preseason scrimmage of 2013, we thought we would whet your pigskin appetite by taking a look at some of the Wildcats' highlights from Solon.

DEFENSE

Standout senior safety Dameon Willis Jr. was pursuing from the time he got off the bus, senior nose tackle Daniel Cartolin made a strong stop in which he stood up the ball carrier and senior linebackers John Simeone and Michael Ferry came up with hard-nosed tackles near the line of scrimmage.

Senior safety Matt McVey dislodged the ball from a receiver with a pad-rattler, senior defensive back Nick Malarik and junior defensive back Kyle Adler were among those with interceptions, promising junior lineman Dre' Mont Jones was going after it with passion and All-Ohio senior linebacker Kyle Berger and senior linebacker and captain Patrick Hopkins were firing from the get-go.

OFFENSE

John Thomas wasted little time in impressing the coaching staff as he rolled left away from the pursuit and on the run unleashed a deep ball into the soft hands of senior wide receiver Jake Helton. The perfect throw and catch gave the Wildcats a first down at the Solon 16, and two plays later Mike Vitale sliced and powered his way over the right side for an 11-yard touchdown.

JT also had a couple of other nice long tosses, including one to senior defensive back/wideout Jack Lavelle, who played solid on both sides of the ball.

Juniors Jake Kucia and Christian Klink, who are now the backups to Thomas, had their moments. Klink combined with junior wide receiver Jaylin McDonald on a long touchdown pass down the left sideline and Kucia appeared calm and confident in the pocket.

FOR THOSE WHO HAVE INQUIRED: Wildcats gifted senior wide receiver Mike Siragusa currently has scholarship offers from Eastern Michigan, Buffalo, Cornell, Penn, Hampton and Bucknell.

And yes, the Athlon Sports High School Football 2013 Preview has St. Edward ranked No. 1 in Ohio and 15th in the nation.

Defending big-school state champ Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller is second in the Athlon state rankings and the Wildcats are third. St. Vincent-St. Mary and Glenville at 4 and 5, respectively, are the other area teams in the Ohio Top 10. Athlon selected Kyle Berger as Ohio's Preseason Defensive Player of the Year.

Two-a-days resume at 2 PM on Wednesday at Wasmer Field.

Wildcats rallying around John Thomas following the tough loss of gifted senior quarterback Pete Mahoney.
8/14/2013

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright August 2013

Ohio City - After Monday's two-a-days on Wasmer Field, Saint Ignatius' gritty and talented senior quarterback John Thomas said he and his Wildcats teammates were in shock the entire weekend.

"I could not believe it," said Thomas, referring to the season-ending ankle injury suffered by fellow Saint Ignatius senior quarterback Pete Mahoney during Saturday's practice (See the corner's story from Sunday). Pete is expected to undergo surgery on Thursday.

"Coming off this morning (Monday's first session), it was kind of like a weird practice," said Thomas, who was competing with Mahoney for the starting role at the most celebrated position in Saint Ignatius' rich football history. "No one was energetic. It was like we were going through the motions."

Saint Ignatius' traditional energy finally cut through the somber mood during Monday's second session as the Wildcats, especially the seniors, rallied behind Thomas, or "JT," as John is known to his teammates.

Now the leader of the 2013 'Cats, John led the offense late Monday afternoon and evening, and the defense began to play with its familiar passion. Simply put, the Wildcats did just what Pete Mahoney, who was looking on from the sidelines on crutches, expected them do - play Saint Ignatius football.

"From a ball boy watching (quarterbacks) Brian Hoyer '04, Andrew Holland '09, Mark Myers '10 and those guys, I've been a Saint Ignatius football fan my whole life," said Thomas, the brother of former Wildcat All-Ohio tight end Blake Thomas '12, who is now a member of The Ohio State University Buckeyes. "My whole life, I was dreaming about being a Saint Ignatius quarterback. I'm ready for the challenge."

JT added that he is looking forward to tomorrow (Tuesday) morning's drill sessions against the always sound Solon Comets at Solon. The competition begins at 10 AM.

"I'm ready to go tomorrow," he said. "Playing with the first team for probably the whole day, it is going to be interesting to see how we do against a different defense. Hopefully we step up."

HERE ARE SOME OF THE HIGHLIGHTS FROM MONDAY'S DOUBLE SESSION.

Defense

Big-game tested senior cornerback Scott Arthrell made a diving interception along the home sideline and senior safety Dan Jamieson and senior cornerbacks Jack Lavelle and Dan Filuta had aggressive ball-hawking pass breakups.

Offense

John Thomas got the Wildcats' vertical game flowing with a couple of impressive throws down the sideline, including one to senior Hunter Baker, who made an exceptional second-effort grab in the right corner of the Lorain Avenue end zone.

Senior wide receiver Bennett Kinzel made some tough contact receptions across the middle and junior quarterback Jake Kucia connected with Kinzel on a nice post or crossing pattern in the Lorain Avenue end zone. If the Wildcats' practices continue to feature TDs in the Lorain Avenue end zone, veteran Offensive Coordinator Nick Restifo is going to have to come up with a play named the RTA 22 Express. I wish I had $10 for every time I rode the old 22 Lorain. 

The Lorain Avenue end zone was also the home of Monday's most unique play, a touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Dennis Grosel to fellow sophomore quarterback David Welcsh.

AND FOR THOSE WHO INQUIRED: Saint Ignatius' 2013 opener against Brother Rice on Saturday, Aug. 31 at Wayne State University is part of the seven-game Detroit Sports Commission Prep Kickoff Classic. Action begins with two games on Thursday, followed by three on Friday and two on Saturday.

The Wildcats and Brother Rice will kick off at 1:30 PM on the 31st and the second game that day will feature our friends from De La Salle (Warren, Michigan) against Toledo Central Catholic at 5 PM. Saint Ignatius and Toledo Central Catholic are the visiting teams.  

Each competing team will receive an official Detroit Sports Commission Prep Kickoff Classic Award following its game and the Muscle Milk Most Outstanding Player Award will be presented to one member of each team.

See you at Solon tomorrow morning.

Saint Ignatius football loses a great field general, who is even a greater young man.
8/11/2013

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright August 2013

Brooklyn, Ohio - As Saint Ignatius' 31-year head coach Chuck Kyle '69 said on Sunday evening, no quarterback in the Wildcats' tradition-rich football history has worked harder than Pete Mahoney.

"And it is a shame Pete won't be able to reap the benefits this year," Coach Kyle said.

Mahoney, a gifted senior leader who personifies Saint Ignatius' motto of "Men For Others,"  suffered a serious ankle injury during Saturday's afternoon session of two-a-days. The injury will require surgery, which is expected to take place this coming week.

"Pete just kind of fell awkwardly, others fell on top him and the foot got caught and turned the wrong way," Coach Kyle said. "It wasn't like it was a big hit."

Just seconds after the play, Saint Ignatius' outstanding Head Athletic Trainer Hank Gaughan ATC was treating Mahoney and Hank, with the assistance of some of Pete's teammates, helped Mahoney from the field. Pete was taken to nearby Lutheran Hospital for X-Rays and treatment.

As Coach Kyle pointed out, he and his staff knew coming into this season that they were blessed to have two sound senior quarterbacks in Pete and John Thomas. John is the brother of former Wildcats All-Ohio tight end Blake Thomas '12, who is now competing for the Buckeyes of The Ohio State University. Coach Kyle added that "JT" (Thomas) will certainly miss having Pete, his classmate and teammate for four years, by his side.

One thing is certain, and is that JT and the rest of the Wildcats will be there for Pete this season.

Although they were competing for the starting job as the Wildcats' 2013 field general, the bond Pete and JT have came to the fore as Pete was heading home from the hospital on Saturday afternoon.

John Mahoney, Pete's dad, shared with this corner that his son, despite the disappointment and pain he was experiencing, called JT and encouraged him to take over the reins and lead the 'Cats to great things.

Coach Kyle, who couldn't say enough about  Pete's work ethic, wanted to make one thing perfectly clear. And that is although Pete won't be in the huddle once the regular season gets under way, the coaching staff wants him back with the team as soon as possible.

Yes, there are certain athletes who exude special qualities just by their presence. And Pete Mahoney is definitely one of them.

God Bless and get well soon, my friend.  

The annual Solon practice/drills session and the first official scrimmage of the preseason versus Twinsburg will highlight next week's varsity football slate.
8/11/2013

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright August 2013

Ohio City - With Saturday's first full sessions of contact in the books, Coach Chuck Kyle's football program will resume two-a-days on Monday at 2:30 PM at Wasmer Field.

The Wildcats will be preparing for Tuesday's 10 AM practice/situational drills at Solon High School with Coach Jim McQuaide's Comets.

Coach McQuaide, who this corner holds in high regard, will be looking for his strong and experienced interior lines to show the way this season.

Defensively, the Comets are expected to be led by senior end Brandon Reynolds, a more than capable pass rusher, and junior linebacker John Sensibaugh, whose 130 tackles last year earned him All-Northeast Lakes District honors and a spot on the All-Northeast Ohio Conference first team.

Saint Ignatius will host its first official scrimmage of the summer when the always sound and hard-nosed Twinsburg Tigers visit Wasmer Field on Friday at 10 AM.

HERE ARE SOME OF THE HIGHLIGHTS FROM SATURDAY'S DOUBLE SESSIONS.

Morning Session

Coach Adam Rini's offensive line appeared to hold the upper hand in the full contact offense versus defense running drills.

Both the first and second units of the O-Line had some solid moments to build off of, as junior tackle Kevin Woidke was engaged in a block that saw him stop a hard-charging safety in his tracks. Junior tackle Jacob Ready also had a couple of nice blocks and junior tight end Dre'Mont Jones put in some strong work as a blocking tight end.

The defense got into a groove as the morning went on, with senior linebacker John Simone and senior cornerbacks Jack Lavelle and Scott Arthrell making their presence felt. Junior safety Derek Smith was ball hawking at every opportunity and senior defensive back Ryan Cooper made a nice move and came up with an interception off a deep route.

Afternoon Session

Lavelle and Arthrell continued their savvy play at the corners and in the full offense versus full defense drill, complete with yardage and first-down markers, senior safety Matt McVey (big-time tackle in the open field), senior defensive lineman Zach Viets, senior middle linebacker John Gibbons and All-Ohio senior outside linebacker Kyle Berger fueled a furious early downs charge.

Senior safety/corner Mike Zupan came up with a perfect-timing pass breakup in the Lorain Avenue end zone and senior defensive back Dan Filuta did the same as he batted away a pass at the Lorain Avenue goal line. Later in the afternoon session, Zupan went stride for stride with the receiver on a deep seam route and tipped the ball away.

Junior defensive end Michael Penn and sophomore linebacker Alex Maruna, brother of senior mainstay Jacob Maruna, also displayed a nose for the ball.  

As for the running game, the senior tailback firm of Mike Vitale, Enzo Cannata and Kyle Daugenti put forth some strong second-effort, cut-back runs.

In keeping a third-down play alive, junior quarterback Jake Kucia rolled to his right, found Daugenti crossing in the middle and Kyle made a sure-handed catch and fought his way into the end zone off some clever footwork and tough running.

The sure-handed foursome of seniors Mike Siragusa, Jack Hyland and Nick Fabian, and junior David Shibley, continued to do their thing in the receiving department.

Junior quarterback Christian Klink hooked up with senior wide receiver Bennett Kinzel on a long catch and run for a Lorain Avenue touchdown, and sophomore quarterback Dennis Grosel combined with sophomore wideout Cal Grbac in capping the day with a deep-route touchdown down the left sideline.

The 2013 Wildcats look to play agressive, yet smart as they enter the first full contact sessions of the preseason, or "Man Camp," if you will.
8/11/2013
     
 

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright August 2013

In addressing his team following Friday's evening session of two-a-days, Saint Ignatius head football coach Chuck Kyle '69 told his Wildcats he is confident they will be an aggressive team, but they have to be smart in the way they go about it.

Coach Kyle was referring to the first day of full-pads contact, which gets under way Saturday at 10 AM on Wasmer Field.

Saint Ignatius assistant coach Dave Cicetti described Saturday as the first day of "Man Camp."

As for Friday's two-a-days, senior wide receiver Bennett Kinzel highlighted the first session with a good hands and total concentration athletic catch off a crossing route near the Lorain Avenue end zone.

The first session also saw multi-skilled senior Jacob Maruna bat down a couple of passes in the secondary, junior Michael Mathews make a perfect-timing break up of a pass and junior defensive end Mike Profancik continue his impressive stamina in the sprint drills.

As for the second session, the intensity level made a huge jump.

Saint Ignatius' defense set the tone on what was a picture-perfect Friday evening in Ohio City. Defensive linemen Sean Luskin and Michael Penn, along with fellow DL Profancik, made their presence felt, as did linebackers Kyle Berger, Jacob Rossi, John Gibbons and Pat Hopkins and safety Matt McVey.

With the sun beginning to set on Wasmer Field, a spirited drill that featured the varsity offense against the varsity defense capped another productive day on West 30th and Lorain Avenue.

Senior cornerbacks Jack Lavelle and Scott Arthrell gave the varsity D the early upper hand with their shut-down coverage and standout senior safety Dameon Willis Jr., combining with Lavelle on a hard-nosed play across the middle, came away with a pick and a return. Senior Mike Zupan also had a tone-setter with a perfect-timing interception along the sideline.

Junior Lawrence Birchler and senior Nick Malarik added to the secondary's performance, with Birchler making a diving deflection of a pass and Malarik almost mirroring Zupan's effort with his own pick.

Of course Saint Ignatius' offense is too good to just go quietly into the night.

The 'Cats' O responded to the early charge by the defense behind the passing of senior quarterbacks Pete Mahoney and John Thomas and the receiving of gifted seniors Jack Hyland, Mike Siragusa and Nick Fabian.

LONG BALLS: Thomas and sophomore quarterback Dennis Grosel clicked on deep routes for touchdowns, with JT finding Hyland off a blown coverage and Grosel stepping up in the pocket with poise and hitting fellow sophomore Jack Cook in stride. Grosel's perfect throw came against the varsity defense.

NOTE: As promised, the corner will begin its fall sports previews next week with a look at Coach Brian Becker's golf team and Coach Mike McLaughlin's nationally recognized soccer program.

See you at Wasmer Field on Saturday morning.

Friday's football dress rehearsal in pads will be followed by the summer's first sessions of full contact.
8/11/2013

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright August 2013

Ohio City - Special teams work, with an emphasis being placed on the extra-point and field-goal teams, blended in with the usual passing and running drills during Thursday's double sessions on Wasmer Field.

If there is one thing that has been a constant this first week of two-a-days it is the chomping-at-the-bit attitude flowing from the defense. There is no doubt about it, the Wildcats' defenders are pointing to Saturday when they will be able to go at it in the first official day of full contact.

Both the defense and the offense will get accustomed to their complete equipment during Friday's regular double sessions, which get underway at 2:30. The pad rattling begins at 10 AM on Saturday.

As for Thursday's doubles, there was some more sharp work turned in by senior quarterbacks Pete Mahoney and John Thomas and their talent-rich receiving corps headed by senior Mike Sirgausa. But then that has been the case for most of the summer.

We said it on the corner earlier this week and will reiterate it again, the underrated running game, headed by the firm of Vitale, Cannata and Daugenti, continues to make its case.

The defense also had its moments, as the interior line, linebackers and safeties gave us a sneak peek of what is to come and the corners made their presence felt, including some tight coverage in the early session by senior Paddy White.

ENDURANCE AND OFF-SEASON WORK COMES TO THE FORE: During Thursday's sprint drills, junior defensive lineman Mike Profancik won each sprint for his group and in the second group, which is comprised of defensive backs and linebackers, senior safety Matt McVey showed the way.

A NICE LOCAL TOUCH: Former Saint Ignatius football and baseball standout Brian Hoyer '04 turned in some solid work during the Browns' 27-19 preseason victory over the St. Louis Rams on Thursday night in FirstEnergy Stadium.

Following an interception by linebacker Justin Staples, who is a former St. Edward star, Brian threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to Cordell Roberson, giving the Browns a 27-13 lead with 3:06 left.

On an Eagles wing and a Cats paw.

And in a final baseball/football related note, Wildcats gifted senior wide receiver and outfielder Nick Fabian (see the note on Nick in Wednesday night's camp report) is being coveted by the baseball programs from The Ohio State University and West Virginia.

See you at Wasmer Field on Friday.

Coach Rini's offensive line has the look of a cohesive unit. Our prayers go out to the family of a former Wildcat.
8/11/2013

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright August 2013

BEFORE WE PRESENT OUR NIGHTLY FOOTBALL CAMP NOTES, WE WOULD LIKE TO EXPRESS OUR DEEPEST SYMPATHY TO THE FAMILY AND FRIENDS OF FORMER WILDCAT BILL SWEENEY (CLASS OF 1972).

BILL, WHO PASSED AWAY OVER THE WEEKEND, WAS A LEAVE IT ALL ON THE FIELD UNDERSIZED LINEMAN FOR SAINT IGNATIUS' 1970 AND 1971 FOOTBALL TEAMS. THE GRITTY EFFORT BILL DISPLAYED ON THE GRIDIRON FOR THE WILDCATS WAS HONED AT GESU, WHERE HE WAS PART OF AN UNDFEATED CYO CITY CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM.

MAY GOD WELCOME BILL INTO HIS KINGDOM OF HEAVEN AND BE WITH BILL'S LOVED ONES IN THEIR TIME OF SORROW.

Ohio City - Saint Ignatius' offensive linemen have a tradition of just going about their business and being happy with any accolades that happen to be thrown their way.

When you play on the O-Line for the Wildcats, size and strength are only part of the equation. Of course it is always nice to have one or two players who can block out the sun.

As the space providers for one of the most diversified offenses in Ohio, if not the entire nation, the men up front at West 30th and Lorain Avenue have to be sound technicians. Simply put, their footwork has to play as vital a role as the power they have gained in the weight room.

During Wednesday's two-a-day practices on Wasmer Field, Saint Ignatius' offensive line coach Adam Rini '99, a former mainstay on the O-Line for the Wildcats and Georgetown, talked about what has pleased him so far in the sealing process of the 'Cats' 2013 offensive line.

Coach Rini referred to his latest group of trench warriors as a very sound unit, a solid group of young men who appear to have a true chemistry along the entire front.

Depth was another emphasis, as Coach Rini pointed to a second team of four or five players who are very capable when called on. Supplying a nice chunk of that depth is guard/tackle Liam Eichenberg. Liam, who will be entering his sophomore year later this month, has already secured a scholarship offer from The Ohio State University. Quite impressive for a young man who will get his first taste of varsity football on Tuesday when the Wildcats travel to Solon for the annual 10 AM summer practice and drills with Coach Jim McQuaide's Comets.

Coach Paul Yappel, currently in his second season as the Wildcats' assistant offensive line coach, pointed to how well this year's line operates as an entire unit, that they all seem to be on the same page.

A lot of the credit for that cohesiveness not only goes to Coach Rini and Coach Yappel, but to the anchors of the line - All-Ohio senior tackle, captain and University of Notre Dame recruit Jim Byrne and senior tackle Ryan Dadich, who emerged as a more than capable player last fall.

Among some of the other names to remember are senior guard Chris Veras, senior guard/center Tom Stuhldreher and senior center/guard Frank Rolf. Tom is a distant relative of the late Harry Stuhldreher, who was one of the storied Four Horsemen of Notre Dame. A quarterback for the Fighting Irish, Harry was a native of Massillon, Ohio.  

RUNNING IN TIGHT QUARTERS: Wildcats veteran running backs coach Terry Fergus '72 put his ground gainers through drills on Wednesday that focused on how to succeed when running in tight spots. With veterans Mike Vitale, Enzo Cannata, Kyle Daugenti and Dave Boylan helping show the way, the 'Cats' backs focused on when to spin away from a tackle and how to avoid doing it too soon.

During Coach Fergus' blocking drills, promising sophomore tailback James Norris held his own while going up against much bigger and older players. James emerged on the Saint Ignatius sports scene this past spring as an outstanding sprinter for Coach Chuck Kyle's varsity track and field team.

AIR CATS: In the passing drills on Wednesday, senior wide receivers Mike Siragusa and Nick Fabian turned in a couple of highlight-reel efforts - a one-handed grab by Siragusa off a tipped pass as he was falling to the ground and a diving catch along the home sideline by Fabian off a deep route. Sophomore Jack Cook also made a Good Hands Club entry with a solid concentration catch off a long sideline route and versatile senior Jake Maruna put in some strong work as a tight end.

"That a way, Peter, that's what I want to see, that's what I want to see," yelled Saint Ignatius' veteran offensive coordinator Nick Restifo after senior quarterback Pete Mahoney executed a perfectly thrown touchdown pass as Wednesday night's drills were coming to an end.

THE DEFENSE WAS HEARD FROM, AND THEN SOME: Senior Matt McVey appeared to be everywhere on Wednesday, as the multi-skilled safety was seen standing up a blocker and, in one motion, fighting off the block and intercepting a pass. And that effort came in a first-team D versus first-team O encounter.  

Senior outside linebacker and Ohio State recruit Kyle Berger took the elevator up a few floors in making a leaping interception and hard-nosed senior middle linebacker John Gibbons had a pick off a solid read.

AND LAST, BUT CERTAINLY NOT LEAST: This corner would like to express its congratulations to senior Nick Fabian, who before he put on the football spikes and pads this summer was busy winning the Golden Glove Award at the annual and prestigious CABA World Series in Euclid. Nick, whose fielding, big-time throwing arm, speed on the base paths, hitting and pitching helped Coach Brad Ganor's Baseball Wildcats to a Division I state runner-up finish this spring, earned the Golden Glove while playing center field for the always strong Northern Ohio team. Nick's efforts helped Northern Ohio to the 17-and-under CABA championship.

SEE YOU AT WASMER FIELD ON THURSDAY (2:15 PM) AND THEN IT IS OFF TO FIRSTENERGY STADIUM WITH MY SON-IN-LAW CHRIS MURPHY, AS WE GET A  LOOK AT THE 2013 CLEVELAND BROWNS AND FORMER WILDCAT STANDOUT BRIAN HOYER '04.

With depth and versatility their early calling cards, the Wildcats are pointing to Saturday's first day of full-pads hitting.
8/11/2013

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright August 2013

Ohio City - The ups and downs that go hand-in-hand with the first week of two-a-days continued on Wasmer Field Tuesday afternoon.

While the younger players will learn from their mistakes, they were those among the less than battle tested who made plays like third-year varsity lettermen.

And that my friends is why the 2013 Saint Ignatius Wildcats could develop into one of the deepest teams in the Jesuit Preparatory School's rich football history.

As for some of the plays turned in by the youthful, but gifted 'Cats on Tuesday, sophomore wide receiver Tyler Musbach displayed exceptional concentration while making an extended one-handed grab of a tipped pass across the middle during the evening session.

Junior wide receivers JR Klonk and Jaylin McDonald are strong candidates for the Good Hands Club after their efforts in the second-session drills, sophomore wide receiver Cal Grbac continues to impress with his savvy route running and sure hands, and junior wideout David Shibley, who caught the focus of these seasoned Irish eyes with his move-the-chains capability on the junior varsity level last fall, is simply having an outstanding camp.

As for the veterans, senior wide receiver Bennett Kinzel stood out in the early session on Tuesday by making a nice adjustment to the ball on one of his receptions and coming up with a diving effort off a catch that saw him get his hands under the ball before it hit the Wasmer turf.

It was business as usual for money-in-the-bank senior receivers Mike Siragusa, Jack Hyland and Nick Fabian, and senior quarterbacks Pete Mahoney and John Thomas each completed some as-they-are-drawn-up throws.

A DEFENSE THAT NEVER RESTS: As for the Wildcats' D, seniors Sean Luskin, Daniel Cartolin, Dameon Willis Jr. and Pat Hopkins were pursuing like there was no tomorrow, senior defensive back/wide receiver Jack Lavelle came out of nowhere to bat down a pass that was flirting with the Lorain Avenue end zone and junior Joe Conway and senior Evan O'Malley were among those coming up with nice-reaction interceptions.

Hopkins, one of Saint Ignatius' captains as selected by his senior teammates, drew some praise from Wildcats assistant defensive coach Mark Sullivan. And Coach Sullivan, a standout nose tackle under the late, great Woody Hayes at The Ohio State University, doesn't pass out praise easily.

"Yeah, I got on him and he responded," said Coach Sullivan.

ON THE MEND: Saint Ignatius' standout senior defensive lineman Chris Keane is recovering from a sprained ankle and could be back in the lineup in two weeks.

THE MIGHTY 100-PLUS: The Wildcats' freshman football roster totals 122. Although this corner prefers to let the freshmen develop a bit before we start reporting on them, I have to say that, as advertised, it is an impressive looking group of hopefuls.

FALL PREVIEWS ARE AROUND THE CORNER: As always, we will begin previewing the Wildcats' fall sports teams next week with a look at Coach Mike McLaughlin's outstanding soccer program.

As for the varsity football preview, I am a firm believer in waiting until the first full scrimmage of the preseason takes place and the reality of the matter begins to unfold. Thus the corner will give you an in-depth look at Coach Chuck Kyle's 2013 'Cats on Sunday, Aug. 18.

SEE YOU AT WASMER FIELD FOR THE 2:15 PM START OF WEDNESDAY'S TWO-A-DAYS.

The first double sessions of 2013 feature progress on both sides of the ball. Joe Pickens pays a visit to Wasmer Field.
8/6/2013

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright August 2013

Ohio City - While there is obviously work to be done, there were impressive plays turned in by the offense and the defense during the opening of two-a-day practices on Wasmer Field.

As always, the corner will report on many of the highlights from Monday's sessions.

We start this post, however, by saying how great it was to have the opportunity to visit with Saint Ignatius' legendary quarterback Joe Pickens '90, the field general who helped start what is one of the greatest runs in the history of high school football, both in Ohio and nationally. Now a successful attorney for the firm of Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP in Columbus, Joe was at Wasmer Field on Monday taking in the late afternoon/early evening practice. 

A true man for others, Joe's powerful and accurate arm showed the way to the first two in what are now an Ohio-best 11 state championships for Coach Chuck Kyle's program. Joe was part of a class that went undefeated on the freshman, junior varsity and varsity levels. With Joe at the full-time varsity helm as a junior and senior, the Wildcats went 14-0 in 1988 (their first appearance in the OHSAA playoffs) and 13-0 in 1989. The 1989 season also included the first of three national championships on Coach Kyle's resume, with the other two coming in 1993 and 1995.

It was a pleasure for this old-timer to sit in the stands at Wasmer Field with a young man I had the PRIVILEGE to report on and reminisce about the falls of 1988 and 1989, seasons that saw Joe garner All-American, All-Ohio, All-District and Plain Dealer All-Scholastic honors. We also talked about Coach Tom Banc's outstanding teams at Euclid and the Panthers' gifted two-time Mr. Football Robert Smith, the player Joe and I believe should be ranked No. 1 on The Plain Dealer's upcoming list of the Top 50 area high school football players since 1963.

Joe would go on to talk about his outstanding teammates at Saint Ignatius, among them his lifelong friend and grade school partner at St. Thomas More, Mark Ruddy, and other All-Ohio selections such as Pete Fitzpatrick and Trent Zenkewicz. A dominant force as a three-year, two-way starting lineman for the Wildcats, Trent is another player Joe and I look upon as an obvious choice for The PD Top 50.

Before Joe said goodbye, he shared with this corner a story that stemmed from one of his college recruiting visits while he was attending Saint Ignatius.

On a trip to the campus of the University of Miami, Joe's host player was none other than The Cleveland Browns' new Head Coach Rob Chudzinski. Chudzinski attended St. John's Jesuit High School in Toledo and went on to play college football for the University of Miami Hurricanes from 1986–1990, winning a national championship with the Hurricanes in 1987, and again in 1989. Rob was a three-year starter at tight end for the Hurricanes.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY JT!: Saint Ignatius senior quarterback John "The Gunslinger" Thomas celebrated his 18th Birthday on Monday by firing the ball around Wasmer Field.

John hooked up with talented junior wide receiver David Shibley on two crowd-pleasing plays, including a deep route down the seam that saw David go high in the air and make an impressive two-handed grab at the Lorain Avenue end zone. Shibley, who drew Thomas' praise after the double sessions, also combined with JT on a picture-perfect sideline route.

A CASE FOR THE DEFENSE: Seniors Dan Jamieson (two interceptions) and Ryan Cooper (breakup off a deep pass) were roaming nicely during the first session, multi-skilled senior safety Dameon Willis Jr. and senior linebackers Patrick Hopkins and John Gibbons were pursuing to the ball and penetrating into the backfield, and All-Ohio senior linebacker Kyle Berger also had a pick. The versatile Berger saw some time at tight end.

SOPHOMORES STEP UP: Sophomore quarterback Dennis Grosel, while working against players from the varsity defense, clicked with sophomore receiver Tyler Musbach on a deep scoring route and was on target to Musbach off a nice timing pattern across the middle.

Promising sophomore wide receiver Cal Grbac continues to impress. Cal went high in the air along the home sideline of Wasmer Field, made a smooth two-handed catch and, in an exceptional display of balance, came down with the ball, eluded the defender and went into the end zone.

AND THE JUNIORS DON'T GO QUIETLY INTO THE NIGHT: Quarterback Jake Kucia was firing some crisp passes across the middle to tight end Dre'Mont Jones during the evening's final session.

MATT HOYER LENDING A HAND: Helping with Monday's receiving drills was former Wildcats quarterback and pitching ace Matt Hoyer '12. Matt, who also took part in team sprints, will be attending the University of Akron this fall.

TWO-A-DAYS RESUME ON TUESDAY AT 2:15 PM ON WASMER FIELD. SO YOU THERE. 

Wildcats wrap up their summer mini camps on a positive note. Monday marks the start of two-a-days.
8/1/2013

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright August 2013

Ohio City - There were some encouraging words echoing from Wasmer Field on Wednesday, as Saint Ignatius' veteran offensive coordinator Nick Restifo and quarterbacks coach Elvis Grbac recognized some of the efforts put forth by the quarterbacks and receivers from the Wildcats' junior varsity and varsity football programs.

In what was the final mini camp before the start of the demanding two-a-day practices, crisp passes and tough sure-handed catches highlighted Wednesday's afternoon and evening sessions.

The two-a-day practices, which get underway at 2:30 PM on Monday, will include three major preseason tests. Saint Ignatius will travel to Solon on August 13 for the annual 10 AM practice/drill sessions with Coach Jim McQuaide's Comets, the Twinsburg Tigers will visit Wasmer Field on August 16 for a 10 AM scrimmage and on August 23 it is the traditional Jamboree with the Canton McKinley Bulldogs in legendary Fawcett Stadium. The Wildcats and McKinley will compete in split-field freshman and junior varsity scrimmages at 5 PM and the varsity Jamboree, which will be played under game conditions, will kick off at 7.

Here is a look at some of the highlights from the final mini camp of 2013, as the corner looks forward to giving more reports throughout the double sessions.

JAYVEES IMPRESS: Sure, there were miscues, but all in all the 'Cats' junior varsity team unleashed some pass plays that can only lead to bigger and better things.

Sophomore quarterback Dennis Grosel clicked with sophomore wideout Cal Grbac on some nice sideline routes, was on the money in crossing patterns and a seam route to sophomore receiver Jack Cook and quickly found the holes in dig routes to sophomore Jimmy Berger, who put together his second consecutive day of sure-handed grabs.

Sophomore Tyler Musbach completed another solid mini camp with some receptions on Wednesday afternoon that would have made him a charter member of the late Dick Zunt's "Good Hands Club."

NO VARSITY BLUES TO SPEAK OF: "Way to put it on him Pete, way to put it on him," yelled Coach Restifo to senior quarterback Pete Mahoney after Pete fired a rope to senior wide receiver and captain Jack Hyland for a first down. Both Pete and fellow senior quarterback John "The Gunslinger" Thomas had solid closing mini acts.

Thomas combined with promising junior receiver David Shibley on a picture-perfect skinny post in the scoreboard end zone of Wasmer Field. Mahoney clicked again on tosses to gifted senior wideout Mike Siragusa, versatile senior Jack Lavelle and quick and active senior receiver Nick Fabian. Fabian combined with Pete on a touchdown in the right corner of the scoreboard end zone, as Nick alertly got one foot down in bounds.

"The Gunslinger" Thomas, aka JT, loaded up again on a seam route to Shibley and a deep pass to senior Jake Helton.

THE PLAY OF THE DAY: Senior tailback Enzo Cannata, a talented, yet humble young man who plays every down with a big heart, hauled in a swing pass out of the backfield in stride, made a highlight-reel move along the sideline that froze and faked out the cornerback and, in a display of strength, balance and quick feet, made his way into the scoreboard end zone.

*Just a little commentary for those who are concerned about the Wildcats' running game after the graduation of prolific All-Ohio tailback Tim McVey. No, there is not another Tim McVey on Wasmer Field this summer. However, this old-timer has been watching Enzo and his fellow senior tailbacks Mike Vitale and Kyle Daugenti since they were freshmen and I can assure you they are a solid and very underrated threesome. Mike has a running style that reminds this corner of former Wildcat great Pete Fitzpatrick '90.

Rest easy my friends, these are young men who will bring nothing less than 110 percent on every carry and catch.

A CASE FOR THE DEFENSE: As we said before, the defense will show its true potential starting next week when the pads go on. Wildcats highly regarded senior safety/linebacker Dameon Willis Jr. gave us all a sneak preview of what is to come when he wiped out a drive with a leaping interception along the sideline on Wednesday evening.

FIRM IN HIS COMMITMENT: For Katy and Jeff from Dublin, Ohio, who inquired about Kyle Berger's verbal commitment to The Ohio State University, the Wildcats' All-Ohio senior linebacker is staying loyal in his commitment to Coach Urban Meyer's Buckeyes. Kyle is humbled and honored by the other tremendous scholarship offers he has received, including one from the defending national champion Crimson Tide of Alabama, but, as he told the corner on Tuesday, he's a Buckeye. Well, first a Wildcat then a Buckeye.

Have a great weekend and we'll see you on Monday at Wasmer Field. Go 'Cats and Go Tribe!

A gifted receiving corps will help show the way in 2013.
7/31/2013

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright July/August 2013

Ohio City - No, it is not early any more.

The time has come for the 2013 Saint Ignatius football Wildcats to pick up the tempo.

With the summer mini camps coming to a close on Wednesday, Coach Chuck Kyle's Wildcats will rest for a few days and then gear up for the most telling part of the preseason - two-a-days.

The demanding daily-double practice sessions begin on Monday, as Saint Ignatius looks to fill those holes that resulted from graduation.

Among the major concerns is the running game, where the Wildcats will attempt to fill the void left by one of the most prolific offensive players in Saint Ignatius' rich gridiron history - Air Force bound Tim McVey.

However, despite the loss of the record-setting, two-time All-Ohioan McVey, the Wildcats' faithful can rest easy with the knowledge that the 2013 offense will be in good hands, literally.

"I think there is a lot that is expected of this group," said Saint Ignatius' wide receivers coach Josiah Kedzior '04 of the Wildcats' multi-skilled, battle-tested and big-play receivers. "With Mike (senior receiver Mike Siragusa) and Jack (senior receiver and captain Jack Hyland) returning, that is going to be a huge asset to our offense. They have the experience and they have played in the big games, like the Mentor games of last year. I definitely expect a lot from them."

A former standout wide receiver and kicker for Saint Ignatius and John Carroll University, Coach Kedzior firmly believes that this season's receiving corps ranks right up there with any in the Wildcats' history, a history that includes an Ohio-record 11 Division I state championships and three national titles.

"They are four and five deep, and that's across the board," said Coach Kedzior, who was known as "Juice" and "The Difference Maker" during those years when he was hauling in passes from former Saint Ignatius and Michigan State mainstay Brian Hoyer '04. Brian is currently competing for a spot on the Browns' roster.

"I'm excited," Coach Kedzior said. "I think there is talent and a lot of good things that can come out of this group."

One of the things that fuels Coach Kedzior's enthusiasm is the flexibility of the 'Cats' 2013 receivers.

"I think you are going to see a lot of new things this season that we are going to be incorporating in the offense," he said. "These guys put in a ton of work in the off season. Mike (Siragusa) worked on his speed and quickness and they were in the weight room all of the time."

Coach Kedzior also emphasized that the return of senior wideout Nick Fabian is "huge." A talented two-sport athlete, Nick worked on his promising baseball career as a junior after a big-play sophomore season as a receiver on the junior-varsity level.

"Nick is going to fit right in there, in the hole that was opened by Rocky," said Coach Kedzior, referring to Rocky Zingale '13, who put together a tremendous senior season in 2012. "Again, I'm excited. We have the size and everything."

As for some of the lesser known names among the Wildcats' receivers, senior Jake Helton has been outstanding in camp and junior David Shibley continues to display the soft hands and precise route running that he utilized so effectively on the JV level last fall.

"Going into the off season we looked at Jake as the guy who was going to play in case somebody got hurt," Coach Kedzior said. "But he has kind of put his name on the board in saying (with his performance), hey, I'm not that guy. I'm a guy who belongs on the field every day. He's deserved it, he's worked his butt off. And if Jake continues to make plays, the sky's the limit."

As for Shibley, Coach Kedzior pointed out how difficult it is going to be trying to replace Conor Hennessey '13 at the U-Back. And that is where David can really step up and take advantage of the opportunity.

In summing up his 2013 receiving corps, Coach Kedzior referred back to the 1-2 punch of Siragusa and Hyland.

"Juice" couldn't say enough about Jack's leadership and how deserving he is of the captain's role. As for Mike, or "Goose," as Siragusa is referred to by his teammates, it is about leading by example.

"Those two guys are going to be so crucial in making this entire corps, from sophomores on up, as successful as it can be," said Coach Kedzior. "Some of their best traits are off the field."

And does the coach see any of himself in Hyland and Siragusa?

"They're a lot better than I was," said "The Difference Maker."

See you at the final mini camp on Wednesday.

Family ties - Senior linebacker Patrick Hopkins joins first cousin Jim Byrne as one of the Wildcats' captains and follows in the footsteps of his brother Kevin.
7/30/2013

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright July/August 2013

Pat Hopkins, on a vote by his senior teammates, learns before Monday's Mini Camp 7 that he will help lead the 2013 Wildcats.

Three of Coach Chuck Kyle's four captains are now set, as Patrick joins his first cousin, Jim Byrne, and his former grade school teammate at St. Christopher, Jack Hyland, in the leadership roles.

Byrne, an All-Ohio offensive tackle and a University of Notre Dame recruit, and Hyland, a gifted wide receiver, were announced as 2013 captains during last winter's annual postseason Football Banquet. A fourth and final senior captain will be selected by Coach Kyle and his staff during two-a-days, which get under way next week.

Ohio City - Jim Byrne, an Associated Press All-Ohio and All-Northeast Lakes District offensive tackle, a Plain Dealer seven-county All-Star and one of the top recruits by the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame from the graduating Class of 2014, has had plenty to smile about during his stellar football career at Saint Ignatius.

That said, I don't think this corner has ever seen a wider smile on the face of the 6-foot-4 1/2, 290-pound Byrne than the one he wore after Coach Chuck Kyle '69 announced prior to Monday's mini camp that senior linebacker Patrick Hopkins has been voted (by his senior teammates) as one of the Wildcats' captains for 2013.

"It's definitely awesome," said Byrne. "Going back to fourth grade, me and Pat were ball boys for Saint Ignatius. We were here when Pat's brother (Kevin) was a captain. We were like, God, one day we want to be out there. We kind of got a taste of it (the leadership role) JV year, but to be actually doing it on the varsity level is very exciting."

For Pat Hopkins, joining Byrne, his first cousin, as two of the traditional four senior captains for Coach Kyle's storied program is an honor he dreamed about as a little kid. And when that dream became a reality on Monday, even more emotion flowed from a young man who smiles as easily as he runs down a ball carrier.

"It definitely means a lot, coming from very influential brothers who helped pave the way for me," said Hopkins, in reference to his brother Kevin '10, who as a standout safety and special teams player helped captain Coach Kyle's 11-1 Wildcats of 2009, and Brian Hopkins '07, who was an outstanding student and multi-skilled athlete for the 'Cats. Kevin Hopkins also served as a captain for Coach Brad Ganor's varsity baseball program in the spring of 2010.

"It's a great feeling to have the opportunity to come out and lead the Saint Ignatius football team," Pat Hopkins continued. "There have been a lot of great players who have played here, but only a few were captains. I feel so honored to be one of those captains."

One of the first to congratulate Pat after Monday's mini camp, was Kevin Hopkins, who will be entering his senior year at Miami of Ohio.

"It's something special, he has worked his butt off ever since he came to Saint Ignatius," Kevin said of his little brother. "These are the times when things have paid off. I am very proud of him and very happy for him, as my parents (Jim and Ann) will be. I know my older brother (Brian) will be giving him a call from New York."

Brian Hopkins is in the finance business in the Big Apple and Kevin is a Business Management Major at Miami of Ohio with a Criminology Minor.

As the Wildcats embark on another demanding schedule in 2013, Jim Byrne and Pat Hopkins shared with the corner the approach they will bring to their very special roles.

Jim Byrne: "I'm not going to come out here and yell at people, I like to lead more by example. I will say something if I need to, but ever day it is my goal to come out, work my hardest and be focused the entire practice. I think that starts to rub off on guys. People notice, and I think they buy into it."

Pat Hopkins: "Coach Kyle mentioned that the third captain was going to be the one that stepped up in the off season. And no question, I definitely made a lot of mistakes last year. I grew from those mistakes and I corrected them over the course of the off season. I think learning by failure is a great way of leading. When you have responsibilities as big as those that go hand in hand with being a captain, it just shows where you come from and what school you go to."

HERE ARE SOME TIDBITS FROM MONDAY'S MINI CAMP 7

JUST CALL THEM COACH CANNATA AND COACH BOYLAN: With veteran coaches Terry Fergus and Jim Cahill fulfilling business responsibilities, Wildcats senior running backs Enzo Cannata and David Boylan stepped up and put the junior varsity running backs through their early drills on Monday. Now that is versatility at its finest.

SHOWING THE WAY: And speaking of running backs, Cannata and fellow senior tailbacks Mike Vitale and Kyle Daugenti led the way in the first 1,200 meters of Monday's running and sprinting drills.

SOLID REACTION: A tip of the corner's cap went out to junior linebacker Geoff DiMassa, who came up with a solid interception and return during the no-huddle offense versus defense drills.

PASSING GAME CONTINUES TO IMPRESS: Senior wideouts Mike Siragusa and Jack Hyland were razor sharp off a variety of routes, senior quarterback Pete Mahoney threw some impressive deep balls, Siragusa and senior wideout Jake Helton turned long seam patterns into physical receptions and junior tight end Dre'Mont Jones made his presence felt across the middle.

HE SAID IT: Saint Ignatius quarterbacks coach Elvis Grbac, a former St. Joseph High School and University of Michigan standout, and an All-Pro QB in the NFL, said his son Cal, a very promising sophomore receiver for the Wildcats, has the one thing he never had - very quick feet.

As someone who was privileged to cover and report on Elvis during his high school days, I think he stood just fine on the feet God gave him.

See you at Wasmer Field on Tuesday.

Defense Pressures, Air Raid Impresses as Final Three Mini Camps Arrive Next Week
7/25/2013

PASSING GAME CONTINUES TO IMPRESS AS THE WILDCATS GEAR UP FOR NEXT WEEK'S FINAL THREE MINI CAMPS OF THE SUMMER.

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright July 2013

Ohio City - "Bring your running shoes gentlemen."

That was the message from Saint Ignatius head football coach Chuck Kyle '69 following Thursday evening's Mini Camp 6 on a sun-drenched Wasmer Field.

Coach Kyle was referring to next week's final three mini camps, which will get under way each day (Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday) with an emphasis on running and sprint drills. Simply put, conditioning is the operative word starting Monday.

"Obviously, with what we do offensively and defensively we have to be in shape," Coach Kyle said. "That's a given."

Like all of his teams, Coach Kyle, now in his 31st season as his alma mater's head coach, expects his 2013 Wildcats to be as strong, or stronger, in the fourth quarter as they were when the game kicked off.

It is that type of physical and mental conditioning that has helped pave the way to 301 victories under Coach Kyle, including a record 11 OHSAA big-school state championships and three national titles.

AIR 'CATS: Senior quarterbacks Pete Mahoney and John Thomas were throwing passes on Thursday evening that could have gone through a car wash without getting wet.

And hauling in those pigskin perfections were members of, in this old-timer's humble opinion, the deepest receiving corps in Northeast Ohio.

Mahoney and Thomas laid perfectly executed deep routes into the hands of senior Jake Helton and junior David Shibley, respectively, as Helton and Shibley were breaking for the Lorain Avenue end zone of Wasmer Field.

Senior wide receiver and Co-Captain Jack Hyland displayed his sure hands off a quick-hitting crossing route from Mahoney, a read and execution that drew a "Yes, yes, yes!" from veteran offensive coordinator Nick Restifo. Thomas, aka "The Gunslinger," and senior wide receiver/defensive back Jack Lavelle combined on a couple of nice swing routes.

A REMINDER FROM THE "D": As for the Wildcats' defense on Thursday evening, well, let's just say that like all defenses on the high school, college and professional levels the advantage goes to the offense in 7-on-7 and other early camp competition.

That said, Saint Ignatius' defenders know things will begin to even out when two-a-days start on Aug. 5 and they gave the 'Cats' "O" a little taste of what to expect.

Senior Nick Malarik displayed aggressiveness and quick reaction off some nice plays in the secondary and veteran senior defensive lineman Chris Keane, junior defensive end Michael Penn and veteran senior linebacker Patrick Hopkins delivered a purposeful pass rush. Keane batted down a ball off a bull rush.

As the sun was beginning to set in Ohio City, the seniors voted on a third captain for the 2013 season. The young man who will be joining Jack Hyland and offensive tackle and Notre Dame recruit Jim Byrne in the leadership roles will be announced by Coach Kyle before the start of Monday's mini camp.

A fourth and final captain will be selected by the coaching staff during two-a-days.

LOOKING AHEAD: Saint Ignatius' outstanding Athletics Director Rory Fitzpatrick '88, who worked another miracle in filling the Wildcats' 2013 football schedule, said he has six games in place for 2014. Those six games are against Mentor, Paramus Catholic, Lawrence Central, Archbishop Moeller, St. Xavier and St. Edward. There is a possibility of a seventh game versus Erie McDowell, but that is on stand by. Rumors of a game against Cleveland Heights are just that right now, although the Wildcats would love to renew their football rivalry with the Tigers. Remember those packed-house fall Saturday afternoons on Cedar and Lee?    

See you at Monday's mini camp. And, as always, I will have my running shoes on. Wait a minute, maybe we should say walking shoes.

Jack Lavelle makes a case for the defense, but the Pete Mahoney and John Thomas- fueled offense doesn't go quietly into the night.
7/25/2013

Dameon Willis Jr. makes a fashion statement as most of the Wildcats arrive at Mini Camp 5 with shorter locks.

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright July 2013

Ohio City - Five weeks from this coming Saturday the Saint Ignatius Wildcats will open their 2013 football season in Michigan against the Warriors from Brother Rice.

While there is a lot of work to be done between now and that Aug. 31, 1:30 PM kickoff at Wayne State University, there were more than a few moments during Wednesday evening's fifth mini camp of the summer that left those not easily impressed smiling with approval.

Senior cornerback/receiver Jack Lavelle turned in a performance on defense that saw him make a leaping deflection of a deep throw, come up with a diving interception off another long route and, in an excellent display of tight coverage and reaction, break quickly on the