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SIBN Across the Table: Varsity Football Week 2

The area's premier Public School vs. Catholic School Football Rivalry. It's No. 1 Saint Ignatius versus No. 2 Mentor
By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit September 2015
Ohio City - The Wildcats (1-0) and the Cardinals (1-0), ranked 1-2 in's Top 25 area poll, will be meeting on the gridiron for the 19th time when they square off on Friday night in Mentor's Jerome T. Osborne Sr. Stadium for a 7 PM kickoff.
Saint Ignatius, whose football rivalry with Mentor has developed under Wildcats Hall of Fame Head Coach Chuck Kyle and Mentor's highly successful Head Coach Steve Trivisonno, won the first four games of a series that began in 1989. The Cardinals' first victory over Saint Ignatius in football took place in the second round of the 2003 OHSAA playoffs, a 31-0 triumph by Mentor.
Although the Wildcats hold an 11-7 lead in their series with the Cardinals, Mentor has won five of the last eight meetings. Two of those five victories came in the 2012 and 2013 postseason playoffs, including the now storied 57-56 triple-overtime victory by the Cardinals in the 2012 Division I Regional finals. Mentor also won last year's regular season encounter at Byers Field in Parma's Robert M. Boulton Stadium.
However, the last time Saint Ignatius traveled to Osborne Sr. Stadium for a Friday night regular-season matchup with the Cardinals, the Wildcats came away with a 26-6 victory. That was in Week 2 of the 2013 season.
Coach Trivisonno has gone on record as saying that as long as he is at the helm at Mentor and Coach Kyle is at Saint Ignatius, his Cardinals will always play the Wildcats - on all levels. In case you are interested, Saint Ignatius will travel to Osborne Sr. Stadium on Thursday for a 5 PM Freshmen Football matchup with Mentor and on Saturday at 11 AM at Wasmer Field, the Wildcats and the Cardinals will meet again on the Junior Varsity level.
Yes, Mentor and Saint Ignatius appreciate the value of a good old Public School versus Catholic or Private School Football rivalry. And this year it's under the Friday Night Lights. Sorry, but this old-timer loves Friday night high school football games.
Here is a look at the 2015 Mentor Cardinals, followed by comments from Coach Kyle and few trips around the corner.
Behind 309 yards and three touchdowns through the air by promising sophomore quarterback Tadas Tatarunas, a pair of TD receptions by veteran wide receiver Jason Blizzard and an opportunistic defense, Mentor opened its season with a 38-7 victory over Boardman at Osborne Sr. Stadium last Friday night.
Boardman, featuring the I-formation skills of junior tailback Koby Adu-Poku (34 carries for 157 yards) trailed, 17-7, late in the third quarter before the Cardinals pulled away.
Mentor, which finished 11-2 last season, welcomed back 2014 contributors Blizzard; Mike Ballentine at cornerback; Kenny Cook at safety; 6-foot-3, 295-pound defensive lineman Billy Hudson; 6-4, 225-pound offensive lineman Kevin Birchall; linebacker DeAngelo Levert; standout running back Alex Mathews; veteran receiver Malik Porter (6-2, 200); offensive lineman Chase Strayer (6-3, 255); junior kicker Kyle Ulbrich and sophomore defensive back Logan Shea.  
Some other names to remember are wide receiver Steven Baird, defensive lineman Mark Gordon, defensive back/wide receiver Joe Lampert and offensive lineman Tyler Schonauer.
The Cardinals' biggest concern in preseason was who is going to step up at quarterback? Well, if his varsity debut under center last weekend is any indication, the 6-foot-4 Tatarunas could be a force to deal with for three years.
COACH KYLE ON THE 2015 CARDINALS:  "I think this year's team is really a compliment to the Mentor program," said the man who has guided his alma mater to an Ohio record 11 Division I state championships, including a state-best five in a row (1991-95), a state runner-up in 1996, three national championships (1989, '93 and '95) and a national runner-up in 2008. "Because they're good. They graduated some guys, some very good guys. And yet, there is somebody coming up (from the lower levels) that knows their offense and their defense. It's the organization of the Mentor junior highs getting into Cardinal Football and what the Mentor Cardinals Varsity does.
"You see the progression, one sees the idea that there is another kid going to come and have faith in it," Coach Kyle continued. "To me, the real obvious impression that I see this year with the quarterback, the defensive backs and some of their receivers, is yeah, it's their turn. And they know what they're doing. It's a great compliment to their program, believe me."
Coach Kyle, who in recent seasons has had to defend the Mr. Football gifts of All-Ohio quarterback Mitch Trubisky and the grit and skill of All-Ohio signal-caller Conner Krizancic while coaching against the Cardinals, is impressed with the size, arm and vision of Tatarunas.
"And again, even though he is just a sophomore, he knows their system," Coach Kyle said. "You can tell that if he's got a first look that he doesn't like, he knows exactly where he's going to. It's not just put your head down and run around. He's knows what he has to do on the next step or the next read. That, for a sophomore, is really, really good."
Coach Kyle also pointed to Mentor's veteran receivers of Blizzard and Porter, how much Mathews hurt the Cats on the ground last year, and the experience and size the Cardinals have up front defensively. A classic battle between Saint Ignatius' offensive line and Mentor's D-Line is one of the things Coach Kyle foresees on Friday night.
"We'll see how that battle goes, because it's going to be a key," said the man who is the most successful coach in the Great Cleveland area and the winningest Division I coach in Northeast Ohio with 316 career victories. Coach Kyle is now in his 33rd season as the head of Saint Ignatius' storied football program.
Defensively, Coach Kyle said the Cardinals give you different types of coverage, where they sort of walk into it and try to disguise it a little bit. Sometimes man and sometimes zone, and they try not to give you too early of a look at it.
"It's a classic Mentor offense and defense with some new faces. But they know what they're doing," Coach Kyle said.
Saint Ignatius is coming off a 63-7 opening-night victory over a Normandy in which Coach Kyle and his staff rotated their first, second and third units from the get-go and played the entire team (105 players). The Cats had eight rushing touchdowns and picked up nearly 300 yards on the ground.
"Certainly this week the first team will be busy," said Coach Kyle. "This is definitely like a regional final game."
FOR THOSE WHO ASKED: The first Associated Press State Football Poll will be released on Sept. 14 and the first release of the Ohio High School Athletic Association's all-important computer ratings is scheduled for Sept. 22.
NO STRANGERS: Wildcats Mike Chime, Mark Bobinski, Drew Asadorian  and Tommy Grosel (Dennis Grosel's brother) grew up together and played football with a lot of the Mentor players.
"They're great kids," said Bobinski, a gifted and gritty sophomore tailback who will help lead the Wildcats' Jayvees against the Mentor JV Team on Saturday at 11 AM on Wasmer Field. Along with Friday night's Varsity Game, the Saint Ignatius Student Broadcast Network is planning on broadcasting Saturday's JV Game.
"We still hang out to this day," Bobinski said of the Mentor players. "We still argue about who is a better football team, but in a friendly way."  


Saint Ignatius Varsity Football plays the entire team in going to its second and third units early and often during Saturday's 63-7 opening-night victory over Normandy on Byers Field

By  Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit August/September 2015

Parma, Ohio - Everyone played and the OHSAA point-differential running clock was employed as the Cats led, 21-0, after the first quarter and 49-0 at halftime.

Despite being out-manned, the Normandy Invaders never quit and displayed class during and after the game. It was the first meeting on the gridiron between the Wildcats and the Invaders. In following area high school football since 1958 and covering and reporting on it for more than four decades, I haven't seen many players display a bigger heart than Normandy quarterback Bailey Archacki did in Parma's Robert M. Boulton Stadium on Saturday night. A lesser player would have mailed it in after the first quarter.   

The 63 points by Saint Ignatius marked the third time since 2002 that the Cats surpassed 60 points in a game. In 2007, Saint Ignatius defeated Buffalo (N.Y.) Canisius, 64-0, and in 2002 Brian Hoyer, current Wildcats Wide Receivers Coach Josiah "Juice" Kedzior and Company dominated Fremont Ross, 63-14. In 1988, the Cats defeated Cleveland John F. Kennedy, 75-0.



TOO MUCH FIREPOWER ON THE GROUND: The Wildcats ran the ball with authority against Normandy. In racking up more than 280 yards rushing and scoring eight times on the ground, Saint Ignatius went to work on a facet of its game that, mainly because of injuries, was up and down last season.

After gifted senior wide receiver/defensive back/ punter returner/Jack Cook returned a punt that came from Normandy's end zone to the Invaders' 30-yard line, savvy senior quarterback Dennis Grosel directed a quick three-play series that was capped with a 4-yard touchdown burst by promising junior tailback Jimmy Andrews and the ensuing extra-point kick off the powerful leg of junior Colin Goodfellow.

After a leaping interception by Cook at the Invaders' 35-yard line, senior tailback Ian Forkapa went to work with 27 yards on five carries, including a 3-yard touchdown run. Goodfellow's second extra point was high and true, and it was a 14-0 game with 6 minutes and 24 seconds remaining in the first quarter. Junior quarterback Patrick Ryan was at the helm for the Cats' second touchdown.

Saint Ignatius' veteran Running Backs Coach Terry Fergus was all smiles on the sideline as the rushing attack continued to take its toll on the Invaders.

Senior tailback Elijah Wahib, whose mental and physical toughness are bigger than Robert M. Boulton Stadium, pushed the Wildcats' lead to four touchdowns on TD gallops of 5 and 15 yards. Goodfellow assisted with two more PATs that kissed the gray sky over Byers Field. A smooth roll-out pass from Ryan to senior tight end Robert Hilbig helped set up Wahib's second visit to the end zone.

The Cats' defense then struck with a perfectly timed 31 yard interception return for a touchdown by senior defensive back Dan Volpe.

Saint Ignatius tacked on two more touchdowns before halftime courtesy of another scoring run by Forkapa that featured a text-book cutback and an authoritative 2-yard score by senior running back David Welcsh. David is a converted quarterback.

Forkapa's second TD was set up by an exceptional catch and run by junior wide receiver Michael Daugenti and Welcsh's hard-nosed visit to the Day Drive end zone of Byers Field was preceded by a picture-perfect reception from senior receiver/long snapper Jim Berger.

The Cats' second half scores came off a 15-yard burst to pay dirt by senior tailback Nick Berlin and a 4-yard sweep over the right side and into the Day Drive end zone by junior tailback Dean "The Dream" Stowers. Sophomore Matthew Trickett, who was competing for the Varsity Soccer Team during the annual Ohio Jesuit Cup on Saturday afternoon, put on the helmet and pads and showed off his powerful leg with two extra points and a couple of impressive kickoffs into the end zone.

Goodfellow's 7 PATs on the night were one short of tying the Wildcats' single-game mark.

Normandy's touchdown came off an on-the-money 48-yard toss from Archacki to Brandon Calta with just over four minutes remaining in the third quarter. Archacki also picked up some big yardage off a keeper late in the first half.


FROM COACH KYLE: "We played everybody who could play tonight. So that's 100 and whatever (players). Some guys were injured, so it was somewhere around 105.

"I told the kids earlier in the week that the first unit, fine," Coach Kyle continued. "But when they (the first unit) score, you're (the second unit) going in. Because I want them (the second unit) to run our offense. It's like, hey, it's only 7-0 so you guys have to come through and they did. We've got a lot of running backs that bring different things to the field, vision and speed. So let's get them out there. 

"We want to build depth and we want the quarterbacks and receivers to run the offense. The first unit got back on the field in the third series and after that they were done," Coach Kyle said. "We've got Mentor next week, so there are things to work on."           



Saint Ignatius' Junior Varsity Football Team leaves room for improvement during Thursday's 27-2 season-opening victory at Central Catholic, but displays the pieces and the promise that could be the foundation for another successful season

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit August 2015

Cleveland, Ohio - As freshmen last fall, they produced an undefeated season.

Now a year older, wiser and stronger, Saint Ignatius' Junior Varsity Football players have the potential to be even better this season.

While some first-game mistakes accompanied their 27-2 victory over a quick and athletic Cleveland Central Catholic Junior Varsity team on Thursday evening, the young Wildcats did enough good things to spoil any thoughts the Ironmen and their faithful had of a potential upset.

"I thought it was a good first game from the standpoint we were put into a lot of different situations," said Saint Ignatius' Head Junior Varsity Coach Paul Yappel, who also serves as an Assistant Offensive Line Coach for the Wildcats' Varsity program. "The free kick after the safety, punt, punt return, kickoff, kickoff return, all of our special teams were used. All of those things in a first game are helpful to a young team, a young group. We never know how a first game is going to go in terms of how are they going to react? We've practiced, we've scrimmaged, but now it's for real.

"They played well for the first time out," Coach Yappel continued. "There is definitely room for improvement, but that's what this whole experience is for them as a JV player, developing and improvement. We move on now to our second opponent and we have to be ready to step our game up in every area, individually and collectively."

The JV Cats, who will now gear up for an 11 AM Sept. 5 kickoff versus the Junior Varsity Team from Mentor at Wasmer Field, turned to their special teams and defense from the get-go.

After a booming opening kickoff off the leg of Matthew Trickett went into the end zone, Central Catholic took possession at its 20-yard line on the sun-drenched turf in Stefanski Stadium.

From there, the Wildcats' defense was all over the Ironmen.

After Cats defensive end Jeffrey Outcalt sacked the quarterback on the first play from scrimmage, Saint Ignatius' team pursuit had Central Catholic looking up at a third down and 25 yards to go from its 5-yard line.

Things only got worse for the Ironmen as they tried a swing pass in the end zone and the play was eaten up by Wildcats defensive back Max Corrigan-Mook, who tackled the receiver in the end zone for a safety after the receiver caught the ball. If these old eyes aren't deceiving me, I think Central Catholic was going to try a double pass out of its end zone. But Corrigan-Mook was a step ahead of anything the Ironmen had in mind.

Saint Ignatius, which complemented its defense and special teams with a balanced offense, pushed its lead to 17-0 by halftime behind the arm of quarterback Daniel Alexander and the running of gifted and hard-nosed tailback Mark Bobinski.

Bobinski's highlight-reel cut back resulted in his 11-yard touchdown run. Mark put on a display of strength, balance and speed throughout the game.

Alexander threw for a touchdown and a two-point conversion, and sealed the deal when he faked the handoff to multi-skilled tailback Josh Crayton-Prioleau and bootlegged into the end zone. Crayton-Prioleau set up Alexander's TD sprint around the left side with some impressive runs that carried the Cats inside Central Catholic's 2-yard line. Drew Alessandro's extra-point kick closed out the scoring.

Prior to Alexander's touchdown run, Saint Ignatius made it a 20-2 game on a 36-yard field goal by Trickett that was set up by a blocked punt by defensive back Brock Hausmann, who also recovered the ball in the same motion. Trickett doubles as a mainstay for Coach Mike McLaughlin's nationally acclaimed Varsity Soccer program.

In what were two other outstanding plays, Wildcats standout safety Justin Sands ran down a Central Catholic receiver who, after catching a tipped pass, cutting across the field and breaking away down the left sideline, appeared to be headed for the end zone. Just seconds later, Sands made a diving interception deep in Saint Ignatius territory off a great read and reaction, and the Ironmen would have to settle for their two points off a safety as their only score on the evening.

I have written it before and have said it many times, every time I watch Justin Sands play this old-timer sees flashes of former Wildcat great Barry Alvis, a defensive stalwart at safety on Saint Ignatius' first Division I State Championship Team of 1988. Barry was a first-team selection on one of the greatest Plain Dealer All-Scholastic Teams ever assembled - the 1988 team that appeared on Thanksgiving Morning.

"The defense did well," said Coach Yappel. "There were times where they let up a big play, but they were able to come back and prevent the score. That's part of it too. How do you deal with adversity? They responded well."

UP FRONT, WHERE IT ALL STARTS ON OFFENSE: This graybeard would like to tip my cap to the Junior Varsity Offensive Line of Co-Captain John "Jack" Jamieson, Tobias Engel, William Corte, Juan Pen, Wrigley LaSpisa and Ryan Borchert for the job they turned in on what was a perfect late August evening for football. Both Coach Yappel and Saint Ignatius' outstanding Head Offensive Line Coach Adam Rini '99 have done an exceptional job with the development of these young blockers and pass protectors.

"I think we did a good job (up front)," Coach Yappel said. "We don't have a lot of depth on our offensive line and I think those guys are learning to play together. They need to continue to take steps forward. If they continue to improve, obviously the offense will as well."   




Another season is upon us. Here is the corner's preview on Saturday night's Varsity Football season opener versus the Normandy Invaders

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit August 2015

Ohio City - One of the new highlights on Saint Ignatius' 2015 Varsity Football Schedule is the addition of the three Parma Schools - Valley Forge, Parma Senior and Normandy. The Patriots, Redmen and Invaders have agreed to two year contracts with the Wildcats. 

If you are a gray beard like yours truly, you will recall that Parma Senior and Valley Forge used to be regulars on Saint Ignatius' gridiron schedule. But we'll refresh your memory on that when the Cats face Valley Forge in Week 3 and Parma Senior in Week 6.

Saturday night, Coach Chuck Kyle '69 will send his Wildcats against a program Saint Ignatius has never played on the Varsity football level - the Normandy Invaders. The kickoff from Byers Field in Parma's Robert M. Boulton Stadium will be 7 PM.

Now in his 33rd season as his alma mater's Head Football Coach, Coach Kyle enters Saturday's game as the most successful Division I coach in Northeast Ohio and the winningest coach in the Greater Cleveland area with 316 career victories. Those 316 wins, which have all come at Saint Ignatius, include an Ohio-best 11 Division I state championships, a record five consecutive big-school titles (1991-95), a state runner-up in 1996, three national championships in 1989, '93 and '95, and a national runner-up in 2008.

As for the Normandy Invaders, the past five seasons have produced little or no success.

After a 1-9 fall in 2010, the Invaders were 3-7 in 2011, 2-8 in 2012 and 0-10 in both 2013 and 2014. Normandy's last victory on the Varsity level came in Week 9 of 2012, a 12-7 triumph over Valley Forge. The Invaders will enter Saturday's night matchup with Saint Ignatius on a 21-game losing streak.

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

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

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

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

In 2015, Coach Rick Dornbush is going to rely on the experience of quarterback/punter Bailey Archacki; the versatile Brandon Calta; wide receiver/defensive back David Flors; offensive lineman Mike Francek; Ben Jones, who is another all-purpose player; defensive lineman Frank Ragone; wide receiver/defensive back Vlad Sokol; and two-way linemen Will Armstrong, Dustin Wylie and Nico Conforte.

Normandy does have experience on both sides of the ball, but faces an all-too-familiar concern - lack of depth. The Invaders are competing in a new conference this season. Formerly a member of the Northeast Ohio Conference, Normandy has joined Parma Senior, Valley Forge, Holy Name, Rocky River, Bay and Elyria Catholic in forming the Great Lakes Conference.


"Offensively, they'll come out in a no-back and the quarterback throws it around," said Coach Kyle, whose Wildcats are seeking their 27th OHSAA playoff appearance since the fall of 1988. "They're trying to create some matchups. So that's kind of interesting. We've seen teams who do that, Mentor does it and there's other teams who do it.

"For our secondary, that's a challenge this week - to make sure we're all communicating. When they go no-back there could be somebody running right down the field with nobody on him. When they run the ball, it's kind of a zone concept. The quarterback runs quite a bit, he'll take off. They spread you out and then you have to make some plays.

"Defensively, they are more of a four front, but then in obvious passing situations they'll blend into a 3-4. They're not afraid to blitz, they'll come at you and try to make something happen. Again, that's a good test in terms of communication from our offensive line. We want to make sure we're picking things up and that the quarterback (standout senior Dennis Grosel) makes the read. If the blitz is coming out of the secondary, then that's the quarterback's job to know that guy is leaving his spot and where to throw.

"Coming out of the gate we're working on the opponent, but we're also working on the mechanics we need, the communications we need. So that's kind of what our week has been all about. It's going to be nice to be at Byers Field a number of times this year, for our Student Body and for those who love to see the Wildcats play. It's nice to be in town instead of Indianapolis, New Jersey or Cincinnati."

The Wildcats have one long trip this season, a Week 4 visit to two-time defending Pennsylvania big-school state champ St. Joseph's Prep, the Jesuit School of Philadelphia. Saint Ignatius prevailed over St. Joe's Prep in a thriller at Byers Field last season.

A challenging stretch run will include another 7 PM matchup with Archbishop Moeller at Dublin Coffman High School in Week 8, a 2 PM game versus St. Xavier in Week 9 at Byers Field and the always highly anticipated encounter with West Side rival St. Edward, which takes place on Halloween at 2 PM in legendary Lakewood Stadium.

The annual early major test is Week 2, Friday Sept. 4 at Mentor. Saint Ignatius and Mentor will be ranked 1-2 in the Top 25 preseason area poll.





Gutting it out. Saint Ignatius' Freshmen Football Team calls on its resiliency and rallies to defeat Cardninal Mooney, 7-6, in Youngstown on Wednesday night.

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit August 2015

Youngstown, Ohio - It's safe to say that before their high school academic and athletic careers are over, Saint Ignatius' Freshmen Football Wildcats will experience many moments to be cherished.

I have hunch, however, that when looking back on those four-year memories they will fondly recall the night they played their first official football game in the white, blue and gold, and how they found a way to pull out a dramatic, if not pretty, 7-6 victory over the Freshmen Football Cardinals from Cardinal Mooney.

And they did it in Cardinal Mooney's will-testing venue of Don F. Bucci Stadium. Will testing for seniors, let alone 13 - or 14-year-old kids.

"It's a character win," said Saint Ignatius Head Freshmen Coach Rodney Gallaway, who guided his 2014 Freshmen to an undefeated season. "You don't want to plan for tight games like that, but even if it's ugly, you have to learn to win those types of games."

The Freshmen Cats did move the ball throughout most of the first half, only to hamper themselves with some momentum-thwarting mistakes.

Cardinal Mooney scored with 33 seconds remaining in the first quarter and appeared to be in position to secure a victory after Saint Ignatius turned the ball over on a fourth-quarter interception.

However, it was at that point the Wildcats' Freshmen put together a string of dramatic plays. And none was bigger than the fumble recovery by linebacker Daniel Scelza at the Saint Ignatius 23-yard line after the Cardinals were chirping with a first-and-10 at the Wildcats' 25 with 4:01 left and counting. Scelza's determined effort came with 3:27 remaining.

Keeping its composure, Saint Ignatius, which ran the ball effectively throughout a good portion of the game, rode an authoritative run by Ian Lucic to a first down at the Cardinal Mooney 35 with 1:40 left on the clock. Jahadge Floyd and Jack Kennedy were also among those Cats keying the ground game.  

From there, it was time to go up top.

On what was an exceptional pass and catch, Wildcats quarterback Christian Smodis found wide receiver Nigel Drummond open down the left sideline after Nigel froze the defender. In what was a display of balance, strength and sure hands, Drummond hauled in the pass and put his teammates in business at the Cardinals' 2-yard line with 1 minute and 17 seconds remaining.

Smodis then scored off a keeper up the gut and calm and cool place kicker Patrick Otter sent home the winning PAT with 1:03 left.

Cardinal Mooney had one last surge left, as the Cardinals drove to the Cats' 35 with 43 ticks left on the clock.

But then came another one of those plays the Freshmen Cats will still recall in June of 2019.

Defensive back Mitchell Puhalsky, reading the play perfectly, intercepted a pass deep in Saint Ignatius territory and Coach Gallaway's big-hearted kids ate up the final 17 seconds and celebrated victory No. 1 of the 2015 gridiron season.

"I thought the defense played well, they made the plays when they had to," said Coach Gallaway.



Cats run the ball with authority and display their depth and talent on defense during Thursday night's 28-0 victory over Canton McKinley in what was the final preseason tuneup.

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit  August 2015

Canton, Ohio - Saint Ignatius' veteran Running Backs Coach Terry Fergus '72 was all smiles on the sideline as the seconds were ticking off the clock in the third and final quarter of Thursday night's Football Jamboree versus the McKinley Bulldogs at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium (formerly Fawcett Stadium).

The Wildcats completed their productive preseason with a 28-0 triumph.

Coach Fergus' running backs produced more than 220 yards on the ground in the annual game-conditions encounter between the Wildcats and the Bulldogs, and set the tone with 120 yards rushing in the first quarter by senior tailback James Norris. Saint Ignatius had 190 yards rushing by halftime.

Norris carried the load 14 times in the first quarter and scored the Cats' first touchdown on an 8-yard gallop over the right side with 9 minutes and 1 second remaining in the opening quarter.

Senior tailback Elijah Wahib rushed for 39 yards on seven carries, including a 1-yard touchdown run, senior tailback Ian Forkapa ran for 31 yards on five carries, junior tailback Dean Stowers had four carries for 32 yards, and senior tailback Nick Berlin, who unleashed a shake and bake spin move, picked up 23 yards on four carries.

Coach Adam Rini's and Coach Paul Yappel's offensive linemen have to love those numbers as much as Coach Fergus does.

The Cats' passing game wasn't as sharp as it has been all summer, but the air attack did provide some clutch plays, including a perfectly executed 7-yard swing pass from senior quarterback/captain Dennis Grosel to Norris in the left flat that, along with junior Colin Goodfellow's second extra-point kick, made it a 14-0 game with just two seconds gone in the second quarter.

On what was a picture-perfect throw and catch, Grosel hooked up with sure-handed junior wide receiver Travis Pot on a deep sideline route that gave St. Ignatius a first and goal at the 4. The Grosel to Pot combo set up the hard-nosed TD run by Wahib with 2:34 remaining in the first half.

Staying with the passing game, junior quarterback Patrick Ryan and senior wide receiver Mike Huber had the Wildcats' faithful buzzing in the closing moments after they combined on a kiss-the-sky, in stride deep route that would have drawn a wide grin from Hall of Famer Broadway Joe Namath. It covered 66 yards.

"That's what we wanted to do," said Saint Ignatius' outstanding head coach Chuck Kyle '69 of the Wildcats' ground game. Coach Kyle will now begin preparing his Wildcats for the Aug. 29th season opener versus Normandy when the Cats return to Wasmer Field on Saturday for a 10 AM practice.

"We weren't super throwing the ball, but we did hit some big ones that helped move the sticks," Coach Kyle continued. "At times we were a little off, but that's okay. But we ran the ball very hard and that is what we've worked on for a long time, for months. So that's good to see. If you run the ball well against a Canton McKinley team, that says something."

Coach Kyle was also impressed with the effort by his defense, especially up front. Saint Ignatius' quick, aggressive and deep defensive linemen and linebackers were a bit too much for the Bulldogs.


Wildcats Junior Varsity Coach Paul Yappel: "It gives us an opportunity to come out and compete. I think that's always important, especially as we continue along this development process with these guys. I think that's what it is really all about at this level, to see guys progress from day one, until now and then going forward. We're looking forward to next Thursday, when we do it for real."

The JV Cats open their season on Aug. 27 at Cleveland Central Catholic. The kickoff from Stefanski Stadium is scheduled for 4:30 PM.

Coach Yappel pointed out that what is impressive about sophomore tailback Mark Bobinski is not just his running ability, but his pass blocking. "He's hard-nosed and he's a complete football player," Coach Yappel said.

Sophomore quarterbacks Daniel Alexander and Kyle Hall are, said Coach Yappel, both playing well . "And the credit for that goes to Coach Grbac," he said of Wildcats Varsity and JV Quarterbacks Coach Elvis Grbac. "You can't ask for a much better coach. And I think both guys (Alexander and Hall) know what they have there and they're soaking it all in."

Saint Ignatius Freshmen Coach Rodney Gallaway: "They were very athletic," Coach Gallaway said of the Bulldogs' ninth graders. "They'll have a nice squad this year. They have some big guys that obviously can move. For us, I thought we played well at times. We ran the ball pretty well. I think that's going to be a strength for us.

"The passing game came along as we got going. I think there were a few of those quick jitters. Defensively, I thought we did fine. We have to keep improving with the defensive back position, but everywhere else we seemed fine. We don't get to hit a lot (in practice), so live competition is great."

The Freshmen Cats open their season on Aug. 26 at Youngstown Cardinal Mooney. It is a 6 PM kickoff.                            



The 2015 Saint Ignatius Varsity Football Preview. Skill, experience and depth abound as the Wildcats look to refuel their running game
By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit August 2015
Ohio City -  Saint Ignatius' Hall of Fame Coach Chuck Kyle '69, who has entered his 33rd season as the head man of his alma mater's football program, said there is certainly a noticeable plus every day his 2015 Wildcats take the practice field.
"Every day, you see the experience we have in our skill area," said the man who last season became the winningest high school football coach in the Greater Cleveland area and the most successful Division I coach in Northeast Ohio. Coach Kyle has entered another new season with 316 career victories, an Ohio-best 11 big-school state championships, including a record five in a row (1991-95), a state runner-up in 1996, three national titles (1989, '93 and '95) and a national runner-up in 2008. Saint Ignatius is seeking an impressive 27th OHSAA Division I postseason playoff appearance since 1988.

"There is so much to learn, pass patterns and running schemes, and to have that kind of experience has helped us go at a good pace, a good tempo always in practice," said Coach Kyle, who will guide his Wildcats into their final preseason test on Thursday night when they face the Canton McKinley Bulldogs in the annual game-conditions Jamboree at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium (formerly Fawcett Stadium). The kickoff will be 7 PM.

"When you have a Dennis Grosel back at quarterback, he has a real good feeling for what we want to do and shows exceptional leadership there," continued Coach Kyle in reference to the Wildcats' gifted senior field general. Dennis has had an outstanding preseason and is coming off a 2014 effort that included 2,039 yards and 17 touchdowns through the air in 10 games. Grosel missed two regular season games last fall because of an injury.

Backing up Grosel is junior Patrick Ryan, another strong-armed leader who would start for many other programs in the area. 

"We have two explosive players back at wide receiver in Cal Grbac and Jack Cook," Coach Kyle said. "They can take it to the house anytime. Yardage after the catch, you know. Dennis is going to put it there, so now, come on guys, take the ball and get a little bit more, a lot more. That's what we experienced last year with them (Grbac and Cook) and so far in the scrimmages that has been pretty apparent."

In garnering All-Ohio and All-District recognition last fall, Cook, an outstanding senior two-way player and special teams contributor, hauled in 47 passes for 870 yards and 12 touchdowns. He averaged 18.5 yards per reception. Jack's dad, Kevin, is a former Wildcats and University of Virginia football standout, who this old-timer had the privilege to cover and report on during my 37 years at The Plain Dealer.

Grbac, a senior and a son of former St. Joseph High and University of Michigan star quarterback Elvis Grbac, who earned All-Pro honors in the NFL, grabbed 28 passes in 2014 for 642 yards and four touchdowns. Elvis Grbac works with Coach Kyle and veteran Offensive Coordinator Nick Restifo as the Wildcats' Quarterbacks Coach.

During the 28-23 second-round playoff setback to Hudson last year, Cal Grbac combined with Grosel on a 98-yard touchdown pass, which tied the school record of Brian Hoyer to Chris Rigo against Westerville North in August of 2003 at Lakewood Stadium. Brian Hoyer '04 is currently competing for the starting QB job with the Houston Texans.

Wildcats wide receivers coach Josiah "The Difference Maker" Kedzior '04, who was Hoyer's main target during their days together at Saint Ignatius, is blessed with one of the deepest group of receivers in Ohio.

Among those complementing Cal Grbac and Jack Cook will be the Berger twins, seniors Jimmy and Ryan, senior Tyler Musbach, senior Nick Freund, senior Colin Kruchan, senior Mike Huber, senior tight ends Robert Hilbig and Danny Yanosko, junior tight end/linebacker James Leyden and junior wide receivers Travis Pot, Ryan Cook (Jack's brother), Michael Daugenti and Riley Kinzel. And there are others.

Jimmy Berger also excels as a long snapper, a job he has handled since his sophomore season.

"I have been very impressed with Dennis Grosel," said Jack Cook, who is a Captain this season. "He is throwing the ball extremely well and has matured a lot. His decision making, you can see it now. He knows everything that's going on and makes decisions well. He can make all of the big throws that we need him to, so I'm really excited to play in this offense this year."

It is no secret that Saint Ignatius has put an emphasis on its running game this summer. In the five-point playoff loss to Hudson last season, the Cats were outrushed 212-74 and averaged just 1.38 yards per carry.

"With (senior) James Norris and (junior) Jimmy Andrews back, we have two different running styles, but styles that are very effective for what we are trying to do," said Coach Kyle. "So we're excited about that."

Keeping Norris and Andrews healthy will be the key to Saint Ignatius' running game, as both went through nagging injuries last fall. Norris scored three rushing touchdowns last season and averaged 4.4 yards per carry. One of Ohio's top sprinters in track, Norris returned 16 kickoffs in 2014 for 214 yards. Andrews averaged nearly 4 yards a carry, rushed for two touchdowns and had five kickoff returns totaling 93 yards.

Providing the depth for veteran Running Backs Coach Terry Fergus '72 will be seniors Ian Forkapa, David Welcsh and Elijah Wahib, and junior Dean Stowers. And there are other reinforcements among the underclassmen.

The running game will be keyed by an offensive line that returns three veterans, including All-Ohio and All-District senior tackle/captain Liam Eichenberg, a University of Notre Dame recruit and a three-year varsity mainstay. Savvy and hard-nosed junior John Spellacy also returns as the starting center for Offensive Line Coaches Adam Rini '99 and Paul Yappel. Senior guard/tackle Rich McGraw saw plenty of starting time last season and senior guards Michael Bodnar and Matthew Woisnet, and junior tackle Brian Almady, have made strong starting bids throughout the preseason.

Eichenberg, who was offered a scholarship from the Ohio State Buckeyes before he even played in a varsity game, emphasized that the offensive line "is getting a lot better" from the first scrimmage with Solon to the second one versus Twinsburg. "It's going to come down to the offensive and defensive lines," he said. "Last year we kind of struggled with the running game and defenses picked up on that. I feel if we are able to run the ball against St. Xavier, we can run it against anyone. If we do well against them, we can beat anyone."

"We're trying to make sure that the running game really creates an issue for the defenses, because certainly there were some games last year when we couldn't get the running game going," Coach Kyle said of last season's 7-5 finish. "It left us too one dimensional."

Although he emphasized that the defensive line graduated some key players, including All-Ohio, All-District and All-American Dre'Mont Jones, a The Ohio State University recruit, and endless energy Ray Brown, now at John Carroll University, Coach Kyle likes the promise and depth that veteran Defensive Coordinator Dan Corrigan '78 and his assistants Mark Sullivan and Jim Reginelli '97 are putting together.

Among the names to remember up front defensively are big-game tested senior end Tito Vazquez and tough as nails senior end Nate Keirn. Up front from last year's outstanding Junior Varsity defense are junior tackles Joe Gibbons and Mike Chime, and junior ends Michael Czaja and Patrick Viancourt.

Linebackers Coaches Ryan Franzinger '02 and Dave Cicetti have welcomed back a talented trio in seniors Alex Maruna and Nick LaVigna on the outside and football heady senior Ben Cray in the middle. Cray is also one of Coach Kyle's Captains this fall.

Last season, Maruna, who is also an outstanding lacrosse player, had 37 tackles, including three sacks and three other tackles for losses, a pass breakup, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. If sacking the quarterback was allowed in preseason, LaVigna, who has worked extremely hard on his quickness and strength off the edge, would have double digits in that area by now.

The line backing corps is another area of exceptional depth. Junior Johnny Velotta on the inside and the multi-skilled Leyden on the outside will allow the Wildcats to keep fresh legs going. Another name to remember from last year's tough and talented JV linebackers is junior Adam Shibley. Shibley is currently recovering from an injury. Coming on as of late as a linebacker is junior Ben Delhees, who played running back most of last season.

"With the defense as a whole, everyone just plays well together," said Cray. "Everyone does their job and good things happen. I don't pay attention to the preseason rankings, I know what we're capable of."

In the defensive secondary, the experience lies at the cornerback positions, where Jack Cook and fellow senior Quinn Lawless return. Sam Brick (2 interceptions in 2014) is another senior who has had a very productive summer and junior Alex Ringfield has had his moments in camp. Coach Kyle's secondary is coached by Brian Strauchon '96 and former Saint Ignatius football and track star Kevin Johnson '10, who went on to a solid football career and a National Champion track career at Baldwin Wallace University.

Playing mostly at safety last fall, Jack Cook made 22 tackles, broke up 12 passes and had four interceptions.

"I don't care what scheme you run (defensively), with modern day football, you're on an island out there at cornerback," said Coach Kyle, who added that the Wildcats currently have a committee of good athletes vying for the safety positions, among them senior free safety Joey Evans, junior Kaden Russell, who is a playmaker at strong safety, and junior Mike Lehto, a long jumper and high jumper in track who is also part of the Wildcats' special group of wide receivers.

"From the defensive line, the linebackers and the secondary, I think that our quickness can cause problems," Coach Kyle said. "They're quick and there is some real solid depth developing. That's going to be nice, very nice."

Saint Ignatius has had a long-standing tradition of exceptional kickers and this season should be no different. Junior Colin Goodfellow, under the tutelage of former Wildcats clutch kicker Seamus Hennessey '09, has displayed throughout the preseason an exceptional leg as both a kicker and a punter.

"We had a chance to give him some experience last year," emphasized Coach Kyle. "He has taken that experience and now he can be quite a weapon. You'll see us doing 50 yard field goals and kickoffs going into the end zone. As a punter, when Colin hits it right, it's a home run."

As for the Wildcats' 2015 schedule, it has a new look with the three Parma Schools, Normandy, Valley Forge and Parma Senior, signing two-year contracts with Saint Ignatius and Walsh Jesuit returning to the schedule. The Warriors have also signed on for two years. Saint Ignatius opens its season on Aug. 29 versus the Normandy Invaders. The kickoff on Byers Field in Parma's Robert M. Boulton Stadium will be 7 PM.

There is only one long trip this year and that is Week 4, when the Cats board the buses and head to Philadelphia to face two-time defending Pennsylvania big-school state champion St. Joseph's Prep. Saint Ignatius defeated St. Joe's Prep in a thriller last season at Byers Field, a game in which Jack Cook put forth an outstanding all-around performance.

The Cats have three Friday night games this fall - Sept. 4 at Mentor, Sept. 11 versus Valley Forge at Byers Field and Oct. 2 versus Parma Senior at Byers Field. I personally love Friday night games. The Sept. 11 game with Valley Forge will be the 1,000th in Saint Ignatius' football history. Coach Kyle's Cats are playing the Valley Forge Patriots on what The Saturday Evening Post Norman Rockwell Calendar has listed as Patriot Day.

As was the case last season, the Wildcats will close out their regular season with a demanding three-game stretch of versus Archbishop Moeller at Dublin Coffman High School at 7 PM, versus St. Xavier at 2 PM on Byers Field and versus West Side rival St. Edward on Halloween afternoon at 2 PM in tradition-rich Lakewood Stadium. Go to, click on athletics and click on football to see all of Saint Ignatius' football schedules.

"That's playoff football, regional-final caliber football," Coach Kyle said of those final three regular season games.        


The Wildcats' depth and experience at the skill positions comes to the fore early and often and the defense responds nicely as the Cats control Saturday morning's scrimmage versus Twinsburg on Wasmer Field

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit August 2015

Ohio City - With this coming Monday marking the start to the final week of the preseason, Saint Ignatius Head Football Coach Chuck Kyle '69 was pleased with what he saw from his Wildcats throughout most of Saturday's scrimmage versus Coach Mike Bell's Twinsburg Tigers.

"With the experience we have back at the skills, quarterback, running back and the receivers, it's very nice," Coach Kyle said after his team controlled the scrimmage from the get-go. "The execution is nice and the knowledge is nice. In other words, it's nice this year that they (the veteran skilled players) can turn around and tell you, all right, this is what I read, this is what I did, I didn't do this, I did that. You're going, okay, thank you. I'm glad we see that and understand.

"So that's nice, because they're knowledgeable about what we're doing."

Coach Kyle also liked what he saw out of the running game, an area the Wildcats are putting a major emphasis on while they strive to improve over last year's production on the ground.

"We ran the ball well today, the inside drill I thought we ran real well," said Coach Kyle. "We got out here and popped a few good runs."

"Defensively, we're gaining experience as we go," Coach Kyle continued. "I think we have some good quickness and speed. And that's what is going to carry us on defense. The kids work hard and they're quick. That sometimes makes up for a little inexperience. When you can react and recover quickly, that's good."

After promising junior kicker/punter Colin Goodfellow finished his special work in the special teams drills, the Wildcats and the Tigers got down to some physical matchups.


*Wildcats strong and hard-nosed senior offensive guard Michael Bodnar set the tone with an impressive pancake block on one of Twinsburg's top defensive linemen.

*Operating behind an offensive line anchored by senior All-Ohio tackle, co-captain and University of Notre Dame recruit Liam Eichenberg, the Cats established the running game on their first possession off a smooth keeper by standout senior quarterback Dennis Grosel and some nifty moves and bursts by gifted senior tailback James Norris.

*Saint Ignatius also benefitted from the second-effort running by senior backs Ian Forkapa and David Welcsh, and unleashed some solid kickoff and punt returns.

*Multi-skilled senior defensive back/wide receiver and co-captain Jack Cook, who garnered All-Ohio recognition last season, made a textbook interception off a great read and later combined with Grosel on some big-time throws, catches and routes.

*In what was one of Grosel's many impressive throws on the morning, Dennis rolled to his left and fired a pass down the left sideline that hit Cook in stride as Jack took it into the Lorain Avenue end zone. The same combination hooked up for another score late in the scrimmage. 

*Grosel also lofted a kiss the sky deep throw down the right sideline that senior wide receiver Colin Kruchan, a standout track performer for the Cats, ran under in the Lorain Avenue end zone. Denns then rolled to his left and got the ball to Norris in space. It was good morning, good afternoon and goodnight for Twinsburg's defense as James, one of the top sprinters in Ohio, raced into the Lorain Avenue end zone.

*Senior tight ends Robert Hilbig and Danny Yanosko, junior wideout Travis Pot and senior wide receivers Tyler Musbach and Nick Freund also turned in some nice routes and receptions, and junior quarterback Patrick Ryan continued to look more than solid as Grosel's backup.

*Grosel left another mark on the Tigers' defense when he and sure-handed and smooth route running senior wide receiver Cal Grbac combined on a deep seam route.

*In the Junior Varsity portion of the scrimmage, sophomore linebacker Matt Viancourt turned in a quick and aggressive pass breakup and sophomore wide receiver Sam Snyder visited the Lorain Avenue end zone off a good-hands TD reception. Sophomore quarterback Kyle Hall continued to pick up his game.

*The Varsity defense, which got strong pressure off the edge all morning from senior outside linebacker Nick LaVigna, closed out its day with crowd-pleasing, open-field tackles courtesy of junior defensive back Alex Ringfield and junior linebacker Johnny Velotta.

*And last, but certainly not least, junior tailback Dean "The Dream" Stowers" had the faithful roaring after he hit the hole, made a tough cut up field and rambled down the home or right sideline for a long touchdown run into the land of plenty, aka the Lorain Avenue end zone.

Dean's TD gallop brought back memories for this old-timer of former Lincoln High Presidents and Baldwin Wallace great Wee Willie Avery.

The Wildcats will close out their preseason matchups when they travel to Canton's Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium (formerly Fawcett Stadium) on Thursday evening for the annual game-conditions Jamboree with the McKinley Bulldogs. The kickoff will be 7 PM and will follow a 5 PM JV scrimmage between the Wildcats and the Bulldogs.



Wildcats are nationally ranked in some of the top preseason polls in the nation

Posted by Brendan DeVenney '17

With the 2015 Varsity Football season right around the corner, now is the time when national high school media outlets release their High School Football Preseason National Rankings.

The 2015 Wildcats have made some of those polls.

Saint Ignatius was ranked 27th in the nation on the HSFB100 Preseason Rankings Poll. St. John's Bosco from Bellflower, California was ranked number one overall in the poll. Other Ohio schools ranked by HSFB100 are all Cincinnati school. They are Colerain who was 20th, Saint Xavier who was ranked 32nd, La Salle who was ranked 34th, and Archbishop Moeller who was ranked 54th. 

The Wildcats were also ranked in the Preseason PrepNation National Prep Midwest Regional Rankings. Coach Chuck Kyle's squad were ranked fourth in the Midwest Region Poll behind Colerain, Archbishop Moeller, and Saint Xavier all ranked one to three respectively. Other Ohio schools were La Salle who was ranked fifth behind the 'Cats, Wayne who was ranked 10th, and Saint Edward who was ranked 11th. 

The Wildcats as of now get set to scrimmage Twinsburg on Saturday, August 15 at 9:00 A.M. It will be live on the Saint Ignatius Broadcasting Network. Then the Wildcats head down to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton on Thursday, August 20 to scrimmage the McKinley at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in annual Preseason Jamboree Game. That kicks off at 7:00 P.M. on the Saint Ignatius Broadcasting Network. 

And finally, the kick off of the 2015 Varsity Football Regular Season is set for Saturday, August 29 at Byers Field at Robert M. Boulton Stadium as the Wildcats face off with the Normandy Invaders at 7:00 P.M., also on the Saint Ignatius Broadcasting Network. 

There are things to improve on, but for the most part the Wildcats had plenty of positive moments during Tuesday's drills/scrimmage at Solon

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit August 2015

Solon, Ohio - Saint Ignatius Head Football Coach Chuck Kyle '69 saw plenty of things he liked from his team's first preseason test versus the Solon Comets on Tuesday morning.

Things such as dropped balls, however, have to be cleaned up.

"Solon is really good at slanting their defense, they're technically very good at that," said the Hall of Fame Coach who has entered his 33rd season as the most successful high school football coach in the Greater Cleveland area and the winningest Division I coach in Northeast Ohio with 316 career victories, a record 11 big-school state championships, three national titles and a national runner-up. "For the most part, I thought we handled that pretty well.

"There's times you have to be patient, things can get clogged up because of the slant pinch," Coach Kyle continued in reference to the Comets' defense. "But then there were times when, okay, we read it right and had a couple of nice runs. We're putting a lot of emphasis on, we're going to run the ball effectively. And we did okay.

"We're kind of veteran with the receivers, so there were some good moments (in the receiving department) and some moments when I don't know if our concentration was great, because we dropped a couple. And we don't do that."

Coach Kyle was especially pleased with the kicking game provided by standout junior punter/kicker Colin Goodfellow.

"Colin Goodfellow is a very good kicker," said the man who has led his program to an OHSAA mark of 26 Division I playoff appearances. "He is going to be a weapon."

During Tuesday's special-teams drills at Solon, Goodfellow had a punt that was at least 60 yards in the air. And, as Coach Kyle emphasized, Colin's kickoffs go in the end zone.

"Defensively, we graduated some people, but I thought our kids handed it pretty well today," said Coach Kyle. "Here and there, there would be a fade or a shuffle pas that we have to work on a little bit. But overall, up front I thought we did really well. We handled the run and we had a good pass rush.

"I think Solon is going to be a very good team."


A solid kickoff return by junior defensive back Alex Ringfield.

An authoritative block during a kickoff return by junior safety Kaden Russell.

Solon had its early moments up front on defense before junior tailback Jimmy Andrews and senior tailback Ian Forkapa, reading the holes provided by the Cats' O-Line, ripped off a couple of nice gains.

Junior punter Jeff Chonko also got off a healthy punt.

Senior quarterback Dennis Grosel continued to hold a hot hand, as he hit senior tailback James Norris in stride down the left sideline and also went to his gifted junior tight end James Leyden for a couple of big plays.

Senior defensive lineman Stephen Zupan made a quick-reaction tackle in the red zone.

Junior quarterback Patrick Ryan put together a spirited series in which he displayed his running ability and also hooked up with senior tight end Danny Yanosko on a perfectly timed pass and catch in capping the series.

Sophomore quarterback Daniel Alexander also turned in a solid series that saw him click big-time with wideouts Michael Drobnick and Sam Snyder.

Grosel struck again with a powerful throw down the seam to senior wide receiver Tyler Musbach, as Tyler made a highlight-reel, full-extension catch, and a picture-perfect swing pass to Norris, who caught the ball in stride and rambled inside the 3-yard line. Grosel then capped the series with a keeper that he took into the end zone off a clever ball fake.

The Cats' first-team defense was dominant throughout most of the morning.

Solon would put together a late scoring drive, only to watch Saint Ignatius respond with a touchdown reception by All-Ohio senior wide receiver/defensive back/captain Jack Cook. Helping set up Jack's TD was Leyden, who hauled in a pass down the right sideline and stiff-armed his way for more yardage.

Double sessions resume tomorrow (Wednesday) at 2 PM, as the Cats gear up for Saturday's 9 AM scrimmage with the Twinsburg Tigers on Wasmer Field.   


An afternoon and evening of promise features a pair of young Wildcat offensive linemen

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit July 2015

Ohio City - Junior tackle Brian Almady and sophomore tackle Juan Pen (just one n my friends) were among those Saint Ignatius Wildcats who left their mark on Friday's Junior Varsity and Varsity Preseason Football Camps.

As the sun was slowly setting on what was a picture-perfect day in Ohio City, Almady turned in some nice work during the evening's Varsity drills.

Brian not only drew some praise from Wildcats outstanding Offensive Line Coach Adam Rini '99 for his ability to pick up the linebacker, but was also singled out by Saint Ignatius' All-Ohio senior offensive tackle and captain Liam Eichenberg. Liam, who has committed to the University of Notre Dame, looks at Almady as a serious contender for the other starting tackle position.

Almady's block that turned away the oncoming linebacker allowed Wildcats gifted senior quarterback Dennis Grosel to combine with sharp route-running senior wide receiver Cal Grbac on a picture-perfect deep throw and catch down the left sideline and into the Lorain Avenue end zone.

In the afternoon's Junior Varsity Camp, Pen pleased both Saint Ignatius' Hall of Fame Head Coach Chuck Kyle '69 and savvy veteran Offensive Coordinator Nick Restifo with a block on a perfectly executed running play. The play also featured the multiple skills of sophomore Mark Bobinski, who burst through the hole with authority.

Coach Kyle emphasized that he and his staff are taking it slowly with Pen's progress after Juan suffered injuries as a freshman that forced him to get around in a wheel chair.

AIR CATS: While Grosel and junior quarterback Patrick Ryan were making the pigskin fly high and accurately through the blue skies of Ohio City, wide receivers Tyler Musbach, Colin Kruchan and Rob Soeder, along with tight end Robert Hilbig, were maintaining their high status in the Good Hands Club.

Musbach was not only running smooth routes, but also went airborne over the middle to bring down a tough reception.

*Among Friday's other highlights were an interception by versatile junior Travis Pot, who not only can handle the defensive secondary, but is also a very capable receiver, and the passing of sophomores Kyle Hall and Daniel Alexander during the Junior Varsity Camp.


Coach Paul Yappel's JV Cats will make the short trip to Slavic Village to face the Ironmen on Thursday, August 27. The kickoff from Stefanski Stadium is scheduled for 5:30 PM.

A DAY OF PRAYER AND THANKS: Coach Chuck Kyle's upperclassmen will take part in a state-wide and national day of the Holy Rosary next week at Borromeo Seminary. The Rosary will be said not only in thanks for the game they love, but also for good health and sportsmanship.





Saint Ignatius' outstanding offensive lineman Liam Eichenberg commits to the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit April 2015

Auburn Township, Ohio – Putting an emphasis on what he described as the great academic opportunities that await him under the Golden Dome, Saint Ignatius’ standout junior offensive lineman Liam Eichenberg has given
a verbal commitment to further his education and football career at the University of Notre Dame.

Liam, who will be entering his senior season this summer as one of the Captains for the 2015 Saint Ignatius Varsity Football Wildcats, chose Head Coach Brian Kelly’s Fighting Irish after seriously considering defending National Champion Ohio State. Liam made an official visit to The Ohio State University this weekend.

The University of Michigan and Penn State were also among Liam’s considerations.

Liam, who as just a sophomore became a fixture at offensive tackle for Wildcats legendary Head Coach Chuck Kyle, said Notre Dame recruited him as an offensive tackle. At 6-foot-6 and 290 pounds, Liam earned Associated Press All-Ohio and All-Northeast Lakes District Division I recognition this past fall and he has already been invited to participate in the 2016 U.S. Army All-American Bowl. Most recruiting sites have Liam rated as a high four-star recruit.

At Notre Dame, Liam will once again be teaming up with former Saint Ignatius offensive lineman Jim Byrne ’14, who was a two-time All-Ohio tackle under the tutelage of Saint Ignatius’ outstanding Offensive Line Coach Adam Rini ’99.

Liam said one of the factors in his decision was the recruiting process put forth by Notre Dame Offensive Line Coach Harry Hiestand, who was not overbearing when it came to the communication process.

“Coach Hiestand respected my space,” Liam said.

Putting everything in perspective, Liam said he can’t thank his parents, Gregg and Heather, enough for giving him the opportunity to attend Saint Ignatius High School.

“It’s because of the education I have received at Saint Ignatius and having the opportunity to play for a great coach in Mr. Kyle that I am able to attend such an outstanding university as Notre Dame,” said Liam, who plans to pursue the business field as part of his college studies.

This old-timer, who has the privilege to cover and report on Liam’s football career at Saint Ignatius, would like to express my congratulations to Liam, his family, Coach Kyle, Coach Rini and the entire Saint Ignatius Football Program.


Spring 2015 Freshmen Football Information


All freshmen interested in football should complete the form at  The freshmen football team has voluntary workouts Monday and Wednesday from 12:30 - 1:30 p.m. starting Monday, June 15 and ending Wednesday, July 15.  This will be supervised by our strength and conditioning coach, Joe Eynon. During the summer, freshmen football players should follow the running schedule provided online.

There is voluntary team camp that runs from 7 to 8:30 p.m. July 27, 28 & 29th.  We compile our roster at our camps and first practices.  Please be sure that the online FinalForms documents have been completed by this time.

There is a Fall Sports Meeting for parents on July 29 at 6 p.m.  Freshmen football player packets (jersey, shorts, t-shirt, mouth guard) can be purchased July 27, 28, and 29th before camp.  Packages can also be purchased before our initial practices.

The first day of practice is Saturday, August 1st from 8:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. Weekday practices prior to the start of school run from 3:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.  This schedule applies until the week of August 17th where we switch to a normal school practice schedule of Monday - Friday 3:30 - 6:00 p.m. Saturday practice times may be adjusted based on field availability, but usually run 8 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

Football candidates will also have the opportunity to order Nike football shoes at a significant savings by returning a shoe order form with a check.  The forms will be available at the parent night and at the mini camps.  All candidates must bring a lock for a locker to one of the mini camps or on the first day of practice.  Coach Gallaway will create a page in Haiku for freshman football to follow in season practice time and schedule changes.


Varsity Wildcats now have a full 10-game schedule for 2015 with Assumption College School added for Week 7

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright February 2015

Ohio City - All of the details are still being finalized, including the time of the game (afternoon or evening), but Saint Ignatius Athletic Director Rory Fitzpatrick '88 said Assumption College School from Brantford (Ontario, Canada) has agreed to meet the Wildcats in what would be a home game for the Cats.

The Week 7 encounter will mark the second meeting on the gridiron between the Lions and the Wildcats, as they met for the first time in Week 4 of last season at Byers Field in Parma's Robert M. Boulton Stadium. Saint Ignatius came away with a 49-13 victory in what was an afternoon game.

After compiling a 12-0 season in 2013, the Lions finished 10-2 in 2014, losing to the Burlington Assumption Catholic Secondary School Crusaders, 28-9, in the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations' Bowl Game.

The fall of 2014 was still a banner season for the Lions, as they captured their fifth consecutive CWOSSA Championship and enter 2015 as the five-time reigning Brant County champions.

The said news for the Lions' faithful is that highly successful Head Coach Kent Dixon has announced his retirement.  In seven seasons, Coach Dixon guided the Lions to a record of 58-6.

During their visit to Cleveland last season, the Lions took in a Browns game before heading back home.

As reported in the headline on this report, Saint Ignatius now has a full 10-game regular season for 2015. In a story the corner broke last month, the Wildcats filled their other open date by signing a two-year agreement with the Walsh Jesuit Warriors.

The 10 opponents for this coming fall include the three Parma Schools - Normandy, Valley Forge and Parma Senior (all three games at Byers Field) - the Mentor Cardinals at Mentor in Week 2, versus Philadelphia St. Joseph's Prep in the Keystone State in Week 4, Walsh Jesuit at Byers Field in Week 5, Assumption College School in Week 7 (site and time TBA), Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller at Dublin Coffman Stadium in Week 8, Cincinnati St. Xavier at John Carroll University's Don Shula Stadium in Week 9 and St. Edward in Week 10 at tradition-rich Lakewood Stadium, now known as First Federal Lakewood Stadium.

The 53rd Saint Ignatius vs. St. Edward gridiron game is slated for Halloween this coming season. The last time that occurred, in 2009, the City of Lakewood asked both schools to move the game to the afternoon and both St. Edward and Saint Ignatius obliged. "The Madhouse on Madison" was still packed three rows deep around the fences that afternoon. But then the Cats and the Eagles could play at 7 AM and the game would still sell out.         


Walsh Jesuit added to Varsity schedule in 2015 and 2016


Fairview Park, Ohio - Saint Ignatius' outstanding Athletic Director Rory Fitzpatrick '88 has secured an agreement that will have the Warriors from Walsh Jesuit on the Wildcats' Varsity Football schedule for Week 5, both this upcoming season and in 2016.

Saint Ignatius and Walsh Jesuit will meet on Sept. 26th this fall in a 7 PM game on Byers Field in Parma's Robert M. Boulton Stadium. The Wildcats will travel to Walsh Jesuit in Week 5 of 2016.

This upcoming season's Saint Ignatius at Philadelphia St. Joseph's Prep game is now Week 4.

By securing Walsh Jesuit on the schedule, the Wildcats have just one open date to fill for 2015 and that is Week 7.

Saint Ignatius leads its all-time gridiron series with Walsh Jesuit, 5-4. Coach Chuck Kyle '69 is 3-0 all-time versus the Warriors.

The Wildcats and the Warriors last met on the varsity level in 1993, a state-semifinal matchup on a rain-drenched and muddy grass surface in Canton's Fawcett Stadium. With legendary tailback Eric Haddad scoring five touchdowns Saint Ignatius defeated Walsh Jesuit, 34-0, and went on to the fifth of its record 11 Division I state football championships and the second of its three national titles by defeating Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller, 38-20, in Massillon's Paul Brown Tiger Stadium. After the Saint Ignatius-Walsh Jesuit state semifinal game in 1993 Fawcett Stadium switched to a turf surface.

Along with the addition of Walsh Jesuit, the other opponents for next season include Mentor (at Mentor), the above-mentioned game in Philadelphia with St. Joe's Prep, the three Parma Schools - Normandy, Parma Senior and Valley Forge - all at Byers Field, Archbishop Moeller at Dublin Coffman, Cincinnati St. Xavier at John Carroll University's Don Shula Stadium and defending Division I state champion St. Edward in tradition-rich Lakewood Stadium. Again, Week 7 is the only date to fill.   


Four Varsity Wildcats earn All-Ohio Honors


As expected, Saint Ignatius' standout senior defensive end Dre'Mont Jones was named to the first-team defense on the 2014 Associated Press Division I All-Ohio Football Team. The team was released by the AP on Monday evening.

Dre', an Ohio State verbal and a first-team All-Northeast Lakes District selection, was the only Wildcat to receive first-team or second-team honors.

Receiving All-Ohio Special Mention were wide receiver/safety Jack Cook, who put together an outstanding junior season, highly recruited junior offensive tackle Liam Eichenberg and senior punter/kicker Cory Griffith, who showed the way for the Cats' special teams. Jack, Liam and Cory joined Dre' on the All-Northeast Lakes District first team, which was released on Nov. 19.

The corner wishes to express its congratulations to all four of these outstanding young men.

*A tip of the corner's cap also goes out to Mentor's outstanding Head Football Coach Steve Trivisonno, who not only plays Saint Ignatius every season, but in 2015 has added a trip to Cincinnati St. Xavier on the Cardinals' schedule.

According to the Mentor website news tweets, the Cardinals will play Saint Ignatius at Mentor's Jerome T. Osborne Sr. Stadium in Week 2 and travel to St. Xavier Stadium in Week 3. The Cardinals open up their 2015 season at home versus Boardman. Mentor's remaining seven regular season games in '15 will come from the newly formed Greater Cleveland Conference. Of course us old geezers remember those days of the previous GCC fondly - a heck of a conference in football, basketball and baseball.

Late second heroics don't occur, Hudson out plays the Wildcats as their season comes to a close

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit November 2014

Brunswick, Ohio: Before his team took the field for Saturday night's second round playoff game versus Ohio's top ranked Division I team, the Hudson Explorers, Saint Ignatius Head Football Coach Chuck Kyle told his players how important it is to take full advantage of the opportunities when they arrive.

When Coach Kyle, his staff and his players look back on the 28/23 setback to a team that is very deserving of its state ranking, they will look at the three missed field goals and an interception inside the Explorers' 7 and say, yeah, points lost or scoring opportunities squandered.

That said, this corner is by no means taking anything away from a victory that was EARNED by the team that is also ranked No. 1 in the seven county area by When it came to plays that had to be made on Saturday night, Hudson had the edge.

In closing their season with seven wins and five losses against one of the most demanding schedules in the state, the Wildcats, like every team that has faced the Explorers this season, had difficulty containing Hudson's gifted and gritty senior quarterback Mitch Guadagni.

Coach Ron Wright's team, which remains unbeaten through 12 games, now advances to the third round of the Ohio High School Athletic Association's big school playoffs, where they will face the Mentors Cardinals, whose only setback this year came at the hands of Guadagni and Co.That game will be played on Saturday night at a site to be determined by the OHSAA.  

Hudson is making its fourth consecutive appearance in the OHSAA postseason show and its eighth overall. In defeating Saint Ignatius, the Explorers avenged last season's second round loss to the Wildcats and came up with their first victory over the Cats in just three meetings with Coach Kyle's 11 time Division I state champs.

Playing like the area football heavyweights they are regarded to be, Saint Ignatius and Hudson each landed a major blow in the first 12 minutes.

First it was the Wildcats with a perfectly executed 98 yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Dennis Grosel to junior wide receiver Cal Grbac off a second and 9 from the Saint Ignatius 2. Senior Cory Griffith kicked the extra point and Saint Ignatius led, 7/0, with 10 minutes and 11 seconds remaining in the first quarter. The Grosel to Grbac gem tied the school record of Brian Hoyer to Chris Rigo, who combined on a 98 TD against Westerville North in August of 2003 at Lakewood Stadium

Hudson, with its faithful living and dying on its every move, knotted the score on a as it's drawn up 71 yard scoring pass from Guadagni to sophomore wide receiver/defensive back/running back Matt Restifo, and the ensuing PAT by Grant Gonya. Restifo, who had a solid all around game for Coach Wright, is the nephew of Saint Ignatius' outstanding offensive coordinator Nick Restifo.

The Wildcats regained the lead in the second quarter on a 44 yard field goal by Griffith, but then it was time for Guadagni to show off his versatility.

Guadagni, doubling as a safety, came up with one of the three key interceptions by the Explorers' secondary and two plays later he fired a TD strike to veteran wide receiver Colton Whited. Following Gonya's extra point, the Explorers led, 14/10. Whited now has 13 TD receptions on the season and Guadagni has thrown for 34 touchdowns through 12 games.

Hudson appeared to be on its way to doing further damage late in the first half, but Saint Ignatius' outstanding junior wide receiver/safety Jack Cook made a leaping interception of a Guadagni pass at the Wildcats' 2 yard line as the final seconds were ticking down in the second quarter. The Wildcats and the Explorers combined for four turnovers in the final five minutes and 30 seconds of the first half.

Cook, who turned in an exceptional season on both sides of the ball and as a punt returner, put the Cats back in front when he combined with Grosel on a 44 yard touchdown catch and run. Griffith sent home the extra point and Coach Kyle's team led, 17/14, with six minutes and forty six seconds left in the third quarter.

As teams that are undefeated at this point of the season usually do, Hudson responded with fourth quarter touchdown runs of 1 yard by Restifo and a highlight reel gallop of forty five yards by Guadagni that saw the ice in his veins signal caller roll left, cut outside, then back inside and find the end zone in a manner that brought back memories of Mentor's Mr. Football Mitch Trubisky. After Gonya's fourth extra point, Coach Wright's Explorers had charted a 28/17 lead with 3:32 remaining in the fourth quarter.

En route to its record 11 Division I state football championships, Saint Ignatius has treated its faithful to many dramatic victories. And it flirted with another one on a brisk November night in what is one of the finest athletic facilities in the state.

In what was an impressive display of hurry up offense, the Wildcats closed to 28/23 on a 7 yard TD toss from Grosel to Cook with 2:04 left on the clock. The Cats' attempt for a 2 point conversion was unsuccessful.

After forcing a punt, Saint Ignatius, out of timeouts, saw its dream of a miracle finish come to an end when Hudson safety John Callahan intercepted a pass across the middle that he read perfectly. Callahan returned the ball to the Wildcats' 14, where the Explorers took a knee and ran out the clock.

BY THE NUMBERS (NUMBERS COURTESY OF WILDCATS STATS MAN DAVE POPLAR): Coach Kyle said his team had to be balanced if it wanted to defeat Hudson and the lack of a consistent running game hurt the Wildcats once again.

Hudson rushed for 212 yards to Saint Ignatius' 74 yards and the Explorers averaged over five yards on 40 rushing attempts. The Wildcats averaged 1.9 yards on 38 rushing attempts. Guadagni rushed for 117 yards on sixteen carries and Explorers fullback/linebacker Joe Charpentier used his second and third efforts to pick up fifty five yards on nine carries.

Saint Ignatius passed for nearly 370 yards, while Hudson was down for 147 yards through the air. The Cats' talented trio of Cook (six receptions for 101 yards), senior captain David Shibley (9 for ninety five yards) and Grbac (3 for one hundred and twenty six yards) led the way.

FROM COACH KYLE: "We had to execute to beat this team," said the man who will enter his 33rd season next summer as his alma mater's head coach. "Sometimes we did, and sometimes we didn't. You have to give credit to Guadagni for making some amazing running plays. Our coverage was pretty good, but he finds a seam and if somebody misses a tackle, he makes you pay for that. You try to spy on him a little bit, but if that guy misses a tackle, woe!

"There's always optimism, there's always optimism," said Coach Kyle of next season and the years beyond. "These young kids are going to work very hard. We played an awfully tough schedule and then we got a playoff draw that was pretty tough, too.

"It's a credit to this senior class," Coach Kyle continued. "When they were freshmen, they struggled. But they stayed with it and I'm proud of them. I don't think many people at the beginning of the year thought we would make the playoffs with our schedule.  But we did and we upset some pretty strong nationally ranked teams. And then we played the No. 1 ranked team in Ohio here tonight."             


Week 12 Preview: Regional Quarterfinal- Saint Ignatius vs. Hudson

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit, November 2014

"I’m just going to do my job. When we do our jobs, plays come to us.” - Saint Ignatius’ quiet and humble, but strong and determined senior nose tackle Michael Penn.

Ohio City - As it did in last year’s playoff encounter with the Hudson Explorers, the Wildcats' defensive front will play a major role on Saturday when the 11-0 Explorers, Ohio’s top-ranked Division I team, face 11-time Division I state champion Saint Ignatius in an OHSAA Region 1 second round football playoff matchup on Brunswick’s Judy Kirsch Field in Brunswick Auto Mart Stadium. The kickoff is 7 PM from what is one of the finest facilities in all of Ohio.

Saint Ignatius enters the game with a record of 7-4 and an outstanding resume of 26 OHSAA postseason appearances since 1988, the year Coach Chuck Kyle’s now storied program made its debut in the football playoffs and won the first of its 11 big-school state titles.

Hudson, the region’s top seed, is in the OHSAA postseason for the fourth consecutive year and the eighth time overall.

The Explorers and the Wildcats are meeting for just the third time on the gridiron, with the two previous encounters also taking place in the OHSAA playoffs.

In 1996, Saint Ignatius defeated Hudson, 53-12, in a Division I Regional Final at Parma’s Byers Field. At that time, only four teams from each region qualified for the playoffs. For those too young to remember, the
playoffs back then were a total of four weeks, a regional semifinal round, a regional final round, a state semifinal round and the state championship games.

That night in 1996 saw Wildcats quarterback Jon Blevins complete 24 of 36 passes for 293 yards and four touchdowns. Hudson made its playoff debut in 1996 by upsetting St. Edward in a regional semifinal and earning the right to face the Cats for the Region 1 championship.

Last season, the Explorers and the Wildcats met in a regional semifinal or quarterfinal, as the OHSAA has now designated the Division I second round, on Judy Kirsch Field in Brunswick Auto Mart Stadium. Trailing, 14-0, for most of the first half, Saint Ignatius rallied to a 28-17 victory.

The Cats outscored the Explorers, 21-3, in the second half. A touchdown reception by Jack Hyland ’14 got Saint Ignatius on the board with 1 minute and 15 seconds remaining in the first half and the Cats, behind a strong effort up front defensively, two key interceptions by defensive back Scott Arthrell ’14 and touchdown runs by tailback Mike Vitale ’14, fullback Stan Elad ’14 and senior wide receiver Nick Fabian ’14 off a reverse, controlled the final 24 minutes.

As was the case last season, Hudson’s offense is fueled by the arm and legs of senior quarterback Mitch Guadagni. Guadagni, who was injured during last year’s playoff game versus Saint Ignatius, has completed nearly 64 percent of his passes this fall for 2,179 yards and 32, yes 32, touchdowns. Of his nine interceptions, four of those came during Hudson’s impressive victory over the Mentor Cardinals. Guadagni is complemented by running back/linebacker Joe Charpentier (792 yards rushing, six touchdowns and better than six yards a carry) and a deep and talented receiving corps.

That receiving corps is led by Colton Whited and Redi Robinson, who both check in with 12 touchdowns on the season, sophomore Matt Restifo (five TD receptions) and underrated tight end Will Hogan (four TD grabs). As we reported on the corner Sunday afternoon, Matt Restifo is a nephew of Saint Ignatius’ outstanding offensive coordinator Nick Restifo, the man who helped hone the skills of the Browns’ Brian Hoyer ’04.

Guadagni, who has also rushed for 764 yards and four touchdowns while averaging nearly 8 yards per carry, received the ultimate compliment from Coach Kyle during the Wildcats’ practice on Tuesday. The man with 32 seasons as the head football coach at his alma mater and a Cleveland-area best 316 career victories (all at Saint Ignatius) put the Explorers’ savvy leader in the same category with two former All-Ohio
quarterbacks whose ability to pass and run ended Saint Ignatius’ playoffs in the  2012 and 2013 regional finals – Mentor’s Mitch Trubisky and Conner Krizancic.

"They’re ranked No. 1 in the state and No. 1 in the region, they’re an excellent football team,” Coach Kyle
said of Coach Ron Wright’s Explorers. “And they’re experienced with a lot of guys back on defense from last year and a lot of skilled guys back on offense that have made big plays for them all season. So they’re just a very dangerous football team.

"Their quarterback is a Division I (college recruit) quarterback and he reminds me a lot of the great Mentor quarterbacks,” Coach Kyle continued. “Certainly, he (Guadagni) can throw the football. But you work all week on these coverages, and then he takes off and gains 15 or 20 yards. It breaks your heart, because you played it okay, it’s just that he made the play. That’s certainly something that has become a lot of work this week (in practice).

"We have to play one of our best games, if not our best game, to get this thing done and do it right,” said
Coach Kyle.

While Saint Ignatius, behind standout senior kicker/punter Cory Griffith and promising sophomore kicker
Colin Goodfellow, appears to have the edge in the kicking game, Hudson’s special teams seem to always have something up their sleeves. Whether it’s a squib kick, a fake punt, a fake field goal or a fake extra point attempt that turns into a 2-point conversion, the Explorers have charted every way possible to make a special teams play special.

A CASE FOR THE DEFENSE: Yes, Hudson does have a solid nucleus of seasoned defenders to call on Saturday night. That said, Saint Ignatius’ defense has seen some of the best offensive weapons that
the Philadelphia and New Jersey powers have to offer, one of the quickest and most athletic teams in the state and the nation in St. Edward, and two of the finest programs to come out of Cincinnati’s talent rich Greater Catholic League every year, St. Xavier and nine time state champion and two time defending
Division I state champ, Archbishop Moeller.

This corner is not one to rely on comparing scores. That said, the respective schedules could, and we
emphasize could, come into play on Judy Kirsch Field Saturday night.

AS DRE’ AND RAY SEE IT: “They look the same (on film) as last year and we’re prepared for that,” said Saint Ignatius senior defensive end/tight end, co-captain and Ohio State recruit Dre’Mont Jones, who was a big factor, especially in the second half, during last year’s playoff victory over the Explorers.

"As defensive ends, we (Dre’Mont and fellow senior Ray Brown) have to contain our side and not let him
(Guadagni) break up the middle or break outside,” Jones continued. “We feel  like we’re the heart of this defense, so we have to make sure we do our jobs, so others can do theirs. We’re going to go out there expecting to play well on both sides of the ball.”

Entering Saturday night’s headliner, Dre’Mont has 54 tackles, including 14 stops that have resulted in
minus yardage, and five sacks. Ray, who is having a season of all-district and all-state caliber, has 23 stops for losses, 11 sacks and three fumble recoveries.

"The key is that if we come out and play with passion, they can’t compete with us,” said the tough on the field, but easy to smile off of it Ray Brown. “Their offensive line is big and good, but I don’t think they’ve played a defensive line like us before. Our schedule has made us better as a team. We are family, and we want to win a state championship.”

PAW PRINTS FROM THE O: The ground game is led by Luke Russell with 400 yards and four touchdowns, Chavez Perez with 378 yards and nine TDs and James Norris with 128 yards and three touchdowns.

St. Ignatius quarterback Dennis Grosel has thrown for 1,672 yards with 14 TDs and eight interceptions in nine games.

The Wildcats' leading receivers are Jack Cook (41 receptions for 769 yards and 10 TDs), Cal Grbac (25 catches for 516 yards and 3 TDs) and David Shibley (27 receptions for 408 yards and four TDs).

ON THE MEND: Although his status for Saturday night is still uncertain, Wildcats talented sophomore tailback Jimmy Andrews (ankle sprain) was back on the practice field Tuesday.

THE AIR WAVES: As always, Saint Ignatius’ gifted Student Broadcasting Network will bring you Saturday night’s game live, as the talented and tell it like it is duo of senior James Zajaczkowski and junior Carter Spearry will be on top of the action.

The game will also be televised live by SportsTime Ohio and the veteran radio tandem of Al Pawlowski and Ed Daugherty will bring it to you live over WHK–AM 1420. Al, who is part of STO’s outstanding coverage of Indians Baseball as the host for “Indians Live” and is the play–by–play voice of Cleveland State University’s Men’s Basketball, was the voice of Saint Ignatius Football during the glory days of radio broadcasts of high school athletics.

DUCATS: Tickets for Saturday night’s game will be on sale throughout the week in the Saint Ignatius Athletic Department. All tickets are $8.            

Ticket sales for 2nd Round of Playoffs vs. Hudson High School

After a 1st round victory over Elyria High School the Cats now take on the #1 ranked team in Ohio the Hudson Explorers.  The game will take place on Saturday, November 15th at 7 p.m. at Brunswick High School.  Tickets will go on sale at 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning from the ticket booth in the Main Building - all tickets are $8 (they will be $9 at the gate).


Wildcats survive First Round of playoffs, with a powerful offensive performance over Elyria

By Eddie Dwyer

With the Cats' offensive line showing the way, senior tailback Luke Russell set the table with a 26-yard touchdown gallop with 9 minutes and 3seconds remaining in the first quarter at Byers Field in Parma's Robert M. Boulton Stadium.

Senior tailback Chavez "Chewie" Perez, who was the backbone of the running game all night, scored from 1-yard out with 1:4to go in the opening quarter and Saint Ignatius, which had trouble executing its extra point kicks, led,12-0.

The Wildcats, who improved to 7-4 and are now 66-14 in the OHSAA postseason under Coach Chuck Kyle, got a 40-yard scoring return by senior defensive back Michael Mathews off a botched snap on a punt attempt by Elyria, two touchdown runs from promising junior tailback James Norris, another rushing TD from Perez,and a 40-yard field goal by senior Cory Griffith.

Saint Ignatius will now advance to second round play, where it will face the 11-0 Hudson Explorers, the top ranked team in the area and the No. 1 team in the Associated Press Division I state poll. That game will be played next Saturday at 7 PM. The site of the game will be determined by the OHSAA on Sunday, with Brunswick's Auto Mart Stadium being a possibility.

Last season, the Wildcats and the Explorers met in the second round of the playoffs at Brunswick and the Cats came away with a 28-17 victory.

Elyria, under the direction of veteran Coach Kevin Fell, closed its season at 7-4. The Pioneers were making their second consecutive appearance in the OHSAA playoffs and their third overall.

BY THE NUMBERS: Saint Ignatius' stats man David Poplar had Perez with 128 yards rushing on 25 carries, Russell with 75 yards rushing on 5 carries and Norris with 7 carries for 56 yards.

Elyria's Mikah Price was listed as having 97 yards on 7 carries and the Pioneers' Chris Atkinson was down for 83 yards on 29 carries.

Saint Ignatius junior quarterback Dennis Grosel completed 9 of 17 passes for 150 yards and Elyria's senior signal caller Hunter Parsh was 19 of 40 for 236 yards.

Wildcats junior wide receiver Cal Grbac had five receptions for 111 yards.

Saint Ignatius was listed as having 394 total yards to the Pioneers' 410. The Cats were down for 244 yards on the ground to Elyria's 174 yards rushing.

This old gridiron ghost is looking forward to Hudson week. It should be interesting my friends. And now I am going to try to churn out 8 to 10 carries of sleep. But, before I rest my head, HERE IS ANOTHER TIP OF THE IRISH CAP TO THE SWEET SIX SOCCER CATS (see the corner's soccer story below).       


Week 11 Preview: First Round Playoff Game- Saint Ignatius vs. Elyria

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit November 2014

Ohio City: The kickoff on Saturday from Byers Field in Parma's Robert M. Boulton Stadium will be 7 PM and the game will be broadcast live over the Saint Ignatius Student Broadcasting Network.

Despite what you might have read elsewhere, Saint Ignatius has earned its 26th OHSAA Division I playoff appearance and was ranked 13th in the final Associated Press State Poll that was released on Monday. The Wildcats received the required 12 voting points from a statewide panel of broadcasters and reporters in garnering the final spot in the poll.

All 26 of Saint Ignatius' OHSAA playoff appearances have come since 1988, the start of the Cats' remarkable run of 11 state championships, a state runner-up, three national titles and a national runner-up. Only one season during that run did Saint Ignatius miss qualifying for the OHSAA playoffs and that was the fall of 2010.

Coach Chuck Kyle's Wildcats (6-4) and Coach Kevin Fell's 7-3 Pioneers from Elyria will be meeting on the gridiron for the first time. Elyria is making just its third appearance in the OHSAA football playoffs, but its second in a row. The Pioneers bounced back strong from a 2-3 start this season.  

As we reported on the corner Sunday, Coach Kyle and Coach Fell have a friendship that dates back to the early 1990s, when Coach Fell was doing an outstanding job with the football program at Lakewood High School. Throughout the '90s, the Wildcats and the Lakewood Rangers would meet in an all-levels preseason preview that attracted nice sized crowds to tradition-rich Lakewood Stadium. It became an attractive late summer ritual for the watering holes and restaurants along Madison Avenue.

Coach Fell's Lakewood program met Coach Kyle's Wildcats twice in the postseason. Saint Ignatius came out the winner both times, 34-0 in a first round game in 1991 and 41-13 in a regional final in 1995. Lakewood wrapped up its 1995 season with a school-best record of 11 wins and just that one loss.

"We've done a lot of football together," said Coach Kyle of the classy friendship and mutual coaching respect he and Coach Fell share. "We were in the Greater Cleveland Football Coaches Association together. We would go to the meetings together for a number of years. He would pick me up in his Jeep.

"Kevin's done a nice job with Elyria, he really has them playing well," Coach Kyle continued. "And you knew Kevin would, he was always a very meticulous coach. He has his kids playing hard and that's what you're seeing the results of."

Coach Kyle pointed out that the Pioneers, led by senior quarterback Hunter Parsh, have really put an emphasis on the passing game this fall. Parsh will enter Robert M. Boulton Stadium on Saturday night with 2,418 yards through the air, 22 touchdown passes and 7 interceptions. In last weekend's 50-20 regular season finale and playoff clinching victory over Medina, Parsh threw for 254 yards in what were wet, to say the least, conditions.

"They want to put it up and they know they want to put it in his hands," Coach Kyle said of the Pioneers and Parsh. "He has a nice arm, but the thing you notice right away is that he is accurate with the short passing game. Sometimes you have a strong-armed guy who doesn't effectively move the sticks, but he does a nice job with the check down, short passes. He's patient and accurate and is their key offensive weapon."

Coach Kyle also pointed to how well schooled the Pioneers' offensive line is under the direction of Steve Hamilton, one of Coach Fell's top assistants, and to the quickness Chris Atkinson brings to the tailback position.

Just a sophomore, Atkinson has rushed for 1,033 yards in his complementary role with Parsh.

"Their offense can move the ball," Coach Kyle said emphatically. "They've shown that against some good teams."

Elyria, which has compiled four consecutive 7-3 regular seasons, will usually came at you with a 4-3 look on defense and sometimes they will move one of their linebackers out in space.

"The nice thing is that we've seen that defense several times this year," Coach Kyle said. "So it's nice to know that we can feed off that and adjust to that, at least linemen wise. They will "twist" their defensive linemen. They'll blitz here and there, but they will twist or x the linemen, where one guy comes in and the other guy goes around him. They've had success with that, as their linemen have been quick to the ball."

Coach Kyle said the Pioneers' defensive secondary is mostly a four deep with some skilled kids that can get to the ball. Senior captain Mike Church has six interceptions.

Another name to remember is junior Zack Mason, who leads the Lorain County area with 185 tackles.

"We have to challenge ourselves a little bit," said Coach Kyle, whose Wildcats are coming off one of the toughest losses in the program's history, a 41-10 setback to West Side rival St. Edward in last weekend's regular season finale on Byers Field. "The last six quarters, the second half at St. Xavier (a 24-10 loss) and St. Eds, we've been spotty on things we were doing well. We have to get our heads focused a little bit and get back to like we were playing against Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller, St. Joe's Prep, Paramus Catholic. We can't try to overplay something, and then let something big happen. It's like, keep your focus.

"So that's our emphasis this week," Coach Kyle continued. "When we do that, we're a very solid team."

Coach Kyle added that when it's all said and done, his Wildcats are 0-0 right now and exactly where they want to be - practicing this week.


Junior Varsity Wildcats conclude an outstanding season with a home win over Saint Edward

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit November 2014

Ohio City:  The Wildcats' all sophomore front seven of linemen Patrick Viancourt, Mike Chime, Joe Gibbons and Michael Czaja, and linebackers James Leyden, Adam Shibley and Johnny Velotta were relentless from the get go on Monday night.

The all sophomore defensive secondary, keyed by cornerback/punt and kick returner Alex Ringfield, allowed one early pass completion for significant yardage and then handled everything St. Edward had to offer through the air.

Sophomore kicker/punter Colin Goodfellow and the above mentioned defensive players allowed Saint Ignatius to dominant the field position battle.

Along with his booming kickoffs, Colin put a perfect "Coffin Corner" punt inside the Eagles' five yard line that would have drawn a wide smile from NFL Hall of Famer Yale Lary. Colin also sent home two extra points and a field goal of 34 yards that would have been good from a much further distance as it kissed the sky over Wasmer Field.

Sophomore quarterback Patrick Ryan pulled off a Houdini act as he  escaped the grasp of the Eagles pass rush twice, rolled to his right and found the sure hands of sophomore receiver Mike Lehto along the sideline.

The quiet and humble, but oh so talented Lehto caught Ryan's toss, spun away from the defender and outran the pursuit 23 yards into the scoreboard end zone. Goodfellow's extra point was good and the Cats led, 7/0, with 3 minutes and 27 seconds remaining in the first half.

Helping set up the Ryan to Lehto highlight reel play was a 22 yard reception by one of Coach Paul Yappel's gifted two way players, sophomore wide receiver/defensive back Travis Pot. Pot's reception came off a third down and 12 from midfield.

With the Cats' front seven taking no prisoners and continuously sacking or making things uncomfortable for Eagles quarterback Kevin Kramer, Saint Ignatius extended its lead to 14/0 on a 14 yard TD gallop into the Lorain Avenue end zone by Ryan and the ensuing extra point by Goodfellow with 3:02 left in the third quarter. Ryan made an exceptional read of St. Edward's defensive coverage before tucking the ball away and heading for the end zone.

Goodfellow closed out the scoring on his authoritative and majestic field goal with just under four minutes remaining to be played.

The Wildcats and the Eagles wrapped up their junior varsity seasons with identical records of seven wins and two losses.

From Coach Yappel: "Going in, we told our special teams that we thought it was going to be a game of field position starting off. Our defense has played well all year, every game, game in and game out.

"Coach (Dave) Cicetti (JV Defensive Coach and Assistant Varsity Linebackers Coach) does a great job," Coach Yappel continued. "Our defense has been stellar all year and it really came through tonight. It was great for them to get the shutout. It speaks well for them.

"Patrick Ryan did a great job tonight,' said Coach Yappel. "He kept his composure and confidence all through the game. It's a great group of kids and they're fortunate that the varsity coaches are there to coach them every step of the way. You have Dave Cicetti calling the defense and Elvis Grbac calling the offense. It makes my life pretty easy. It's a group effort."

From linebacker Johnny Velotta: "We knew we had to respond after coming off those two tough losses to Cincinnati teams (JV teams from Archbishop Moeller and St. Xavier). We had to bring it and help this team win tonight. I think we were pretty successful."

From lineman Patrick Viancourt: "Something that Dre'Mont (Cats standout senior defensive lineman Dre'Mont Jones) said the other day was that we need to start realizing that we're going to have to base these games on how our defense is going to play. If our defense can put pressure on the quarterback and our DBs (defensive backs) are covering, we're going to win. That's all there is to it."

All there was to Viancourt's game on Monday were 3 to 4 key sacks and numerous other assisted tackles and pressures.

From nose tackle Joe Gibbons: "We played physical, we played smart and just kept our gaps," said the man in the middle, who drew double team blocking from St. Edward all night, but to no avail. "The linebackers did a nice job of cleaning up. We've controlled (offensive) lines all year."

From linebacker Adam Shibley, the brother of Wildcats varsity standout wide receiver and captain David Shibley: "Our front seven have jelled since day one as freshmen. It's just been a great bond. We're friends off the field as well. I just love playing with everyone. We all do our jobs. It's been a great experience."

From lineman Mike Chime: "It's definitely very satisfying. It's nice when you can see a group effort like that. It's a team thing. We're all in on every play. It's a cohesive unit."


Wildcats take on Elyria in the First Round of the OHSAA Division 1 Football Playoffs

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit November 2014

Fairview Park, Ohio: The final OHSAA computer ratings confirmed what we reported last night via the ratings by computer playoff guru Joe Eitel that Saint Ignatius, as the eighth rated team in Division I, Region 1, will host the ninth rated Elyria Pioneers in a first round matchup on Saturday at 7 PM on Byers Field in Parma's Robert M. Boulton Stadium.

Under the OHSAA Harbin playoff system, the top 16  teams in Region 1 qualify for the regional playoffs and the top eight area awarded a first round home game.

Saint Ignatius, which closed its regular season at 6-4, will be making its 26th playoff appearance since its remarkable postseason run of 11 Division I state championships began in 1988. Coach Chuck Kyle's Wildcats made their debut in the OHSAA football playoffs in 1988.

For the Elyria Pioneers (7-3), Saturday night will mark their third trip to the football postseason and their second in a row. It will also mark the Pioneers' first encounter with the Wildcats on the gridiron.

That said, Elyria Head Coach Kevin Fell is no stranger to Coach Kyle.

Throughout the 1990s, when Coach Fell was doing an outstanding job as the head coach of the Lakewood Rangers, Lakewood and Saint Ignatius would compete in an annual preseason preview that always drew a good crowd to Bunts and Madison.

A man this old-timer had the privilege and pleasure to cover and report on during his years at Lakewood, Coach Fell guided the Rangers to two playoff encounters with Saint Ignatius. The Wildcats, en route to their third state championship, defeated Lakewood, 34-0, in a first round matchup in 1991. Led by quarterback Geoff Panteck, the 1995 state champion and national champion Wildcats defeated Lakewood, 41-13, in the second round. That was Lakewood's only setback in 1995, as the Rangers finished with a school-best 11-1 record.

But that was Lakewood and now it's Elyria and by all reports out in Lorain County, the Pioneers are excited to be playing one of the most storied programs in the history of Ohio High School Football.

The Pioneers, who have now put together four consecutive 7-3 seasons, put the seal on their third playoff appearance by dominating Medina, 50-20, on Friday night. Elyria's savvy senior quarterback Hunter Parish passed for 254 yards in the cold and wet conditions. Not bad for a team that got off to a 2-3 start this year.


Ah, the gales of November and playoff football. Have a safe and great week and we'll see you at the Saint Ignatius versus St. Edward Junior Varsity Game on Monday (tomorrow night) at Wasmer Field. The kickoff is scheduled for 6 PM.    

Varsity Football finishes eighth in Region 1

Saint Ignatius will have a home game to open the 2014 OHSAA Division 1 Football Tournament. They finish eighth in Region 1 with a record of 6-4, after a 41-10 loss to Saint Edward Saturday night at Byers Field. The Eagles finished second with a record of 8-2. 

The first round opponent for the Wildcats will be announced Sunday afternoon. Right now it looks like it will be the 7-3 Elyria Pioneers. 

Eagles fly over the Varsity Wildcats in regular season finale, Saint Ignatius falls to 6-4 (after soccer story)

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit November 2014


In defeating the Explorers on the pitch at Rocky River High School Saturday evening, the Soccer Cats brought home what is the program's 10th Regional Championship under Coach Mike McLaughlin.

Saint Ignatius, which improved 18/2/1, will face Copley (20/0/1) in a State Semifinal matchup on Wednesday at 7 PM at a site to be determined by the Ohio High School Athletic Association. Copley and Saint Ignatius finished 1-2, respectively, in the final Division I state poll by the Ohio Scholastic Soccer Coaches Association.

The Copley Indians defeated the Wildcats, 2-0, in a regular season matchup at Wasmer Field on Sept. 20. 

Hudson, which lost for just the fourth time in 21 games this season, took a 1-0 lead near the halfway point of the first half on Saturday evening. Doing the honors was the Explorers' standout forward Trevor Colazzo.

The Soccer Cats, who defeated Hudson in a five-goal shutout in late September on Wasmer Field, wasted little time in knotting the score on a goal by senior captain and Holy Cross recruit Bobby Barsic.

With both teams battling the stiff winds and brisk temperatures that hit the Greater Cleveland Area on Saturday, Saint Ignatius scored the go-ahead and final goal of the match when gifted sophomore Steve Milhoan juked a defender and sent home a shot from almost dead-center range with just over 13 minutes left in the first 40 minutes.

The Cats' defense took over from there and as it was a game of possession control in the second half. Saint Ignatius totaled 9 shots to the Explorers' 4. 

Coach McLaughlin's team sealed the trip to the final four when All-American senior goalie Mikal Outcalt left his feet and said not on my watch to a shot of the high and looping variety.

Saint Ignatius now owns an amazing eighty five victories in 99 OHSAA postseason games under Coach McLaughlin, who picked up career victory 329 on Saturday. Mike is in his 20th season as the head of his alma mater's soccer program, which is seeking its sixth Division I state championship. 


BYERS FIELD IN PARMA'S ROBERT M. BOULTON STADIUM: It was the most lop-sided victory in the storied Saint Ignatius versus St. Edward rivalry since 2008, when the Wildcats defeated the Eagles, 37-0, in a first-round regional playoff game at Byers Field.

Despite experiencing a defeat that was sound and sudden, to say the least, Saint Ignatius has secured its twenty sixth playoff appearance since 1988. According to computer playoff guru Joe Eitel, it appears the Wildcats will host the Elyria Pioneers this coming Saturday in a first-round matchup on Byers Field in Parma's Robert M. Boulton Stadium. The kickoff will be 7 PM.

The OHSAA will release its official playoff parings on Sunday.

Things started off just fine for the Wildcats on Saturday night as Coach Chuck Kyle's 11-time Division I state champions recovered a fumble on the opening kickoff and converted it into a 37-yard field goal by standout senior kicker/punter Cory Griffith. Recovering the fumble for the Cats was senior safety Ian Ryan.

Saint Ignatius, which closed its regular season with six victories and four defeats, pushed its lead to 10-0 on a 41-yard touchdown catch and run by gifted junior wide receiver/safety Jack Cook with 2 minutes and 21 seconds remaining in the first quarter.

Cook's TD, which was keyed by a clutch reception from senior wide receiver and captain David Shibley, came off an impressive throw by junior quarterback Dennis Grosel, who released the ball under heavy pressure.

In what could definitely be described as the turning point, the ensuing kickoff landed in the hands of one of the most dangerous kick returners in all of Ohio if not the entire nation, St. Edward's outstanding senior and University of Notre Dame recruit Shaun Crawford.

Crawford fielded the kick by sophomore Colin Goodfellow at the Eagles' 1-yard line, darted to his left, went down the sideline in almost a blur and broke a tackle en route to a 99-yard touchdown return.

It was a play that seemed to take the air out of all of the early momentum Saint Ignatius had built and a play that definitely fueled one of the most impressive offensive runs in the Eagles' football history.

Crawford's highlight-reel gallop was followed by a 2-yard touchdown run by the multi-skilled Andrew Dowell off a sixty nine-yard drive, a sixteen-yard touchdown reception by Crawford that was the result of a leaping interception by Dowell at the Eagles' 31, and a forty-five yard touchdown burst over the right side by junior tailback Cole Gest.

Leading, 28-10, at halftime, St. Edward got an athletic interception return by Crawford that put the Eagles in business at the Saint Ignatius 9 and three plays later Gest powered his way into the end zone from five yards out.

The final points of the game came courtesy of Crawford, who caught a pass from senior quarterback Brett Kean in the left flat, put on two juke moves and flied down the left sideline and into the scoreboard end zone of Byers Field for a 38-yard score with 8 minutes and 8 seconds left in the third quarter. 

St. Edward's defense did a solid job against the run all night and was able to keep the Wildcats' passing game under control with its extremely quick to close secondary. The Eagles also got plenty of pressure on Grosel off their 4-3 look up front and the occasional blitzes they employed from their linebackers.

"They're good, they're very good," said Coach Kyle of an Eagles team that now stands 8-2 and has vaulted into the second spot in the Joe Eitel Division I, Region 1 computer ratings. "We got off to a 10-0 lead and that kickoff return just popped the balloon. We knew they were retuning that way, but Crawford  just fought through it. They didn't slow down after that."

Coach Kyle also praised the work Gest does in his complementary role to Crawford and said his team has to get healthy for the playoffs and take it one step at a time.  The Cats took on the Eagles without the services of one of their mainstay receivers, junior Cal Grbac (foot), and their hard-nosed sophomore tailback Jimmy Andrews (ankle).

The numbers are not pretty to look at for Wildcats fans, as the Eagles totaled 417 yards to Saint Ignatius' 177 total yards. St. Edward, with Gest picking up 130 yards on 27 carries, won the ground war, 170 to sixty four, and had 17 first downs to the Cats' 7. Kean passed for 247 yards and Grosel had 113 yards through the air.

Preventing St. Edward from doing even further damage were Wildcats senior defensive back Michael Mathews, who made an athletic breakup of a pass in the scoreboard end zone and senior safety and captain Lawrence Birchler, who came up with an interception in Saint Ignatius territory.

"If they continue to play like this they have a chance to go pretty far," said Coach Kyle of Coach Rick Finotti's Eagles. "Maybe we'll play them again a few weeks from now. Who knows?"

Saint Ignatius now leads its all-time series with St. Edward, 28-23-1.


Freshman Wildcats complete an undefeated season with a win over Saint Edward

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit October/November 2014

Ohio City - Coach Rodney Gallaway's big-hearted, multi-skilled and football savvy beyond their years ninth graders completed a 10-0 season with the triumph over their West Side rival.

The Cats, who for the most part were solid on both sides of the ball and got some exceptional play from their Matthew Trickett-led special teams, watched their defense land the first blow as linebacker Andrew Keirn intercepted a pass inside his 35-yard line and rambled down left sideline and into the scoreboard end zone of Wasmer Field, breaking three tackles along the way.

The versatile with a capital V Trickett kicked the extra point and Saint Ignatius led, 7-0, with minutes and 1seconds remaining in the first quarter.

It was a case for the defense again, as cornerback Cameron Toppin came up with an interception return that led to a powerful 19-yard, second-effort touchdown burst over the left side by tailback/fullback Sean Whalen. Trickett was high and true on his second PAT, pushing his team's lead to 14-0.

This was the start of the St. Edward football rivalry for the Class of 2018 and, despite their youth, many of them were well aware that the Eagles (6-4) weren't going to just go quietly into the Hallows Eve night.

With just 12.8 seconds left in the first quarter,  St. Edward's promising tailback Tylan Rice swept the left side, cut inside and then outside, and outran the pursuit into the Lorain Avenue end zone for a 92-yard touchdown.

Coach Gallaway's Cats, playing with a composure you don't always associate with freshmen teams, responded with a scoring drive that featured the running of crowd-pleasing tailback Phil "The Thrill " Zuccaro and a big-time, 52-yardreception by Jack Snyder that gave Saint Ignatius a first down at the Eagles' 11.

A diving reception by the Cats' sure-handed, 6-foot-4 tight end Ben Ritschel put the ball inside the St. Edward 2 and from there Zuccaro went up the gut with authority and into the Lorain Avenue end zone. Trickett added the PAT and Saint Ignatius led, 21-7.

St. Edward got right back in the game thanks to the running of Rice and a perfectly executed middle screen touchdown pass to Rice off a fourth-and-goal from the 8-yard line.

After taking a seven-point lead into halftime, the Wildcats' were the recipients of a tone-setting fumble recovery by standout safety Justin Sands on the first play from scrimmage in the second half. Justin's quick-reaction pounce on the ball at the Eagles' 15 led to a 4-yard TD run by Zuccaro and Trickett's fourth PAT.

Once again, St. Edward answered, this time on a touchdown reception by Jonathon Lenehan.

However, it was at that point Trickett came up with the first of his two blocked PATs and Saint Ignatius held an eight-point lead with 3:35 remaining in the third quarter.

With Trickett's booming punts allowing the Cats to control the field position, the defense still had plenty left in the tank.

A leaping interception by Toppin at the Saint Ignatius 43, his second INT on the evening, resulted in Zuccaro's 19th touchdown of the season, as the young man with Frank Solich (former Holy Name and Nebraska legend) - like skills pulled off another highlight-reel cutback before diving into the right corner of the scoreboard end zone for a 27-yard score. Trickett was money again on the extra point and Coach Gallaway's Cats had some breathing room at 35- 20 with 7:17 remaining to be played.

Things got a little uncomfortable after St. Edward converted an interception into another touchdown run by Rice. But just when that uneasy feeling arrived, Trickett treated the Wildcats' faithful to his second blocked extra point and the defense responded nicely over the final 4:24.

After each one of the Wildcats went around and congratulated their teammates and their coaches on what was a fall to recall, took team pictures in the Lorain Avenue end zone and celebrated moments of prayer in front of the campus' St. Mary of the Assumption Chapel, Trickett , Zuccaro and Coach Gallaway shared their thoughts on a season that could lead to even bigger things on the upper levels.

FROM PLACE KICKER, PUNTER, LINEBACKER AND SPECIAL TEAMS MAINSTAY MATTHEW TRICKETT: "It means everything to me. We've all come together perfectly. Everyone's helping each other out and we're all getting hyped together. Whenever the offense has a turnover or the defense lets up a touchdown, we pick each other up and we strive, we strive for greatness.

"I really don't know what to say," Trickett said of the two momentum deflating blocked extra points.  "I came straight from the inside on both of them. Our linemen did a great job of sealing off their offensive line and I was able to break through each time, it was great. Tonight, I just had all of the momentum from our team (on his exceptional punting). I got a good vibe."

FROM PHIL ZUCCARO, WHO HAS THE HEART AND PHYSICAL SKILLS TO JOIN THE LONG LINE OF EXCEPTIONAL RUNNING BACKS AT CLEVELAND'S JESUIT PREPARATORY SCHOOL: "It means so much, it's ridiculous. Words can't even describe how I'm feeling right now. The great thing is, it's about the team. No one player can do it. Sometimes it's the defense picking us up and sometimes the offense is picking up the defense.  It's all about the team."

Liking any smart running back, Zuccaro praised his offensive line and the grit that John "Jack" Jamieson displayed all night while playing through an injury. Of course at Saint Ignatius, you wouldn't expect anything less from a lineman wearing No. 76 (the name is Trent Zenkewicz, look up the history).

"Fantastic, great," said Zuccaro when asked what words will come to his mind three years from now when he looks back at the prefect 10 that was the freshmen football season of 2014.

But then, God be willing, three years from now Zuccaro and his teammates might be celebrating even greater things on the gridiron.

FROM COACH GALLAWAY, WHO COMPLETED HIS SIXTH SEASON AS A HEAD COACH AND HIS SEVENTH OVERALL: "There was a lot of ebb and flow to this game. You ride a high and then you ride a low. You have to sort of weather those and that's what we did a good job of, obviously, as we come out on top. That's the biggest part of this game, and you know it's coming, the emotional things. I think it's important for those guys (the freshmen) to know that and be prepared for it. And they were. They were focused.

"We had some mistakes, but we bounced back,"  Coach Gallaway continued. "Big plays by the defense, especially in the fourth quarter, and Trickett is MVP for this game simply because he gave us field position all night long. If you can win that battle, that's a big plus. Some of his punts were unbelievable, he was dropping them in at the 5- and 7-yard lines.

"It was more of a team effort this year," said Coach Gallaway of his undefeated season. "Special teams were huge. We were locking some key victories with punt returns, kick returns, blocked extra points and blocked punts. Solid play from the offense and defense this year, and exceptional play from the special teams. They were fun to coach, a group of guys you're going to be proud to watch over the next few years here. They do work hard and they give all they have. There is no doubt about that."   




Week 10 Preview: Saint Ignatius vs. Saint Edward

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit October 2014

Ohio City – Yes, Saint Ignatius and St. Edward have each earned a spot in the OHSAA Division I postseason playoffs.

So we can take that factor off the table when the Wildcats (6-3) and the Eagles (7-2) meet in their annual late season rivalry on Saturday night at 7 on Byers Field in Parma’s Robert M. Boulton Stadium. All Saints Day in one of its finest forms comes to Ridge Road and Day Drive.

There is, however, still one OHSAA card to be played in what will be the 52nd meeting on the gridiron between Cleveland’s Jesuit Preparatory School and the Brothers of Holy Cross Sponsored School that resides in storied Lakewood, Ohio. The Wildcats lead the series, 28-22-1.

St. Edward is currently fifth in the OHSAA Division I, Region 1 computer playoff ratings and Saint Ignatius isseventh in those current ratings. Under the OHSAA Harbin Playoff System, the top 16 teams in Region 1 after Saturday night will qualify for the OHSAA Regional Playoffs and the top 8 will be awarded a home game in the first round, which begins Nov. 8.

As for this coming into play on Saturday night, St. Edward could still host a game despite a loss to Saint Ignatius, but a Wildcats setback could drop Saint Ignatius out of the top 8. In both of these cases the operative word is could.

This corner, both in my seven seasons covering football for the Saint Ignatius website and my 36-plus years of covering the Eagles versus the Wildcats rivalry for The Plain Dealer, has been treated to some classics between two schools who put academics and service in the fore, while still offering outstanding athletic programs.

When asked, and the question comes up all of the time, what was the greatest game this old timer covered and reported on in this highly publicized and nationally recognized rivalry, the answer is easy– the 1993, 35-34 triple-overtime victory by Saint Ignatius in legendary Lakewood Stadium, aka “The Madhouse on Madison.” In fact, it was and still is the greatest high school football game I ever witnessed.

There was never a Saint Ignatius-St. Edward football game like it before and there hasn’t been one like it since, in terms of the atmosphere and intensity. You just felt it in the air as you entered Lakewood Stadium. It was so thick you could have cut with a knife. An adult fan, as he entered the stadium, turned to me and said: “I don’t give two hoots about who wins this game, but man, I got goose bumps just walking in here.”

At most of the games that take place in Lakewood Stadium, you can always see a few fans in the double houses along Bunts Road and some of the residents of the apartments along Madison Avenue taking in a glimpse of the action. But this night, Saturday, Oct. 23, 1993, those balconies were jammed packed. One resident of an apartment across from
the Madison Avenue end zone shared with me how she actually charged residents to watch the “almost perfect” view her balcony offered. Y
es, 13,000 was the attendance figure most members of the media used (I still believe it was even larger) after the heart-pounding victory by Saint Ignatius. The aisles were jammed on both sides of the stadium
and fans were three, to four, to five rows deep around the outside of the field. Keep in mind that at that time Lakewood Stadium seated around 8,500 at best.

As the game was approaching the first overtime, people were stopping their cars along Madison Avenue trying to get a look at the action of a game that has, and always will, stand the test of time as one of the greatest games in the history of Ohio High School Football, if not the entire nation. Those Madison Avenue observers were even standing on the hoods of their cars in an attempt to get a better view. The police had to break
up what was becoming a traffic jam along Bunts and Madison.

Saint Ignatius, labeled by USA Today from day one in the preseason of 1993 as the
team to beat in the nation, took a 27-game winning streak into Lakewood Stadium
that late October night.

The Wildcats held a 21-7 lead with just over eight minutes remaining in the fourth quarter before St. Edward’s outstanding senior quarterback Bobby Adams came firing back with touchdown passes to the underrated Ryan Ezzie and the versatile Kevin Knestrick. It was a new game!

Adams and Saint Ignatius’ gritty and gifted senior quarterback Scott Mutryn were like two gunslingers that night. My thoughts on those two young men remain the same 21 years later. Not only were they two of the finest signal callers in the history of area high school football, but they were almost mirror images of each other in terms of the confident swagger they brought to the field. Their demeanors truly went hand in hand with their exceptional athletic skills.

The play of the game, and there were many to recall, came in the third overtime after St. Edward took a 34-28 lead on Adams’ fourth touchdown pass of the night.

St. Edward would misfire on the extra point after Adams’ fourth TD toss and, as Mutryn rolled out and fired the ball under pressure into the left corner of the Madison Avenue end zone, a roar came from the St. Edward faithful as it appeared that Eagles defensive back T. J. Shalek was in perfect position for a game-winning interception.

However, as both Shalek and Wildcats multi-skilled senior wide receiver Keith Laschinger were in the air, somehow, some way Laschinger went over Shalek’s shoulder and took the ball away for his dramatic TD reception. Nick Paez kicked the winning PAT and Saint Ignatius would go on to win its fifth of what are now a record 11 Division I state championships and the second of its three national titles (the other two came in 1989 and 1995).

In what was a first and never happened again in the history of The Plain Dealer’s High School Sports Staff, and I emphasize The Plain Dealer (it is now Northeast Ohio Media Group/, two players from the same game – Mutryn and Adams, were selected as The Plain Dealer’s Players of the Week based on their performances that historic night in Lakewood Stadium. Mutryn passed for 229 yards and five touchdowns, and Adams threw for 231 yards and his four touchdowns. Both Adams and Mutryn were selected to The Plain Dealer’s All-Cuyahoga County All- Star First Team and Adams was The Plain Dealer’s Seven-County All-Star quarterback for 1993.

St. Edward Coach Jim McQuaide (now the head football coach at Solon High School) put it so correctly after the four quarters and three overtimes: “If there is such a thing as the game that neither team deserved to lose, this was certainly it."

And, an exhausted but still full of fire Mutryn said after the epic battle, “I’m so tired, my God what a football game. St. Edward is a great, great team. They just kept answering us.”

In a side note, St. Edward has probably had teams with more labeled by the media talent, but none with more passion and heart than the 1993 version of “The Big Green Machine.” Man, those Eagle linebackers, Pat Stanton and Bob Birt, and fullback, Jim Konopka, were as tough as they come.

NOTE: Many fans forget that the Eagles and the Wildcats played twice in both 2008 and 2011 (regular season and playoffs). Thus, the fifty one previous meetings. The 14-14 tie took place in 1983, Chuck Kyle’s first season as the Cats’ Varsity Football Coach.

So here we go for round 52 and who better to analyze Saturday night’s pull no punches in Parma than the man who has now guided his alma mater to what will be on Nov. 8 its twenty sixth OHSAA playoff appearance since 1988, Coach Kyle.

From Coach Kyle on St. Edward: “Their skill guys are blessed with very good speed. They have a lot of speed, including their running backs and receivers. They spread you out with bubble screens and little things where the pattern is kind of a crossing motion. You really have to handle that part of their breakaway ability. If you look at their games, at any time, one (play) can go 80 (yards) on you.

"You have to put some intensity at it (defensively) and mix the coverages,” Coach Kyle continued. “They have also been doing a real good job with their running game, their counter and their zone play. Their offense blends the pass and the run pretty well.”

Coach Kyle also pointed out that Eagles standout running back/receiver/defensive back/kickoff returner Shaun Crawford is not just a big time sprinter in track, but also an excellent football player who makes exceptional cuts. Crawford is bound for the University of Notre Dame on a football scholarship.

"He’s a weapon,” Coach Kyle said in reference to Crawford. “Coverage wise (as a defensive back), he can close in a hurry.”

Although somewhat inexperienced up front offensively as the season got underway, the Eagles’ offensive line has matured into a solid, zone blocking group. Among those running backs complementing Crawford is the strong and quick Cole Gest, a young man who has impressed this corner since he was a freshman.

In last weekend’s impressive 24-10 victory over two-time defending Division I state champion Archbishop Moeller in Cincinnati, Crawford scored on an 80-yard run off the first play from scrimmage. It was a play that saw Crawford take the handoff from the wing and put forth that exceptional speed and cutting ability Coach Kyle referred to.

Some of the Eagles’ other big plays were a fumble recovery by safety Kyle Fallon that set up a field goal, a 32 yard interception return for a touchdown by Matt Carandang and a 4 yard scoring run by the versatile Andrew Dowell.

St. Edward picked off four passes and Eagles quarterback Brett Kean connected on 10 of his 18 passes for 115 yards and no interceptions.

"Defensively, they’re doing more of a 4-3 this year,” Coach Kyle continued in his evaluation of the Eagles. “It blends in with a lot of what Michigan State has been successful with the past few years. They put their corners a little bit more on an island now with man coverage. But they feel they can do it with their speed. When you look at their linebackers, they’re more spread out to help on the passing game, a little loser on the outside. They’ll blitz here and there, but they like their linebackers reading and reacting.

"Their linemen occupy and let the linebackers do the work,” said Coach Kyle.

It’s no secret that both teams come into this game a little banged up. That said, how many times in this storied series have we seen the so called no name reserve step up and make a crucial play?

Arrive early and stay warm. A rumor has it that the gales of November are coming early. If you can’t make it to the game, the golden tones of junior Carter Spearry and senior James Zajaczkowski will bring the live audio and video coverage over the Saint Ignatius Student Broadcasting Network.     


Junior Varsity Football versus Saint Edward date moved

To accomadate the funeral of beloved former theology teacher Mr. Jim Skerl '74, Saint Edward has agreed to move the Junior Varsity matchup of the Wildcats and Eagles to Monday, November 3, 2014 on Wasmer Field at 6:00 p.m. 

The Freshman matchup remains on Thursday, October 30, 2014 on Wasmer Field at 6:00 p.m. The Freshman Wildcats will be taking on Saint Edward's Freshman Gold team. And the Varsity matchup will be on All Saints' Day at 7:00 p.m. at Byers Field at Robert M. Boulton Stadium.  

Varsity Wildcats can't handle Saint Xavier's defense, fall in the 'Jesuit Bowl'

By Eddie Dwyer

Coach Chuck Kyle's Wildcats, who now stand 6-3 on the season, jumped on the tough and talented Bombers by striking for an 80 yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Dennis Grosel to junior wide receiver Cal Grbac in the first quarter.

St. Xavier, which now stands 7-2 and owns a 12-9 lead in its all-time series with Saint Ignatius, got right back in the game by converting a fumble recovery at the Wildcats' 26-yard line into a 7 yard scoring run by standout senior tailback Ben Glines, the Bombers' 2013 Most Valuable Player.

The Wildcats, who, like St. Xavier, entered the game having already secured a spot in the OHSAA playoffs, clung to a 10-7 lead at halftime thanks to a 22-yard field goal by senior Cory Griffith.

It was Bombers' football in the second half, however, as they treated their faithful in St. Xavier Stadium/Tom Ballaban Field to a game-controlling, 17-0 score over the final 24 minutes.

The big plays were a 47-yard touchdown strike from sophomore quarterback Sean Clifford to 6-foot-5, 235-pound junior tight end Noah Davis and a 15-yard touchdown run by Glines' running mate and classmate, Ronnie Fricke.

Numbers can be telling and one that stood out at halftime was St. Xavier's 116-6 advantage on the ground. Saint Ignatius offset that by passing for 127 yards in the first 24 minutes, while the Bombers managed just 49 yards through the air in the first half. Of course, 80 of those 127 yards for the Cats came on one play.

The game's final numbers showed St. Xavier limiting Saint Ignatius to 13 net yards on the ground. The Bombers totaled 202 yards rushing. In some other numbers to note, Cats senior linebacker Brady Wells finished with a game-high nine tackles and a caused fumble, Saint Ignatius senior defensive back Lawrence Birchler made seven tackles and St. Xavier's All-Ohio senior linebacker and Ohio State recruit Justin Hilliard had six tackles, including a key sack.  

Grosel finished with 198 yards passing and junior tailback James Norris returned three kickoffs for 5yards.

Fricke's touchdown and an interception by junior defensive back JP Bitzenhofer sealed the deal and kept the Cannon Bell, which the schools now play for every year, on the campus of St. Xavier. The Bombers took it home to Cincinnati last year after they defeated the Wildcats, 13-10, in John Carroll University's Don Shula Stadium. Bitzenhofer also contributed five tackles.

With the victory, St. Xavier jumped into the No. 1 spot in the Division I, Region 2 computer ratings and the Wildcats slipped one spot to seventh in Region 1.   

Saint Ignatius, which was ranked one spot ahead of St. Xavier as the ninth-ranked team in the Associated Press Division I state poll, will now prepare for longtime West Side rival St. Edward.

The Wildcats will look to close their regular season on a positive note and head into what will be their 26th playoff appearance with some momentum when they host the Eagles next Saturday (Nov. 1) at 7 PM in Parma's Byers Field.St. Edward improved to 7-2 by defeating Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller, 24-10, at Moeller on Saturday evening.           

Junior Varsity Football falls for second week in a row, this time to Saint Xavier


The JV Cats will now take a record of six wins and two losses into their season finale match up with the JV team from St. Edward. The game is scheduled for next Saturday (Nov. 1) at 10 AM on Wasmer Field. St. Edward's jayvee team took a 7-0 record into Saturday's game versus Archbishop Moeller on Moeller's Junior Varsity facility, which is known as Gerry Faust Field.

St. Xavier's Junior Varsity Bombers, JV Champions of the Cincinnati Greater Catholic League, racked up their fifth shutout of the season by defeating the Cats and improved to 9-0.  

Punt return TD and a blocked EX PT are difference makers in Freshman Football's win over Cathedral Prep

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.


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

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.


“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

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

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

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

Posted by Brendan DeVenney '17

According to Steve Wiltfong, Director of Recruiting for, 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

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 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

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.


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.


"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

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit October 2014



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.



Freshman Wildcats continue impressive season with a shutout of Cleveland Heights

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

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

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.


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

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

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

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
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


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 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

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

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

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/ 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’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

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 and click on football.


Wildcats are too much to handle for the Lions in a 49-13 triumph

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.    


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.


"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

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.


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.





Freshman Wildcats pull out a close one versus Buchtel Griffins

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

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

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.


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.”


"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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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’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

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

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.



Week 2 Preview- Saint Ignatius vs. Mentor

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’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.




Second half adjustments help lift the Wildcats over the Bears in Indianapolis in Week 1

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'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

Coach Gallaway's Freshman Wildcats make debut by defeating Cardinal Mooney

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

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright August 2014




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.