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Wildcats Football is well-represented on the 2015 Associated Press All-Northeast Lakes District Team for Division I

By Eddie Dwyer

Ohio City - Senior quarterback Dennis Grosel, All-American senior offensive tackle and University of Notre Dame recruit Liam Eichenberg, senior wide receiver/defensive back/punt returner Jack Cook and junior punter Colin Goodfellow were selected to the NEO District's First Team. Cook, who is bound for Harvard University, was selected as an Athlete.

Garnering Honorable Mention was senior wide receiver Cal Grbac.

The corner salutes these young men and again says Thank You for the privilege and pleasure to report on your many accomplishments.

Well deserved recognition, gentlemen.     


Former Wildcat All-Ohio defensive lineman/tight end Kevin Kavalec '13, a standout at Boston College, has earned Academic All-District honors from the College Sports Information Directors of America


Kevin, a junior defensive end for Boston College, earned a spot on the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Academic All-District First Team, the organization announced on Thursday.

A 2014 Atlantic Coast Conference All-Academic team honoree, Kevin earned the District I accolade for the first time in his career.

In 2015, Kevin, a Middleburg Heights, Ohio, native, has logged 16 tackles as part of the top defense in the nation. He has 5.5 tackles for a loss of 19 yards and one sack as the Eagles lead the country in tackles for loss and are tied for third in sacks. Last season, Kevin tallied 10.5 tackles for a loss of 35 yards as part of his 40-tackle total.

Kevin has earned the Athletics Director’s Award for Academic Achievement twice and was named to the ACC Academic Honor Roll in 2014.

To be nominated for CoSIDA All-Academic Teams, a student-athlete must be a starter or important reserve with at least a 3.30 cumulative grade-point average at his current institution. Members of the Academic All-District First-Team advance to the Academic All-America Team ballot, where first-, second- and third-team All-America honorees will be selected later this month.


Former Saint Ignatius standout defensive lineman Matt Gawlik '13 has been slelected to the College Sports Information Directors of America Academic All-District Team

By Eddie Dwyer

Matt, who excels athletically and academically at Gannon University, joins former Wildcat football teammate Kevin Kavalec (Boston College) on the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Academic All-District Team (see the corner's post on Kevin from Thursday night).

To be nominated for CoSIDA All-Academic Teams, a student-athlete must be a starter or important reserve with at least a 3.30 cumulative grade-point average at his current institution. Members of the Academic All-District First-Team advance to the Academic All-America Team ballot, where first-, second- and third-team All-America honorees will be selected later this month.

Congratulations again to Matt and Kevin, and the Gawlik and Kavalec families.

- Eddie Dwyer 


The season comes to an end for the big-hearted and talented Varsity Football Wildcats as they are turned away by the state's top-ranked St. Edward Eagles, 35-28, in the 53rd meeting of one of Ohio's premier gridiron rivalries at Lakewood Stadium

By Eddie Dwyer

Copyright Credit October/November 2015

Lakewood, Ohio - With their postseason hopes on the line, the Cats went toe-to-toe with the area's and state's top-ranked Eagles before a recovery of an onside kick by St. Edward's versatile safety Kyle Fallon with 35 seconds remaining enabled the Eagles to hang on.

St. Edward, which had difficulty creating distance between itself and the underdog Wildcats, finished its regular season at 9-1 and will enter next weekend's OHSAA Division I Regional Quarterfinal playoffs as the No. 1 seed in Region 1.

Record 11-time state champion Saint Ignatius, which was seeking its 27th postseason appearance since its remarkable OHSAA playoff run began in 1988, closed its season at 5-4.

Saturday afternoon's setback to the Eagles, which took place in front of a standing-room crowd at tradition-rich Lakewood Stadium, mathematically eliminated the Cats from the playoffs for only the second time since 1988. Saint Ignatius also missed the playoffs in 2010, when it finished 4-6.

St. Edward, the defending Division I state champion and a program that has been ranked in most of the national polls all season, is seeking its third state football title.

The Eagles appeared to be in control when their gifted senior tailback Cole Gest rambled 39 yards for a touchdown down the right or home sideline of Lakewood Stadium with 2 minutes and 59 seconds remaining to be played. After Gest's effort, which came off a five-play, 80-yard drive, and the ensuing extra-point kick by Jake Budyka, St. Edward had a 14-point lead. 

However, after the Eagles turned the Wildcats away on a fourth-down play from the St. Edward 21-yard line, they fumbled the ball two plays later and Saint Ignatius' veteran cornerback Quinn Lawless pounced on the pigskin at the Eagles' 27.

Coach Chuck Kyle's Wildcats wasted little time in cutting the deficit to 35-28 on a touchdown strike from multi-skilled senior quarterback Dennis Grosel to one of the state's premier wideouts, senior Cal Grbac, and the extra-point kick by sophomore Matthew Trickett with 38 seconds left.

Fallon, whose older brother Ryan was a standout quarterback for St. Edward in 2011 and 2012, was heads-up on the Cats' onside kick and Eagles Head Coach Tom Lombardo celebrated another victory against one of the most demanding schedules in the nation.


The Wildcats, who kept their playoff hopes alive by defeating Cincinnati power St. Xavier, 34-20, in Week 9, took a 7-0 lead on St. Edward off a 1-yard keeper by Grosel and the PAT by Trickett with 3:09 remaining in the first quarter.

St. Edward answered with a five-play, 80-yard drive that resulted in a second- and third-effort 16-yard touchdown run by Gest and a game-tying extra point kick by Budyka with 51 seconds left in the opening quarter.

It stayed that way until Gest and Eagles underrated senior quarterback Jimmy Keefe combined on a 60-yard scoring pass that was capped off by Budyka's second extra point with 7:31 to go in the first half.

Coach Lombardo's team took a 21-7 lead into the halftime break after Keefe hooked up with running back/receiver Ted Gordon on a 44-yard scoring play that was followed by another Budyka PAT.


Still trailing, 21-7, entering the fourth quarter, Coach Kyle's Cats closed to seven points when Grosel highlighted a 47-yard drive by rolling left, spinning back to his right and finding a wide open Jack Cook in the back of the scoreboard end zone for a 5-yard touchdown. Trickett tacked on the extra point and Saint Ignatius trailed, 21-14, with 9:57 remaining to be played.

A huge turning point took place when the Wildcats, starting with a first-and-10 on their 12-yard line, fumbled the ball. The Eagles recovered the loose football at Saint Ignatius' 1-yard line and from there fullback Curt Szelestra fought his way into the end zone. Budyka delivered the extra point and St. Edward pushed its lead to 28-14 with 8:04 left on the clock.

The Wildcats, who left everything they had on the Lakewood Stadium turf, rode one of the many clutch receptions on the afternoon by senior wide receiver Tyler Musbach to a first down at the Eagles' 24 and an authoritative run by junior tailback Jimmy Andrews had Saint Ignatius knocking on the door with a first and goal at the 8-yard line.

Pushing that scoring door open was a double reverse that saw Grosel hand the ball off to Andrews, who handed it to Cook, who was coming around from his wide receiver position.

Cook, a senior captain and a Harvard University recruit who excelled on both sides of the ball during his Saint Ignatius career, ran and juked his way over the left side and into the end zone. Trickett's extra point was high and true, and the Wildcats trailed, 28-21, with 5:24 remaining.

The sequence described in the lead-in to this story followed, and Saint Ignatius departed Lakewood Stadium with what is now a 28-24-1 lead in its all-time football series with St. Edward.


First Downs: Saint Ignatius 23, St. Edward 17.

Rushing Yards: 40 carries for 173 yards for St. Edward, 31 carries for 101 yards for Saint Ignatius.

Passing: Dennis Grosel was 22-of-54 for 296 yards and Jimmy Keefe was 12-of-25 for 301 yards. They both threw an interception. Grosel also rushed for 41 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries.

St. Edward ran 65 plays for 474 yards and Saint Ignatius ran 83 plays for 397 yards.

Receiving Leaders: Jack Cook had 10 receptions for 153 yards to go along with his rushing and receiving touchdowns. Tyler Musbach finished with 6 receptions for 75 yards and Cal Grbac had three catches for 49 yards, including the 27-yard TD toss from Grosel.

St. Edward's Matt Gonzalez hauled in 4 receptions for 73 yards, Cole Gest had two receptions totaling 85 yards and Carl Jones made two catches that totaled 59 yards.

Rushing Leader: Cole Gest with 22 carries for 129 yards.

FROM COACH KYLE:  "They battled, we battled," Coach Kyle said. "It was a hard, hard fought football game and somebody had to win. We made some crucial mistakes and they made some, and it was because the play was so hard.

"I'm very proud of our kids," Coach Kyle continued. "That was a great effort. That's all you can ask. We came up short, that's the way it is. The danger of Cole Gest. He'll make big plays and for us to win we couldn't let him break out of the gate, and he broke out of the gate a couple of times. He's very special. But the second half defensively, I thought we did very well."


The Junior Varsity Football Wildcats, whose grit and talent are only matched by the respect they have for one another, played a solid all-facets game on Friday night and wore down rival St. Edward, 21-7, on the Eagles' turf.

Saint Ignatius' defense and special teams showed up early and often, and the offense, behind its big-hearted and gifted tailback Mark Bobinski and an O-Line whose emotion was fueled by the man in the middle, Michael Fazioli, took its toll on the JV Eagles, especially in the second half.

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit October/November 2015

Lakewood, Ohio - Coach Paul Yappel's JV Cats, who completed their demanding schedule with an impressive 7-2 record, took a 7-0  lead on a 39-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Kyle Hall to sophomore wide receiver Michael Drobnick, and the ensuing extra-point kick by sophomore Drew Alessandro, with 4 minutes and 31 seconds remaining in the first quarter.

It was an as-it's-drawn-up play that featured an on-the-money throw by Hall that hit the sure hands of Drobnick in stride.

St. Edward, which wrapped up its season at 6-3, committed a big-time error on special teams by snapping the ball over its punter's head, who was lined up at his 36-yard line. The Eagles' punter ran after the ball and fell on it, giving Saint Ignatius possession at the St. Edward 17-yard line.

After the Cats lost 2 yards on first down, Hall rolled right and found his 6-foot-5, 220-pound sophomore tight end Ben Ritschel, whose sure-handed reception and yards after the catch gave Saint Ignatius a first-and-goal at the 4-yard line.

On the very next play, sophomore tailback Mark Bobinski, the Cats' go-to guy for most of the season, displayed his vision and cutback ability off a 4-yard touchdown run into the right corner of the end zone. The good-natured and sure-footed Alessandro tacked on another PAT and Coach Yappel's team led, 14-0, with 3:27 left in the first half.

It remained a 14-0 game entering the third quarter, a quarter that saw St. Edward, behind some impressive running by sophomore tailback Tylan Rice, get back in the game on a 1-yard touchdown keeper over the right side by sophomore quarterback Zach Kincaid with 5:49 remaining in the third quarter.

However, just when the Eagles' faithful were back in the game, Saint Ignatius put together a big-time response.

Behind the scrambling ability of sophomore quarterback Daniel Alexander and enforcing-their-will efforts by Bobinski and the offensive line, the Cats drove 70 yards in nine plays and regained control on a 1-yard TD run up the gut by Bobinski, a path to the end zone that was cleared by the strength and will of Michael Fazioli.

Alessandro made it 3-for-3 on his extra points, and Saint Ignatius led, 21-7, with the third quarter winding down.

The Wildcats' defense, which was an aggressive, swarming unit for most of the night, came up with a number of momentum-swinging plays, including key sacks down the stretch by sophomore linebacker Andrew Keirn and 6-6, 330-pound sophomore two-way lineman Darian Kinnard. Those efforts were preceded by a nose-for-the-ball night by sophomore linebacker Logan Joyce, the relentless battle in the middle put forth by sophomore nose tackle Aidan Gill and interceptions from ball-hawking sophomore defensive backs Justin Sands and Cameron Toppin.

Toppin had two picks on the night, with his second one leaving no doubt as to the outcome.


From Coach Yappel: "It's great that hopefully the players understand what it is all about, coming together as a team," said Coach Yappel, who also assists Saint Ignatius' outstanding Offensive line Coach Adam Rini '99 with the Varsity and Junior Varsity offensive lines. "It was a team playing in all facets of the game tonight and conducting themselves with poise, being able to make plays when it counted and all of those things that we talked all year long really came through tonight.

"They should be proud of the job they did tonight," added Coach Yappel. "We talked abut the fact that there were 40 minutes left of their sophomore year (JV quarters are 10 minutes), and they took advantage of it."

From Michael Fazioli, who helped lead an offense line that controlled most of the final 20 minutes: "The first play they were throwing haymakers, so we talked to the line and said, 'Hey, they're not going to give us an inch, we have to take it to them,'" said Fazioli, a teammate any player would love to have. "I talked with Mark (Bobinski), and Mark said, 'You have to block.' So we went and blocked. Punched it right in."

From Mark Bobinski, the type of player you win championships with: "Once you hit the second, third and fourth quarter, it shows your character," said Bobinski, who was undaunted by some of the early plays St. Edward made against the Wildcats' running attack. "It shows what you did in the offseason, the kind of work you put in. As you can tell, the guys on this team put in more work than anybody in the state. I am willing to bet on that and I am excited for the future with these guys."           




Wildcats Freshmen Football is turned away inside the St. Edward 2-yard line as time expires and the Eagles hang on for a 21-17 victory in the season finale for both teams on St. Edward's home turf Thursday night

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit October 2015

Lakewood, Ohio - Coach Greg Urbas' Freshmen Eagles took their 21-17 lead on a quick-striking pass from quarterback Garrett Dzuro to wide receiver Quintel Kent and the ensuing extra-point kick by tight end/kicker Christopher Elliott with 1 minute and 58 seconds remaining to be played.

The Dzuro-to-Kent connection, which came off a fourth-and-goal from the 3-yard line, saw Dzuro take a short drop and fire a lazer to Kent, who broke free in the left corner of the end zone.

Keeping its composure, Saint Ignatius took possession at its 36-yard line with 1:49 left thanks to a strong return of the ensuing kickoff by wide receiver Nigel Drummond.

Behind the running of the young man who turned in a marvelous night for Coach Rodney Gallaway's Wildcats, tough-as-nails tailback Jack Kennedy, and a second-effort run by tailback Jahadge "Bo" Floyd, Saint Ignatius moved to a first-and-goal at the 2 with eight seconds remaining.

St. Edward, which closed its season at 8-1, came with the first of two key defensive stops in the final eight seconds when the pursuit of linebacker Charles Kirkholder resulted in a 3-yard loss.

Faced with a second-and-goal at the 5 and just 4 seconds left, Wildcats quarterback Patrick Delahunty, who was a solid field general all season, made a nice ball fake to Floyd and swept the left side.

At first it appeared Delahunty might have a chance to reach the corner of the end zone, but then came the exceptional pursuit of Eagles linebacker Daylan Jernigan and defensve back Jake Ogle, who tackled Delahunty and drove him out of bounds inside the 2 as time expired.

When we said Kennedy turned in a marvelous night, two efforts in particular stand out .Here is the first one.

After St. Edward took a 7-3 lead on a 53-yard touchdown keeper up the gut by Dzuro and the PAT by Elliott with 7:13 to go in the first half, Kennedy powered his way over the left side, made a smooth cut inside and outran the pursuit for an 85-yard touchdown. Wildcats kicker/punter Patrick Otter tacked on the extra point and Saint Ignatius led, 10-7, with 5:18 remaining until halftime. Otter accounted for the game's first points with a 34-yard field goal with 4:46 left in the first quarter.  

The counter punching continued, as St. Edward covered 58 yards in just three plays and scored on a screen pass from Dzuro to Kent, a play that saw Kent do most of the damage with his hands and feet. Elliott's extra point was high and true, and the Eagles were perched on a 14-10 lead with 3:49 left in the first half. It stayed that way entering the halftime break.

Following halftime it was special effort No. 2 by Kennedy.

Taking possession at its 31 after the second-half kickoff, Saint Ignatius went right back to its money man and Kennedy deposited another exceptional touchdown gallop of vision, balance and speed that saw him blow by the secondary from 58 yards out. Otter was Mr. Reliable once again and the Wildcats took a 17-14 lead with 7:48 left in the third quarter.

The Cats were knocking on the door after the brisk winds ate up a short punt and gave Saint Ignatius possession at the Eagles' 34-yard line.

St. Edward hung tough, however, and came up with a leaping interception by Ogle at the Eagles' 7-yard line.

The respective defenses landed some impressive blows before the tension-packed final two minutes resulted in Saint Ignatius closing out another memorable freshmen season at 6-4.

Yes, the Wildcats versus the Eagles storied rivalry will add a few new chapters down the line as these young men who left it all on the field Thursday night continue to mature.

Oh by the way, if last night's Freshmen game whet your gridiron appetite for more Blue and Gold versus Green and Gold, stop by St. Edward tomorrow night (Friday) for the annual Junior Varsity version between these perennial West Side powers. The kickoff is at 6 bells.

Following the game Coach Gallaway and his football-rich staff talked with the young Wildcats about the maturation process they experienced throughout the season and how proud they were of them with the way they responded all night in what is a tough venue.

"To see them fight through all of that (deficits and turnovers) was huge," Coach Gallaway said. "You know you have a good team when they can do that kind of stuff. They were battling back on both sides of the ball, all night really."

Although Coach Gallaway will welcome a whole new group of faces in the summer, he couldn't say enough about the potential of the Class of 2019.

"They have a lot of size when healthy, we had two of arguably our best linemen out tonight," Coach Gallaway continued, emphasizing that he was not taking anything away from St. Edward's effort. "The defense is athletic and it swarmed to the ball. So there is a lot of promise in this class. I think they will complement the class ahead of them."                    


Controlling its destiny. Saint Ignatius Football looks to ride a victory over top-ranked St. Edward to what would be the Cats' 27th OHSAA playoff appearance since 1988

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit October 2015

Ohio City - No, it does not have the longevity of some of Ohio's other traditional high school football rivalries, such as Canton McKinley versus Massillon, which began in 1894.

It is safe to say, however, that the intensity Saint Ignatius and St. Edward have brought to the gridiron in their past 52 encounters holds its own with not only the legendary above-mentioned Stark County battle, but any of the Buckeye State's tradition-rich late season encounters.

A game that has become a media darling, and rightfully so, will take place for the 53rd time on Saturday afternoon in storied Lakewood Stadium, now referred to as First Federal Lakewood Stadium.

The Halloween kickoff from the "Madhouse on Madison" is scheduled for 2 PM.

Record 11-time state champion Saint Ignatius, which needs a victory over St. Edward to assure or secure its 27th Division I, Region 1 OHSAA postseason appearance since 1988, enters Saturday's game with a record of 5-3. The Wildcats, in the words of computer playoff guru Joe Eitel, control their own destiny after defeating Cincinnati power St. Xavier, 34-20, at Byers Field last weekend.    

Trailing, 13-0, with 11 minutes and 55 seconds remaining in the first half, Saint Ignatius ran off 34 consecutive points against its Jesuit School rival St. Xavier and added even more drama and another significant storyline to Saturday's annual encounter with St. Edward.

Defending and two-time Division I state champion St. Edward, ranked No. 1 in both the Top 25 seven-county area poll and the Associated Press big-school state poll, sports an 8-1 record against one of the most demanding schedules in the nation. Coach Tom Lombardo's Eagles have also earned their way into numerous national and regional rankings.

Yes, there have been many memorable encounters between these exceptional West Side schools, with the well-documented and epic 1993 triple-overtime game in Lakewood Stadium, won by Saint Ignatius, 35-34, heading the list. The 1993 matchup was one of the greatest games in the rich history of Ohio High School Football and, along with the Wildcats' 31-30 Regional Final victory over the Robert Smith-led Euclid Panthers in 1989 at Baldwin Wallace University's George Finnie Stadium (then known as Baldwin Wallace College), the two greatest games this old-timer was ever privileged to cover and report on during my 37 years with The Plain Dealer.

In 1993, St. Edward needed a victory over Saint Ignatius to secure an OHSAA playoff appearance. Of course back then it was significantly more difficult to earn a spot in the OHSAA's football postseason, as only four teams from each region qualified. Currently the top 16 teams in both Regions 1 and 2 earn a Division I playoff berth, with the top 8 hosting a first-round game.

THE SERIES: Saint Ignatius leads, 28-23-1. After back-to-back losses to the Eagles in 2005 and 2006, the Wildcats have won seven of their last 10 meetings with St. Edward, including two victories (regular season and OHSAA playoff) in both 2008 and 2011, when the Cats went on to win their 10th and 11th state championships. 

Saturday will mark the second Halloween afternoon matchup between Saint Ignatius and St. Edward since 2009, when All-State linebacker Jake Ryan reeked havoc on the Eagles' offense in a 28-0 Saint Ignatius triumph in Lakewood Stadium. Jake went on to an outstanding career as a Captain for the Michigan Wolverines and is currently a member of the NFL's Green Bay Packers.

St. Edward, behind what this corner described as one of the top defensive backfields it has seen in following area high school football since the late 1950s, a group led by Andrew and David Dowell (now at Michigan State) and Shaun Crawford (now at the University of Notre Dame), erased an early 10-0 deficit and went on to defeat Saint Ignatius, 41-10, last season at Parma's Byers Field.

SOME OF THIS YEAR'S LEAD ROLES: There is no question that the heart and soul of the 2015 St. Edward Eagles is senior tailback and University of Indiana recruit Cole Gest. Cole, who helped key last year's victory over Saint Ignatius by rushing for 130 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries, has been a model of consistency workhorse for Coach Lombardo this fall.

The Eagles also feature hard-nosed defensive lineman/tight end Michael O'Malley, gritty and heady quarterback Jimmy Keefe, highly recruited safety Tony Butler and a big-game tested offensive line.

For Saint Ignatius, the long line of gifted quarterbacks continues as senior Dennis Grosel has rolled up big numbers through the air and on the ground. And, as we emphasized on the corner last week, Dennis has accomplished all of this despite playing only five series in the three Parma games combined.

Grosel is complemented by one of the top receiving corps in Ohio - seniors Cal Grbac, Jack Cook, Tyler Musbach and Jimmy Berger, senior tight end Robert Hilbig and junior tight end/linebacker James Leyden. Cook, who is bound for Harvard University and also is a standout safety/punt returner, helped the Wildcats to their early lead against the Eagles last season with an impressive 41-yard catch and run for a touchdown off a throw from Grosel.

Showing the way for the Cats' potent offensive attack, that also includes the big-hearted and impressive running skills of junior tailback Jimmy Andrews and senior tailback Elijah Wahib, is an offensive line anchored by senior All-American and All-Ohio tackle Liam Eichenberg, a University of Notre Dame recruit, and junior center John Spellacy, a two-year mainstay.

Saint Ignatius' defense, which experienced tough nights versus Mentor and Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller, put together an impressive "team" defense last weekend in containing the high-powered and balanced offense of the Bombers from St. Xavier.

FROM COACH KYLE: "Defensively, pretty much the same," said Coach Kyle of the defense St. Edward utilizes under veteran Tom Lombardo, who had outstanding seasons as the Head Coach at Lake Catholic and Medina Highland, and was also an assistant at University School and St. Edward. After doing nothing less than a marvelous job at Highland, and their fans and players will tell you just that, Tom returned to St. Edward this past winter as the Head Coach after Rick Finotti accepted a coaching position at the University of Michigan. Coach Finotti guided the Eagles to both of their football state championships in 2010 and 2014.

"It's the same Defensive Coordinator (Pete Pappas) that they've had," Coach Kyle continued. "So they're coming out of a four front and a 4-3 a little bit. And they'll reduce a linebacker a little bit, so it becomes a 4-2. Sometimes in passing situations they'll go to a three-man front and get more blitzing going. St. Ed's defense is always physical and that's what they live on.

"Offensively, they do have linemen back (from last season) and they have a great running back, a really excellent one in Cole Gest, who is having an amazing season," Coach Kyle said. "So you're going to get that running attack that they're used to. I think you're going to see different formations, reverse, reverse passes, little bubble screens and tosses to the outside. But their tailback (Gest) is the spearhead of what they're doing.

"He's a weapon," Coach Kyle added in his assessment of Gest. "When they have been behind this season, he's the one that has made a huge play, a huge play, and they've regained the momentum."

AIR WAVES: Led by the golden tones of senior Carter Spearry and junior Brendan DeVenney, the Saint Ignatius Broadcast Network will bring you Saturday's game live from the fine City of Lakewood and we suggest you check your local cable television listings to see if and when the game is being televised.

Have a great rest of the week and I will see you at my old home away from home, football-rich Lakewood Stadium, now First Federal Lakewood Stadium.         

Early mistakes help tell the tale in the Junior Varsity Wildcats' 28-7 loss to St. Xavier's Jayvees on Saturday morning

Posted By Eddie Dwyer

Byers Field - The now 8-0 Junior Varsity Bombers started the game with a healthy kickoff return by defensive back Nicholas Shamsi that set up a 2-yard keeper for a touchdown by promising sophomore quarterback Chase Wolf and the ensuing extra-point kick by Greg Saupe.

A bad snap led to a fumble recovery in the Saint Ignatius end zone for a TD by St. Xavier defensive lineman Sean Mesue and the Bombers moved to a 21-0 lead on an in-stride scoring catch and run of 30 yards off a crossing pattern by wide receiver Andrew Wittrock, and Saupe's third PAT with 5 minutes and 58 seconds remaining in the first half.

Wolf and tight end Mike Grause combined on a touchdown off a nice seam route that, following the extra point by Saupe, made it a 28-0 game by halftime.

The Wildcats (6-2), who will close their Junior Varsity season on Friday night with a 6 PM matchup at St. Edward, came to life offensively in the second half behind the running of tough and talented sophomore tailback Mark Bobinski.

A second-effort, 8-yard touchdown burst over the left side by Bobinski and the PAT by sophomore Drew Alessandro cut the deficit to 28-7 with just under eight minutes left in the third quarter.

That is how it would end up, however, as the Bombers were able turn the Cats away behind some heady defensive play down the stretch by lineman Jonathan Gretz.

"The self-inflicted wounds hurt us a lot in the first half in all three phases, special teams, offense and defense," said Saint Ignatius Junior Varsity Head Coach and Varsity Assistant Coach Paul Yappel. "It's a tough lesson to learn. We talked at halftime about the fact that the second half would be about how we respond. Play with pride. We came out and played well in the second half and that's what we need to build on."       


The Defense silenced its critics, the Offense continued to make big plays and a variety of Cats played huge roles. Saint Ignatius Football is back in the Division I, Region 1 playoff hunt.

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit October 2015

Parma, Oho - Trailing their Jesuit School rival Cincinnati St. Xavier, 13-0, with 11 minutes and 55 seconds remaining in the second quarter on Saturday afternoon at Byers Field, Coach Chuck Kyle's Wildcats rolled off 34 unanswered points and held a 34-13 lead after senior captain/wide receiver/defensive back Jack Cook rambled 55 yards for a touchdown off an interception and sophomore Matthew Trickett kicked the extra point with 1 minute and 13 seconds remaining to be played.

Saint Xavier quarterback Sean Clifford, a Penn State recruit, scored on a 3-yard run with 2 seconds left and the record 11-time state champion Wildcats, now 5-3, celebrated the first of what they hope will be two of the most memorable victories in their rich football history, 34-20.

With the triumph over now 5-4 St. Xavier, the Wildcats' first win versus the Bombers since 2012, Saint Ignatius has a strong playoff pulse and can secure what would be its 27th trip to the Division I, Region 1 postseason since 1988 by defeating West Side rival St. Edward (8-1) on Halloween afternoon in legendary Lakewood Stadium. The kickoff in "The Madhouse on Madison" will be 2 PM. The Eagles of St. Edward are ranked No. 1 in the seven-county area and No. 1 in the Associated Press Division I state poll.

In the words of computer playoff guru Joe Eitel on Saturday night, Saint Ignatius "controls its own destiny." 

There were heroes galore for Coach Kyle's Cats during a gray sky and brisk game-changing winds Saturday afternoon, including players who took on different roles and players who answered the call like savvy veterans.

A triumph by many who played as one on both sides of the ball, if you will.

St. Xavier, which still leads its all-time gridiron series with the Wildcats, 12-10, controlled the majority of the first 12 minutes in moving to its 13-0 lead. The big play in the early going for the Bombers was a blocked punt that gave Coach Steve Specht's team a first down at the Wildcats' 23-yard line.

The Bombers quickly turned their special-teams gem into 23-yard touchdown sweep over the right side by running back Pete Rumpke with 9:59 left in the opening quarter.

Byers Field can be a windy setting even in August with the sun shining. On Saturday afternoon, however, both teams had to battle not only each other, but a gale of November that definitely came early.

After the wind swallowed up a St. Xavier punt, Saint Ignatius took possession at the Bombers' 40.

Behind the passing of gifted senior quarterback/captain Dennis Grosel and the receiving of underrated senior wide receiver Tyler Musbach, the Wildcats moved to a first-and-goal at the 3. On the next play, gritty senior tailback Elijah Wahib fought his way into the end zone and Trickett's ensuing extra-point kick cut the deficit to 13-7 with 7:20 to go in the first half.

Trickett, who also is a mainstay for Coach Mike McLaughlin's state and nationally acclaimed Varsity Soccer Team, made it a 13-10 game by halftime by sending home a 38-yard field goal.

Saint Ignatius, which came into the St. Xavier game knowing exactly what the task at hand was, took advantage of some more solid field position and turned it into a perfectly executed 39-yard touchdown pass from Grosel to one of the premier receivers and route runners in Ohio, senior Cal Grbac. Another Trickett PAT was high and true, and Coach Kyle's Cats took a 17-13 lead and never looked back.

Following a 33-yard field goal by Trickett and continuous pressure by Saint Ignatius' defense, including two big-time sacks by senior lineman/linebacker Nate Keirn, the Wildcats took possession at their 24-yard line.

Fueled by the running of tough and talented junior tailback Jimmy Andrews and Grosel, and the work of Coach Adam Rini's and Coach Paul Yappel's offensive line, Saint Ignatius covered the 76 yards in eight plays. Grosel beat the pursuit into the left corner of the scoreboard end zone for 5-yard touchdown run and Trickett was money on the extra point with 28 seconds left in the third quarter.

Coach Kyle will be the first to tell you how fortunate his team is to have two big-time legs - Trickett and junior Colin Goodfellow. Colin was booming kickoffs out of the end zone all day and he seemed to have a knack for negotiating the wind with his punts and kickoffs.

After Cook's nail-in-the-coffin pick six and Trickett's fourth PAT closed out the scoring for the Cats, St. Xavier made the final deficit 14 points off its late-game desperation drive that resulted in Clifford's short TD run.

It was, in this corner's humble opinion, a great "TEAM" victory that the Wildcats gave their Hall of Fame Head Coach Chuck Kyle, his outstanding staff, their classmates and fans during a brisk, character-testing afternoon in Robert M. Boulton Stadium, the home of Byers Field.

From Coach Terry Fergus' unsung, but oh so big-hearted tailbacks Jimmy Andrews and Elijah Wahib, to senior defensive back Sam Brick, who made a touchdown-saving tackle that prevented the Bombers from swinging the momentum, there are not enough game balls in Ohio City to recognize the team this old-timer came to know and respect during summer camp and two-a-days, and still admires to this day. The team that took the field on Day Drive and Ridge Road with their season on the line and said this is what we're all about.

The steady play of Keirn, senior linebacker/captain Ben Cray, senior linebacker/safety Alex Maruna, senior linebacker/safety Nick LaVigna, senior cornerback Quinn Lawless, senior safety Ryan Berger and quiet, but tough, heady and steady senior safety Joe Evans, just to name of few, are perfect examples of the young men who faced adversity and took it on in the same manner they contained one of the very best the Queen City has to offer.

Here are postgame comments from Coach Kyle '69, Wildcats outstanding Defensive Coach/Linebackers Coach Ryan Franzinger '02, Ben Cray and Nate Keirn.

FROM COACH KYLE: "When you scored today, it was with the wind at your back," Coach Kyle said of the strong gusts that made themselves at home on Byers Field. "That wind was vicious. I mean from 13-0, the defense just did a tremendous job holding their running attack down. Coach Kyle also pointed to some halftime adjustments in the Cats' pass defense, adjustments that came to the fore in the second half.

"We had to get Jack Cook back in the secondary," Coach Kyle continued. "You saw it, you saw it, he had to be out there."

Coach Kyle, emphasizing how much demanding work was put in preparing for St. Xavier, wants his players to enjoy the victory for awhile. After all, they don't need anyone to remind them what is coming up next week and what is at stake.

"I want the kids to feel good about themselves right now," Coach Kyle said, pointing to how much the offense has been supporting the defense. "It was great that the offense kept their faith in the defense. It came to fruition today."

FROM COACH FRANZINGER: "We really cycled through a lot of guys in this game, new guys had to come in and play," Coach Franzinger said. "Nick LaVigna has been bouncing between safety and linebacker. We've had some rough patches on defense, but, as we found out, if you correct it by Week 9 you might still have a chance. They really did play well. I'm proud of them."

FROM NATE KEIRN AND BEN CRAY:  "It was a statement game for us, just to show that we could play against any offense," said Keirn of some of the criticism he and his defensive teammates have received this season. "I have to give credit to our DBs (defensive backs). They played phenomenal today. Everybody was on top of it. We knew we had to come out swinging today. Win or go home, so we just played our hearts out."

"We have to win out and our defense really came to play today," Cray said. "I'm thrilled. We had a good, solid week of practice. The secondary, the front seven, everyone just played together. I am so proud to be part of this one today."

BY THE NUMBERS: Jimmy Andrews rushed for 75 yards on 16 carries, including a highlight-reel run of 35 yards. St. Xavier's Sean Prophit lead all rushers with 104 yards on 19 carries.

Dennis Grosel threw for 177 yards and a touchdown and Sean Clifford passed for 175 yards and no touchdown passes. Grosel was 13-of-27 with no interceptions and Clifford was 21-of-37 with an interception.

Tyler Musbach hauled in 4 passes for 57 yards, Cal Grbac had two catches totaling 51 yards, including the 39-yard TD hookup with Grosel, Jack Cook had three grabs for 31 yards and tight end James Leyden caught two passes for 28 yards.

Davin Brock (4 catches for 41 yards) and Brian Johnston (3 catches for 25 yards) showed the way for the Bombers' receivers.  



Operating behnd a Seamus McCarthy-led offensive line and a solid defense, the Freshmen Cats make the key plays on the ground and through the air, and go on to defeat previously unbeaten Cathedral Prep, 25-6, on Wasmer Field Thursday night

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit October 2015

Ohio City - After a scoreless first quarter, Coach Rodney Gallaway's Freshmen Football Wildcats moved to a 6-0 lead on a 4-yard touchdown run by gifted tailback Jahadge "Bo" Floyd with 3 minutes and 49 seconds remaining in the first half.

Jahadge's TD was set up by the receiving of wide receiver Nate Conry and a nice read and run by quarterback Patrick Delahunty, who alertly tucked the ball away on a third down-and-6 from the Erie (Pa.) Cathedral Prep 22-yard line and raced to a first-and-goal at the 4.

On the ensuing kickoff, Saint Ignatius got a pad-rattling tackle from wide receiver/defensive back Nathan Previts, the pride of St. Thomas More, and the Ramblers took possession at their 25.

With 6-foot-4, 212-pound defensive end Aidan Wells and linebacker Griffin Sheehan among those leading the defensive charge for the Cats, Saint Ignatius forced Cathedral Prep to punt from deep in Ramblers territory.

Taking possession at the Cathedral Prep 42, the Wildcats needed just five plays to add to their lead, this time a 3-yard catch and run into the scoreboard end zone by Conry off a smooth, quick-hitting swing pass from Delahunty. Patrick Otter sent home the extra point and Saint Ignatius led, 13-0, with 1:27 left in the first half.

Helping show the way to Conry's determined sweet six were a 12-yard run over the left side by tough-as-nails tailback Jack Kennedy, an effort that saw Jack put his vision and cutback skills on display, and a sure-handed, 16-yard catch and run down the left sideline by wide receiver John Wetula that resulted in a first-and-goal at the 3.

With the exception of one big play, the Wildcats' defense was prowling and pad rattling all night.

That one play came in the final minute of the first half, as the Ramblers' 6-0, 178-pound tailback/defensive back Billy Lucas took the pitch from quarterback Luke Kubiak, cut over the right side, bounced outside and rambled 74 yards down the right sideline and into the Lorain Avenue end zone. A 2-point conversion attempt failed and Saint Ignatius was able to take a 13-6 lead into the halftime break.

Lucas is a talented two-way performer, who made a number of key tackles to go along with his strong second-effort runs. He also ran the ball a few times out of the "Wildcat" formation.

Saint Ignatius' defense continued to make its presence felt in the second half.

With Sheehan, Wells, linebackers Chris Velotta, Tommy Eichenberg and Jack Yontek, and cornerback Michael Mangan continuing to take no prisoners, Cathedral Pep was forced to punt from its 5-yard line.

Following a fair catch of the punt by Conry at midfield, the Wildcats rode a perfectly executed crossing pattern from Delahunty to Previts and another authoritative catch and run by Kennedy to a first-and-10 at the Ramblers' 11-yard line.

Saint Ignatius had to settle for a 26-yard field-goal attempt, however, and it was high, but not true with 1:43 remaining in the third quarter. But hold on!

The Wildcats, taking advantage of two untimely special-teams penalties by Cathedral Prep (holding and roughing the holder), stretched their lead to 19-6 on a 2-yard keeper by Delahunty off a fourth-and-goal with 36.1 seconds to go in the third quarter.

With Mangan, Eichenberg and a cast of Cats flying after the pigskin like it was their last meal and McCarthy, who came to Saint Ignatius from St. Mary's in Berea (can you say Mike Buddie?) blocking with a passion and a purpose, Coach Gallaway's team left no doubt on a 9-yard TD run by Floyd with 1:07 left. Jahadge's frosting on the victory cake score was set up by a booming punt by Otter and a hustle fumble recovery by Mangan off Otter's kiss the Ohio City sky punt.

Cathedral Prep headed back to the Keystone State with its first setback in seven games and Saint Ignatius' full of promise Freshmen improved to 6-3.

The ninth-grade Cats will close their season on Oct. 29, when they make the short trip to West Side rival St. Edward for a 6 PM kickoff. St. Edward's Freshmen Gold Team is 6-1 heading into Saturday's home game versus Archbishop Moeller's Freshmen Program.


Just minutes before he and his young Wildcats headed over to St. Mary of the Assumption Chapel for their traditional post-game prayer, Coach Gallaway told his players that they could enjoy the victory over previously unbeaten Erie (Pa.) Cathedral Prep for a few minutes and then all of their athletic focus had to point to next Thursday, Oct. 29, at St. Edward.

Next Thursday, simply put, is the start of St. Edward Weekend.

That's right folks, as much as some of the faithful followers of Wildcats and Eagles football try to deny it, the Freshmen and Junior Varsity encounters between the storied West Side rivals carry almost as much intensity and bragging rights as the 2 PM Halloween Varsity encounter in Lakewood Stadium. In between the Freshmen and Varsity Games will be a 6 bells Halloween Eve Junior Varsity matchup at St. Edward. That's Friday, Oct. 30th, for those who don't follow October's traditional Holiday passage.

Now on to the Cathedral Prep game.

"I think the defense contained their athletes," Coach Gallaway said of the impressive victory on the campus of Cleveland's Jesuit Preparatory School. "We did what we had to do to stop them.

"They were a physical team, but we got after it a little bit and made sure that we were doing the same," Coach Gallaway continued. "We matched that intensity and the offensive line did a great job.

"It's a learning process for him," said Coach Gallaway of his young and talented field general Patrick Delahunty. "He's still learning, but he will be a good one. His big thing right now is seeing the field and seeing what is happening before the snap. He throws the ball real well."



It's the Wildcats versus the Bombers. Let the Cannon Bell Ring.

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit October 2015

Ohio City - In the football season of 2011, a little added incentive was added to an already intense Jesuit School Football rivalry.

"The Cannon Bell" came to life, when students from Saint Ignatius and Cincinnati St. Xavier submitted on-line entries for the naming of a trophy for the rivalry.

Former Saint Ignatius Student Broadcast Network President John Fanta '13, who is currently an outstanding Sports Broadcaster at Seton Hall, submitted the winning entry.

St. Xavier, on the strength of its victory over the Cats in 2013, a 13-10 triumph at John Carroll University's Don Shula Stadium, and its 24-10 victory on the Bombers' Ballaban Field last season, is currently in possession of the Cannon Bell.

Coach Steve Specht's Bombers will bring the Cannon Bell along on their Friday trip for Saturday's 2 PM showdown with Saint Ignatius on Byers Field in Parma's Robert M. Boulton Stadium. They have no intention of giving it up, however. Their attitude is take a nice long look at it, because we're putting it right back on the bus for Cincinnati at approximately 4:30 on Saturday afternoon.

St. Xavier, which sports a 5-3 record and, in the words of computer playoff guru Joe Eitel, "controls its own destiny" in the OHSAA Division I, Region 2 ratings, is coming off a 28-21 road loss to Indianapolis power Warren Central last weekend. Despite that setback, the Bombers sit in the seventh spot in the Region 2 ratings. The top 16 teams at the end of the regular season in both Regions 1 and 2 qualify for the Ohio High School Athletic Association Regional Quarterfinal Playoffs.

For record 11-time Division I state champion Saint Ignatius, the job at hand is clear.

After a stunning 55-52 loss in the final seconds versus Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller at Dublin Coffman High School last weekend, a game that saw Saint Ignatius leading by 24 points late in the second quarter, the 4-3 Wildcats are 23rd in the current Region 1 ratings.

A loss to either St. Xavier this Saturday or Week 10 opponent St. Edward on Halloween afternoon in Lakewood Stadium could prevent Saint Ignatius from advancing to the OHSAA postseason for the 27th time since Coach Chuck Kyle's remarkable playoff run began in 1988, a run that includes three national titles, a national runner-up and a state runner-up to go along with the 11 state titles. The last time the Football Cats were not part of the OHSAA postseason was in 2010, when they finished 4-6. The very next season Saint Ignatius bounced back with its 11th state championship.

The major factor in the Wildcats' low rating in Region 1 is the secondary-level computer points. The four teams Saint Ignatius has defeated - Normandy, Parma Senior, Valley Forge and Walsh Jesuit - are having sub-par seasons. In the simplest terms, under the OHSAA Harbin Computer Playoff System, teams are awarded points for each game they win and each game a defeated opponent wins.

Need we say more about what is at stake on Ridge Road and Day Drive at 2 PM Saturday, when St. Xavier comes calling with the Cannon Bell at its side

Here is a look at the key participants in what will be the 22nd encounter in the Bombers vs. the Wildcats gridiron series, which St. Xavier currently leads, 12-9, followed by comments from Hall of Fame Coach Chuck Kyle '69, the most successful high school coach in the Greater Cleveland area and the winningest Division I Coach in Northeast Ohio with 320 career victories in what is currently his 33rd season as the head of the football program at his alma mater.

Offensively, the Bombers are led by their junior field general, 6-foot-3, 210-pound Sean Clifford. Clifford has completed 102 of 171 passes for 1,178 yards and 10 touchdowns. He has thrown three interceptions and has rushed for 137 yards and 4 touchdowns on 45 carries.

The Bombers' main ground gainers are 6-0, 195-pound senior Sean Prophit, who has 520 yards and 5 TDs on 108 carries, and 6-0, 180-pound junior Quinn Earley with 46 carries for 245 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Clifford's targets include 6-5, 245-pound senior tight end Noah Davis with 23 receptions for 283 yards and 3 touchdowns, senior wide receiver Sam Ankenbauer with 19 catches for 197 yards and a touchdown, and junior wideouts Colton Paul (6-3, 190) and Louis Raines who each have 17 receptions on the season. Raines has totaled 319 receiving yards and 2 TDs and Paul has 161 yards receiving with 2 touchdowns.

Special-teams wise, senior kicker Connor Maciag  has delivered on 4 of 5 field goals for St. Xavier and is perfect on his 26 extra-point attempts.

Senior defensive back Hayden Specht has returned 6 kickoffs for the Bombers totaling 179 yards, with a long of 39 yards. Raines has 5 kickoff returns for 122 yards with a long of 30 yards, and Paul has 2 kickoff returns for 55 yards and a long of 39 yards. As for punt returns, Ankenbauer shows the way with 14 returns totaling 133 yards.

Like any Steve Specht-coached team, the 2015 Bombers can lay down some nasty defense. Just ask the Mentor Cardinals.

Among those rattling the pads for Coach Specht are 6-6, 223-pound senior linebacker Andrew Homer with 52 tackles, including 34 solos and an interception. Junior linebacker Michael Gerbus (6-3, 220) has 44 tackles, including 23 solos; senior linebacker Elijah Payne (6-2, 225) has been in on 37 stops; senior defensive back Griffin Buczek (6-2,180) has 45 tackles, including 21 solos, and has also picked off a pass; Hayden Specht has been part of 34 tackles and has an interception return of 55 yards; and senior defensive back J.P. Bitzenhofer (6-3, 185) brings 60 tackles to the table, including 29 solos, and has 2 interceptions.

Saint Ignatius' offense, led by its outstanding senior quarterback Dennis Grosel, has definitely showed the way through the Cats' first seven games. The Wildcats have a nine-game schedule this fall.

The 6-3, 205-pound Grosel, the latest in the long line of gifted quarterbacks developed by Saint Ignatius' veteran Offensive Coordinator Nick Restifo, has completed 84 of 140 passes for 1,484 yards and 15 touchdowns. Dennis has been intercepted just three times and he has rushed for 413 yards and 9 touchdowns on 48 carries. The amazing thing about the numbers Dennis has put up is that he played just a handful of series in the Normandy, Parma Senior and Valley Forge games combined.

In last week's heartbreaker versus Archbishop Moeller, Grosel threw for three touchdowns, ran for three scores and surpassed his own single-game school record by passing for 457 yards.

Along with the key rushing yards Grosel has provided, junior tailback Jimmy Andrews has carried the pigskin 72 times for 343 yards and 7 touchdowns.

Grosel will be the first to tell you that he is blessed with a talented and deep receiving corps.

Showing the way in that department are senior Cal Grbac, who has 21 receptions for 538 yards and six touchdowns; junior tight end James Leyden, who has hauled in 14 passes for 207 yards and three TDs; multi-skilled senior wideout/defensive back/punt returner Jack Cook with 13 receptions for 187 yards and three touchdowns; senior wideout Jim Berger with 12 receptions for 190 yards, including the game-winning diving-to-the-pylon TD reception versus Walsh Jesuit with 8 seconds remaining; underrated senior wide receiver Tyler Musbach with 12 receptions for 185 yards and two touchdowns; and senior tight end Robert Hilbig with eight grabs for 138 yards.

Of course none of those impressive numbers would be possible without the sturdy offensive line that is under the direction of Coaches Adam Rini '99 and Paul Yappel, and is anchored by senior All-American and All-Ohio tackle Liam Eichenberg, a University of Notre Dame recruit, and junior center John Spellacy, one of the very best at his position in all of Northeast Ohio.  

Like St. Xavier, Saint Ignatius takes great pride in its special teams.

Along with the endless potential that junior kicker/punter Colin Goodfellow and sophomore kicker/punter Matthew Trickett possess, the Cats can call on punt returners Jack Cook (4 returns for 118 yards), Grbac (5 returns for 42 yards) and junior tailback Dean Stowers ( 2 returns for 41 yards).

In the kickoff return department, Saint Ignatius is paced by junior defensive back Alex Ringfield with 5 returns for 85 yards, Stowers with 3 returns for 84 yards and Grbac with 4 returns for 56 yards.

Defensively, the Wildcats have been up and down this fall. Among the leading tacklers for a unit that is definitely not lacking in heart and talent, are junior linebackers Johnny Velotta and Adam Shibley, junior nose tackle Joe Gibbons, senior linebackers Ben Cray, Alex Maruna and Nick LaVigna, senior lineman Nate Keirn and senior safety Joe Evans. When he gets his reps on defense, Leyden has also made his presence felt.

From Coach Kyle: "Usually, they love to establish the run," said Coach Kyle of the Bombers. "They have a little (Jim) Tressel in them, pound away and keep field position. Then they're going to hit you with their bootleg.

"Last year, they were pounding away and then all of sudden they hurt us with a bootleg," Coach Kyle continued. "Our kids were attacking the run and they dragged the tight end and got into the end zone with it.

"Defensively, they're always a very physical team up front, Coach Kyle said. "Our respective defenses are the same philosophy with the stack, doing some blitzes and changing coverages. They're a stingy defense. Over the years, trying to run the ball against them has been very difficult. They really try to stop the run. We'll have our passing yardage, but if we're not able to run, that's not good against this team."

Coach Kyle pointed to the Wildcats' impressive victory at St. Xavier in 2012, when legendary tailback Tim McVey had a big day running the ball, especially late in the third quarter and throughout the fourth quarter.

"If you can't run the ball, they'll come up with some sweet blitzes and now the quarterback is running for his life," Coach Kyle added.

Getting back to the Bombers' offense, Coach Kyle pointed out that Coach Specht, along with the talent and savvy Clifford brings to the quarterback position, is utilizing two tough running backs and banging out 4 or 5 yards a carry. Coach Kyle also referred to the Bombers' special teams and the uncanny ability they have had this fall blocking punts or rushing the punter into poor kicks.

While Coach Kyle is pleased with the production by his offense, he emphasized that the defense is giving up too many third-down plays.

"We have to get to where we're making those type of plays," he said. "The effort is there, the kids are playing hard and everything. But we keep saying, we should have made that play. We had it."

Just a reminder that it is a doubleheader at Byers Field on Saturday. At 10 AM, Coach Paul Yappel will send his 6-1 Junior Varsity Football Cats against the 7-0 Junior Varsity Program from St. Xavier. Once again, the highly anticipated Varsity game will follow at 2 PM.


It was a tough Saturday afternoon for both the Freshmen and Junior Varsity Football Wildcats, as the Freshmen were turned away by Archbishop Moeller, 18-14, and the peviously undefeated JV Cats were defeated by Moeller's Jayvees, 24-10.

By Eddie Dwyer

Dublin, Ohio -  The Freshmen and Junior Varsity Games were part of Saturday's tripleheader at Coffman Stadium on the campus of Dublin Coffman High School.

The Wildcats' Freshmen, who trailed Moeller's Freshmen, 16-0, with 6 minutes and 25 seconds remaining in the third quarter, came storming back behind an exceptional, adjusting-to-the-ball touchdown reception by wide receiver Anthony Pilla and a diving catch for the ensuing 2-point conversion by wing back/defensive back Nate Conry.

Moeller, clinging to a 2-point lead with 1:59 left in the fourth quarter, held on and improved to 6-2 behind the dominant play of 6-foot-2, 215-pound outside linebacker Luke Szabados, who, on the game's final three crucial plays, came up with a sack, a pass deflection off pressure and another sack that resulted in a safety with 1:16 remaining to be played.

The Freshmen Cats made it a 16-14 game on an authoritative 17-yard touchdown run by impressive tailback Jahadge "Bo" Floyd with 4 minutes remaining, before Szabados took over down the stretch and added to an exceptional game that included double-digit tackles and relentless pressure off the edge.

Up Next for Coach Rodney Gallaway's Freshmen Wildcats (now 5-3) is Thursday evening's encounter with the Ramblers from Erie (Pa.) Cathedral Prep. The kickoff from Wasmer Field will be 5:30 PM.

As for Coach Paul Yappel's Junior Varsity Cats, they now stand 6-1 and will focus their attention on the Oct. 24th 10 AM encounter with the Jayvee Football Program from Cincinnati St. Xavier on Byers Field in Parma's Robert M. Boulton Stadium.

The scoring for the JV Cats came off a 27-yard field goal by promising sophomore Drew Alessandro and a picture-perfect touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Kyle Hall to sophomore wide receiver/defensive back Connor Kennedy, who turned in a solid afternoon. Alessandro capped the Hall-to-Kennedy effort with the extra point.

Moeller's Junior Varsity, which displayed a solid ground and an opportunistic defense, improved to 7-1. That one defeat came at the hands of St. Xavier's Junior Varsity, 39-13.    


Wildcats Varsity Football storms to a 38-14 lead with 4:58 left in the first half only to watch Archbishop Moeller run off 21 unanswered points before halftime and go on to a 55-52 victory over the Cats on Saturday night

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit October 2015

Dublin, Ohio - In what was a game all too similar to the Wildcats' 63-56 loss at Mentor in Week 2, the Moeller Crusaders, behind their resilient and talent-rich senior quarterback Thomas Macvittie, run off 21 points in the final four minutes of the second quarter and close to 38-35 by halftime.

The respective offenses continued to trade punches in the second half before two field goals by Moeller's gifted senior kicker and Michigan State recruit Matt Coghlin, a 36-yard effort that knotted the score at 52 with 3:31 remaining in the fourth quarter and a 26-yard game-winner with 10 seconds left to be played, gave the Crusaders their first victory over Saint Ignatius in six meetings on the gridiron.

Setting up Coghlin's game-winner was the second-effort running of Crusaders sophomore tailback Colin Thurman off a short scoring drive that resulted from Saint Ignatius coming up inches shy of a first down after electing to go for it on fourth down. Thurman rushed for 73 yards on 18 carries.     

Moeller sealed its dramatic comeback victory on a leaping interception by senior linebacker/defensive back Tyler Burandt and not only improved its record to 4-4, but also kept its chances alive for an OHSAA Division I, Region 2 playoff appearance.

The final numbers from Coffman Stadium on Saturday night, much like the Mentor game, would give most defensive coordinators insomnia.The Wildcats and the Crusaders combined for 1,229 offensive yards, including 631 by Moeller off 89 plays. Saint Ignatius ran 72 plays for 598 yards.

The Wildcats, who now stand 4-3, got another brilliant performance through the air and on the ground from senior quarterback/co-captain Dennis Grosel, who completed 22 of 38 passes for 457 yards and three touchdowns, and rushed for 84 yards and three TDs on 12 carries. Dennis broke his own single-game school record with the 457 passing yards.

As for Macvittie, the 6-foot-4, 215-pound University of Pittsburgh recruit not only hurt Saint Ignatius with a powerful arm that produced 464 yards and six touchdown passes, but also frustrated the Cats' D with his ability to scramble, throw on the run and avoid sacks with Houdini-like moves.

Some of the other big numbers on the night were produced by Wildcats senior wide receivers Jack Cook (7 receptions for 117 yards), Cal Grbac (5 receptions for 181 yards and two TDs, including an 80-yard hookup with Grosel on the first play from scrimmage) and Tyler Musbach (3 receptions for 79 yards). Cats junior tight end/linebacker James Leyden finished with 4 catches for 52 yards and a touchdown.

Moeller's display of good hands and yards after the catch was led by 6-5, 240-pound senior tight end and The Ohio State University recruit Jake Hausmann (7 receptions for 194 yards and three touchdowns), junior running back Hunter Hughes (4 receptions for 112 yards), 6-5, 225 junior tight end Matt Dotson (2 catches for 40 yards and a TD) and senior wide receiver Cole Ashmore (4 receptions for 76 yards and two touchdowns).

Hausmann, who runs determined routes and brings quickness and a strong burst for a young man with his size, was a matchup that gave the Wildcats' defense headaches all night. Two of Jake's three TD receptions were catches and runs of 57 and 76 yards.   

Along with Grosel's impressive rushing figures, Saint Ignatius received 61 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries from strong and skilled junior tailback Jimmy Andrews.

Note: The numbers above are courtesy of Saint Ignatius' statistician Dave Poplar.

****According to the latest release by computer playoff guru Joe Eitel, Saint Ignatius has slipped from 20th to 23rd place in the Division I, Region 1 ratings. The top 16 teams in Regions 1 and 2 at the end of the regular season qualify for the OHSAA first-round or regional quarterfinal playoffs.

St. Xavier (5-3), Saint Ignatius' opponent this week on Saturday at 2 PM in Byers Field, is seventh in the Region 2 ratings and listed by Joe Eitel as "controlling its own destiny." Region 1's top-rated St. Edward (7-1), the Cats' Week 10 opponent on Halloween at 2 PM in legendary Lakewood Stadium, has clinched a playoff spot.

Head Coach Chuck Kyle on Saturday's loss to Archbishop Moeller.

"The message is to play great football games against great opponents," Coach Kyle said. "That's what football really is. Computer points will take care of themselves."

As Coach Kyle told the corner in its weekly Tuesday preview, he was very impressed with Moeller's running game and its big and athletic receivers coming into Saturday night's game at Dublin Coffman High School. After the game, you could see and hear the admiration Coach Kyle has for Thomas Macvittie, who appeared to be battling an injured leg throughout the action, but still not missing a beat when it came to leading his team to its impressive comeback against the record 11-time Division I state champions.    



The all-important, three-game stretch begins. Saint Ignatius and Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller meet in what could be a make or break matchup on Saturday at 7 PM in Dublin Ohio's Coffman Stadium

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit October 2015

Ohio City - The 3-4 Archbishop Moeller Crusaders jumped back into the OHSAA Division I, Region 2 playoff picture with a 49-42 victory over a talent-rich Elder team under the Friday night lights of the Queen City last weekend.

Moeller, which currently holds the 16th and final playoff qualifying spot in Region 2 with three games remaining in the regular season, is winless in five previous gridiron meetings with Coach Chuck Kyle's Wildcats.

Last season, Moeller and Saint Ignatius also met at Coffman Stadium and the Wildcats, behind some outstanding early special-teams play, defeated the Crusaders, 34-20, and locked up their 26th Division I playoff appearance since 1988. Saint Ignatius led, 28-6, by halftime.

Also keying that Oct. 18th victory in Dublin, Ohio were then junior wide receiver Jack Cook, who hauled in a 30-yard touchdown pass from then junior quarterback Dennis Grosel, then sophomore tailback Jimmy Andrews, who powered his way into the end zone from 4 yards out on the first play of the second quarter, senior kicker Cory Griffith, who delivered all six of Saint Ignatius' second half points with field goals of 44 and 32 yards, and senior defensive back/captain Lawrence Birchler, who came up with a game-clinching read and reaction interception.

Of the Wildcats' previous five meetings with the Crusaders, two of them came in Division I state championship games.

In 1989, Saint Ignatius defeated Moeller, 34-28, in the big-school title game at Ohio Stadium in Columbus and brought home the second of its now record 11 state championships and the first of its three national titles. The game featured a tremendous matchup between Wildcats All-Everything senior quarterback Joe Pickens and the Crusaders' gifted signal-caller Adam Hyzdu. Joe is now a prominent Lawyer and Adam went on to play Major League Baseball for the San Francisco Giants.

Saint Ignatius and Moeller also met in the 1993 Division I state championship game at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium on a snowy Saturday afternoon and the Wildcats, behind one of the greatest 1-2 punches in the history of Ohio High School Football - senior quarterback Scott Mutryn and senior tailback Eric Haddad, wore down the Crusaders, 38-20. It marked Coach Kyle's fifth big-school state championship and second national crown.

It's now 2015 and the 4-2 Wildcats, much like Moeller, are rebounding from some key early season injuries. Both teams enter Saturday night's game relatively healthy.

Moeller's standout quarterback Thomas MacVittie, a University Pittsburgh recruit, missed games 2 and 3 this fall with an injury. The 6-foot-4, 215-pound MacVittie has bounced back nicely, however, and now has 886 yards passing, nine TD passes and no interceptions. He has rushed 32 times for 162 yards and a touchdown. In the victory over Elder, MacVittie was 13-of-16 through the air for 222 yards.
MacVittie's main targets are 6-5, 240-pound tight end Jake Hausmann, a The Ohio State University recruit, and 5-10, 165-pound Kyle Butz. Hausmann has 23 receptions for 311 yards and four touchdowns and Butz has hauled in 24 passes for 487 yards and four TDs. Hunter Hughes, a 5-11, 195-pound junior, leads the Crusaders on the ground with 573 yards and two touchdowns.
Moeller entered the season with arguably one of the top two or three kickers in the state - Michigan State recruit Matt Coghlin. While Coghlin is 21 of 22 on his PATs, he is just 2 of 9 on his field goal attempts, with a long of 44 yards this fall.
Saint Ignatius, which in the words of Coach Kyle hasn't been this healthy since the first play of the season, is currently in the 20th spot in Region 1. Depending on which computer expert you talk to, you will get several different scenarios. Some say victories over Moeller and Week 9 opponent St. Xavier will get it done and some even say one more victory will be enough. Then there are others who say a loss to Moeller will not be the end as long as the Cats defeat either St. Xavier or the top-rated team in Region 1, St. Edward. The Eagles and the Cats close out the regular season on Halloween afternoon at 2 PM in Lakewood Stadium.
Of course the Cats are going to need a little help from other teams along the way. As of now, their second-level points are on the short side.
CAT PAWS: Saint Ignatius' standout senior quarterback Dennis Grosel enters Saturday night's game with 1,027 yards passing and 12 touchdowns through the air. He has rushed for 340 yards and six touchdowns, averaging 9.2 yards per carry.
Senior Cal Grbac is the Cats' leading receiver with 16 receptions for 357 yards and four touchdowns, including an 80-yard TD reception.
Junior tailback Jimmy Andrews has scored six touchdowns and is averaging 5.4 yards per carry, senior tailback Elijah Wahib has four TDs and is averaging 4.5 yards per carry and junior tailback/kick returner Dean Stowers is averaging 6.5 yards per carry.
A CASE FOR THE DEFENSES: Saint Ignatius' leading tacklers heading into Saturday night are senior linebacker Ben Cray with 27.5 stops, senior linebacker/safety Nick LaVigna with 22.5 tackles, junior nose tackle Joe Gibbons with 20.5 takedowns and junior linebacker Johnny Velotta with 20 tackles.
Moeller's defense, which has been suspect even during its recent back-to-back state title seasons of 2012 and 2013,  features a strong front seven. The Crusaders' secondary, however, can be a bit inconsistent. If Grosel and Co. handle the blitz, it could be Katy Bar The Door for one of the Queen City's legendary programs.
Helping key that hard-nosed front seven for the Crusaders are 6-2, 225-pound senior linebacker John Griga (52 tackles), senior defensive back Tyler Burandt (44 tackles), 6-2, 210 pound senior linebacker Bradley Packer (31 tackles) and 6-2, 225-pound senior linebacker Rick Raga (40 tackles).
FROM COACH KYLE: "Their record is really very deceiving," said Coach Kyle of Moeller. "You look at the people they lost to and they, like us, ran through injury situations early. They were down to their third-team quarterback and some other key guys were out.
"We were at a point where we were missing some key guys, some senior-leadership players, so we can relate to that," Coach Kyle continued.
"Offensively, they like to run the football," Coach Kyle said. "You see the tight end that is going to Ohio State (Hausmann). Last year, he ran over one of our guys and went for a touchdown. They move him around, he'll be a tight end, he'll be a slot and he'll be a fullback So you really have to be conscious of where he's at.
"Their quarterback (MacVittie) is tall, can run and has a quick release," continued Coach Kyle. "They'll keep it balanced on offense and their front seven people on defense are very good. They're legit. Strong and hard-nosed. So that's a test for our O-Line and a great test for our running game. It's two teams that lost games early and you can't be embarrassed by the teams they lost to and we lost to, playoff caliber teams. But at this point of the season, you have to beat those type of teams if we're going to be playoff caliber ourselves."
FROM THE CORNER'S VIEW: As Coach Kyle hinted to earlier in this report, the Cats are getting most of their key players back, including standout senior wide receiver/defensive back/punt returner Jack Cook, gifted senior tailback James Norris and possibly even tough and talented senior offensive lineman Michael Bodnar, who was in uniform at Tuesday's practice.
"I'm knocking on wood," Coach Kyle said. "But we'll see. That's kind of where it's at."
NAME LOOK FAMILIAR? On Moeller's roster is sophomore quarterback Sam Wyche.
A TRIPLEHEADER IN DUBLIN, THAT'S OHIO NOT IRELAND: Along with the Varsity game on Saturday night, the Wildcats' 5-2 Freshmen Football Team and 6-0 Junior Varsity Team will face Moeller's Freshmen and Junior Varsity programs on Saturday afternoon in Coffman Stadium. The Freshmen will kick off at 1 PM and the Junior Varsity Game is slated for 3 PM.
AIR WAVES: As always, the savvy duo of senior Carter Spearry and junior Brendan DeVenney will bring you the live broadcast of Saturday night's Wildcats versus Moeller Varsity Game over The Saint Ignatius Broadcast Network.


Saint Ignatius' Freshmen Football Cats dominate the second half of Thursday night's game at Erie (Pa.) McDowell and go on to defeat the Trojans, 55-14, on Gus Anderson Field

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit October 2015

Erie (Pa.) -  After a tight first half that ended with the Cats leading, 20-14, Coach Rodney Gallaway's Freshmen made a few adjustments and completely dominated the final 20 minutes, 35-0. Freshmen Football quarters are 10 minutes.

Saint Ignatius' oh so promising ninth-grade program improved to 5-2 and will now gear up for the Oct. 17th matchup with the freshmen team from Archbishop Moeller at Dublin Coffman High School. The Kickoff will be 1 PM.

Here is a look at Thursday night's memorable showing in Erie, a performance that was impressive in all facets, offense, defense and special teams.

From atmosphere-rich Gus Anderson Field: After making a few coverage adjustments defensively during halftime, the Freshmen Football Cats came out for the third quarter with a passionate approach on both sides of the ball.

Facing a third-and-10 from the Saint Ignatius 44-yard line, Wildcats quarterback Patrick Delahunty rolled out, tucked the ball away and rambled to a first down at the McDowell 32.

From there, a 13-yard run by strong and talented tailback Jahadge "Bo" Floyd put the ball on the McDowell 19 and two plays later Delahunty scored off another heads-up keeper as he dove to the pylon in the left corner of the open end zone on Gus Anderson Field. Patrick Otter's extra-point kick was high and true, and the Wildcats led, 2714, with 4 minutes and 9 seconds remaining in the third quarter.

With Saint Ignatius' defensive front beginning to have its way, the Wildcats took possession at their 49 and covered the 51 yards in five plays. On a first-and 5 from the Trojans' 16, Delahunty found gifted wide receiver Nigel Drummond open on a crossing pattern and Drummond made a diving touchdown reception just across the goal line. Otter was perfect on his PAT and Coach Gallaway's team was taking command at 34-14 with 46.7 seconds left in the third quarter.

Saint Ignatius' special teams, which were money all night, jumped all over a bad snap as McDowell was attempting a punt and the Cats took possession at the Trojans' 35.

It was all Floyd and Saint Ignatius' offensive line on the next two plays, as Floyd powered his way 30 yards to a first-and-goal at the 5 and then went untouched up the gut and into the scoreboard end zone of Gus Anderson Field. Otter added another extra point and it was Katy Bar The Door for McDowell, which now trailed, 41-14, with 9:06 remaining to be played.

With the Cats' defense, offense and special teams continuing to impose their will, Saint Ignatius, which was already substituting freely, completed its 35-0 second half with a 20-plus yard interception return for a touchdown by linebacker Daniel Scelza, a 12-yard TD scamper by backup quarterback Caden Campolieti and two more extra points off the leg and foot of Otter.

"At halftime, we wanted to make sure we were covering our bases on defense with their guys coming out of the backfield on the wheel route," said Coach Gallaway. "Offensively, we just said let's keep doing the things we've been doing and take care of the ball. We thought like we had a game plan with what we were looking to go to and it was there.

"A shutout in the second half is fantastic," Coach Gallaway continued. "A score and a stop. That's what we did coming out of the gate in the second half. And the special teams were just fantastic."

THE EARLY GOING: In the first half, McDowell didn't play like a team that has struggled to find the win column.

Saint Ignatius, sparked by a touchdown catch and run by the versatile Jack Cannon and a 19-yard touchdown burst from tailback Jack Kennedy, who has a nose for first downs and the end zone, led, 13-0.

The Trojans got back in the game on a 7-yard TD reception by Shelby Wiley, only to watch the Wildcats respond with a 70-yard scoring play by Kennedy, who caught a pass in the flat, broke a tackle, juked another defender and outran the pursuit down the left sideline.

McDowell made it a six-point game by halftime behind a touchdown reception by Hunter Sorenson, which came off a fourth-and-7 from the Saint Ignatius 19 with 9.8 seconds left in the first 20 minutes.                             


The Junior Varsity Football Wildcats turn back the Parma Redmen Jayvees, 14-0, on Saturday morning at Byers Field, but the Cats' second unit on the freshmen level is defeated by Parma's freshmen, 6-0

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit October 2015

Parma, Ohio - Coach Paul Yappel's Junior Varsity Team, which improved to 6-0, will now have a bye week before taking on the Jayvee program from Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller on October 17 at Dublin Coffman High School.

As for Coach Rodney Gallaway's 4-2 Freshmen team, the focus turns to Thursday's game at Erie (Pa.) McDowell. The kickoff from the Keystone State will be 5:30 PM.

As for the action that took place in Robert M. Boulton Stadium on Saturday, this old-timer tips his cap to all four teams for doing their best to adjust to the persistent rain and cold temperatures that hovered over Ridge Road and Day Drive.


The JV Cats jumped out to a 7-0 lead on a 1-yard keeper by sophomore quarterback Daniel Alexander and the ensuing extra-point kick by sophomore Drew Alessandro with 5 minutes and 47 seconds remaining in the first quarter.

Alexander's TD was set up by a bad snap from center to the Parma punter, who raced after the ball and was swarmed under by the Cats at the Redmen 2-yard line.

With both defenses controlling the remainder of the first quarter and the early stages of the second quarter it remained a 7-0 game.

Parma was threatening with a first down at the Saint Ignatius 21-yard line thanks to an outstanding effort by Redmen linebacker/running back Mark Post, who blocked a punt and hustled after the ball for the recovery.

Following a 12-yard run by Parma running back Thomas Snyder, the Redmen appeared to be sitting pretty with a first-and-goal at the 9.

The Wildcats, sparked by the pursuit of sophomore linebackers Tom Grosel and Logan Joyce, were equal to the challenge however, as Parma netted -minus 3 yards on the next two plays and was turned away by a bad snap from center and a fourth-down stop by Saint Ignatius.

Coach Yappel's Wildcats then took back the momentum by driving 80 yards in 15 plays.

Keying the impressive march were sophomore running back Reilly Casey, sophomore quarterback Kyle Hall and sophomore tailback Josh Crayton-Prioleau. After Hall scrambled to the Parma 21, Casey swept the left side for 18 yards and a first-and-goal at the 3

Two plays later, Casey fought his way into the end zone from a yard out and Alessandro's second extra point made it a 14-0 game with 58 seconds left in the first half.

Saint Ignatius' defense bent a little in the second half, but always seemed to have the resiliency to bounce back.

Following a defensive holding penalty on the Cats that came off a fourth-and-7 from the Saint Ignatius 44, Parma was awarded a first down at the Cats' 29-yard line. But on a fourth-and-5 from the 24, strong and gifted sophomore safety Justin Sands broke up a pass play and the Redmen were turned away again.

Parma had excellent field position in the closing minutes of the third quarter, as Saint Ignatius fumbled and the ball was recovered by Snyder at the Wildcats' 27-yard line.

However, on fourth-and-8 from the Saint Ignatius 25, Cats sophomore defensive back Cameron Toppin had the coverage and a Redmen pass play was broken up.

The Cats' D stood tall during the final seven-plus minutes of play, a stretch that featured another back-to-the-wall stand after Parma, on the strength of some tough inside running by Post, moved to a first-and-goal at the 10.

Saint Ignatius kept the Redmen from advancing any further, however, and preserved the shutout.

"It was a hard-fought game," said Coach Yappel. "We made some mistakes that we had to overcome. Fourteen to nothing I think is indicative of the weather we had. We were able to work a lot of guys in, and that was good for us. But we need to improve. We can't have those self-inflicted wounds, the blocked punt and the turnovers."


The weather only got worse as the Freshmen game approached and this corner will offer that as an excuse for both ninth-grade teams.

After a scoreless first half, Parma's freshmen turned the ball over on downs and then forced a Saint Ignatius punt.

Faced with a second-and-13 from their 12-yard line, the Redmen went to the air and Jonah Bagby, who turned in a solid late morning and early afternoon, made a leaping catch in stride and outran the pursuit into the scoreboard end zone of Byers Field for an 88-yard touchdown play. An attempt for a 2-point conversion failed and Parma led, 6-0, with 3:48 remaining in the third quarter.

The Redmen defense, which started to apply some pressure up front, including a momentum sack by Cru Webb, came up with a key fumble recovery with 5:22 left and weathered every challenge down the stretch. Parma sealed the deal behind the running of Bagby.

"The second-team guys that got to play today did a nice job," said Coach Gallaway, who will turn his attention to Thursday's matchup with the McDowell Trojans. "They come to practice every day and help us get better on a daily basis. So it was nice to see what they could do. We played well enough to win, there is no doubt about that.

"No excuses, but if we're able to throw the ball a little bit, that helps us out a lot," Coach Gallaway continued. "They put a lot of guys in the box (defensively) and we had a tough time dealing with that. Kudos to them, they hit that home run ball. That's what I told our guys, that we needed an explosive play at some point to put us over the top and it just didn't happen.

"A tough one for us, but we'll get back to work in preparation for McDowell this coming week."       



Dennis Grosel's four first-half rushing touchdowns lead the Varisty Football Wildcats to a 55-0 victory over Parma on Byers Field Friday night

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit October 2015

Parma, Ohio - With their gifted senior quarterback Dennis Grosel reading the Parma defense like his favorite book, the Wildcats improved to 4-2 after dominating what was the renewal of a series that began in 1959 and ended in 1979.

After Friday's one-sided affair, which came on Saint Ignatius' annual Senior Parents Night, the Wildcats now lead their all-time series with the Redmen, 12-8-1. Saint Ignatius and Parma did not meet on the gridiron in 1976.

Grosel, who is having an All-Ohio caliber season with his arm and legs, played just the first half and totaled 123 yards rushing and four touchdown runs on six carries and 176 yards passing. He was 13-of-19 through the air, including a 34-yard touchdown pass to standout senior wide receiver Cal Grbac. Cal made the catch along the visitor's sideline of Byers Field, spun away from the cornerback and raced into the scoreboard end zone.

Affter hard-nosed junior tailback Jimmy Andrews scored the game's first points off a 3-yard touchdown run that saw Jimmy make a nice cut-back move, Grosel followed with scorings runs of 54, 12 and 7 yards.

Following his 34-yard TD toss to Grbac, Grosel scored his fourth rushing touchdown off a smooth 13-yard gallop. Junior kicker/punter Colin Goodfellow, who had an exceptional night powering the pigskin up and through the brisk, strong and tricky winds that swirled around Robert M. Boulton Stadium, produced five of his seven extra points in a first half that saw Saint Ignatius take a 41-0 lead into its locker room at halftime. Colin was also booming kickoffs into the end zone.

While all four of Grosel's touchdown runs were an exceptional display of field vision, cutting ability and deceiving power and speed, one in particular drew a warm smile from this old-timer on a night that was more like mid-to-late November than the second day of October.

With the Wildcats leading, 7-0, Dennis surveyed the field, didn't like what he saw, rolled left, made a highlight-reel cut back across the field that saw him dart to the right sideline and, after freezing a defender with a move that Russell Wilson would have appreciated, completed his 54-yard TD jaunt.

As Saint Ignatius' Hall of Fame Head Coach Chuck Kyle was clearing his bench in order to make sure that all 100-plus of his Wildcats saw playing time, Saint Ignatius added two more rushing touchdowns in a running-clock second half. They resulted from a 9-yard effort by senior tailback Elijah Wahib off a quick burst over the left side and into the Day Drive end zone standing up, and a strong second-effort 1-yard dive into the scoreboard end zone by senior running back David Welcsh.

After Parma (2-4) turned in some successful plays in the early going, the Cats' defense, behind the powerful and relentless penetration by junior nose tackle Joe Gibbons and senior lineman Nathan Keirn, and a leaping interception by senior safety Ryan Berger, put an end to the adrenaline the Redmen were riding in the first quarter. Keirn had 2 and a half sacks in the first half.

Saint Ignatius totaled 410 yards (200 rushing and 210 passing) and Parma had 126 yards of offense (76 rushing and 50 passing).

The Cats' leaders in the receiving department were Grbac with four receptions for 67 yards, senior Jim Berger with three catches for 42 yards and senior Tyler Musbach with two grabs for 26 yards.

The Wildcats will now have a Bye Week and then it will be the demanding three-game stretch that will determine Saint Ignatius' playoff status in Division I - versus Archbishop Moeller at Dublin Coffman High School on Oct. 17 at 7 PM, versus St. Xavier on Oct. 24 in a 2 PM kickoff at Byers Field and versus longtime West Side rival St. Edward on Halloween at 2 PM in storied Lakewood Stadium, aka "The Madhouse on Madison."

JUST FYI from Friday night, Archbishop Moeller lost to La Salle in overtime and St. Xavier was defeated by Elder in two overtimes. Ah yes, those Cincinnati teams just beat up on each other.

HERE ARE COACH KYLE'S COMMENTS FROM FRIDAY NIGHT'S GAME: "If he keeps doing that I'm going to have him on the track team," Coach Kyle said of Dennis Grosel's impressive rushing production in the first half. "I'll tell Coach (Brad) Ganor that he will have to get a new infielder. Dennis is going to run the relays.

"He's got good vision, as people can see," Coach Kyle continued in his assessment of Grosel's effort. "You have some teams that drop into coverage and just rush three. Our offensive line is doing a nice job blocking, so it's like okay, take your seam. And as you see, he will do it. We keep reminding him not to try to run over people. A couple of times tonight I thought he could have just slid in, but he was trying to get a first down. He's got speed and the leverage to break one."

Among other things, Coach Kyle was pleased with the consistent performance by Colin Goodfellow.

"He can kick the ball a mile," said Coach Kyle said. "He's a weapon. Our kicking game is pretty strong. Matt Trickett, our other kicker, is with the soccer team in New York. Our average in punt returns against us is still single digits and the kickoffs go into the end zone. That's the way I like to play football."      




Saint Ignatius vs. Parma. What was once one of the storied football rivalries in all of Greater Cleveland will be renewed on Friday at 7 PM, when the Wildcats and the Redmen meet on Byers Field in Parma's Robert M. Boulton Stadium

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit September/October 2015

The Wildcats lead the series that began in 1959 and ended in 1979, 11-8-1. Saint Ignatius and Parma did not play in 1976.

Ohio City - Although Saint Ignatius' Chuck Kyle '69 never coached against Parma during his previous 32 years as the Wildcats' Head Football Coach, he recalls vividly that opening night in the fall of 1968 when his head coach, Saint Ignatius legend the late John J. Wirtz, pointed a finger in his direction while the Wildcats were on defense.

Better known for his prowess as an All-City running back for the Wildcats, Kyle was called on to go in and play one of the linebacker positions. Although Kyle had contributed in the defensive backfield, linebacker was a whole new position for him.

With Saint Ignatius clinging to a 2-0 lead over Parma in the late stages of the game, the kid nicknamed "Chico," on the advice of fellow linebacker Mike Noetzel, was told to keep an eye on the Redmen running back and if he flares or goes out to the flat, "you have to pick him up."

So what happened?

The back flared out to the flat and Kyle intercepted the ball and returned it for a 22-yard touchdown in front of a packed house at Byers Field. That effort, along with Larry Berridge's extra-point kick, pushed Saint Ignatius' lead to nine points and the Wildcats hung on for a 9-8 victory.

Yes, the Parma defense threw a shutout, but the Redmen still went down in a loss that was hard to swallow.

Coach Kyle moved to Parma and Holy Family Parish when he was in the sixth grade. As a young man, he would go and watch the outstanding Parma and Valley Forge teams from the early 1960s.

Among those Parma greats was Arnold "Arnie" Chonko, the uncle of current Saint Ignatius defensive back Jeff Chonko. Jeff is also a catcher in the Wildcats' highly successful baseball program.

Arnie Chonko, from the Parma Senior Class of 1961, was a standout in baseball, basketball and football for the Redmen. He was a two-time All-Lake Erie League and two-time All-District selection in baseball and a three-time All-LEL honoree in football.

Arnie was the LEL MVP and the Cleveland Touchdown Club Player of the Year in football in 1960. He earned All-State honors in both football and baseball. Arnie received three letters in baseball and three letters in football while attending The Ohio State University. In baseball, he was a two-time All-Big Ten selection and an NCAA All-American.

In football for the Buckeyes, Arnie was a three-year starting defensive back, earning both All-Big Ten and NCAA All-American honors in 1964. He played in the 1965 East-West Shrine Game. Arnie won numerous Scholar-Athlete awards during his career, including two-time All-Academic Big Ten and two-time Academic All-American honors. Arnie was named to the Ohio State All-Century team in both football and baseball and was elected to the OSU Athletic Hall of Fame. He was selected in both the professional baseball and football drafts, but decided to enter the OSU Medical School and went on to become an accomplished medical doctor.

In what were the first two meetings on the gridiron between the Wildcats and the Redmen, Arnie Chonko led Parma to victories in 1959 (14-6) and 1960 (34-0). Arnie is a charter member of the Parma Senior High School Athletic Hall of Fame.

"I was in the crowd watching Arnie Chonko play, that's amazing," said Coach Kyle, who also recalled his junior season of 1967, when Parma upset a talent-laden Saint Ignatius team, 16-14.

The '67 Cats would go on to finish 9-1 and bring home the annual Charity Game City Championship trophy by defeating Collinwood, 21-0, on Thanksgiving Morning in the Grand Lady on the Lake, old Municipal Stadium.

Ah, the late 1950s and the 1960s, a great era in area high school football.

And now it's the renewal of a rivalry that used to traditionally merit Saturday morning front-page headlines in The Plain Dealer Sports Section, as Saint Ignatius (3-2) and Parma (2-3) are gearing up for what will be their 21st Varsity football encounter after not playing each other for more than three decades.

COACH KYLE ON THE 2015 PARMA REDMEN: "They have some nice schemes that they run offensively," Coach Kyle said of the Redmen, as he was putting his Wildcats through Tuesday afternoon's practice. "The passing scheme, you can tell that they really work at it. The rollout, the drop back, they try to spread you all out.

"And when you're sitting there trying to defend the pass, they will pop a run," Coach Kyle continued. "Defensively, they run a four front, something we've seen all season. So, I think we're comfortable with what they do.

"Defensively, we have to get some stops and get our offense the ball," said Coach Kyle of the defensive problems his Wildcats encountered with Walsh Jesuit's ball control and third-down efficiency last week, a game the Cats pulled out, 30-27, behind an 80-yard drive with 53 seconds remaining to be played. "That can't continue. With the schedule we have there is no way."

After Parma and then a bye week, Saint Ignatius will encounter a three-game stretch that will determine its postseason fate - versus Archbishop Moeller at Dublin Coffman High School, home to St. Xavier at Byers Field and versus longtime West Side rival St. Edward on Halloween afternoon in tradition-rich Lakewood Stadium.

The record 11-time Division I state champion Wildcats are seeking their 27th OHSAA postseason playoff appearance since 1988. In this week's OHSAA Region 1 computer playoff ratings, Saint Ignatius was 21st. The top 16 teams in Region 1 at the end of the regular season qualify for the regional quarterfinal playoffs.

ON THE MEND: Saint Ignatius' All-Ohio and All-American offensive tackle Liam Eichenberg, a University of Notre Dame recruit, was practicing on Tuesday and all-state senior wide receiver/defensive back Jack Cook and gifted senior tailback James Norris have bounced back nicely. The Wildcats' goal is to be at full strength for the key three-game stretch.

PARMA'S LATEST OUTING: The Division I Redmen, who have defeated Normandy and John Marshall, are coming off a 49-7 loss to Elyria Catholic, a talented Division V program that stands 4-1, 2-0 in the Great Lakes Conference. Parma is a member of the newly formed GLC.

Elyria Catholic quarterback Jake Kuchta was 10-for-10 passing against the Redmen for 243 yards and three touchdowns. EC's defense picked off three passes, including a 92-yard interception return for a touchdown by Zac Thurmon.

Parma, which qualified for the OHSAA playoffs as recently as 2009, currently stands 24th in the Region 1 computer ratings.

AIR WAVES: Friday night's renewal of the Saint Ignatius vs. Parma football series will be brought to you live over the Saint Ignatius Student Broadcast Network. The one-two punch of senior Carter Spearry and junior Brendan DeVenney will call it as they see it from Ridge Road and Day Drive.

Friday night's game will also be broadcast live over WHK-AM 1420.

Veteran Ed Daugherty will handle the play-by-play and one of the original radio voices of Saint Ignatius football, Lenny Soeder '85, will provide his veteran analysis. The WHK pregame is slated for 6:30 PM. 



Trailing, 24-11, with just over two minutes remaining in the third quarter, Coach Paul Yappel's Junior Varsity Wildcats rally to a 25-24 victory over Glenville on Wasmer Field Monday night

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit September 2015

Ohio City - The bells from St. Mary of the Assumption Chapel rang eloquently on the campus of Saint Ignatius High School as the undefeated Junior Varsity Football Wildcats and the Glenville Tarblooders lined up for their 6 PM opening kickoff under a majestic blue-gray sky that highlighted a perfect early fall Monday on Cleveland's near West Side.

A spirited crowd was on hand to witness a game that saw the Wildcats and the Tarblooders test each other's will for nearly the full 40 minutes (JV quarters are 10 minutes) before Coach Paul Yappel's talented, versatile and oh so resilient JV Cats prevailed, 25-24, and completed the halfway point of their season at 5-0.

As a class, the sophomore Wildcats are 15-0 dating back to their 10-0 Freshmen campaign in the fall of 2014.

Trailing by 13 points in the late stages of the third quarter, Saint Ignatius cut the deficit to 24-18 on a 35-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Daniel Alexander to sophomore wide receiver/defensive back/kick returner Connor Kennedy, an effort that saw Connor make an excellent adjustment to the ball along the left sideline and find the corner of the scoreboard end zone in Wasmer Field. Sophomore Matthew Trickett, who doubles as a mainstay on the Wildcats' nationally acclaimed Varsity Soccer team, kicked the extra point and Mr. Momentum was seen pacing the home sideline with 1 minute and 10 seconds remaining in the third quarter.

After Glenville got a big emotional lift on a diving interception by linebacker DeMauris Winbush at the Tarblooders' 4, Glenville gave the ball right back on a fumble that was recovered by Saint Ignatius sophomore linebacker Logan Joyce at the Tarblooders' 13-yard line with just over three minutes remaining to be played.

Behind a smooth sideline reception by sophomore wide receiver Michael Drobnick and the tough, second-effort running of sophomore tailback Mark Bobinski, the Wildcats were in business with a first-and-goal at the 1.

Two plays later, Alexander powered his way over the left side and into the Lorain Avenue end zone. After another high and true PAT by Trickett, Saint Ignatius led, 25-24, with 1:29 left.

Glenville couldn't generate anything on its final possession and the Cats ran out the clock in what was one of the more will-testing and intense Junior Varsity games you will ever witness.

What have left a lasting impression on this old-timer since the first day of mini camps in early June are the class, character and team-first attitude that Alexander and Saint Ignatius' other gifted sophomore quarterback, Kyle Hall, have displayed in sharing the field general duties for Coach Yappel and Quarterbacks Coach Elvis Grbac.

They have truly pushed each other athletically and have supported one another from their freshmen seasons to what is now Week 6 on the JV burner. That will take place on Saturday at 9 AM versus Parma's Junior Varsity at Byers Field in Robert M. Boulton Stadium.

"I think the competition makes us both better," said Hall, who had a solid first half for the Wildcats on Monday night. "We both feed off the adrenaline of giving our best effort out there against teams like this (Glenville). It makes the team better."

"I have to agree 100 percent," said Alexander in responding to Hall's comments. "Kyle and I are obviously going at it. As Coach Restifo says (Wildcats veteran Varsity Offensive Coordinator Nick Restifo), the best teams are the ones with the best backups and guys who are pushing you. Kyle pushes me constantly, making me better. We count on each other and try to make each other better, because overall we want to win as a team."

As for Monday's heart pounder versus the Tarblooders, Alexander said he had to give a shout out to the defense and emphasized that Glenville will help the JV Cats in preparation for their three big games down the stretch versus the Junior Varsity programs from Archbishop Moeller, St. Xavier and St. Edward.

Those last three games on the Cats' JV slate are, said Hall, games of equal talent, games that will show who has the bigger heart and who wants it more.               

THE EARLY GOING ON MONDAY NIGHT: Glenville was impressive in the first quarter, as the Tarblooders took an 8-0 lead on a 36-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jamel Hamm to wide receiver/running back Dray Bailey and the ensuing two-point conversion run by Hamm with 1:56 to go in the opening quarter.

Saint Ignatius, sparked by a fumble recovery by sophomore defensive back Max Mook at the Glenville 33, closed to 8-3 on a 25-yard field goal by Trickett with 4:54 remaining in the first half.

After Trickett's ensuing kickoff sailed into the Lorain Avenue end zone and almost waved down the 22 Express, the Cats' defense forced the Tarblooders to punt from their goal line.

Following an authoritative punt return by Kennedy to the Glenville 29, Saint Ignatius rode a clutch scramble around the left side by Hall that came off a fourth-and-14 from the Glenville 33 and resulted in a first-and-10 at the Tarblooders' 16.

Sparked by a leaping and sure-handed reception by sophomore wide receiver Sam Snyder that gave the Cats a first-and-goal at the 3, Bobinski powered his way up the gut and into the end zone. Hall, off a rollout to the right, tucked the ball away and ran for a 2-point conversion that extended Saint Ignatius' lead to 11-8.

Trailing, 11-8, at halftime, Glenville regained the lead, 16-11, on a 46-yard TD gallop by Bailey and the ensuing 2-point conversion run by Tre Wilson. Wilson would step up big again by intercepting a pass just beyond the Wildcats' 40 and returning the ball for a touchdown. The diminutive, but quick and hard-nosed Wilson then tacked on another 2-point conversion that made it a 24-11 game in favor of Glenville and set the stage for Saint Ignatius' dramatic comeback.

Along with the key fumble recoveries by Mook and Joyce, the Cats' defense got some excellent pressure up front from sophomore nose tackle Aidan Gill, sophomore defensive end Jeffrey Outcalt, sophomore linebacker Andrew Keirn and sophomore tackle Darian Kinnard, just to name a few.

Saint Ignatius' offensive line, keyed by some impressive blocks by 6-foot-3, 270-pound Toby Engel, also turned in a solid workman-like effort.



Trailing by four points with 53 seconds left, Saint Ignatius drives 80 yards in seven plays and defeats Walsh Jesuit, 30-27, on a 38-yard Dennis Grosel to Jim Berger hookup with 8 seconds remaining.

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit September 2015

Parma, Ohio - Walsh Jesuit, which could easily be the best 1-4 football team in Northeast Ohio, if not the entire state, went toe-to-toe with the area's fifth-ranked Wildcats on Saturday night and took a 27-23 lead on a 22-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Mac Shinaberry to wide receiver Pat Keough, and the ensuing extra-point kick by Noah Ball.

It was an effort that saw Keough run a smooth route, secure the ball and fight his way into the scoreboard end zone of Byers Field. Ball's PAT capped an eight-play, 58-yard drive that started with 3:09 left to play and ended with 53 ticks remaining on the clock. 

After the Warriors drove for a first down at the Saint Ignatius 22, Wildcats outstanding senior quarterback Dennis Grosel, already anticipating that he might have to bring his team back in the final seconds, paced the home sideline with his football tucked securely in his arm and hand, and yelled: "Offense, offense, we're not going to lose this game, we're not going to lose this game!"

A gifted field general who can hurt an opponent with his powerful, accurate arm and his legs, Grosel calmly marched his team 80 yards, as he found multi-skilled senior wide receiver/long snapper Jimmy Berger breaking open across the middle.

Jimmy, who had to adjust his route because of a change in the Warriors' coverage, never broke stride as he hauled in what was another strong throw from Grosel, outran the pursuit down the right or visitor's sideline and dove past the pylon into the corner of the Day Drive end zone with eight seconds left. Sophomore Matthew Trickett added a high and true extra-point kick and Saint Ignatius' defense took care of the final eight seconds.

Grosel and Berger will be the first to tell you that the winning play was made possible by Coach Adam Rini's and Coach Paul Yappel's offensive line, as the men up front allowed Dennis to survey the field and Jimmy the time to adjust his route. The O-Line was without the services of two of its mainstays - senior All-Ohio and All-American tackle Liam Eichenberg, a Notre Dame recruit, and senior guard Michael Bodnar. Liam is hoping to be back this coming week and Michael is pointing to the Week 8 game versus Archbishop Moeller.

If you want a key play during the precise and composed winning drive, it came from the press box.

Wildcats veteran Offensive Coordinator Nick Restifo, who said, "I've been saving that one," called for a screen pass to strong and talented junior tailback Jimmy Andrews.

Executing it just as Coach Restifo drew it up, Grosel threw the screen to Andrews, who hauled in the pass while keeping his powerful legs churning and his shoulders pointed up field. Jimmy rambled to the Warriors' 38-yard line off a play that started at the Saint Ignatius 35.

What left a lasting impression on Coach Restifo and Wildcats Hall of Fame Head Coach Chuck Kyle '69 was that Saint Ignatius had all three of its timeouts at its disposal during the winning drive and didn't have to use even one of them.

The Wildcats, who improved to 3-2 with the victory and now lead their all-time football series with their Jesuit brothers from Walsh, 6-4, are focused on their final four games of the regular season. If winning all four of those games, versus Parma (Oct. 2), Archbishop Moeller (Oct. 17) , St. Xavier (Oct. 24) and St. Edward (Oct. 31), is necessary for the record 11-time Division I state champions to earn their 27th trip to the OHSAA postseason playoffs, then so be it.

"We're not going to let other teams determine our fate," said Grosel, referring to the OHSAA Harbin postseason qualifying system, in which teams are awarded points for each game they win and each game a defeated opponent wins.

There were many memorable performances that took place in Parma's Robert M. Boulton Stadium on Saturday night, including Grosel's 203 yards and two touchdowns passing, and his 122 yards rushing that included touchdown runs of 38 and 18 yards. Dennis hit on 12-of-18 passes without an interception and he racked up his 122 rushing yards on just 11 carries.

Andrews rushed for 77 yards on 11 carries and senior wide receiver Tyler Musbach had three receptions for 53 yards, including a 35-yard touchdown reception that wiped out an early 3-0 deficit. Tyler made an excellent adjustment to the ball in the right corner of the scoreboard end zone.

Senior wideout Cal Grbac totaled four catches for 49 yards, Jimmy Berger finished with two grabs for 46 yards and senior tight end Robert Hilbig came up with a key 28-yard reception.

As for the defense, senior middle linebacker Ben Cray was involved in 12 tackles on the night, including a sack and another tackle for a loss, junior linebacker Adam Shibley, a name to remember my friends, was in on nine tackles, senior linebacker/safety Nick LaVigna had his nose for the ball involved in 13 of the Cats' stops and Nick also had a huge interception that thwarted a Walsh Jesuit drive late in the game. Rounding out Saint Ignatius' leading tacklers was senior defensive back Anthony Corte with four solos and two assists.

As for Walsh Jesuit's offensive numbers, workhorse tailback Joe Penna carried the ball 40 times for 198 yards and a touchdown run of 16 yards and Shinaberry completed 16 of 24 passes for 205 yards and two touchdowns. Penna was coming off a victorious performance against St. Francis (Athol Springs, N.Y) that saw him rush 54 times for 318 yards and six touchdowns.

Keough, who also doubles as a defensive back, finished with seven receptions for 113 yards and two touchdowns, and running back/linebacker Josh Bennett totaled 60 receiving yards off six receptions.

GETTING THEIR KICKS: Ball's powerful leg produced field goals of 41 and 42 yards for the Warriors and Trickett, who earlier in the day contributed to the undefeated Varsity Soccer Team's 6-0 victory over Olentangy Liberty on Wasmer Field, kicked his first Varsity field goal, a 23-yard effort with 1:29 left in the first half. After Ball's 42-yard field goal, Saint Ignatius clung to a 16-13 lead at halftime.

*Trickett's first Varsity field goal came at the same location (the Day Drive end zone of Byers Field) that his kicking coach, former Wildcats standout kicker Seamus Hennessey '09, also produced his first Varsity field goal. Seamus' came in the 2008 season opener versus Glenville. And guess what? It was also 23 yards.

FROM COACH KYLE: Although Coach Kyle, who is now 4-0 lifetime versus Walsh Jesuit, couldn't say enough about the poise and execution on the Wildcats' winning drive, he emphasized that his team still has plenty to work on defensively, especially in the third-down department.

Walsh Jesuit was 11 of 16 in third-down conversions and 3 of 3 in fourth-down conversions. The Wildcats were 4 of 7 in third-down conversions.            


The hard-nosed, resilient and talented Freshmen Football Cats turn back the Glenville Tarblooders, 14-8, on Wasmer Field Thursday night

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit September 2015

Ohio City - Cool under pressure, Wildcats quarterback Patrick Delahunty rolled right and found wide receiver Anthony Pilla in the back of the Lorain Avenue end zone for a touchdown that, following the extra-point kick by versatile receiver/running back/kicker Jack Cannon, put the Freshmen Cats in front, 14-8, with five minutes and seven seconds remaining to be played.

Pilla was a study of concentration, calmness and sure hands as he hauled in a ball that had to be placed over the coverage of a Tarblooders secondary that had size and speed.

Saint Ignatius' defense, behind key tackles by linebackers Griffin Sheehan and Tommy Eichenberg, then turned Glenville away and Coach Rodney Gallaway's  tough-minded ninth graders celebrated their fourth victory in five games.

Having reached the halfway point of their season, the Freshmen Cats will now prepare for their meeting with the Parma Redmen on Oct. 3 at Byers Field in Parma's Robert M. Boulton Stadium. The kickoff will be 11 AM.

Along with some timely and resilient plays, Saint Ignatius' Freshmen displayed a lot of heart and toughness in defeating a Glenville team that consisted of freshmen and sophomores.   

"I just wanted the guys not to have that as an excuse this week," said Coach Gallaway of his freshmen facing some older and physically bigger players. "We're a football team, they're a football team. You're going to play guys that are older than you at some point in your life.

"So, just come out and play our type of football," Coach Gallaway continued. "We knew if we could be disciplined, that would go a long way in helping us out. For the most part, we were. We had some special teams miscues, but that happens and we weathered the storm. The defense responded both times."

The Tarblooders had plenty of size and strength, but the big hearts and poise belonged to the Cats down the stretch.

Saint Ignatius, behind some clutch receptions and yards after the catch by Cannon, Nate Conry and Nigel Drummond, took a 7-0 lead on a tough, but sure-handed touchdown reception by Drummond and the ensuing extra point by Cannon with two minutes left in the first quarter.

In what was a display of never quitting on a play, Wildcats defensive back Aidan Morrison made a diving interception near the home sideline after the ball bounced in the air off the pads of an open receiver. It was an effort that allowed the Cats to take that 7-0 lead into the second quarter.

Early in the second quarter, Glenville rode its special teams to an 8-7 lead.

After a bad snap while Saint Ignatius was attempting to punt, the Tarblooders jarred the ball loose and it was alertly scooped up by Tyon Posey, who rambled down Wasmer Field and into the Lorain Avenue end zone for a touchdown. Glenville quarterback Xander Spikes ran for the 2-point conversion and the Cats found themselves trailing by one point with 8:50 to go in the first half.

The Tarblooders had some other opportunities, including a 37-yard touchdown run that was wiped out by a penalty. But a combination of Saint Ignatius' bend a little, but don't break timely defense and Glenville's inopportune mistakes and penalties enabled the Wildcats to pitch a shutout over the final 28 minutes and 50 seconds.

"The team defense tonight was great," said Coach Gallaway, who watched Cats linebacker Chris Velotta recover the football after the Tarblooders snapped the ball over Spikes' head as Glenville was facing a third-and-goal from Saint Ignatius' nine-yard line.

"We did make a lot of first contact with tackles, which was great, because that's a big thing against Glenville," Coach Gallaway continued. "If you let them get outside that's an issue for us. It's a big emotional win. We knew what was out there and we responded."

COACH GALLAWAY ON ANTHONY PILLA'S WINNING TOUCHDOWN RECEPTION: "He's worked hard. Anthony had an early season injury, but I liked his speed and quickness on the outside and he has worked his way back into the mix. He's getting some time now, so that's good for him."             



With Aidan Gill and Matt Viancourt among those keyng the defense and Sam Snyder hauling in two early touchdown passes, Saint Ignatius' Junior Varsity Wildcats go on to defeat a talented JV program from Kirtland, 32-16, on Monday evening in Kirtland

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit September 2015

Kirtland, Ohio - Saint Ignatius' gifted sophomore wide receiver Sam Snyder stands 5-foot-7 and weighs around 140 pounds.

But oh my, there is no measuring the impact the big-hearted Snyder can make on a football field.

"I just came out here with the same mentality as always," said Snyder, whose two touchdown receptions on the Wildcats' first two offensive possessions helped spark Coach Paul Yappel's undefeated Junior Varsity Cats to a 32-16 victory over the previously unbeaten Junior Varsity program from Kirtland under the blue skies of a picture-perfect fall evening in Lake County.

Saint Ignatius now stands 4-0 on the JV level heading into next Monday's game versus the Glenville Tarblooders on Wasmer Field, and the tenacious and talented Jayvees from Kirtland are 3-1 after a gutsy effort on the Hornets' natural grass surface.     

"We produced, from the line, to the receivers and the running backs," the humble and hard-nosed Snyder continued.

And that production was fueled by Saint Ignatius' effort on both sides of the ball.

Along with a balanced offense that was directed by promising sophomore quarterbacks Kyle Hall and Daniel Alexander, the Cats laid down an aggressive and opportunistic defense from the get-go.

After Hall and Snyder hooked up on a 39-yard touchdown pass that featured an on-the-money throw and a sure-handed reception, Saint Ignatius got an alert, nose-for the ball fumble recovery by linebacker Deonte Griffin that Deonte scooped up and returned to the Kirtland 15-yard line.

Two plays later, Snyder made a diving catch in the right corner of the end zone for an 11-yard TD reception with 5 minutes and 24 seconds remaining in the first quarter. Sophomore kicker/punter Matthew Trickett booted his second extra point and the Cats held a 14-0 lead. Trickett, who was coming off a solid defensive performance in the Varsity Soccer Cats' 4-1 victory at Copley on Saturday night, flirted with the highway on his first PAT.

"I had a good release and Dan (Alexander) did the rest of the work for me, putting it right where I could only catch it," Snyder said of his second TD reception.

While Kirtland's running game had its moments on Monday evening, Saint Ignatius' defense was relentless with its pressure for most of the 40 minutes (JV quarters are 10 minutes).

"I thought we did a great job of containing on the edge so the defensive ends could force the quarterback to make a decision of whether he wants to go to the middle or the outside," said strong and active sophomore nose tackle/defensive lineman Aidan Gill, who was the lead man in 4 1/2 of the Cats' numerous sacks. "That makes my job that much easier. And If I do a good job, it make the ends' job that much easier. That's why we were able to create that much pressure, we were all working together pretty well.

"We just have to keep our heads up and continue to do our jobs," Gill continued in reference to Kirtland's 16 points, eight in each half. "We didn't hang our heads on the fact that they scored. We came right back and did our job, got the offense back on the field and they scored."

A key member of Saint Ignatius' state-champion (spring and summer singles) Rugby Program, Gill said his rugby competition carries over to the football field.

"Rugby and football are very similar, in the physicality of the game and the way you have to move the bodes around, " said Gill.

Among the other Wildcats who were putting on the heat defensively were tackle Jack Jamieson, end Jeffrey Outcalt, linebackers Tom Grosel and Andrew Keirn, defensive backs Matt Viancourt and Cameron Toppin and safety Justin Sands.

Sands came up with a fumble recovery that led to eight more points for the Cats and a 22-0 lead with 1:25 left in the first quarter. Those eight points came courtesy of the arm and legs of Alexander.

After Kirtland cut the deficit to 22-8 with 7:29 left in the first half, Saint Ignatius took advantage of a high snap that sailed over the head of the Hornets' punter. The punter picked the ball up, but was swarmed under by the Cats' pursuit and Saint Ignatius was in business at the Kirtland 12.

Two plays later, standout sophomore tailback Mark Bobinski scored on an authoritative sweep over the left side and Trickett's PAT made it a 29-8 game with 3:38 to go in the first half.

After Gill and Outcalt combined on a sack, it stayed a 29-8 game entering the second half. Saint Ignatius then turned back a game Hornets team behind a 36-yard field goal by Trickett with 49.7 seconds remaining in the third quarter, some timely defensive play and the powerful second effort running of sophomore tailback Casey Reilly.    



Behind its gifted junior tailback D'Andre Swift, St. Joe's Prep of Philadelphia jumps on the Wildcats early and defeats Saint Ignatius, 35-6, at Northeast High School in Philadelphia on Saturday

By Eddie Dwyer

As we reported on the corner in our Wednesday evening preview, Swift is one of the most gifted backs in the nation and one of the most highly recruited Varsity football players in these United States.

The Hawks (2-1), who are the two-time defending PIAA AAAA State Champions, took a 21-0 lead in the first quarter, stretched it to 28-0 by halftime and sealed the deal with a fourth-quarter touchdown.

Coach Gabe Infante's team scored in the first quarter off a 20-yard pass from quarterback Kevin Shaw to wide receiver Darryle Simmons, a 1-yard run by Swift and a 42-yard touchdown connection between Swift and Shaw. Alex Talbot accounted for the three extra points.

Swift and Shaw hooked up again in the second quarter, this time off a 13-yard TD strike. Talbot again added the extra point

D Kidd-Jackson's 7-yard scoring run off an 11-play drive and the ensuing extra point made it a 35-0 game in the fourth quarter, and the Wildcats got on the board off a 27-yard pass from senior quarterback Dennis Grosel to junior tight end James Leyden.

The football series between the two Jesuit schools now stands at 2-2.

Saint Ignatius, which slipped to 2-2 on the season, entered the game as the third-ranked team in the seven-county area poll and the state's 15th-ranked program in Division I by the Associated Press. Up next for Coach Chuck Kyle's Cats is a matchup with Walsh Jesuit on Sept. 26 at Byers Field in Parma's Robert M. Boulton Stadium. The kickoff will be 7 PM.


Total Yards: St. Joe's Prep 328, Saint Ignatius 273

First Downs: St. Joe's Prep 20, Saint Ignatius 15

Rushing Yards: St. Joe's Prep 148, Saint Ignatius 111

Passing Yards: St. Joe's Prep 180, Saint Ignatius 162

Saint Ignatius had 2 lost fumbles. St. Joe's Prep was credited by Saint Ignatius' stats crew for having no fumbles.

The Cats were penalized once for 15 yards and St. Joe's Prep was whistled five times for 78 yards.

Saint Ignatius' standout senior quarterback/co-captain Dennis Grosel completed 14 of 25 passes for 134 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. Dennis was sacked twice and rushed for 47 yards on eight carries.

Cats senior wide receiver/long snapper Jim Berger had three receptions for 53 yards and senior tight end Robert Hilbig hauled in three passes for 46 yards.

The Hawks' D'Andre Swift rushed for 109 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries and grabbed four passes for 79 yards and two touchdowns.

St. Joe's Prep senior signal-caller Kevin Shaw was 12-for-23 through the air for 180 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. He was not sacked.

The Hawks were 3-for-3 scoring in the red zone.

Saint Ignatius was 1 for 9 in third-down conversions and St. Joe's Prep converted 7 of 10 third downs.

The Cats were also 1 of 4 in fourth-down conversions.

Time of possession: 26:20 for the Hawks and 21:50 for Saint Ignatius.        


The Saint Ignatius versus St. Joseph's Prep Week 4 Varsity Football Preview

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit September 2015

Ohio City - The Wildcats travel to Northeast High School in Philadelphia for Saturday's 3 PM matchup with the Hawks from St. Joseph's Prep, the Jesuit High School of Philadelphia. It will be just the fourth meeting on the gridiron between Saint Ignatius and St. Joe's Prep, with the Wildcats leading the series, 2-1.

Saint Ignatius defeated the Hawks, 26-6, in 2004 and St. Joe's Prep came back to even the series with a 28-14 victory in 2005. Last year, in what was a Week 3 heart pounder on Byers Field in Parma's Robert M. Boulton Stadium, the Wildcats prevailed, 42-34, behind an outstanding all-around performance by gifted wide receiver/defensive back/punt returner Jack Cook.

This fall, St. Joe's Prep is looking to become only the second school to win three consecutive PIAA AAAA State Football Championships. That was accomplished by the Central Bucks West in 1997, '98 and '99. C.B. West appeared in a fourth consecutive title game in 2000 versus Erie Cathedral Prep, but the Cathedral Prep Ramblers came out victorious and ended C.B. West's state record 59-game winning streak.

Resiliency has certainly been a trademark for Coach Infante's Hawks, as each of the past two seasons St. Joe's Prep started at 1-3 and ended up with 11-3 records that produced their first PIAA AAAA State Football Titles.

A member of the always demanding Philadelphia Catholic League, the Hawks enter Saturday's game at 1-1. St. Joe's  Prep traveled to Louisiana to face traditional power Evangel Christian Academy on Sept. 5 and came away with a 14-0 victory that featured rushing touchdowns by highly recruited junior tailback D' Andre Swift and senior quarterback Kevin Shaw.

Last weekend, the Hawks traveled to Ramsey, New Jersey and were defeated by the Garden State's perennial power, Don Bosco Prep, 55-21. The first quarter told the tale, as Don Bosco outscored St. Joe's Prep, 29-7. Two of Don Bosco's touchdowns came off a 100-yard interception return and a 90-yard kickoff return.

As for Swift, who scored on a 95-yard kickoff return and a 3-yard touchdown run in the loss to Don Bosco, it's safe to say that he is the Hawks' wings.

Carrying a scholarship offer list that includes Florida State, Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, LSU, Penn State, Michigan and Michigan State, just to name a few, the 5-9, 204-pound Swift rushed for 1,045 yards and 13 touchdowns last season. He also had 35 receptions for 495 yards and 6 TDs. Impressive numbers from a sophomore season, to say the least.

Swift, who has been timed at 4.4 in the 40-yard dash, capped his 2014 season by solving Pine-Richland's defense for four second-half touchdowns, including runs of 58 and 47 yards, and a catch and run for 48 yards, in the 49-41 state-championship game victory.

Although St. Joe's Prep graduated a strong nucleus from 2014, including mainstays Olamide Zaccheaus (a Virginia recruit), John Reid (Penn State) and Jon Runyan (the University of Michigan), the Hawks' gridiron cupboard is never bare.

That said, the Hawks' preseason concerns, concerns that might still linger a bit, centered around inexperienced offensive and defensive lines, and an untested quarterback.

Among the other Hawks to keep an eye on are senior running back/defensive back Benny Walls, tight end/fullback/defensive end Joe Dumond, tight end Billy Boyle, wide receivers Darryle Simmons and Terrence Greene, and linebackers Shaun Harris and Nick Vandevere.


"It's a long way to go to play a high school football game," said Coach Kyle, whose Wildcats will again be without All-Ohio senior offensive tackle/co-captain and University of Notre Dame recruit Liam Eichenberg. The Cats have also lost starting senior guard Michael Bodnar to an injury, but are expected to have veteran tailback James Norris back.

"First of all, offensively D'Andre Swift has been offered by just about everybody, you name it," continued the man who has coached against some of greatest running backs in the rich history of Ohio high school football, including the best running back this graybeard ever had the privilege to cover, Euclid High legend Robert Smith. "For Alabama to go all the way up to Philadelphia to get a running back is a bit surprising, but the kid is very good. We played against him last year, he's a player. So we have a challenge there.

"Offensively, they will give you a lot of different formations," Coach Kyle said. "Obviously we have to be concerned about their running game, but yet still handle the passing. And that's been a challenge so far this year in some of the situations. I do think we're getting better, however.

"Defensively, they are blitz oriented," said Coach Kyle. "If you can get through that first onslaught of what they're doing, you can have a very big play. They come at you and try to blow you up right there at the line of scrimmage. We have to have patience, because with a twist and a blitz, and stuff like that, it kind of disrupts a few things. But the next play, you say let's go, because it could be a big play. We had some good runs against them last year, but we threw the ball very well. Stay with it and we can get big plays."



Please note that Saturday's Varsity Football Game versus St. Joseph's Prep will be played at Northeast High School in Philadelphia. The kickoff is 3 PM.
Saint Ignatius football remains in third place in the area poll and is ranked 15th in the initial Associated Press Division I State Poll for 2015

By Eddie Dwyer

1, Cincinnati Elder (9) 3-0 221
2, Huber Heights Wayne (4) 3-0 157
3, St. Edward (5) 2-1 128
4, Westerville Central (4) 3-0 111
5, Fairfield 3-0 97
6, Cincinnati Colerain (2) 2-1 96
7, Berea-Midpark 3-0 87
8, Findlay 3-0 81
9, Cincinnati St. Xavier 2-1 80
10, Powell Olentangy Liberty 3-0 54
Others receiving 12 or more points: 11, Mentor (1) 50. 12, Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller 43. 13, Lancaster 30. 14, Columbus Upper Arlington 23. 15, Saint Ignatius 19. 16, Stow 18. 17, Shaker Heights 17. 17, Beavercreek 17.

In the Top 25 area poll, St. Edward took over the No. 1 spot from Mentor, Mentor is now 2 and the Cats remained at No 3. Benedictine and Midview round out the top five.   


The 1,000th Game in Saint Ignatius' rich Varsity Football history results in a 41-0 victory over Valley Forge at Byers Field in Parma's Robert M. Boulton Stadium on Friday night

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit, September 2015

Parma, Ohio - Saint Ignatius, the area's third-ranked team, struck early and often against the Patriots in improving its record to 2-1.

Before the kickoff on Friday night, Valley Forge and the City of Parma Heights paid tribute to Coach Chuck Kyle's late father-in-law, Paul William Cassidy, who had a remarkable four-plus decades as the Mayor of Parma Heights (see the corner's story from Tuesday night).

As part of the recognition, a $1,000 Scholarship was awarded from the Cassidy family to Valley Forge's outstanding senior student/athlete and two way lineman Dustin Nelson.

While Friday night was a milestone game for the storied football program from Cleveland's Jesuit Preparatory School, Coach Kyle '69, the most successful high school football coach in Greater Cleveland and the winningest Division I coach in Northeast Ohio, will direct his Wildcats Varsity program for the 400th time when Saint Ignatius travels to Pennsylvania next weekend (Saturday, Sept. 19) to face the Keystone State's two-time defending AAAA state champions St. Joseph's Prep, the Jesuit School of Philadelphia.

Saint Ignatius defeated St. Joe's Prep, 42-34, last season in what was a wild see-saw game at Byers Field. After Friday night's triumph over the Patriots of Valley Forge, Coach Kyle's career record is 318-80-1. Chuck is currently in his 33rd season as the head of his alma mater's football program.


The persistent rain that swirled across Byers Field all night couldn't dampen the spirits of the Wildcats, as they were determined to bounce back from last weekend's 63-56 loss at Mentor.

After Friday afternoon's pregame Mass on campus, Coach Kyle turned to his players and said "men of character correct a flaw." Coach Kyle was referring to the Mentor game and the defensive assignments that were not fulfilled.

"Okay gentlemen, we're back on the football field. Correct the mistakes and play like we can," said Coach Kyle as his Wildcats huddled around him just seconds before Friday's opening kickoff.

What the record 11-time state champions and three-time national champions are capable of was more than a game bunch of Patriots (0-3) could deal with.

After a superb punt return by gifted senior wide receiver/defensive back Jack Cook had the Cats purring in Valley Forge territory, a pass from standout senior quarterback Dennis Grosel to promising junior wide receiver Michael Daugenti put the ball on the Patriots' 1-yard line.

Three plays later, tough and talented junior tailback Jimmy Andrews swept the left side and fought his way into the end zone from 2 yards out. Junior Colin Goodfellow kicked the extra point and Saint Ignatius led, 7-0, with 8 minutes and 46 seconds remaining in the first quarter.

Following a strong defensive charge by the Wildcats that was keyed by junior nose tackle Joe Gibbons and senior lineman Nate Keirn, the Cats took possession at their 45.

A 45-yard burst up the middle by Andrews made it first-and goal at the Patriots' 10 and from there Andrews fired up the gut again for his second trip to the Day Drive end zone.

With Gibbons and senior middle linebacker/co-captain Ben Cray helping keep Valley Forge on its heels offensively, Saint Ignatius began to take total control en route to scoring all 41 of its points in the first half.

An on-the-money 15-yard touchdown pass from Grosel to smooth and sure-handed senior wide receiver Tyler Musbach in the back of the Day Drive end zone, a 10-yard scoop and score by quick and aggressive senior outside linebacker Nick LaVigna that saw Nick gobble up the loose ball before the Patriots even knew they fumbled, another as-it's-drawn-up 35-yard touchdown pass from Grosel to multi-skilled senior wide receiver/punt returner Cal Grbac, and an 8-yard touchdown run by big-hearted senior tailback Elijah Wahib closed the book on the first-half TD barrage.

Invaluable senior long snapper/wide receiver Jimmy Berger set up Wahib's second-effort score with a sure-handed 17-yard reception.

By The Numbers: With Jimmy Andrews rushing for 57 yards on just four carries, the Wildcats totaled 99 yards on the ground. Saint Ignatius' defense held Valley Forge to -minus 4 yards rushing. In very limited action, Dennis Grosel was 3-for-4 for 56 yards and the two touchdown passes. Along with his 35-yard TD reception, Grbac had a 34-yard punt return and junior tailback/wide receiver Dean "The Dream" Stowers returned two punts totaling 42 yards.

Cray and Gibbons keyed the dominant D, as Cray finished with six tackles, including five unassisted, and the hard-nosed as they come Gibbons made five tackles, including two for losses.

Some key plays from the second half included a heads-up recovery of the ball by senior defensive back Anthony Corte off an onside kickoff by Valley Forge to start the second half and a fumble recovery by junior linebacker Josef O'Brien.

From Coach Kyle: "He is a very nice young man," said Coach Kyle of the Patriots' Cassidy Scholarship award winner Dustin Nelson. "Dustin has a five-point accumulative average and the Valley Forge coaches and athletic director raved about the young man. He told me he wants to be a good example to the young kids coming up. They picked a great kid.

"Dennis (Grosel) was right on in what he was reading in the limited time he was in there, the defense was solid and Jimmy Andrews is really getting a feel for what we're doing, so that was very nice," Coach Kyle continued. "We got the second group in during the first quarter for a little bit. We got everybody in. And that's a lot of people."

REMEMBERING 9/11: Following Saint Ignatius' daily Examine time for prayer and thought on Friday afternoon, Ryan Franzinger '02, the Dean of Students and the Wildcats' outstanding linebackers coach, organized a "Reverent Moment" for 9/11.

The time included music by junior Allen Morinec, a trumpet player who is a member of the All-State Orchestra. After Allen performed God Bless America and Taps, there was a moment of silence.




The Freshmen Football Cats improve to 2-1 on the season by defeating Solon, 42-0, in what was the home opener for Saint Ignatius' gritty and gifted ninth graders

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit September 2015

Ohio City - Coach Rodney Gallaway's Wildcats took advantage of excellent field position in rolling to a 28-0 lead by halftime.

The Cats, who displayed a balanced offense and an aggressive and opportunistic defense, made it a 35-0 game with 53.4 seconds remaining in the third quarter and the OHSAA deficit rule brought a running clock into play at that point.

"I think the biggest thing is that all week we talked about how can we play as ourselves, not let the other team dictate what is going to happen and not play to the level of another team, no matter what the competition is," said Coach Gallaway, who will guide his 2-1 Wildcats against the Akron Buchtel Griffins at Buchtel on Sept. 17. The kickoff is scheduled for 5:30 PM.

"That was a focus issue for us last week, I think," Coach Gallaway continued in reference to the Sept. 3, 21-20 loss at Mentor. "We had some turnovers and things like not filling our assignments on defense. Having the focus part in there and realizing we're the better team, playing to our level and not their level, is a good lesson to learn."

That lesson was applied from the get-go on Thursday evening as the young Cats set the tempo with a three-and-out from their defense, an effort that gave Saint Ignatius possession at the Solon 45-yard line.

Three plays later, the Wildcats struck with a 46-yard touchdown pass off what was a smooth and sure route by wide receiver Nigel Drummond and a perfectly thrown ball by quarterback Patrick Delahunty. Patrick Otter's extra-point kick was high and true, and Saint Ignatius led, 7-0, with 7:27 remaining in the first quarter.

After fumbling the ball away at the Solon 14, the Cats, again taking advantage of excellent field position, stretched their lead to 14-0 on an authoritative 5-yard run over the left side by tailback Jahadge "Bo" Floyd and another money PAT by Otter.

Saint Ignatius' defense, which refused to break on a sunny and comfortable evening, set the table for the next seven points off a hustle fumble recovery by linebacker Chris Velotta. The Cats then took the road to the end zone off the hard-nosed running of Jack Kennedy. Otter went 3-for-3 and it was a 21-0 game with 6:44 left in the first half.

Another fumble recovery by Velotta led to a short touchdown sweep by Kennedy and Otter's fourth PAT in the closing seconds of the first half.

"Put them away when we can, that's kind of what the idea was," said Coach Gallaway, who watched Delahunty fight his way into the end zone, an effort that along with another PAT by Otter made it a 35-0 game with less than a minute remaining in the third quarter. "It was also great to see the scout guys execute, the guys that make us better as a team. They put in the time and effort as well, so it was fun to see that."

Coach Gallaway pointed to the special effort Wilson Young made off a reception on a deep sideline route. "He's just a great kid who works so hard to get better," said Coach Gallaway, who also praised the efforts of backup running backs Graeme Agronin and Charlie Smucny, efforts that led to the Cats' final touchdown on the evening.

Before their traditional postgame prayer, the Freshmen Cats received high grades from all of their coaches, including veteran Quarterbacks Coach/Offensive Coordinator Jim Cahill '89, who was pleased that the Cats surpassed their pre-game goal of 35 points.                  



It's game 1,000 as the Football Cats renew their rivalry with Valley Forge on Friday night. A special tribute to Coach Chuck Kyle's late father-in-law, Paul William Cassidy, will highlight the evening's festivities
By Eddie Dwyer, September 2015
Mr. Cassidy served as the Mayor of Parma Heights for 43 years.
Cassidy’s successor as mayor, Martin Zanotti, described Cassidy as "an outstanding mayor, an incredible family man and an undying patriot.”
Mr. Cassidy, who passed away in July 2013 at the age of 94, won the Distinguished Flying Cross in World War II. He flew 28 missions over Europe and navigated the lead bomber on the first daylight raid of Berlin.
Cassidy practiced law before, during and after his years as mayor. He represented Cox Cable, Parma Community General Hospital and others from offices downtown, in Parma and in Parma Heights, and was an early champion of regional transit, a regional sewer system and strong regional government.
The third of six children, Mr. Cassidy was born in Pittsburgh and sold magazines there when he was just 5 years old. Living in the Glenville area of Cleveland by age 7, he began to deliver newspapers.
Mr. Cassidy graduated from legendary Cathedral Latin High School and spent two years at John Carroll University before working at Cleveland Graphite Bronze and attending Cleveland-Marshall College of Law at night.
In 1942, Cassidy married Elise A. Romano and joined the Army Air Corps. He served with the 447th Bomb Group in England.
After the war, Mr. Cassidy represented General Motors to dealers and graduated from Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. He joined the Ohio bar in 1947 and moved to Parma Heights a year later. He practiced downtown at first, then in Parma and Parma Heights until retiring in 2009 at age 90.
In 1953, Mr. Cassidy was appointed to a vacant seat on Parma Heights City Council. He became law director in 1954.
Mr. Cassidy was the force behind the building of Greenbrier Commons, with a swimming pool, library, skating rink and theater. He imposed high standards on a housing boom. He started emergency medical services and brought generations of technology to City Hall.
Parma Heights has one of the nation’s oldest continuing Memorial Day observances, dating back to the 1800s. Mr. Cassidy spoke there without notes year after year and choked up when talking about his comrades’ sacrifices in World War II.
In 1963, Cassidy became the first president of the Parma Bar Association. He was a charter member of the Parma Heights Chamber of Commerce and belonged to many other organizations.
Note from the corner: Mr. Cassidy, said Coach Kyle, loved to read and discuss history, especially topics such as George Washington and the Cival War. In fact, Coach Kyle said his late father-in-law played the major role in the naming of Valley Forge High School, which is appropriately located on Independence Boulevard in Parma Heights.
In 2011, Zanotti told The Plain Dealer, “Paul Cassidy was Parma Heights’ George Washington.”
NOTE: Coach Kyle grew up in Munster, Indiana before his family moved to Parma when he was in the sixth grade. Coach Kyle said he lived near the boarder of Parma and Parma Heights and spent a lot of time in Parma Heights. "I attended a lot of Valley Forge games as a kid," he said.
Here is The Corner's preview on what will be the eighth meeting on the gridiron between the Wildcats and the Patriots, and the first since 1992. The Cats lead the series, 6-1.
Saint Ignatius and Valley Forge met in football for the first time in 1986, Coach Kyle's fourth year at the helm of his alma mater. The Patriots came away with a 7-6 victory on a Byers Field that was a muddy quagmire thanks to Mother's Nature's week long rain assault.
After a 35-6 victory over Valley Forge in 1987, the Wildcats, in what was their first state championship season of 1988, rallied to a 14-13 victory over the Patriots when junior quarterback Joe Pickens scrambled away from heavy pressure on a third-and-20 from Valley Forge 43 and found junior wide receiver Patrick Friend open in the end zone with just over four minutes remaining. The ensuing extra-point kick by Phil Mohr and an interception by senior defensive tackle Dave Vernon helped prevent Valley Forge from pulling off what would have been a major statewide upset.
Coach Kyle's Cats would go on to dominate the next four meetings with the Patriots.
Here is a look at the 2015 Valley Forge Patriots, followed by comments from Coach Kyle, some quick Cats Stats and the starting lineup for the Saint Ignatius Student Broadcast Network.
Marcello DeAngelis, a 2002 graduate of Valley Forge and a former assistant coach for the Patriots, is in his first season as the head man on Independence Boulevard.
The Patriots had a rough first few months in 2014 that included some key injuries. After an 0-5 start, Valley Forge finished 4-6.
Coach DeAngelis and his Pats are looking forward to their new conference this fall as they join Bay, Elyria Catholic, Holy Name, Normandy, Parma and Rocky River in forming the Great Lakes Conference. Valley Forge was formerly a member of the Northeast Ohio Conference.
The Patriots have some nice size along the offensive line and a versatile athlete in safety/quarterback Tim Captain. Seniors Mason Claudio (6-foot-4, 290) and Kevin Russel (6-2, 255) help anchor the O-Line.
However, like their neighboring teams, Normandy and Parma Senior, depth is a major issue for the Patriots.
Valley Forge enters Friday night's game at 0-2, having lost to North Olmsted, 34-18, and Revere, 21-7.
FROM COACH KYLE: "Coach DeAngelis has done a nice job with their various formations. They're doing some interesting things from their formations, so it's kind of fun to defend. At times it's an unbalanced line and some times it's a strong side with a wing pretty heavy, and on the other side there's two wide receivers. A lot of misdirection.
"They have the ability to be in a one-back, but it's also some blocking schemes from the Wing-T, which Auburn has made a living off of," Coach Kyle continued. "It's kind of fun to sit down and look at, and get reads.
"Defensively, they're out of a four-man front," Coach Kyle said. "We seen a four-man front pretty often now. Every week you set a goal to get better. We like that our running attack is strong, our passing attack is strong and we want to keep working on that to make it even better."
Coach Kyle didn't hedge in saying that defensively, his team has many areas to work on. The Cats stand 1-1 after yielding 823 yards in a 63-56 loss at Mentor last weekend.
"We got into a shootout and Mentor is not the type of team you want to get in a shootout with. They have ways of getting into the end zone. Certainly we like scoring points, but the idea is that we need to get some stops and let the offense get in good field position. So there's a lot of work to be done (defensively). We have talent on defense, but some inexperienced things showed up, there is no doubt about that."
Coach Kyle emphasized that the Mentor film is now a "good teaching tool."
CATS STATS: Saint Ignatius enters Friday's game averaging 243.5 yards rushing and 6.5 yards per rush. The Cats have 10 rushing touchdowns. Through the air, Saint Ignatius is averaging 254 yards.
And as we told you over the weekend, standout senior quarterback Dennis Grosel set a new school record with his 415 yards passing versus Mentor and tied the school record for touchdown passes in game with six against the Cardinals. Bryan Panteck '01 threw six TD passes versus Toledo St. John's Jesuit in 2000 at legendary Lakewood Stadium.
As for touchdowns at this young point of the season, senior wide receiver/defensive back Jack Cook and junior tailback Jimmy Andrews each have three, and Cal Grbac, Elijah Wahib and Ian Forkapa each have two.
SIBN!: As always, the thrill-some threesome of Carter Spearry '16 (play-by-play), Brendan DeVenney '17 (color commentary) and Matt MacKenzie (twitter, stats and updates) will bring you Friday night's game live from Ridge Road and Day Drive.



Wildcats JV Football responds to an early 7-0 deficit and goes on to a 35-25 victory over Mentor's Jayvees in a Saturday headliner on Wasmer Field

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit September 2015

Ohio City - Coach Paul Yappel's Junior Varsity Cats, who now stand 2-0 on the season, found themselves trailing the Mentor Cardinals, 7-0, as Mentor struck first on a 21-yard touchdown run by sophomore quarterback Mike Zeuli.

The Cardinals' lead was short-lived, however, as the JV Wildcats were determined to prevent Mentor from going home with what would have been a sweep over Saint Ignatius' Football Program in a matter of three days.

The Freshmen Cats lost a tough 21-20 game at Mentor on Thursday evening that the corner reported on and Friday night the Wildcats' Varsity was defeated by the Cardinals in a wild offensive shootout in Jerome T. Osborne Sr. Stadium, 63-56 (see the corner's Varsity story that was posted last night).

Following Zeuli's early trip to the end zone, the JV Cats got a  strong kickoff return from sophomore wide receiver Michael Drobnick that helped set up an impressive 55-yard touchdown run by gifted and hard-nosed sophomore tailback Mark Bobinski. Sophomore kicker Matthew Trickett added the extra point and the score was knotted at 7 with 5 minutes and 55 seconds remaining in the first quarter.

It was at that point Saint Ignatius' defense began to leave its mark or marks on the game.

In what was a solid read and reaction, Wildcats sophomore linebacker Andrew Keirn made a leaping interception and returned the ball 21 yards for a touchdown. Trickett was high and true on the PAT and the Cats led, 14-7, with 5:08 left in the opening quarter.

It stayed that way entering the second half, as the Cats' defense continued to have the answers.

Sophomore safety Justin Sands, a young man this corner introduced you to in the JV game story versus Central Caholic last week, put his stamp on the second-half action with a fumble recovery at the Saint Ignatius 14-yard line and an interception in the end zone. Endless potential my friends.

With sophomore quarterback Daniel Alexander doing a solid job directing the Wildcats' balanced attack, that young man named Bobinski struck again with an 18-yard touchdown gallop that featured a big time cutback on the sun drenched Wasmer turf. Trickett was money on another extra point and Saint Ignatius' faithful were now into it at 21-7 with 5:15 to go in the third quarter. Junior Varsity quarters are 10 minutes.

Alexander set up Bobinski's second TD by running 20 yards to the Cardinals' 18-yard line. It was a savvy move by Alexander, who dropped back to pass, saw nothing was available through the air and tucked the ball away for a significant gain.

With the blue and gold mojo as hot as the air in Ohio City, it was Alex Schum's time to put his Cat paw imprint on Mentor's defensive secondary.

First it was a 3-yard touchdown reception by Schum from his tight end position that drew a roar of approval from his teammates and, along with sophomore Drew Alessandro's extra point kick, extended Saint Ignatius' lead to 28-7 with 1:49 remaining in the third quarter.

Sophomore defensive back Cameron Toppin's interception kept it a three-touchdown advantage for the Cats entering the fourth quarter.

From there, it didn't take long for Schum to make his presence felt once again.

Following a diving interception by sophomore defensive back Matthew Viancourt at the Cardinals' 21-yard line, Schum made a leaping touchdown reception in the Lorain Avenue end zone that again drew an ovation from his teammates.

Alessandro, a young man who worked endless hours on his kicking throughout the summer, then extended Saint Ignatius' lead to 35-7 with his second PAT on the afternoon.

The Wildcats, going to their bench over the final eight minutes on a humid, nowhere to hide from the sun day on Wasmer Field, withstood a late surge by the Cardinals that was fueled by two touchdown runs by junior tailback Isaiah Gullick and a TD reception by junior wide receiver Jeremy McClure that came off a pass from junior Ryan Hagan.

Up next for the JV Cats is a Sept. 14 matchup with the Fighting Eagles from Cleveland John F. Kennedy on Wasmer Field. The kickoff is scheduled for 6 PM.

FROM COACH YAPPEL ON SATURDAY'S VICTORY: "I thought we responded well. We came out after halftime and had a great third quarter. The bottom line is the turnover battle. That's the most important thing, winning the turnover battle. And we did. Our defense came up big when we needed it to. I think we have to spend more time on special teams, making sure that we're ready to go. That's what we have to work on between now and a week from Monday."                 



Congrats from the corner go out to Wildcats outstanding senior quarterback/co-captain Dennis Grosel

By Eddie Dwyer 

Ohio City - Dennis' 415 yards passing and six TD passes in Friday night's 63-56 loss at Mentor place him among the Cats' all-time record holders.

Dennis' 415 yards versus the Cardinals surpassed the mark of 389 yards by Nate Szep in 2001 versus Strongsville and his six touchdown strikes tie the all-time single-game mark set by former All-Ohio, All-District and Plain Dealer All-Star quarterback Bryan Panteck in 2000 versus Toledo St. John's Jesuit.

Again, congratulations to Dennis, his family, Wildcats veteran Offensive Coordinator Nick Restifo, Quarterbacks Coach Elvis Grbac, Head Coach Chuck Kyle '69 and the entire Saint Ignatius Football Program.    


An unwavering display of talent and will. Saint Ignatius and Mentor add another memorable chapter to their storied rivalry as the Cardinals prevail, 63-56, in Mentor's Jerome T. Osborne Sr. Stadium on Friday night

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit September 2014

Mentor, Ohio - No, there wasn't nearly as much at stake as there was in November of 2012, when Ohio's Mr. Football, Mentor senior quarterback Mitch Trubisky, led the Cardinals past Saint Ignatius, 57-56, in three overtimes in what was an OHSAA Division I Regional Championship Game at Parma's Byers Field in Robert M. Boulton Stadium.

The Cardinals-Wildcats Week 2 regular season encounter on Friday night in Mentor, however, had all of the drama of that 2012 night in Parma.

Coach Chuck Kyle's Wildcats and Coach Steve Trivisonno's Cardinals entered the "Game of the Week" as the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the area, repectively.

Meeting for the 19th time in what is the premier Catholic School versus Public School football rivalry in Ohio, if not the entire nation, Saint Ignatius (now 1-1) and Mentor (2-0) tested each other's unbreakable will for nearly three hours before the Cardinals, rallying from a 56-49 deficit with 11:55 remaining to be played, celebrated their eighth victory in the series and their sixth in their last nine gridiron meetings with the Wildcats, 63-56.

The young man who appears to be the next exceptional quarterback out on Center Street, 6-foot-4, 205-pound sophomore Tadas Tatarunas, fired a rope to his gifted senior wide receiver/running back Jason Blizzard and Blizzard, catching the ball in stride, raced 52 yards into the end zone. Cal Tommasone's extra-point kick was good and the score was knotted at 56 with 7:09 left.

Behind  the running of standout senior tailback Alex Mathews and a clutch reception by Blizzard, Mentor drove for a first down at the Saint Ignatius 15 as the seconds were ticking off the clock. On a second down and 5 yards to go from the 10, and 15 seconds remaining on the clock, Tatarunas rolled left under pressure, regained his balance and threw a TD pass into the hands of his other exceptional receiver, senior Malik Porter, who broke free across the back of the end zone. After Tommasone's PAT it was 63-56 with eight seconds on the clock. Porter's game-winner was set up by a leaping interception from Cardinals junior defensive back Michael Ballentine with 1:08 left.  

Saint Ignatius would field the ensuing kickoff and immediately take a knee at its 25-yard line. With eight seconds still on the clock, Wildcats outstanding senior quarterback Dennis Grosel, who threw six touchdown passes on the night, lofted a pass down field that fell incomplete deep in Mentor territory as time expired.

The Wildcats, who trailed, 35-13, with 5 minutes and 21 seconds remaining in the first half, cut the deficit to 35-27 by halftime. Trailing, 49-33, with 6:09 left in the third quarter, the Cats came storming back again behind Grosel's arm and the sure hands and routes of seniors Jack Cook and Cal Grbac. Saint Ignatius tied the score at 49 on a picture-perfect 80-yard touchdown pass from Grosel to Grbac and the ensuing two-point conversion pass to senior tight end Robert Hilbig with 2:50 to go in the third quarter.

A 52-yard drive that was orchestrated by Grosel and featured clutch receptions by Cook, Grbac and Hilbig resulted in a smooth and powerful 13-yard touchdown run by talented and tough junior tailback Jimmy Andrews with 11:55 left. Jimmy's second touchdown on the night saw him power his way over the right side, pick up a block from senior wide receiver Colin Kruchan, bounce outside and race into the right corner of the end zone. Sophomore Matthew Trickett kicked the point after touchdown and the Cats held the 56-49 lead.

Andrews rushed for 104 yards on 19 carries. Grosel picked up 72 yards on the ground off 12 carries and had 415 yards passing to go along with his 6 TD passes.

Cook, who also doubled as a defensive back on the humid night in Lake County, hauled in six passes for 70 yards and three touchdown receptions. Grbac caught five of Grosel's throws for 190 yards and two touchdowns, and endless promise and as hard-nosed as they come junior tight end/linebacker James Leyden had five receptions for 92 yards and a touchdown. Leyden helped fuel Saint Ignatius' comeback before suffering from cramps.

As for the impressive numbers put on the board by Mentor, Tatarunas completed 25 of 34 passes for 531 yards and four touchdowns. Tadas was coming off a 303-yard passing night in his varsity debut against Boardman last week.

Mathews, one the premier running backs in Northeast Ohio, hurt the Cats time and again Friday night, just like he did in the Cardinals' victory over Saint Ignatius at Byers Field last season. Powerful and quick with exceptional balance and vision, Mathews finished with 234 yards and three touchdowns on 30 carries, including a 66-yard TD gallop.

Blizzard, who generates speed and sure hands the moment he takes the field, had 13 receptions for 341 yards and two touchdowns. One of those TD receptions was a 75-yard catch and sprint combo.

Including his winning touchdown reception referred to earlier in this report, Porter turned in a night that included 7 receptions for 125 yards and two TDs. Mentor's first touchdown, the first score of the game, came off a 52-yard run by senior running back Frank Toth.

Another note worthy stat were the 93 yards on six kick returns that Saint Ignatius junior defensive back Alex Ringfield contributed.

WHAT WAS LOST ON FRIDAY NIGHT: Saint Ignatius is sure to drop in the area poll, but that is just window dressing compared to the healthy amount of computer points that slipped away.

UP NEXT: Saint Ignatius will face the Valley Forge Patriots on Friday night, Sept 11th on Byers Field in Parma's Robert M. Boulton Stadium. The kickoff for what will be the 1,000th game in Saint Ignatius' Football History will be 7 PM. That same night, Mentor will travel to Cincinnati to face Queen City power St. Xavier.

THE LAST TIME: An opponent scored 60 or more points against a Saint Ignatius football team was in 1922, when Youngstown Rayen came away with a 69-6 victory.

FROM COACH KYLE: Coach Kyle said he and Coach Trivisonno both agreed after the game that their respective teams have a lot of work to do on defense. Mentor totaled 823 yards of offense and the Cats racked up 615 total yards.

"Offensively, they (the Cardinals) are very good," said Coach Kyle, who was disappointed with the number of big plays his Wildcats yielded. "We thought we could handle that, but now we know better. We'll see if we can get back to having a chance to play them again. That's what you hope for come November."

GREAT ATMOSPHERE: A crowd of 8,200 packed Jerome T. Osborne Sr. Stadium under the Friday Night Lights of Mentor. Both bands were outstanding, the respective student bodies were in mid-season form and two young men who don't live that far apart (Grosel resides in Willoughby) engineered an offensive display of football that the Browns should tape.       



A tough call down the stretch enables Mentor to rally to a 21-20 victory over Saint Ignatius in a Freshmen Football headliner at Jerome T. Osborne Sr. Stadium on Thursday evening

By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit September 2015

Mentor, Ohio - Leading, 20-14, Saint Ignatius appeared to end a Mentor threat when defensive back Mitchell Puhalsky intercepted a Cardinals pass in the end zone off a fourth-and-7 from the Wildcats' 26-yard line with 55 seconds remaining to be played. Puhalsky forced the fourth-and-7 by breaking up a pass across the goal line with 1:02 left.

However, just when Saint Ignatius and its faithful were celebrating what appeared to be a 2-0 start to the Freshmen season, one of the officials called holding on the Cats and the Cardinals had new life with a first down at the Wildcats' 16 and 47 seconds on the clock.

Two plays later, Mentor quarterback Charlie Gallo scrambled to his left, tucked the ball away and fought his way into the end zone from 15 yards out with 27 seconds remaining. The extra-point kick was good and the Cardinals led, 21-20.  

On the ensuing kickoff, Mentor did a poor job of squibbing the ball and it was recovered by Saint Ignatius at the Mentor 45 with 24 seconds to go.

After a swing pass to Wildcats promising tailback Jahadge "Bo" Floyd put the ball on the Cardinals' 24, Saint Ignatius threw an incompletion and then elected to try a 41-yard field goal by its talented kicker/punter Patrick Otter with four seconds left.

Following a timeout by Mentor, the Cardinals came storming up the middle off the snap and blocked the field goal attempt. A Saint Ignatius player picked up the ball, but was run out of bounds after time had expired. Mentor also blocked the extra point after the Wildcats took a 20-14 lead on an impressive 48-yard touchdown gallop by Floyd with 3:57 remaining.

"It's like we told the guys, there were some interesting calls on their (the officials) part, but we shouldn't have been in that position," said Saint Ignatius Head Freshmen Coach Rodney Gallaway. "We were the better football team. Right now, I think it's a maturity thing with this group. They have all of the physical size, the attributes. They have the speed and everything they need, but when are they going to mature?

"They have to realize that this is a sport that is going to require a lot of work, desire, effort and heart," Coach Gallaway continued. "All of that stuff goes into playing a good football game. Preparing for the week, they have to understand that every play really does count. We should have won, no bones about it."

The young Wildcats held a 7-0 lead entering the second quarter after quarterback Patrick Delahunty connected with gifted wide receiver Jett Elad on a 49-yrd touchdown pass that featured a perfect throw and catch. Otter followed with the extra point. Elad is the brother of former Saint Ignatius standout fullback Stan Elad, who is currently furthering his education and football career at John Carroll University.

Mentor's freshmen tied the score on a 23-yard TD pass from Gallo to wide receiver Brett Matsko and the ensuing PAT with 5:54 left in the third quarter.

Saint Ignatius went back on top, 14-7, on a leaping touchdown reception by Elad that came off a gutsy throw by Delahunty and another extra point by Otter with 8:48 remaining in the fourth quarter. Freshmen quarters are nine minutes.

The Cardinals, on the strength of a 45-yard touchdown burst up the middle by their quick and hard-nosed tailback Nick Saginaro, would tie the score at 14 with 4:52 to go, setting the stage for the wild finish.

In what was another key sequence, Wildcats defensive back Michael Mangan recovered a fumble at the Mentor 34 and three plays later the Cats gave the ball right back to the Cardinals off a pass interception in the end zone with 2:08 left.

Thursday night's setback was the first for the Cats' Freshmen program since September of 2013, when Saint Ignatius lost a tight one at Warren Harding.

Saint Ignatius and Mentor will now take their rivalry to the Varsity level, as the area's top-ranked Wildcats and second-ranked Cardinals square off in Jerome T. Osborne Sr. Stadium tomorrow under the Friday Night Lights. The kickoff is scheduled for 7 PM.

On Saturday, the Wildcats and the Cardinals will meet on the Junior Varsity level at 11 AM on Wasmer Field.

Have a great and safe Labor Day Weekend. 


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.