Saint Ignatius-Glenville Recap
Posted at 1:30 a.m. on 8/24/08.
Glenville kicker steps up against Wildcats.
By Eddie Dwyer
It was the least likely part of Glenville’s game that decided one of the most memorable season openers in the history of area high school football.
The Tarblooders, who have struggled to find a consistent place-kicker over the past nine seasons, rode the leg of senior Marvel Brooks to a 20-17 victory over Saint Ignatius Saturday night in front of a crowd of nearly 10,000 at Parma’s Byers Field. The Wildcats and the Tarblooders were ranked 1-2, respectively, in The Plain Dealer’s seven-county Top 25 preseason poll.
In what was described by Glenville Coach Ted Ginn Sr. as a moment that required skill and courage, Brooks, a straight-on kicker, sent a 30-yard field goal through the uprights with plenty to spare as time expired. Brooks also kicked a 27-yard field goal in a first half that ended in a 3-3 tie and added two extra points in the second half.
The Tarblooders now own four consecutive victories over Saint Ignatius, including three nail-biters in the OHSAA regional playoffs. Brooks’ game-winner came after the Wildcats were called for pass interference with four seconds remaining.
"Hey, you know, pass interference and they got closer and they hit it,’’ said Saint Ignatius coach Chuck Kyle (’69) of Brooks’ effort. ''Unfortunately, the kickoff return hurt us. They can do those things at any time. It’s hard to imitate the Glenville action on a kickoff return.’’
Kyle, who faced the media with the same character and class he displays in victory, was referring to a 98-yard return for a touchdown by the Tarblooders’ multitalented underclassman Shane Wynn.
Wynn’s burst, which gave Glenville the lead with 4:39 left to be played, came after the Wildcats tied the score, 10-10, on a gritty 7-yard TD run by senior tailback Mike Anter and the ensuing extra point by senior Seamus Hennessey. Senior defensive back Steve Siemborski set up Anter’s score by recovering a fumble at the Glenville 18.
Following Wynn’s kickoff return, Saint Ignatius kept its composure and put together an impressive six-play, 58-yard drive. The march featured the passing of senior quarterback Andrew Holland and clutch receptions by seniors Dan Fox, Joey Parris and Frank DeSico.
Holland and his receivers accounted for 57 of the 58 yards and two plays after a nifty catch and run by Parris, Anter scored his second touchdown on a 1-yard run with just over two minutes remaining.
The Wildcats’ defense also had its moments, as senior nose tackle Ryan Carr and junior linebacker Scott McVey (three sacks) displayed relentless pursuit from the get-go.
"Rhythm-wise on offense it took us too long to get something going right,’’ said Kyle, who will guide his team against a talented Clayton Northmont squad on Friday night in Montgomery County. ''So we have to learn from that. But we’ll be good. We’ll be OK.’’
Saint Ignatius-Canisius recap
Posted on 9/6/08 at 12:07 a.m.
Holland and Parris get offense in rhythm, defense continues to prow in Coach Kyle’s 250th career victory.
By Eddie Dwyer
Buffalo, N.Y. – Displaying the same composure they bring to the field, Saint Ignatius senior quarterback Andrew Holland and senior wideout Joey Parris talked about how important it was to “get into our game.’’
The Wildcats, whose offense sputtered at times in the first two weeks of the season, rode Holland’s arm and legs and the savvy receiving skills of Parris to a 40-0 victory over Canisius High School on Saturday at the Crusaders’ Robert J. Stransky Memorial Athletic Complex. It was Canisius' season opener.
“The past few weeks we weren’t in a rhythm,’’ said Holland, a tough competitor who offers no excuses, including the key injuries to his offensive line. “We weren’t clicking. But having a game like this really gives us a lot of confidence heading into the meat of the schedule.’’
A meaty portion of that schedule takes place on Saturday night, when Saint Ignatius (2-1) plays host to the deep and talented Mentor Cardinals (2-1). The kickoff at Parma’s Byers Field is slated for 7 p.m. Mentor, the Division I state runner-up in 2006 and ’07, defeated the Wildcats, 38-17, last season.
“It felt good just to come out and be in sync, get a couple of completions, get some yards and keep our defense off the field,’’ said Parris, whose brother, Robby (’06), was an all-state wide receiver for Saint Ignatius and now plays for the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. “The last couple of games the defense has been on the field too long. It’s good to get a little momentum going into the Mentor game.’’
Holland got it going to the tune of 14 completions in 17 attempts for 276 yards and four touchdowns. Three of those TD strikes went to Parris, including a 45-yard effort that saw Parris leap and catch the ball at the 16 with a defender on his heels. He kept his balance, eluded a would-be-tackler across the 15 and outran the pursuit. Parris finished with seven receptions for 143 yards.
Also getting into the air attack were senior wide receiver Connor Ryan and senior all-purpose back Frank DeSico. Ryan made a highlight-reel catch along the sideline, stretching for the ball and dragging one foot in bounds as he was falling out of bounds. DeSico broke wide open down the middle and Holland hit him in stride for a 56-yard scoring strike that gave the Wildcats a 33-0 lead in the third quarter.
“We knew the passing game should step up, and it did,’’ said Saint Ignatius head coach Chuck Kyle (’69), who secured his 250th career victory. “It seemed like Joey was the guy finding the seams today. Sometimes it’s Connor (Ryan) and sometimes it will be Carozzoni (junior tight end Brendan Carozzoni). I don’t think we ever go into a game saying, ‘Oh, this will be a big day for this receiver.’ We don’t know how they’re going to do it.
“I thought the kids communicated very well today, really well. Connor told us about that long, beautiful catch that he made. He told us he had that route. And Frankie DeSico, when we threw it long (DeSico’s 56-yard TD), he was the one who yelled over, ‘Hey, this pattern is open. Either I’m going to be open or the tight end.’ OK, I believe you. Bang, we hit it for a big touchdown.’’
The Wildcats’ defense, which has been solid through the first three games, didn’t disappointment the Saint Ignatius faithful that made the three-hour trip to Buffalo.
First it was senior nose tackle Ryan Carr and senior safety/linebacker Dan Fox leading the charge on the game’s first possession, as the Wildcats turned the Crusaders away for no gain on fourth-and-goal from the 3.
Junior linebacker Scott McVey, who again was all over the field, blitzed and hit Canisius quarterback Sean Brady just as he was releasing the ball. Senior safety Pat Hinkel stepped in front of the intended receiver, intercepted the ball and went 40 yards for a touchdown that gave Saint Ignatius a 12-0 lead early in the second quarter. It marked the second time in as many weeks that Hinkel scored a defensive touchdown.
There were other defensive highlights, including two sacks by senior lineman Ted Kraft.
“They just play their game,'' Holland said of the Wildcats’ defenders. “They don't worry about what other people say. They go hard on every play, trying to put our offense in good situations.’’
Mentor-Saint Ignatius recap
Posted on 9-14-08 at 2:40 a.m.
Wildcats defense steps up again; Anter gallops to game-clincher.
By Eddie Dwyer
If Saint Ignatius’ faithful don’t realize it by now, this corner will make it as clear as possible – the Wildcats’ defense has established itself as one of the strongest the seven-county area has to offer.
Not bad for a unit that returned just four starters from 2007.
As they did throughout the first three games of the season, Coach Chuck Kyle’s defenders stepped up Saturday night and helped preserve a hard-fought, 28-14 victory over a talented and versatile Mentor team at Parma’s Byers Field.
The Wildcats, forced to make several key stops down the stretch, improved to 3-1. Coach Steve Trivisonno’s Cardinals, who defeated Saint Ignatius, 38-17, in Mentor last season, slipped to 2-2. The Cardinals’ other setback this season came at the hands of the Strongsville Mustangs, 30-27.
“The defense, it’s great, everyone (on our defense) can make a play,’’ said junior end Gerry Ramella, who came up with two big sacks, including one on a third-and-6 from the Mentor 34 that forced the Cardinals to punt in the final 2:20. “Coach (Dan) Corrigan is a great coordinator and along with ‘Mass’ (assistant coach Bryan Massinen) and Coach (Ryan) Franzinger, those three really make a good plan.’’
Helping establish that game plan was the relentless pursuit of junior linebacker Scott McVey, who again made his presence felt from the opening kickoff until the final second ticked off the clock.
The Saint Ignatius offense also had its moments after Mentor took advantage of a special-teams miscue and led, 7-0, in the early going.
Highlighting a 21-point second quarter for the Wildcats were a 2-yard touchdown run by senior safety/tailback Pat Hinkel and TD receptions of 5 and 29 yards by senior wideout and recent Ball State recruit Connor Ryan. Senior all-purpose back Frank DeSico helped set up Hinkel’s TD by making a leaping 40-yard reception at the Cardinals’ 20.
On a sour note, senior quarterback and co-captain Andrew Holland had to leave the game late in the third quarter after injuring his left (non-throwing) shoulder. Coach Kyle said he doesn’t think the injury is of a serious nature. Before going to the bench, Holland completed 13 of 21 passes for 214 yards. He was replaced by his capable backup – junior Mark Myers.
Mentor, the big-school state runner-up in 2006 and ’07, got its running game in gear in the second half and closed to 21-14 on a tough, second-effort 19-yard touchdown run by senior slotback Tom Worden and the ensuing extra point by sophomore Greg Klisuric. The Cardinals also had to go without their starting signal-caller down the stretch, as senior Anthony Fracci was dazed after a hard hit. Trivisonno had nothing but praise for the effort turned in by reserve quarterback Sam Mayse.
Saint Ignatius, which will face Buffalo St. Francis on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Byers Field, put the finishing touch on the triumph over Mentor with a picture-perfect, 61-yard touchdown run by senior tailback Mike Anter. Anter swept the right side, cut off key blocks by junior tight end Brendan Carozzoni and junior lineman Stewart Ross, and outran the pursuit with 1:45 remaining to be played.
“We were just trying to get a first down and get the clock going,’’ said Coach Kyle, who is now 216-15 when the Wildcats score 20 or more points. “Mike was stretching it (to the outside) a lot all night and he saw that they were over-pursuing him. He just made that cut and was in the secondary in a heart beat.’’
NICE TOUCH: Before Saturday night's kickoff, Saint Ignatius' first state championship football team, the magical squad of 1988, was honored. Yes, December will mark 20 years since the Wildcats defeated Cincinnati Princeton, 10-7, in the big-school state championship game at Ohio Stadium in Columbus.
As part of the festivities, the scoreboard at Byers Field showed video highlights from the game, including the Joe Pickens-to-Mike Buddie touchdown strike and the outstanding goal-line stand that was highlighted by the surge of defensive tackle Chris Campbell and the pursuit of linebacker Kareem Ingram. Several players from the '88 team, who "came home'' for the weekend, received a standing ovation as they walked on to Byers Field.
Saint Ignatius-Massillon recap
Posted on 9/27/08 at 3:45 a.m.
A near flawless performance; Wildcats overwhelm Tigers.
By Eddie Dwyer
Massillon – Just minutes before the kickoff on Friday night, Paul Brown Tiger Stadium was electric.
The Tiger Swing Band was rocking, fireworks were going off and the famous mascot – Obie, the live tiger cub – was trying to stir up a few growls from a cage on wheels along the Massillon sideline.
Yes, the sea of orange and black was ready for a good time.
Twelve minutes later, however, the party was O-V-E-R!
Saint Ignatius, dominating both lines of scrimmage from the get-go, scored five first-quarter touchdowns and went on to stun the Tigers, 49-7.
The Wildcats (5-1), who got outstanding efforts from senior quarterback Andrew Holland and his sure-handed classmates, Connor Ryan and Joey Parris, have now defeated Massillon 11 times in their 12 matchups. Saint Ignatius is 5-0 versus the Tigers in Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.
“It started up front with the line, they did a great job protecting,’’ said Holland, who, while playing just the first half, completed 10 of 11 passes for 262 yards and three touchdowns. “I was getting a lot of time, I was able to hit receivers and they were able to get open. It was a good night.’’
Several Massillon fans were saying goodnight early, heading for the exits with time still remaining in the second quarter.
The Wildcats, who entered the game ranked second in The Plain Dealer Top 25, second in the Division I, Region 1 computer ratings and 11th in the Associated Press big-school state poll, got their fireworks started with a three-play, 70-yard drive.
A 38-yard pass from Holland to Ryan on the first play from scrimmage put the ball on the Massillon 32. Two plays later, Holland hit Ryan in stride for a 30-yard touchdown pass. Senior Seamus Hennessey followed with the first of his seven extra-point kicks.
It was a family affair in the early going, as junior linebacker Jacob Ryan, Connor’s brother, intercepted a pass at the Tigers’ 35 and rambled into the end zone for a touchdown with 10:19 remaining in the first quarter. Jacob Ryan’s effort drew a big smile from his older brother.
The 12-minute nightmare continued for Massillon (3-3), even though the Tigers were able to pin Saint Ignatius inside its 10 with a punt.
Behind the elusive and strong second-effort running of junior tailback Kevin Johnson and Holland’s powerful arm, the Wildcats covered the 90-plus yards in just six plays. On second-and-10 from the Saint Ignatius 32, it was another picture-perfect strike from Holland to Connor Ryan for a 68-yard score. Ryan, a Ball State recruit who totaled 136 yards on his three first-half receptions, emphasized what a great job the coaches did all week designing the plays. He added that he and his teammates had one goal – “to play Saint Ignatius football.’’
Late in the first quarter, the Wildcats, with Parris stepping to the forefront, put together a six-play, 76-yard march. A 52-yard pass from Holland to Parris gave Saint Ignatius a first down at the Tigers’ 18. Three downs later, Parris, with a defender bearing down on him, kept his concentration and hauled in a 25-yard TD pass from Holland in the right corner of the end zone. Parris' first-half numbers read five receptions for 101 yards.
Wildcats standout senior safety Dan Fox said he and his defensive teammates wanted to make a strong stand early against the Tigers.
Well, Fox, a Notre Dame recruit, put a stamp on that early charge by closing perfectly on a pass across the middle, intercepting the ball and returning it 36 yards for Saint Ignatius’ fifth first-quarter touchdown.
Fox and Co. limited the Tigers to just 22 total offensive yards in the first half on 23 plays. In the process, they shut down Massillon’s talented senior tailback/defensive back J.T. Turner. A Michigan recruit who had rushed for more than 600 yards in the Tigers’ first five games, Turner managed just 18 yards on eight carries in the first 24 minutes. He did, however, account for Massillon’s only score on an interception return in the second half.
The Wildcats, who face a strong and talented Warren G. Harding team on Saturday at 7 p.m. at Byers Field, closed their first-half barrage with second-quarter TD runs of 1 yard by Holland and 47 yards by Johnson. Johnson rushed for 111 yards on 13 carries, as Saint Ignatius amassed 373 total offensive yards in the first half on just 29 plays.
Wildcats coach Chuck Kyle (’69), who will enjoy the victory for about a day before focusing on the Harding Raiders, was especially pleased with Holland’s maneuverability in the pocket.
“The idea is being able to step up and throw,’’ said Kyle. “A lot of people talk about that, but a lot of kids step up and run. Well, you step up and still focus on what the coverage is doing. And I thought Andrew did that superbly tonight.
“While they were rushing, he would find that little seam. He would see what was going on down there and boom!’’
Boom indeed. There is nothing like turning plays into your own style of fireworks.
BY THE NUMBERS: In case you were wondering over your morning coffee, Saint Ignatius also scored 49 points against Massillon in a state-semifinal matchup at the Akron Rubber Bowl in 2001. The final score was 49-20. In 1912, the Tigers were defeated by Barberton, 59-0. In 1921, they lost to Dayton Steele, 68-0, and in 1931 they were defeated by Steubenville Wells, 68-0. Last season, the Mentor Cardinals, led by 2007 Ohio Mr. Football Bart Tanski, scored 56 points in outlasting the Tigers, 56-52, at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.
Warren Harding-Saint Ignatius recap
Posted on 10/05/08 at 12:40 a.m.
‘Cats continue to roll sevens; no dice for Harding after first series.
By Eddie Dwyer
As he leaned against the wall outside the Saint Ignatius locker room, senior tailback Mike Anter didn’t waste a second in going directly to the sources of the Wildcats’ recent offensive surge.
"It all started up front with the line, they’ve been blocking great,’’ Anter said after his three touchdowns helped lead Saint Ignatius to a 49-7 victory over Warren G. Harding on Saturday night at Byers Field. "Then it’s the receivers, Joe (Parris), Connor (Ryan) and Frank (DeSico), out there blocking and springing holes for me and K.J. (junior tailback Kevin Johnson).
"And Andrew, I mean he’s been on fire. Yeah, it’s been fun not punting.’’
Andrew is Wildcats standout senior quarterback Andrew Holland. All Holland did was direct the Wildcats to six touchdowns on six consecutive possessions before turning the signal-calling duties over to junior Mark Myers with more than four minutes remaining in the third quarter. Myers made it seven for seven, as he scored on a 20-yard run with 2:44 to go in the third quarter. A 38-yard, over-the-shoulder reception by senior wideout Jason Mersek set up Myers’ score.
Saint Ignatius, which has now scored 49 points in each of its last three games, improved to 6-1. Harding, one of the Steel Valley’s best, lost for the third time in seven games.
The Raiders, who have been dominated by the Wildcats twice after upsetting Coach Chuck Kyle’s team in 2006, came out strong and took a 7-0 lead on the game’s first series.
A 30-yard run by junior wideout D.J. Williamson off a reverse put the ball on the Saint Ignatius 12. Three plays later, junior running back Mike Dorsey powered his way up the middle for an 8-yard touchdown. Harding drove 80 yards in eight plays in what turned out to be its only highlight of the evening.
Responding in a manner one associates with a perennial Northeast Ohio Division I power, the Wildcats totaled 407 yards of offense in their first seven possessions. Along the way, Coach Kyle’s reliable defense adjusted and limited the Raiders to just 32 yards and one first down in their next seven possessions. That first down was the result of a penalty.
Saint Ignatius’ first scoring drive was an eight-play, 61-yard effort and was highlighted by a roll-out touchdown pass from Holland to Anter, who made a leaping catch in the right corner of the end zone. Anter’s effort came on a fourth-and-goal from the 3.
Holland, who completed his first eight passes, hooked up with Ryan on a deep-post, 31-yard touchdown strike. It came off a six-play, 84-yard march. A 51-yard punt return by DeSico showed the way for Anter’s second TD – a 2-yard run – and the Wildcats held a 28-7 lead at halftime after Anter powered his way over the left side for a 1-yard score.
"I don’t know if I needed to jump,’’ smiled Anter as he talked about his touchdown reception in the first quarter. "But, you gotta do what you gotta do. It felt good to get back out there after being banged up the last game (a 49-7 victory at Massillon). It’s no fun sitting on the bench. It was definitely fun tonight, getting back out there and making plays.’’
Saint Ignatius continued to make plays after halftime as the Wildcats matched their second quarter with a 21-point third quarter. A 22-yard run by Anter helped set up a 1-yard keeper by Holland, Holland combined with Parris on a touchdown pass off a crossing pattern and the 20-yard gallop by Myers, followed by an extra-point kick by junior Jesse Franklin, closed out the scoring.
Holland was 16-of-18 for 192 yards, Anter rushed for 72 yards on 15 carries and Johnson totaled 46 yards on eight carries. Parris hauled in six passes for 37 yards and Ryan totaled 78 yards on three receptions. On the season, Holland has passed for 1,415 yards and 15 touchdowns.
"You still have to give it up to them,’’ said Anter, referring to the effort put forth by the Saint Ignatius defense after Harding’s opening drive. "That one touchdown, I mean that’s going to happen. It was nice the way our offense scored right off the bat to get their (the defensive players) confidence back.’’
Cincinnati Saint Xavier-Saint Ignatius recap
Posted on 10/19/08 at 2:40 a.m.
Defense wills a win; Connor Ryan’s reception, Pat Hinkel's TD highlight clinching OT drive as the ‘Cats book their 21st consecutive trip to the postseason.
By Eddie Dwyer
Cincinnati – Dan Fox, Saint Ignatius’ gifted senior safety, talked about the desire he and his teammates called on in the crucial moments late Saturday afternoon.
''Just before overtime, Coach (Chuck) Kyle was saying, ‘we won’t be denied,’’’ Fox said. ''I think the defense took that to heart. It was third-and-goal from the 1-yard line, and, I don’t know, we just put it together, stopped them and made them go for a field goal.’’
Fox and Co. weren’t denied as a gutsy overtime stand by the Wildcats helped show the way to a 19-16 victory over defending Division I state champion Saint Xavier in a nonleague football headliner in the Queen City.
The Bombers, who were seeking what would have been a seventh consecutive victory over Saint Ignatius, moved from the Wildcats’ 20 to a first-and-goal at the 6 on the first overtime possession. Under the OHSAA overtime rules, each team is awarded a possession starting at the opponent’s 20-yard line. If the score is still tied after each possession, the teams go on to a second OT and so forth.
On first-and-goal from the 6, Saint Xavier’s tough and durable senior running back Nevin Heard fought off tacklers for a 4-yard gain to the 2. The 5-9, 180-pound Heard finished with a game-high 149 yards rushing on 33 carries.
After a 1-yard gain by senior fullback/linebacker Pete Lees put the ball on the 1, Bombers coach Steve Specht called on Heard one more time.
However, the Wildcats’ defense, spurred on by the strength of senior nose tackle Ryan Carr and the penetration of senior middle linebacker Kolin Sullivan and junior outside backer Scott McVey, dropped Heard for a 1-yard loss and Saint Xavier settled for a 19-yard field goal by senior Danny Freudiger and a 16-13 lead.
''We had asked them (the defense) again and again to get down there and make the plays,’’ said Coach Kyle (’69), after his team locked up its state-best 21st consecutive playoff appearance in Division I, Region 1. ''Offensively, it wasn’t our best. A couple of times the ball was just tipped away. We had a couple of times when it was just by a fingertip. And they did some good things with their coverage. They disguised it very well.’’
Not even the best disguise could deny Saint Ignatius on its overtime possession.
Faced with a second-and-10 from the 20, Wildcats senior quarterback Andrew Holland fired a perfect strike on a rope to senior wideout Connor Ryan for an 18-yard gain and a first-and-goal at the 2. On the next play, standout senior safety and part-time running back Pat Hinkel powered his way over the left side and into the end zone for the game-winning touchdown.
Hinkel singled out his offensive line and the “escort block’’ by McVey, who lined up in the backfield, and Ryan described the 18-yard laser from Holland that set up Hinkel’s TD as possibly the best pass he and Holland have ever combined on in their four years at Saint Ignatius.
''It was a crisscross route, where I cross in front of Frank (senior flanker Frank DeSico),’’ said Ryan, who had six receptions for 76 yards, including an 18-yard touchdown that helped the Wildcats to a 10-7 lead with 6:02 remaining in the first half. ''We knew Andrew would put it right on the money. That was the fastest thing he has ever slung to me. He threw it right into me. I knew I had to catch it, to hang on to it, because I knew they would try to rip it out right away.’’
Saint Xavier (4-5), which is in danger of not qualifying for the playoffs for the first time since 2003, outgained Saint Ignatius, 264 to 153. The Bombers took the opening kickoff and marched 71 yards in 11 plays, scoring on a 13-yard run by Heard. They converted a turnover into a 1-yard run by Lees that knotted the score at 13-13 with 3:28 left in the third quarter.
The Wildcats (8-1), who have won eight consecutive games, got field goals of 42 and 27 yards from senior Seamus Hennessey. The defense, which was sparked by two first-half interceptions by Fox and a sure-handed, deflected pick by Hinkel in the fourth quarter, also got solid performances from senior cornerback Tommy Hunt, senior linebacker Seamus Siefring and senior safety Sean Fisher. Saint Ignatius limited Bombers senior quarterback Joe O’Toole to 11 completions in 28 attempts for 89 yards. Fox’s first interception set up the Holland-to-Ryan TD strike in the second quarter.
“We have to get right back to work,’’ Fox said, referring to Saturday night’s annual showdown with longtime rival Saint Edward (6-3). The kickoff at Parma’s Byers Field will be 7 p.m. “We’re thinking about nothing else.’’
OVERTIME MEMORIES, GOOD AND BAD: Fox, who is bound for Notre Dame on a football scholarship, and Hinkel, a Miami (Ohio) recruit, said last season’s triple overtime loss to Saint Xavier at Byers Field played a huge motivational role on Saturday. ''That, and the opportunity to bring back a victory for Northeast Ohio football,’’ said Fox.
Hinkel also pointed out that Saturday’s triumph marked the second time his class ('09) won an overtime game at Saint X, the first one coming on the junior-varsity level in 2006.
R-E-S-P-E-C-T: “The kids we competed against today, the seniors, they’re unbelievable, unbelievable athletes,’’ said Ryan of the high regard he has for the Bombers.
STREAK ENDER: Saint Ignatius became the first team since Cincinnati Elder in 2003 to defeat the Bombers on their home field. Saint X had won 26 consecutive games in its friendly confines.
Saint Edward-Saint Ignatius recap
Posted on 10/26/08 at 1:04 a.m.
Timely defense, big plays and strong ground game show the way in Wildcats vs. Eagles, Round 1; Saint Ignatius and Saint Edward will square off for the second time in seven days in a regional-quarterfinal matchup.
By Eddie Dwyer
From Saint Ignatius head football coach Chuck Kyle (’69) to the last player on the Wildcats’ roster, the sentiment was the same late Saturday night – enjoy this one for a few hours, stay focused and then it’s right back to work.
The Wildcats, with their defense playing another sound game and senior tailback Mike Anter and senior quarterback Andrew Holland keying a fourth-quarter flurry on the ground, turned back a talented Saint Edward team, 34-12, in a regular-season finale. The game attracted a standing-room crowd of nearly 11,500 to Parma’s Byers Field.
It was the 44th meeting between the staunch West Side rivals, with Saint Ignatius now leading the series, 23-20-1. Fans, coaches and players won’t have to wait long for the 45th encounter.
By virtue of the Wildcats’ victory, Coach Kyle’s team finished 9-1 and earned the top seed for the Division I, Region 1 quarterfinal playoffs, which begin this Saturday night. Saint Ignatius will turn right around and face Saint Edward (6-4), the eighth seed, at 7 p.m. at Byers Field. It marks the first time the Wildcats and the Eagles are meeting in the postseason.
Under the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s playoff format, the top four teams in each of the state’s 24 regions are awarded a home game in the quarterfinals. It is a format that pits No. 1 against No. 8; No. 2 versus No. 7; No. 3 vs. No. 6 and No. 4 vs. No. 5. Strongsville, Mentor and Glenville are the two, three and four seeds, respectively, in Region 1.
''In a few minutes, this game will be forgotten,’’ said Kyle after his Wildcats extended their winning streak to nine games. ''You wait 365 days to play games like this, and now we prepare all over again.
''It doesn’t matter if you’re seeded first, seventh or eighth, the playoffs are truly a new season. Heck, when we won our last state championship (2001) we were seeded seventh. What is the benefit of being seeded No. 1? You tell me. It certainly isn’t a bargain to be playing Saint Edward, not at all.’’
As for the Wildcats versus the Eagles, Round 1, Saint Ignatius took a 6-0 lead on a 1-yard touchdown run by senior safety/tailback Pat Hinkel. Hinkel’s score was set up by a 41-yard punt return by senior all-purpose back Frank DeSico to the Saint Edward 12 and an 11-yard run by Anter.
Saint Edward hurt itself in the early going as the Eagles were called for running into Wildcats punter Mark Myers after forcing Saint Ignatius to punt from deep in its territory.
The penalty gave the Wildcats a first down at their 30 and, on the very next play, Holland and standout senior wideout Joey Parris combined on a 70-yard touchdown strike with 2 minutes, 12 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
Trailing, 13-0, the Eagles were threatening after gifted junior defensive back/wideout Latwan Anderson returned the ensuing kickoff 64 yards to the Saint Ignatius 31. Three plays later, however, Hinkel read a deep route and came up with an interception along the left sideline at the Wildcats’ 11.
Saint Ignatius’ defense continued to be at the right place at the right time, as junior linebacker Scott McVey scooped up a Saint Edward fumble and, with an escort of blockers, went 58 yards for a touchdown. Following the ensuing extra-point kick by senior Seamus Hennessey, the Wildcats led, 20-0, with 9:12 to go in the first half.
The game featured solid performances by two of the premier linebackers in Northeast Ohio – McVey and Eagles senior middle backer Brian Boland.
Saint Edward, under the direction of second-year head coach Scott Niedzwiecki, caught a break late in the first half when an Eagles punt hit a member of Saint Ignatius’ return team after bouncing off the turf. Saint Edward recovered the ball at the Wildcats’ 22 and, on fourth-and-7 from the 8-yard line, Eagles junior quarterback Alex Lavisky rolled right and found senior wideout Max Warren open in the corner of the end zone with 32 seconds left in the half.
After a third quarter in which both defenses dominated, Saint Ignatius turned to Holland and Anter to get the ground game in gear and, at the same time, eat up the clock.
Holland led a six-play, 58-yard drive that was capped by his 19-yard sprint around the right side with 10:25 remaining in the fourth quarter. He set up his touchdown with runs of 16 yards on a third-and-9 from the Wildcats’ 43 and 17 yards on a first-and-10 from the Saint Edward 41.
Anter, who led all rushers with 111 yards on 16 carries, helped put the game away with a 48-yard run that led to a 15-yard TD pass from Holland to Parris off a fade route. In the second half, Anter gained 73 yards on just seven carries.
''It was an easy play for me,’’ Parris said of the fade route. ''Because Andrew put it right there.’’
Anderson closed out the scoring by running through would-be tackles and going 78 yards off an end-around for the Eagles' second touchdown.
Hinkel, who also made a key tackle off a fake punt, echoed Parris’ feelings when he said the Wildcats will have no difficulty putting this victory on file and focusing on another tremendous challenge from an excellent Saint Edward team. Parris added that he wouldn’t be surprised if the Eagles change up their defense and disguise some of their coverage.
Saint Ignatius is making a state-best 21st consecutive playoff appearance and Saint Edward is in the playoffs for the 15th time overall and the eighth time since 2000.
Saint Edward vs. Saint Ignatius playoff preview
Posted on 10/28/08 at 9:56 p.m.
Here we go again!
Wildcats and Eagles take their football rivalry to new heights.
By Eddie Dwyer
As a cold and cutting wind was swirling through Tuesday's blue-gray sky and forcing its way in the direction of the Lorain Avenue end zone, Saint Ignatius coach Chuck Kyle was putting his Wildcats through a serious ''work day’’ at Wasmer Field.
It is that time of year Coach Kyle, his staff and the majority of the Wildcats are accustomed to, a time every high school football program in Ohio strives to be part of.
Yes, it is the playoffs, when the top eight teams in each of the state’s 24 regions are awarded a spot in the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s regional quarterfinals.
Although the nine-time state champion Wildcats are making an Ohio-record 21st consecutive appearance in the Division I postseason, the start of these playoffs has, as Kyle emphasized, a whole new feeling to it.
It is a feeling Kyle described as unique and, even a little awkward.
For the first time in its rich football history, Saint Ignatius is facing the same team in back-to-back weeks. And that opponent is none other than the Wildcats’ longtime West Side rival – the Saint Edward Eagles.
Just last weekend, Oct. 25th to be exact, Saint Ignatius defeated Saint Edward, 34-12, in a regular-season finale at Parma’s Byers Field. On Saturday, the Wildcats and the Eagles return to Byers Field for a Division I, Region 1 quarterfinal matchup at 7 p.m.
Like Saint Ignatius, this is the first time Saint Edward is meeting the same football opponent in consecutive weeks. The Eagles are making their 15th playoff appearance and their eighth since 2000.
Although their previous 44 meetings are well-documented, the 45thencounter between the Wildcats (9-1) and the Eagles (6-4) will mark the first time these storied football programs are squaring off in the postseason.
The Wildcats and the Eagles have a playoff history in other sports, such as basketball, baseball, soccer, golf and ice hockey. In 1998, Saint Edward defeated Saint Ignatius in the Division I state-championship basketball game. Just this past spring, the Eagles and the Wildcats met for the big-school state title in baseball, with Saint Edward prevailing, and for the second consecutive season the Wildcats have eliminated the Eagles in the district finals in Division I soccer.
Saturday night, however, is something quite different.
The passion and player familiarity that surround a Saint Edward vs. Saint Ignatius football game have earned these schools the recognition of being one of the top-10 high school rivalries in the nation.
Just how passionate is it? Well, following last week’s game Eagles head football coach Scott Niedzwiecki, in addressing his team and the media, said: ''It’s us versus them. There is nothing more important than us versus them, regardless of the situation.’’
Coach Kyle, whose team leads the series commonly referred to as ''The Holy War,’’ 23-20-1, said he expects to face a very emotional Saint Edward team on Saturday night, one that will go for broke or sell the ship, if you will. It is up to his players, who are trying to capture the program’s first playoff victory since 2004, to match or better that intensity.
Kyle added that he doesn’t see either team making wholesale changes within a week, but does look for some tinkering on both sides of the ball.
The winner of the Saint Ignatius-Saint Edward game moves on to the regional semifinals on Nov. 8 and will face the winner of the Glenville (10-0) vs. Brecksville-Broadview Heights (7-3) quarterfinal. The OHSAA will announce the sites for regional-semifinal play on Sunday.
BY THE NUMBERS: Saturday’s game will mark the 17th time that Saint Ignatius has played the same opponent twice in the same season. Most recently was in 2001, when the Wildcats defeated Massillon in Week 4 and were defeated by Cincinnati Saint Xavier in Week 9. Saint Ignatius wore down Massillon again in a state-semifinal matchup in ’01 and got sweet revenge by dominating Saint Xavier in the 2001 Division I state championship game.
For Saint Edward, it will be the sixth time the Eagles have played an opponent twice in the same season. Again, we emphasize same season, not back-to-back games.
Saint Ignatius will be looking to snap a four-game losing streak in the postseason. After winning regional quarterfinal and semifinal games in 2004, the Wildcats lost to Glenville in the regional finals. The past three seasons, Saint Ignatius was eliminated in the first round, losing to Solon in ’05 and to Glenville in ’06 and ’07.
The last time the Wildcats lost four consecutive post-season games was 50 years ago. From 1955 to 1958, long before the OHSAA playoff format, Saint Ignatius lost four straight Charity Games. The Wildcats were defeated by Benedictine in ’55, ’56 and ’57 and by Cathedral Latin School in ’58.
Speaking of the number 50, Coach Kyle has guided his Wildcats to a 50-11 record in OHSAA playoff games.
And finally, since the OHSAA expanded from four teams qualifying per region to eight in 1999, Saint Edward is 6-1 in regional-quarterfinal play and Saint Ignatius is 5-4.
Saint Ignatius vs. Saint Edward regional-quarterfinal recap
Posted on 11/02/08 at 1:30 a.m.
The ''FOOLS'' help show the way; ‘Cats’ balanced offense and rock-solid defense too much for the Eagles.
Saint Ignatius to face undefeated Glenville in a 7:30 p.m. regional semifinal (note time change).
By Eddie Dwyer
Saint Ignatius senior guard Jarrod Kedzior, a young man who epitomizes the spirit and strength of the Wildcats’ offensive line, revealed that he and his fellow linemen made ''FOOLS'' T-shirts this past week.
''FOOLS, as in 'Fraternal Order of Offensive Linemen,' '' said Kedzior, moments after he and the rest of the boys up front helped the Wildcats dominate Saint Edward, 37-0, Saturday night in a Division I, Region 1 quarterfinal playoff game at Byers Field. ''They are gray shirts with Saint Ignatius on the front and FOOLS running down the middle. We had all of our names put on the back of them signifying what we are – one unit.’’
From the early going to the end, and every big play in between, the Wildcats were nobody’s fool on Saturday night as they controlled and frustrated the Eagles for the second consecutive week. Simply put, Saint Ignatius (10-1) was fool proof to almost anything Saint Edward (6-5) had to offer on Saturday night.
It was just last week, Oct. 25th to be exact, that the Wildcats closed their regular season with a 34-12 victory over the Eagles at Byers Field. Saturday night marked the first time in its rich football history that Saint Ignatius was playing the same opponent in back-to-back weeks, and the first time it was meeting its West Side rival in the postseason.
''It was very tough,’’ said Kedzior of playing your rival twice within seven days. ''Number 99, ( 285-pound David Browne) on St. Eds is very good and I knew that I would be going after him most of the game. I knew I had to give it my all, especially when I pulled, something we put in this week. And I knew I had to give Mikey room to run.’’
Mikey is Wildcats senior tailback Mike Anter. Anter turned the space provided by Kedzior and Co. into two touchdowns and several other clutch runs.
When Anter wasn’t hitting the holes, senior quarterback Andrew Holland was poised in the pocket, as he found his gifted senior wideout tandem of Connor Ryan and Joey Parris. Holland passed for 233 yards and hooked up with Ryan on touchdown strikes of 28 and 17 yards.
The 28-yard toss to Ryan, which was the game’s first score, came off a third-and-17 and saw the savvy Ryan turn, catch the ball and, in one motion, dive over the pylon. The 17-yard TD to Ryan came off a third-and five and pushed Saint Ignatius’ lead to 23-0 with just under eight minutes remaining in the third quarter. Ryan and Parris each totaled more than 100 yards receiving.
Holland, who has surpassed 2,000 yards passing this season, also helped set up a 41-yard field goal by senior Seamus Hennessey by scrambling 14 yards off a fourth-and-nine from the Saint Edward 29.
The Wildcats’ defense, which has been a rock all season, got solid performances from all 11 starters.
Senior middle linebacker Kolin Sullivan forced a fumble in the second quarter that led to Anter’s 21-yard touchdown gallop, and Sullivan, senior nose tackle Ryan Carr and senior safety/tailback Pat Hinkel led the charge as Saint Ignatius stuffed the Eagles for no gain on fourth-and-less than a yard from the Wildcats’ 40. Junior outside linebacker Scott McVey was his usual disruptive self, breaking up plays near the line of scrimmage, on special teams and in pass coverage.
Following the fourth-down stand, the sure-handed Parris made a crafty catch and run that put the ball on the Saint Edward 8. Three plays later, Hinkel, a Miami (Ohio) recruit, powered and slashed his way into the end zone from 4 yards out. Hinkel’s 50-yard interception return resulted in Anter’s second TD – and 8-yard second effort.
Anter finished with 94 yards rushing on 19 carries. He rushed for 111 yards on 16 carries in the regular-season triumph over the Eagles.
Sullivan and Carr pointed to their ''team defense'' and credited the athleticism of Saint Edward junior quarterback Alex Lavisky, who lost one of his key receivers – junior Latwan Anderson – to an ankle injury in the second quarter. Lavisky, under relentless pressure all night, passed for 138 yards. He completed six passes to senior Max Warren for 45 yards and four to senior Jeff Burke for 43 yards.
''I thought we overall played actually much better than we did last week,’’ said Wildcats head coach Chuck Kyle (’69), who will guide his team against Glenville (11-0) this Saturday in a 7:30 p.m. regional semifinal at Lakewood Stadium. The kickoff time was originally 7 p.m., but was changed to accommodate the television crews who are working state tournament volleyball matches.
The top-ranked Division I team in Ohio, Glenville handed Saint Ignatius its only setback this season, 20-17 at Byers Field on opening night.
''This rivalry (with Saint Edward) is very emotional, that’s kind of what you saw,’’ Kyle said. ''The idea of playing two weeks in a row, with this kind of rivalry, is a little difficult.
''But I thought we were well-balanced offensively and the defense just played very well. We somewhat put them in a situation where they had to throw and that really hurt them, because Alex (Lavisky) can only do so much. You get up by three scores and that really does take the other team away from its game plan.’’
BY THE NUMBERS: The Wildcats’ seniors became the first class in Saint Ignatius history to go 5-0 against the Eagles in football. The Class of ’09 defeated Saint Edward on the freshmen and junior-varsity levels, and three times in varsity competition.
In winning their first postseason game since 2004, when they advanced to the regional finals, the Wildcats gave Coach Kyle his 51st victory in 62 playoff games.
BIG BROTHER TO THE RESCUE: When Parris discovered before the kickoff that he was without his contact lenses, it was one of his older brothers, Brian, who stepped up. Brian Parris drove home to Bay Village, picked up the lenses and then drove back to Byers Field, which is located off Ridge Road in Parma. With just over nine minutes remaining in the second quarter, Joey Parris was seen inserting his lenses along the sideline. One of Joey's other brothers, Mike, was in the press box. Mike is an outstanding writer /reporter for www.cleveland.com. Joey's third brother, Robby, is a wide receiver for the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame.
AND LAST, BUT CERTAINLY NOT LEAST: Congratulations again to Coach Mike McLaughlin (’85) and the Wildcats’ varsity soccer team. Behind a school-record 17th shutout by goalie Joe Kalt, Saint Ignatius defeated Massillon Jackson, 1-0, on Saturday afternoon and brought home a Division I regional championship. The action took place at Rocky River High School.
Tonight (Tuesday), the Wildcats will return to Rocky River to face Anthony Wayne in a 7 p.m. state-semifinal matchup.
Wildcats and Tarblooders square off again in the “Madhouse on Madison.’’
By Eddie Dwyer
After Saint Ignatius lost its season opener to Glenville, 20-17, there was what Wildcats coach Chuck Kyle ('69) referred to as ''a rather common dialogue’’ among his players.
''I think all along the kids felt after the first one that we were going to end up playing them again,’’ said Kyle, as he was putting his team through Tuesday’s practice drills. ''We certainly learned some things from playing that caliber of an opponent in the first game. Sometimes when you don’t play that caliber, you keep enhancing problems instead of fixing them. I think that was the kids’ attitude towards it – let’s get better.’’
Both teams have certainly done that.
Glenville (11-0), behind an array of major-college prospects, finished the regular season as the top-ranked team in the Associated Press Division I state poll. Saint Ignatius, led by a balanced offense and an aggressive and savvy defense, has run off 10 consecutive victories since Marvel Brooks’ 30-yard field goal sailed through the uprights as time expired on opening night.
The Tarblooders and the Wildcats, ranked 1-2, respectively, in most of the area’s polls, meet again tonight in a Division I, Region 1 semifinal playoff game. The kickoff at Lakewood Stadium is slated for 7:30 p.m., and the game will be televised live by SportsTime Ohio. The kickoff was originally scheduled for 7 p.m., but was changed to 7:30 to accommodate STO’s coverage of the state volleyball tournament.
Saint Ignatius and Glenville have a postseason history that started in 2003, when the Wildcats turned back the Tarblooders in a regional-quarterfinal matchup at Bedford Bearcat Stadium. Since then, Coach Ted Ginn Sr.’s team has defeated Saint Ignatius in a regional final at Lakewood Stadium in 2004 and in regional quarterfinal games in 2006 and ’07 at Parma’s Byers Field. This year’s opening-night victory at Byers Field was the Tarblooders’ fourth straight triumph over the Wildcats.
Glenville is coming off a 35-8, regional-quarterfinal victory over Brecksville-Broadview Heights and the Wildcats improved to 10-1 by dominating Saint Edward, 37-0, in a regional quarterfinal. The Tarblooders are in the playoffs for the sixth consecutive year and the ninth time overall and nine-time state champion Saint Ignatius has advanced to the postseason for a record 21st consecutive year.
“It’s been a long time (since opening night), but certainly you look on film and Glenville’s skills are very good and its size and strength are very good,’’ said Kyle. “It’s a challenge, but our kids have already played them so it’s not like a myth. You know what to expect and I think that helps.
“Glenville is playing good football and its potential for big plays is always there, always there. Every play, you have to be conscious of that.’’
It was a big play – an 85-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by special-teams standout Shane Wynn – that helped turn the tide with 4:39 left on opening night. Kyle also pointed to the Tarblooders’ steady and potent ground game.
Glenville, led by backs Mordecai Cargill and Robert Walton Jr., and a massive offensive line anchored by Marcus Hall, rolled up nearly 400 yards rushing against Brecksville.
“It’s not just trying to worry about covering their wide receivers,’’ Kyle said. “It’s in the trenches there, that part of the game, where we have to work too.
“They have some great talent. There is no doubt about it. So now you have to scheme things and try to get an advantage somewhere. And the way our kids are playing, I think we can.’’
Wildcats standout senior wide receiver Joey Parris, who has been competing against the Tarblooders since he was a sophomore, concurs with his coach.
“I think the offense has come a long way since Week 1,’’ Parris said. “We came out pretty strong (opening night), but we sputtered out in that first drive. Now we really finish our drives.
“They’re definitely the best press defense we go against,’’ Parris said of the Glenville secondary. “They get in your face at the line of scrimmage. But, if Andrew (senior quarterback Andrew Holland) gets time, you can make double cuts on them.
“We’ve really adapted this year to a lot of different defenses, showing different things. I think we’re ready for anything they throw at us. We just have to breakdown their speed and prevent the big plays.’’
When opposing coaches and players talk about the Tarblooders, speed is always the operative word. As they say around the Senate Athletic League, there is speed, and then there is Glenville speed.
BY THE NUMBERS: With his 22 touchdown passes this fall, Andrew Holland is now tied with the legendary Brian Dowling for fifth place on the Wildcats’ all-time, single-season list. B.D. threw 22 scoring passes during Saint Ignatius’ 10-0 city-championship season of 1964. Nate Szep holds the Wildcats’ all-time, single-season mark for TD passes with 37, yes 37, in 2001.
Holland enters the Glenville playoff game with 36 career touchdown passes. The 36 TD strikes also place him fifth on the all-time career list. He now has thrown one more career touchdown pass than another talented No. 12 - Parade All-American Joe Pickens (1988 and ’89).
Wildcats senior wideout and Ball State recruit Connor Ryan has 11 touchdown receptions this season. Saint Ignatius’ single-season mark is 14, set by Matt Miller in 2001.
PUTTING HIS BEST FOOT FORWARD: Senior Seamus Hennessey has kicked two field goals of more than 40 yards this season. He joins Adam Danko and Nick Yako as the only Wildcats to accomplish that in a single season. Hennessey’s 41-yard effort against Saint Edward in last weekend’s regional quarterfinal at Byers Field is the second-longest in Wildcats’ playoff history. Phil Mohr booted a 46-yarder against Toledo Whitmer in a 1988 state-semifinal matchup in the Glass Bowl. Yako hold the school’s all-time mark with a 50-yarder against Massillon in a regular-season game at Byers Field in 2005.
WHAT’S UP DOC?: Area high school sports guru Ed “Doc’’ Daugherty, who helps broadcast Saint Ignatius football and is one of the voices of Case Western Reserve athletics, pointed out that the Wildcats’ victory over Saint Edward last week marks the first time since 1957 that Saint Ignatius holds a four-game lead in the all-time series, 24-20-1. After a victory in ’57, the Wildcats were 5-1 against the Eagles. Entering the 1988 season, Saint Edward led the series, 15-7-1.
Glenville-Saint Ignatius regional semifinal recap
Posted on 11/09/08 at 2:14 a.m.
A defensive performance that ranks among the all-time best; the Wildcats turn back the Tarblooders in dramatic fashion.
By Eddie Dwyer
As he stood near midfield in Lakewood Stadium Saturday night, Saint Ignatius head football coach Chuck Kyle (’69) put what he had just witnessed in a perspective it deserves.
''Honestly, we’ve had some amazing defensive football games over the years,’’ said Kyle, who has guided the Wildcats to a state-record 21 consecutive playoff appearances and an Ohio-best nine Division I state championships. ''But that one’s going to rank right up there.
''You’re going against Glenville, who’s got weapons galore, and to be able to hold them to one touchdown. We blocked a field goal and we blocked punts. We did some things with the defensive unit that was magnificent.
''That’s going to be ranked up there as one of the great ones.’’
The Wildcats’ Magnificent 11, also known as the Saint Ignatius defense, were great when they had to be as Coach Kyle’s team called on its will time and again in defeating the talent-laden Tarblooders, 8-7, in a Region 1 semifinal playoff game. The tense defensive struggle attracted a standing-room crowd of nearly 10,000.
In avenging a 20-17 opening-night loss to Glenville, the Wildcats improved to 11-1 and advanced to this Saturday’s Region 1 championship game against the Strongsville Mustangs (11-1). Like Saint Ignatius, Strongsville has run off 11 consecutive victories, including an impressive 17-3 triumph over a highly regarded Mentor team in Saturday night’s other Region 1 semifinal.
The Wildcats-Mustangs encounter will take place at Parma’s Byers Field. The kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. Byers Field was the site of Strongsville's regional-semifinal victory over Mentor.
Glenville, the top-ranked team in both the Associated Press Division I state poll and The Plain Dealer seven-county poll, closed its season at 11-1. Coach Ted Ginn Sr.’s gifted Tarblooders were making their sixth consecutive postseason appearance and their ninth overall.
''You can hear them now, they’re pretty happy they’re going to be practicing on Monday,’’ said Kyle, as his players faced their fans near the Madison Avenue end zone and sang the Jesuit school’s alma mater. ''That’s all we talked about – you don’t want this thing to end now, you want to be practicing on Monday. And we will.’’
When the 2008 Wildcats and their faithful look back on Saturday night’s game months or even years from now, they will recall so many outstanding efforts from members of the defense and special teams. And, although the offense didn’t find the end zone, they will fondly recall senior Connor Ryan’s highlight-reel, 40-yard reception that helped set up senior Seamus Hennessey’s game-winning 37-yard field goal with 6 minutes, 11 seconds remaining to be played.
Glenville, which held a four-game winning streak over Saint Ignatius, including three playoff victories, was threatening after the Wildcats were forced to punt from their goal line on the game’s first possession. Senior safety and Miami (Ohio) recruit Pat Hinkel had to handle the punting chores after the regular punter – junior backup quarterback Mark Myers – underwent an emergency appendectomy on Saturday. The versatile Hinkel averaged better than 38 yards on seven punts, including kicks of 41, 43, 50 and 51 yards.
On their first possession, the Tarblooders unleashed a balanced attack and drove from the Saint Ignatius 45 to a first-and-10 at the 22. However, on third-and-18 from the 30, junior linebacker Scott McVey sacked Glenville senior quarterback Terrance Owens and the Tarblooders were forced to punt. McVey, one of the outstanding outside linebackers in the state, was a force from the opening kickoff until the final second ticked off the clock.
For 48 minutes, it was truly a team effort by the Wildcats’ defenders, something you must have to hang with a big, fast and athletic Glenville squad. As usual, Ginn Sr.’s team was made up of several major-college prospects.
However, along with that 11-as-one approach by Kyle’s team, there were several individual plays that stood out, including Hinkel’s block of a Tarblooders punt, Hinkel’s touchdown-saving tackle, senior safety Sean Fisher’s block of a 29-yard field-goal attempt by Marvel Brooks, a one-handed blocked punt in the end zone by senior linebacker Seamus Siefring that resulted in a safety, and Hennessey’s 21-yard field goal that extended the Wildcats’ lead to 5-0 entering the second half.
Glenville would have its moments in the final 24 minutes, including a 35-yard touchdown pass from Owens to standout senior wideout/defensive back Mike Edwards with 5:39 left in the third quarter.
The Tarblooders held a 7-5 advantage before Ryan made the all-out extension, sure-handed catch of the 40-yard toss from senior quarterback Andrew Holland. Four plays later, Hennessey was true on his 37-yard kick and the rest, fittingly so, fell in the hands of the Wildcats' defense.
With the game on the line, junior defensive linemen Patrick Dowd and Gerry Ramella sacked Owens for a 6-yard loss on a fourth-and-11 from the Saint Ignatius 31 with 4:18 left.
After forcing a punt, Glenville took possession at its 38 with 2:27 remaining. The Tarblooders made some noise before Siefring ate up a swing pass for a 1-yard loss on third-and-1 from the 47.
Faced with a fourth-and-2 with 1:06 to go, Owens dropped back and, being swarmed under by McVey’s pressure, fired a pass that was intercepted by senior Tommy Hunt, his second interception of the second half. Hunt, like so many of the Wildcats’ defenders, had an outstanding game from his cornerback position.
''Unbelievable, linebackers Scott McVey and Kolin Sullivan are unbelievable players, and it starts up front with (senior nose tackle) Ryan Carr,’’ said Siefring, who preferred to put the focus on his teammates. '''We get there fast and when we get there, we finish them off.’’
Hunt emphasized that when Glenville grabbed the lead in the second half, the defense took it upon itself to make some plays that would get the offense back on track.
''The interceptions, I mean they just came to me and I just made the play on the ball,’’ Hunt said. ''We might not be the fastest guys on the field (as far as 40 times), but we play with technique and a lot of heart.”
The school record for the lowest score in a postseason victory came in 1962, when the late John J. Wirtz guided his Wildcats past Benedictine, 6-0, in the annual Charity Game. It was Saint Ignatius’ first outright city championship in football since 1949 and capped off the program’s first unbeaten and untied season at 10-0. The game attracted a Thanksgiving Day crowd of 35,320 to a frigid Municipal Stadium.
Saint Ignatius-Strongsville Region 1 Final recap
Posted on 11/16/08 at 1:56 a.m.
‘Cats play the visitors’ role to a standing ovation; will face North Canton Hoover at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.
By Eddie Dwyer
Saint Ignatius had just played one of the most complete games in its rich football history.
It was a performance that, understandably so, left most of the players feeling pretty good about themselves.
However, if you’re a member of the Wildcats’ coaching staff, you will love the words senior quarterback Andrew Holland used in summing up the part he and the rest of the offense played during Saturday night’s 37-0 victory over Strongsville in the Region 1 championship game at Byers Field.
''And I hope it continues to get better,’’ Holland said of an offense that had Strongsville on its heels from the get-go.
Now that’s a savvy signal-caller.
The humble and talented Holland realizes you can always get better, especially when you’re two victories away from your ultimate goal – a 10thstate championship.
After the offense frustrated the Mustangs through the air and overpowered them on the ground, after gritty and elusive all-purpose back Frank DeSico totaled more than 100 yards on punt returns and after the defense put together yet another tremendous effort, Saint Ignatius (12-1) will continue its quest this Saturday night against North Canton Hoover (12-1) in a Division I state-semifinal game. The kickoff from Massillon's Paul Brown Tiger Stadium will be 7 p.m. and the game will be televised live by SportsTime Ohio.
Strongsville, which is now 0-13 against Saint Ignatius since 1993, including a 0-9 mark in the playoffs, closed its season at 11-2. The Mustangs had won 11 consecutive games prior to Saturday night and were making their 12th postseason appearance.
''After Glenville (an 8-7 victory in last week’s regional semifinals), we really needed to prove ourselves,’’ said Wildcats 6-4, 310-pound senior tackle Adam Gordon. ''We struggled offensively, just in general (against Glenville), and the offensive line struggled. So it felt pretty good to get this going.’’
With the teams battling heavy wind gusts and a persistent rain, Saint Ignatius’ defense got it going on a 4-yard fumble return for a touchdown by hard-nosed senior linebacker Kolin Sullivan. Senior Seamus Hennessey kicked the extra point and the Wildcats led, 7-0, with 3 minutes, 27 seconds remaining in the opening quarter.
Designated as the “visiting team’’ by the OHSAA, Saint Ignatius pushed its lead to 10-0 on a 35-yard field goal by Hennessey.
Continuing to take advantage of the excellent field position provided by the defense and DeSico’s nifty returns, the Wildcats turned to the passing of Holland and the receiving of seniors Connor Ryan, Joey Parris and DeSico.
Stepping up in the pocket provided by his offensive line, Holland fired a 29-yard touchdown pass to DeSico with 2:53 left in the first half. After two sure-handed catches by Ryan, Parris came back to a pass that got caught in the wind off a fade route, outmaneuvered the defender, dove for the ball and got both hands underneath it for an 11-yard score with just 52 seconds to go in the half.
If there is a stronger 1-2 wide-receiver punch in Northeast Ohio than Ryan and Parris, this corner hasn’t seen it.
Despite conditions that at times made passing the ball an adventure, Holland completed six consecutive passes in the second quarter and finished with 108 yards through the air.
The dominance continued in the second half as Gordon and his O-line mates – senior guards Jarrod Kedizor and Frank Whitaker, junior tackle Stewart Ross and unsung senior center and tri-captain Bryan Connelly – started to wear down Strongsville’s highly regarded defensive front.
Finding the holes, making sharp cuts on a wet surface and carrying the ball with a purpose, senior tailback Mike Anter put the game away on touchdown runs of 14 and 10 yards. Anter finished with 126 yards rushing on 27 carries.
''It was all about the double teams this week,’’ said Gordon, after the offensive line helped show the way to nearly 300 yards of total offense and almost 200 yards on the ground. ''We were helping out the guards and reading the linebackers. Once we got the double teams down, we got a nice press on them.’’
DeSico, who has accepted a baseball scholarship from the University of Notre Dame, said he put an emphasis on just staying relaxed as he battled the Mustangs and the elements during his punt returns.
''The past couple of games I was a little nervous, you know, big components, big games,’’ said DeSico, after he averaged nearly 17 yards on his returns and helped his team to its 12th consecutive victory. ''I had some huge blocks and had a nice first return that really calmed me down and just relaxed me. The conditions were bad, but I just tried to hit the hole, protect the ball and get what I could get.’’
Saint Ignatius coach Chuck Kyle (’69), who picked up his 260th career victory, said the weather was not conducive to either team’s offense, that it came down to ''who was going to survive.’’
Well, in the survival of the fittest, the Wildcats’ team defense was again simply amazing.
Strongsville, which was averaging more than 32 points a game, didn’t pick up a first down until there was 5:21 remaining to be played. The Mustangs managed just 62 yards of offense on 51 plays. Saint Ignatius has now yielded just seven points (to Glenville) in three playoff games.
Along with Sullivan’s fumble return, the defense came up with key interceptions by senior cornerback Tommy Hunt and all-district senior safety Pat Hinkel, kept constant pressure on Strongsville’s all-district senior quarterback Kellen Pagel and made the Mustangs' running game almost non-existent. And the D did all of that without all-district senior safety and Notre Dame football recruit Dan Fox, who sat out the game after suffering a concussion against Glenville last week. Senior Steve Siemborski did a solid job as Fox's replacement.
Yes, you can forget all about which side of the field you sat or stood on, or which locker rooms the respective teams were assigned to.
The “visiting’’ Wildcats were right at home Saturday night.
Saint Ignatius-North Canton Hoover State Semifinal Recap
Posted on 11/23/08 at 2:22 a.m.
A very happy birthday; the talented, yet unassuming ‘Cats make Coach Kyle’s 58th one to cherish.
By Eddie Dwyer
Seamus Siefring didn’t want to place any emphasis on the many outstanding plays he made defensively and on special teams.
Instead, the savvy and spirited senior outside linebacker talked about his teammates, the reality of being able to prepare for the game they’ve dreamed about since they were little kids, and how the Saint Ignatius Wildcats again ''did it as a unit.’’
The same went for all-district senior safety/running back Pat Hinkel, who, putting his four-touchdown night aside, spoke of how special it would be ''to do it for them, all of the players from 2002 through 2007 who didn’t have this opportunity.’’
Yes, up next is the dream game, the opportunity to add another chapter to the Wildcats’ rich football history.
And Siefring, Hinkel and the rest of the ''unit’’ made it all possible by defeating North Canton Hoover, 34-7, on Saturday night in a state-semifinal encounter at Massillon’s Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.
Saint Ignatius (13-1), setting the tone with a 20-point first quarter on Coach Chuck Kyle’s 58th birthday, wore down the Vikings en route to this Saturday’s Division I state championship game against Cincinnati Elder (13-1). The kickoff from Canton’s Fawcett Stadium is scheduled for 7 p.m. and the game will be televised live by SportsTime Ohio.
After winning their 13th consecutive game, Coach Kyle’s Wildcats will now attempt to add to what is already an Ohio-best nine big-school state football titles. Saint Ignatius’ ninth crown came in 2001, when the Wildcats defeated another perennial Cincinnati power, Saint Xavier, 37-6 at Fawcett Stadium.
''Unbelievable, just one more game,’’ said Siefring, who helped his team to the 20-0 advantage by blocking a punt late in the first quarter that resulted in Hinkel’s 5-yard scoop and score. ''We have to scout them, have an unbelievable week of practice and execute on Saturday.’’
Saint Ignatius’ execution was flawless in the early going against Hoover, as the Wildcats put together drives of 65 yards and 55 yards on their first two possessions. Hinkel scored the game’s first points on a 1-yard run and a 39-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Andrew Holland to senior wideout and Ball State recruit Connor Ryan made the score 13-0 with 4:02 remaining in the opening quarter.
After Siefring’s block led to Hinkel’s second touchdown, Hoover (12-2) got back in the game on a 53-yard, second-effort touchdown run by standout junior tailback Erick Howard. Howard entered the game with more than 2,300 yards rushing and 30 rushing touchdowns. He finished 83 yards on 14 carries.
''I really think our defensive line won the battle up front,’’ said Siefring, who pursued sideline to sideline all night and assisted in putting pressure on Hoover’s underrated quarterback Brett Tulodzieski. ''They made openings for the linebackers to make plays.’’
With senior nose tackle Ryan Carr leading the way up front, the linebacker corps of Siefring, senior middle backer Kolin Sullivan and gifted junior outside backer Scott McVey cleaning up, and a secondary led by senior cornerback Tommy Hunt and senior safety Sean Fisher clearing the air waves, Saint Ignatius used its passing game and the running of senior tailback Mike Anter to set up Hinkel’s third and fourth TDs – runs of 2 and 5 yards.
Holland passed for 245 yards and is now third on the Wildcats’ all-time list for passing yards in a season with 2,609. Anter did his usual workman-like job on the ground by rushing for 84 yards on 13 carries, an average of better than 6 yards per carry.
In totaling more than 350 yards of offense, Saint Ignatius had four receivers with three or more receptions. The breakdown saw Ryan total five catches for 95 yards, senior Joey Parris grab five for 60 yards, senior Frank DeSico come up with four for 45 yards and junior tight end Brendan Carozzoni haul in three for 35 yards.
Saint Ignatius also got healthier Saturday night, as all-district senior safety and Notre Dame recruit Dan Fox, senior cornerback Sean Fitzgerald and junior punter and backup quarterback Mark Myers returned to action.
The night was capped off by a chorus of ‘Happy Birthday’ by the players and some reflection by the man who celebrated another year.
''It’s challenging the past, how’s that?’’ said Coach Kyle (’69), when asked if the 2008 Wildcats have played as good for an extended period as any of his teams have done in some time.
''You have to wait one more week to see where we rank in relationship to the past. But the progress is there.
''Yesterday, I looked them in the eye and told them, 'Right now, I’m looking at a state championship team, if you want to do it.’ I think they want to. We’ll see what happens.’’
Five Wildcats garner All-Ohio honors; Holland shares state’s top offensive award
Posted on 11/25/08 at 12:50 a.m.
By Eddie Dwyer
Senior quarterback Andrew Holland, one of the top passers in the history of Saint Ignatius football, joined Wildcats dynamic junior outside linebacker Scott McVey on the 2008 Associated Press Division I All-Ohio first team.
Holland, who has passed for 2,609 yards and 25 touchdowns this fall, shared the state’s Offensive Player of the Year Award with North Canton Hoover junior running back Erick Howard and Cincinnati Elder junior quarterback Mark Miller.
Miller and Holland will matchup in the Division I state championship game on Saturday at Canton’s Fawcett Stadium. The kickoff is 7 p.m., and the game will be televised live by SportsTime Ohio.
Holland enters the title game in third place on Saint Ignatius’ all-time list for passing yards in a season. His 25 TD passes currently place him in a tie for third with Dave Ragone and Rudy Kirbus on the all-time list for touchdown strikes in a season.
McVey, who emerged on the varsity level late in his sophomore year, has been a relentless force for one of the top defensive units in Ohio.
With McVey applying constant pressure on the opposing quarterback and pursuing from sideline to sideline against the run, the Wildcats (13-1) have yielded seven or less points nine times this season. McVey and Co. have recorded four shutouts, including two in the playoffs.
Saint Ignatius’ sure-handed senior wide receiver Joey Parris was named to the second team in Division I, as were standout senior safeties Dan Fox and Pat Hinkel. Parris joins his brother Robby (currently a junior wideout at Notre Dame) as an All-Ohioan.
Fox and Hinkel, who have been nothing less than outstanding as players and leaders, have accepted football scholarships from Notre Dame and Miami (Ohio), respectively.
Saint Ignatius-Cincinnati Elder State Championship Game Preview
Posted on 11/26/08 at 12:30 a.m.
Wildcats prepare for Panthers’ vaunted passing game; Elder’s version of the ''West Coast Offense’’ looms as the final challenge for Saint Ignatius’ staunch defense.
By Eddie Dwyer
A misty rain accompanied by ice pellets glowed through the lights at Wasmer Field early Tuesday evening.
What many would look upon as undesirable conditions were, in fact, a pleasant reminder for Coach Chuck Kyle (’69) and his staff of those Thanksgiving Day-week practices of years gone by.
No, there wasn’t any snow to be shoveled off the field, as was the case several times during the Wildcats’ state-championship run of the late 1980s and 1990s.
However, the gales of November were just as cutting Tuesday evening as they were back in 1988 at Lakewood Stadium, where Coach Kyle and his Wildcats practiced for their first state championship game against Cincinnati Princeton.
Now 20 years later, a group of young men who weren’t born in 1988 have Saint Ignatius in position to add to what is already an Ohio-record nine Division I state football championships. And, as was the case in state-title games 1, 2, 4, 5 and 9, another power from the Queen City stands in the way.
Cincinnati Elder (13-1), the fifth-ranked team in the final 2008 Associated Press state poll, will face the fourth-ranked Wildcats (13-1) on Saturday in the big-school state championship game at Canton’s Fawcett Stadium. The kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. and the game will be televised live by SportsTime Ohio.
It will be the fourth meeting between Saint Ignatius and Elder in football, with the previous three all coming in regular-season matchups. The Wildcats defeated the Panthers, 21-20, in 1998 and Elder prevailed in 2001, 23-7, and in 2002, 45-35.
Wildcats fans might recall Saint Ignatius brought home its only state championship in basketball by defeating Elder in March 2001.
The Panthers, under the direction of veteran coach Doug Ramsey, are making their first appearance in the state championship game since winning back-to-back titles in ‘02 and ‘03. Saint Ignatius has returned to the title game after winning its ninth crown by defeating Cincinnati Saint Xavier, 37-6, in 2001 at Fawcett Stadium.
That was the past, however, as both teams enter Saturday night’s encounter with balanced offenses and hard-nosed and athletic defenses.
Elder, which averages 36 points per game, features a potent and versatile passing attack led by 6-0, 170-pound junior quarterback Mark Miller. Miller, who shared the state’s Division I Offensive Player of the Year award with Wildcats senior quarterback Andrew Holland and North Canton Hoover’s Mr. Football Erick Howard, has passed for 2,699 yards and 28 touchdowns.
One of Miller’s favorite targets is first-team all-state selection Josh Jones, a 6-3, 210-pound senior. As was the case during their state-championship seasons of ’02 and ’03, the Panthers also attack you with a big and aggressive offensive line anchored by first-team all-state honoree Austen Bujnoch (6-5, 265 pounds).
''The wrinkles they can do with their running game, because you’re sitting there planning all of these coverages for when they lineup,’’ said Coach Kyle of his concerns about Elder’s offense. ''They’ll pull a guard and come through, and the running back finds a seam.’’
As a note of interest, Panthers standout junior running back Adam Brown, who suffered a sprained ankle in last weekend’s state-semifinal victory over Pickerington Central, is expected to be in the starting lineup on Saturday night.
''Really, this is a great test for our defense, it’s a tremendous test,’’ Kyle said. ''We’ve played great defense really all year and have faced some very good offenses. But people take a look, and see that Elder is very confident in what they do.
''They’re a spread offense, but they do it more like a 'West Coast Offense,’ which means there is a lot of short passing. They’ll take their shots deep here and there, but catch it five yards and run it three or four more, and now you’re moving the sticks. It’s precision and (Miller) is hitting over 70 percent of his passes. That’s amazing for a high school kid.’’
Elder’s defense, which takes pride in its speed, will defend you most of the time with a 4-2 look – six in the box, two cornerbacks, two strong safeties and a free safety. The free safety reads the blocking schemes and comes up hard on the run. The Panthers’ secondary scheme is very similar to the one Saint Ignatius employs.
''Their kicking game is also very good,’’ said Kyle of Elder’s first-team All-Ohio selection Tony Miliano. ''What I think you have here is two heavyweights going at it. And maybe the two best teams in the state truly did show up here now.
''We have our work cut out for us, no doubt about it.’’
FOX NEWS: It was great to see all-state senior safety Dan Fox back in the lineup last week. The Notre Dame recruit suffered a concussion in the regional-semifinal victory over Glenville on Nov. 8 and had to sit out the regional-final triumph over Strongsville on Nov. 15. Fox mentioned at practice on Tuesday that he also had to overcome a bout with food poisoning.
''You can’t describe it,’’ said Fox of the emotions he will take with him to Fawcett Stadium on Saturday night. ''You hear of all of the teams playing in the state championship game and you’re just like, ‘Oh, I want to be there.’
''This week, we’re here and it’s our chance to do it. We’re all just really excited.’’
Fox is a mainstay on a defense that is yielding just a fraction over 7 points per game and has four shutouts, including two in the playoffs. Saint Ignatius, which is making its 11th appearance in the Division I state championship game (the ‘Cats were state runners-up in ’96), has outscored its four playoff opponents, 116-14.
MY TWO CENTS: Since my sports mind is still sharp in my “semi-retirement’’ (at least when it comes to high school athletics), I have to express some disappointment with this fall’s Associated Press All-Ohio football team.
While I am very happy for Andrew Holland, Scott McVey, Joey Parris, Dan Fox and Pat Hinkel, and the deserving honors they received (see all-state story below), I have to question what I believe to be two major oversights.
First, let me say I know how difficult it is to select all-county, seven-county, all-district and all-state squads. I took part in the process for more than 23 of my 36-plus years at The Plain Dealer. I also want to express my congratulations to all of the players who garnered All-Ohio recognition.
However, after following high school football in Greater Cleveland since the late 1950s, this proud graduate of Cathedral Latin School can’t understand the rationale that deprived Wildcats senior wideout Connor Ryan and senior nose tackle Ryan Carr from at least being placed on the special-mention list in Division I.
Is it politics? I hope not. In my opinion, Ryan (a Ball State recruit) and Carr were certainly deserving of second-team honors. And to not even get their names listed among the special mentions???
Well, since I’m on the soap box, I’ll close the subject by saying that Strongsville’s gifted senior two-way player and kick-return specialist Alex Kovach, a kid who put the Mustangs on his shoulders all season, should have been a first-team pick on either offense or defense. And no, I’m not related to Ryan, Carr or Kovach. I just respect good football, and good judgement.
Happy Thanksgiving to all of the players, coaches, fans, reporters, trainers, doctors, stats crews, administrators, public address announcers, cheerleaders, marching bands, chain crews, concession workers and officials who help make high school football King in Ohio. And a special Happy Thanksgiving goes out to my beautiful granddaughter, Caitlin Patton.
Now I’ll shut up and look forward to the trip to legendary Fawcett Stadium.
Saint Ignatius-Cincinnati Elder State Championship Game Recap
Posted on 11/30/08 at 3:53 a.m.
A team in every sense of the word; the Wildcats bring home No. 10 “together.”
By Eddie Dwyer
CANTON – From the starters, to every young man who wore the blue and gold on Saturday night, the sentiment was the same.
It was an expression of thanks, an appreciation for being a member of a team that was far more than just physically gifted.
The 2008 Saint Ignatius Wildcats had it all together, as players, teammates, friends and representatives of their families and their school.
And to a player, they realized to be part of that was truly something special, something that again came to the fore in a 28-20 victory over Cincinnati Elder in the Division I state championship game at legendary Fawcett Stadium.
''We set a goal at the beginning of the year, and we accomplished it tonight. It feels so good,’’ said standout senior quarterback Andrew Holland, after his 208 yards passing and three touchdown passes helped lead the Wildcats to an Ohio-best 10th big-school state football championship. ''Everyone was just all together on our main goal.’’
Saint Ignatius (14-1), which closed its special season with a 14-game winning streak, had it all together from the get-go Saturday night.
Taking the opening kickoff, the Wildcats marched 80 yards and grabbed a 7-0 lead on a 21-yard touchdown pass from Holland to junior tight end Brendan Carozzoni and the ensuing extra-point kick by senior Seamus Hennessey. Senior tailback Mike Anter helped key the drive by accounting for 40 of the 80 yards with his hard-nosed running.
Holland, a first-team All-Ohio selection who earned a share of the state’s Division I Offensive Player of the Year Award, ended his Wildcats career in a tie for second place with Bryan Panteck on Saint Ignatius’ all-time list for touchdown passes in a season. Panteck fired his 28 TD strikes in the 2000 season.
Elder (13-2), which was making its first appearance in the state championship game since winning back-to-back titles in 2002 and ’03, saw its early threat wiped out by a leaping interception by Wildcats All-Ohio junior linebacker Scott McVey at the Saint Ignatius 24.
Riding the momentum of McVey’s pick, Saint Ignatius turned to its rock-steady offensive line, the running of Anter and the receiving of Carozzoni and sure-handed senior wideouts Joey Parris and Connor Ryan.
On a third-and-6 from the Elder 21, Ryan ran a perfect route and hauled in a perfectly thrown ball by Holland for another 21-yard score. Hennessey’s extra point was high and true, and the Wildcats led, 14-0, with just seconds remaining in the opening quarter.
''Since July 31st, we had our pads on doing two-a-days (practices),’’ said Ryan, a Ball State recruit who ended his outstanding high school career in a tie for first place with Matt Miller on the all-time Saint Ignatius list for touchdown receptions in a season. Miller hauled in his 14 TD catches during the Wildcats’ 2001 state-championship campaign.
''We had a goal to be here, to be state champs and be the 10th team to do it,’’ added Ryan.
After a nifty punt return by senior all-purpose back Frank DeSico, Saint Ignatius turned a short field into a 2-yard touchdown run by senior All-Ohio safety/running back Pat Hinkel with 8 minutes, 56 seconds left in the first half. Hinkel has accepted a scholarship from Miami (Ohio).
Elder would, as Wildcats coach Chuck Kyle emphasized, make some sound adjustments and close to 21-7 by halftime. The Panthers’ first score came on a 9-yard touchdown pass from All-Ohio junior quarterback Mark Miller to 6-4 junior wideout Tim O’Conner.
However, as it did throughout the regular season and into the playoffs, the Wildcats’ dynamic defense stood tall all night.
Along with McVey’s interception, the first half saw All-Ohio senior safety and Notre Dame recruit Dan Fox make a leaping interception in the right flat at the Saint Ignatius 1-yard line. Fox’s big-time play came after Elder drove inside the Wildcats’ 7.
There were plenty of big plays to go around for the ‘Cats D, as helping lead the way to nine sacks were multitalented senior linebackers Seamus Siefring and Kolin Sullivan, the active and aggressive secondary that included senior corners Tommy Hunt and Sean Fitzgerald, senior safeties Sean Fisher and Steve Siemborski and junior corner Kory Gillissie, and the most underrated defensive line in Ohio.
Leading that charge up front were junior end Gerry Ramella, senior end Ted Kraft, junior end/tackle Pat Dowd and the best nose tackle this corner has seen in years – senior Ryan Carr.
The offense also had more big-time fuel left, as Holland and Ryan combined on a 51-yard touchdown pass that gave Saint Ignatius a three-score lead with 6:07 to go in the third quarter.
''Andrew and I, we audible on that,’’ Ryan said of the 51-yard strike, an effort that saw Ryan catch the ball inside the Elder 38, spin away from a would-be tackle and race down the right sideline. ''I had to make a catch and make a play somehow. We needed points on the board.’’
After Miller connected with Panthers 6-4 All-Ohio senior wideout Josh Jones on a 45-yard touchdown pass, Saint Ignatius thought it put more points on the board with 6:46 remaining to be played.
McVey, who was a force all night, sacked Miller inside the Panthers’ 8-yard line and jarred the ball loose. The ball rolled near the goal line, where Dowd recovered it and took it in the end zone for an apparent touchdown. However, an official somehow ruled the play as an incomplete pass and Elder still had life.
The Panthers closed to 28-20 on a 2-yard pass from backup quarterback Joe Hetzer to O’Conner and the ensuing extra point by All-Ohio junior kicker Tony Miliano with 1:22 left. Hetzer entered the game after Miller was shaken up on the previous play.
Saint Ignatius wouldn't be denied, however, as the Wildcats sealed the deal when junior linebacker Jake Ryan, Connor’s brother, recovered an onside kick.
''This was a fun group of guys, they loved to practice and they loved being together,’’ said Coach Kyle (’69), who closed his 26th season as head coach of the Wildcats by guiding his alma mater to its 21st consecutive appearance in the Division I playoffs, which also is a state record, and picking up his 262nd career victory along the way. Coach Kyle has a remarkable playoff record of 55-11.
While we're on the subject of remarkable accomplishments, reporters covering Saturday night’s game and seeing McVey play for the first time couldn’t say enough about his performance, which included five-plus sacks.
Again, this corner will take the liberty to say Scott McVey is the best linebacker to roam the fields of Northeast Ohio since the great Chris Spielman did it for the Massillon Tigers in the early 1980s. And when you use the word great in reference to Spielman, it is no exaggeration.
''It’s a whole complete team effort on defense, everyone steps up,’’ said McVey, who plays with some of that familiar Spielman savvy. “It’s awesome.’’
And so were the 2008 Saint Ignatius Wildcats.
Saint Ignatius state championship rally
Posted on 12/01/08 at 10:35 p.m.
A celebration of faith and the success that followed; the 2008 “men for others’’ are honored.
By Eddie Dwyer
As he addressed the student body, his teaching colleagues and the school’s administration, Saint Ignatius football coach Chuck Kyle spoke of what the 2008 Wildcats prayed for as they entered Saturday night’s Division I state championship game against Cincinnati Elder.
''The energy, the enthusiasm and the spirit to do great things,’’ said Kyle (’69), whose inspirational words during Monday afternoon’s rally drew thundering ovations that echoed off the walls in Sullivan Gymnasium.
Coach Kyle’s Wildcats found all of the above and answered the final challenge in their fall to recall with a 28-20 victory over Elder in front of a crowd of more than 20,000 at Canton’s legendary Fawcett Stadium.
In bringing home the football program’s 10th state-championship trophy, Saint Ignatius added another chapter to what has been the greatest story in the history of the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s big-school playoffs.
The 10 state titles, the 21 consecutive playoff appearances and a test-of-time streak of five straight Division I crowns (1991-95) are all Ohio records, marks achieved during Coach Kyle’s 26 seasons as head coach.
Saturday night’s victory was the 14th consecutive triumph by the ’08 ‘Cats, who finished at 14-1, were fourth in the final Associated Press big-school state poll, second in The Plain Dealer’s seven-county Top 25 and moved up three spots to seventh place in this week’s ESPN/Rise Fab 50 national poll. It is possible the ‘Cats could move up higher in the Fab 50, which won’t be final for at least another week.
As Coach Kyle pointed out, there was no better example of Saint Ignatius’ motto, ''men for others,’’ or the key verse in the Jesuit school’s alma mater, ''We’re Ignatius men forever,’’ than last week’s Thanksgiving Day practice. It is a playoff tradition that dates back to the first state-championship season of 1988, a celebration in which all former players, and all graduates for that matter, are invited to attend the Thanksgiving morning practice and lend their memories and encouragement to the current Wildcats.
''Clearly over 300 past graduates, past players came down and showed their support of this team,’’ Kyle said. ''You would have been amazed, guys who actually played in the ‘60s came down and guys from the state championships of 1988 and ’89 brought their children with them.
''Thanksgiving is a day to be with your family, and in their minds, they were with their family. That is just truly inspiring.’’
Before presenting the 2008 championship trophy to President Rev. John F. Libens, S.J., and Principal Peter H. Corrigan, Jr. (’69), Coach Kyle emphasized that the success of all of the Wildcats’ athletic teams stems from the school’s faith.
''You better have great faith in what you are doing and you better have great faith in the people you are working with,’’ said Kyle, who preferred to refer to his staff as “great friends,’’ not just assistant coaches. ''That’s the magic formula, believe it, because I’m here to tell you that it works.’’
Kyle paid tribute to Coach Mike McLaughlin (’85) and his soccer team, which captured its third state championship since 2004 this fall, and he and Principal Corrigan also pointed out the accomplishments of the golf and cross country teams in their state competitions, the Crew team, which again was the best in the Midwest, and Coach Brad Ganor’s varsity baseball team and its state runner-up finish last spring.
The ’08 football and soccer teams had a special trait in common – a relentless defense.
Principal Corrigan spoke of the roles Saint Ignatius’ virtues play when it comes to excellence in academics and athletics, that it is the ''Magis’’ the school on Cleveland ‘s near West Side strives for. Magis is a Jesuit phrase that means ''the more.’’ It is a philosophy of doing more for Christ, and therefore for others.
As expected, Principal Corrigan, with the student body chanting ''free day, free day,’’ drew his own thunderous ovation when he announced that in celebration of the school’s academic and athletic accomplishments, there would be no school this coming Monday, Dec. 8th.
After the rally, senior football standouts Ryan Carr and Frank DeSico, two young men who epitomized the resolute spirit of the ’08 'Cats, shared some of their lasting feelings from their championship season.
''We talked about winning a state championship for four years,’’ said Carr, one of top nose tackles in Northeast Ohio the past two seasons. ''We worked as one, as a team. The linebackers helped the D line, the D line helped the safeties and the safeties helped the cornerbacks. And the offense did a superb job too.’’
DeSico, who made a tremendous impact as a receiver and a punt and kickoff-return specialist, said he used the disappointment of last spring’s loss to Saint Edward in the state baseball finals as a motivational tool this fall. A gifted third baseman, hitter and base runner, DeSico has earned a baseball scholarship from the University of Notre Dame.
''I didn’t want that again, that letdown feeling, it’s unexplainable,’’ said DeSico, who set a school record by returning two punts, each of 72 yards, for touchdowns in a Week 8 victory over Cincinnati La Salle. ''But Saturday was absolutely the best day of my life, I was just so overjoyed.
''Looking around at my teammates, kids I will never play with again, it is kind of sad. Especially for me, since I will never play football again. But to go out, to end my (football) career with a state championship, that is something special.’’
Special, exceptional, or, as All-Ohio senior quarterback Andrew Holland put it, a group of guys who were all together on one goal.
Those are just some of the words that will come to mind when recalling the 2008 Division I state football champions, the Saint Ignatius Wildcats.
IN CLOSING: This corner would like to say thank you to my childhood neighbor on West 103rd St., Rev. Libens, Mr. Pete Corrigan, Athletic Director Rory Fitzpatrick, Associate Athletic Director and head varsity basketball coach Sean O’Toole and Coach Kyle and his “great friends’’ – all of the assistant coaches – for the opportunity to cover and write about one of the greatest group of kids I have ever come in contact with. And that includes my 36-plus years as a sports reporter for The Plain Dealer.