This could be a team that helps St. Ignatius get back into the state title picture. Cleveland St. Ignatius boasts the record for state playoff championships with nine titles since the OHSAA adopted the playoff format in 1972. But the Wildcats have not taken home the gold since star wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez – now with the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts – was a junior in 2001.
Cleveland St. Ignatius (8-3)
PLAYERS TO WATCH
QB/S Andrew Holland (6-2, 190, Sr.), WR Joey Parris (6-1, 185, Sr.), WR Connor Ryan (6-1, 180, Sr.), TE/SS Dan Fox (6-4, 220, Sr.), OL/DL Frank Whitaker (6-3, 280, Sr.), RB Mike Anter (5-10, 175, Sr.), DB Pat Hinkel (6-1, 200, Sr.), DL Ryan Carr (6-0, 250, Sr.), LB Scott McVey (6-0, 215, Jr.), QB/WR Mark Myers (6-4, 190, Jr.).
This could be a team that helps St. Ignatius get back into the state title picture. Cleveland St. Ignatius boasts the record for state playoff championships with nine titles since the OHSAA adopted the playoff format in 1972.
But the Wildcats have not taken home the gold since star wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez – now with the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts – was a junior in 2001.
Coach Chuck Kyle, back for his 26th year with the Wildcats, welcomes back nine players with starting experience on offense and four on defense.
“We started several of these guys when they were sophomores and now they are seniors,” Kyle said. “On the offensive side of the ball, we have a lot of guys with experience. We don’t usually use a lot of superlatives, but we definitely think we have some reasons to be optimistic.
“We graduated some of our key guys on defense. I think the defense will catch back up gradually. I think we have the potential to be a team that should be respected.”
Fox, a Notre Dame verbal, had 76 tackles and three interceptions as a junior.
“Dan was recruited by a lot of people before he committed to Notre Dame,” Kyle said. “He is looked at as a linebacker at the college level, but he plays strong safety and tight end for us.
“He is a three-sport athlete. He is also a basketball player and a hurdler for the track team. He has a huge upside. He is 220 now, but could be 250 and still be athletic. I look for him to fill in with his frame. He is a very good athlete and a very good student. There are a lot of positive things about him.”
Holland threw for 984 yards and 14 touchdowns against four interceptions, while Myers subbed in for three games while he was hurt. Myers threw for 442 yards with three touchdowns and four interceptions.
“Holland is a good runner and a good thrower,” Kyle said. “He is a smart kid and a number of Division I schools are looking at him. With Myers, we feel we have two returning quarterbacks who can play. Myers will also work some at receiver.”
Anter tallied 759 yards rushing and five touchdowns last year.
Ryan had 32 catches for 494 yards and seven touchdowns, while Parris had 28 catches for 435 yards and five scores.
“(Ryan and Parris) have each started since their sophomore year,” Kyle said.
Hinkel tallied 100 tackles from his safety spot. Carr added 49 tackles and 4-1/2 sacks at end. McVey had 80 tackles as well last year.
The schedule, as always, will be tough with the rematch against Glenville (the Tarblooders won the playoff opener 26-23 last year) as well as games against defending state champion Cincinnati St. Xavier and runner-up Mentor.
“Our schedule is going to be a challenge,” Kyle said. “We will have to stay healthy. The kids are excited about playing Glenville again right out of the gate. That is a playoff caliber game and we know we will have to be prepared.
“We never discuss the idea of revenge. That is a silly notion with it being such a long season. But the value of it is realizing we have a lot of work to be done to get ready for a game like that.”
St. Ignatius dropped a 17-14 decision in triple overtime to eventual state champion St. Xavier last year, so their Week 9 rematch down in Cincinnati will be interesting.
And, of course, no St. Ignatius season would be complete without The Holy War against rival Lakewood St. Edward. St. Ignatius won that game 19-14 last year to push its all-time series edge to 23-21.
Beyond his duties as St. Ignatius’ football and track coach, Kyle was recently named as the coach of the first U.S. Junior National Team. USA Football, the sport’s national governing body on the youth and amateur levels, made that appointment July 16.
Kyle will lead Team USA into an eight-team competition against teams from four different continents. The tournament will take place June 27 to July 2 in Canton, Ohio. The U.S. team will feature 2009 graduates headed into their freshman year of college.
“I may teach English, but I appreciate history,” Kyle said. “This is an historic, pioneering team, and I am excited to be a part of it. I’m proud to represent the United States. I’ve quickly learned how strong football is beyond our borders. We have a challenge ahead of us, and I look forward to getting our team ready to play in Canton next summer.”
Kyle, 57, owns a 248-56-1 (.816) record and a state playoff mark of 49-11 (.817). The Wildcats have advanced to Ohio’s state playoffs in each of the past 20 seasons — the longest active streak in the football-rich state.
Aug. 23 Cleveland Glenville, 7 p.m.
Aug. 29 at Clayton Northmont
Sept. 6 at Buffalo (N.Y.) Canisius, 7 p.m.
Sept. 13 Mentor
Sept. 20 Buffalo (N.Y.) St. Francis, 7 p.m.
Sept. 26 at Massillon Washington, 8 p.m.
Oct. 4 Warren Harding, 7 p.m.
Oct. 11 Cincinnati LaSalle, 7 p.m.
Oct. 18 at Cincinnati St. Xavier, 2 p.m.
Oct. 25 Lakewood St. Edward, 7 p.m.
Dan Fox Highlight Video:
Michael Anter Highlight Video:
Mark Myers Highlight Video: