Cleveland St. Ignatius set an OHSAA record last season winning its 10th state football title in school history. The Wildcats lose some key players from last season but have plenty of talent to make a run at an 11th championship.
Here is a look at the 2009 St. Ignatius Wildcats.
Ignatius (14-1, State Champions)
* Players to Watch – DE Pat Dowd (6-3, 230, Sr.), DE
Gerard Ramella (6-2, 215, Sr.), OLB Jake Ryan (6-2, 215, Sr.), LB Scott McVey
(6-1 225, Sr.), OT Stewart Ross (6-4, 225, Sr.), TE Brendan Carrozoni (6-4, 215,
Sr.), QB Mark Myers (6-4, 220, Sr.), RB Kevin Johnson (5-11, 190, Sr.).
* Outlook – Cleveland St. Ignatius extended its
record of playoff state championships to 10 by defeating Cincinnati Elder 28-20
in the 2008 Division I state title game.
It marked the 10th title in 21 years for the
Wildcats and their longtime head coach Chuck Kyle. It also ended St. Ignatius’
seven-year state championship drought – the longest period between titles for
the school since it won its first title in 1988.
Kyle recently enjoyed the thrill of leading Team USA to a
gold medal at the World Junior Football Championships in Canton. He will be back
for his 27th year with the Wildcats.
“We had a couple of camps recently and the kids were all
like, ‘It feels like we just stopped (playing),’ ” Kyle said. “Now the kids know
what the reality is about winning a state championship. What you hope is that
you get to practice an extra five weeks because last year, that really did help
our young kids get more experience during our playoff run.”
“Even though some of our young guys may not have been
playing in those games, they still had all of those extra practices because we
got to go an extra five weeks.”
He welcomes back three players with starting experience on
offense and five on defense from his latest state championship team. Kyle hopes
to maintain the momentum built on that title run.
“There’s certain areas where we’ve got to grow up pretty
quickly because that senior class dominated those areas, and I’m not just
talking about the first team guys, we had second team guys as seniors, too,”
Kyle said. “We definitely need some young guys to step up for us to get close to
what we had last year.”
McVey issued an early commitment to Ohio State after a
dominant four-sack performance in the state title game win over Cincinnati
Elder. For the year, McVey had 94 tackles and 34-1/2 tackles-for-loss.
“Scott’s the type of kid, he’s a very focused athlete,”
Kyle said. “He loves playing the game. It’s almost like, ‘That’s (his
recruitment to Ohio State) done, now let’s get ready to play the season.’ He’s
glad it’s out of the way so he can play the game for his team. He had an amazing
season last year.
“We graduated some of his companions, Dan Fox, Pat Hinkel
but hopefully some of his classmates and kids younger will step up.”
Johnson, who rushed for 302 yards and four TDs last year,
was a state qualifier in the 100-meter dash. Carrozoni is a Pittsburgh recruit and Myers started a few games for departed senior Andrew
Holland last year at quarterback.
The schedule has Glenville at the beginning and rival
Lakewood St. Edward at the end with a ton of challenges – including Clayton
Northmont, Mentor, Massillon Washington and Cincinnati St. Xavier — in the
“Our kids are eager to get back at our schedule,” Kyle
said. “As for our regular season schedule, it’s always tough and we look forward
to that challenge with St. Ed’s and Glenville and the other teams we play. We
look at it like it gets us ready for the playoffs so we want to learn from those
Aug. 29, Cleveland Glenville, 7 p.m.
Sept. 5, Clayton Northmont, 7 p.m.
Sept. 12, Buffalo (N.Y.) Canisius, 7 p.m.
Sept. 18, at Mentor, 7 p.m.
Sept. 26, at Athol Springs (N.Y.) St. Francis, 7 p.m.
Oct. 3, Massillon Washington
Oct. 10, at Warren Harding, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 17, Inkster, Mich., 7 p.m.
Oct. 24, Cincinnati St. Xavier, 2 p.m.
Oct. 31, at Lakewood St. Edward, 7 p.m.