Despite the lofty credentials, 10 state titles and a playoff record
of 60-12, Cleveland St. Ignatius haD been flying under the radar most of
the season. Missing the playoffs for the first time in 23 years last
season and a Week 3 loss to Mentor only fueled that gross
misconception. Guess what…
The D-I title game was a tough act to follow and it was even a tougher night for Pickerington Central. Thee storied program, Cleveland St. Ignatius, captured its 11th state championship with a convincing 34-13 victory. The Wildcats improve to 61-12 all-time in the playoffs. And truly, some things never change as Cleveland sportswriter Tim Rogers pointed out that St. Ignatius has never lost a title game in the month of December. The school has won 11 in 12 attempts with the lone loss – 1996 – taking place on the last day of November. The Wildcats, who missed the playoffs for the first time in 23 years last season, held Central’s big-play offense to 22 yards rushing on 25 attempts. And a big piece of the puzzle was QB Eric Williams, a transfer from Portland, Oregon Jesuit High School. A year ago, he led that team to the state semi-finals. This time justice was served, completing 19-of-31 passes for 297 yards and two TDs. Junior RB Tim McVey did the damage on the ground with 107 yards and two TDs. Iggy coach Chuck Kyle lamented, “We were the forgotten team. We weren’t even ranked most of the season. I guess because we missed the playoffs last year, nobody expected us to contend…I liked it. The kids worked hard and improved each week and we peaked at the right time.” – By Tim Langevin
Video by Alex Sator
ST. IGNATIUS WINS ITS 11TH TITLE; BEATS PICKERINGTON CENTRAL
(Division I Championship at Canton’s Fawcett Stadium)
By Tim Langevin
CANTON – No respect.
Despite the lofty credentials, 10 state titles and a playoff record of 60-12, Cleveland St. Ignatius has been flying under the radar most of the season. Missing the playoffs for the first time in 23 years last season and a Week 3 loss to Mentor only fueled that gross misconception.
The Wildcats steadily improved and peaked at the right moment, earning at least the respect from Pickerington Central. Iggy shut down the Tigers big-play offense and produced some firepower of their own with a convincing 34-13 win Saturday night to capture its 11th state title and improve to 61-12 all-time in the playoffs.
Long time St. Ignatius coach Chuck Kyle said, “All week we were thinking this would be another one of those games we’d have to claw our way through. Surprised they abandoned the running game so early. As the game progressed, we adjusted and ratcheted up our blitz package.”
And a big part was QB Eric Williams, a transfer from Portland, Oregon’s Jesuit High School. A year ago, he led his team to a state semi-final appearance. This year, he got redemption.
The Senior posted big numbers in a big game, completing 19-of-31 passes for 297 yards and two TDs.
But the difference-maker was Senior RB Tim McVey. The speedy, little back logged 107 determined yards on 24 carries and two TDs against a very stout defense.
The Wildcats jumped out to an early 13-0 lead and never trailed the rest of the way. Tim McCoy caught a 45-yard TD pass from Williams to get things started. Then Tim Shenk added two field goals from 31 yards and 43 yards, respectively.
McVey capped a 91-yard drive with an eight-yard TD run and Iggy held a commanding 20-0 lead with 8:42 left in the half.
Pick Central clawed back with two scores to cut the margin 20-13 at the break. Roger Lewis caught a 15-yard TD pass from Nick Jensen-Clagg and Sebastian Smith caught a 75-yarder to restore hope.
Pickerington Central coach Jay Sharrett said, “We knew their blitzing could be a problem because of their size and depth. Getting behind early was another problem. It sort of changed our approach.”
But St. Ignatius tacked on a score in the third quarter and another in the fourth quarter on a pass from Williams to Jake Mooney to seal the outcome.
The Central running attack was shut down, gaining 22 yards on 25 carries. That left it up to Jensen-Clagg, who completed 21-of-38 passes for 280 yards and two TDs. Smith caught four passes for 141 yards and one score and Jake Raymond had eight catches for 64 yards.
Raymond said, “We all felt we could come back after the first half. This was a team that started 0-2. We were never going to quit.”
The Tigers offense was out of sync most of the game, committing three turnovers and nine penalties for 60 yards, sacked three times, and a dismal 5-of-13 converted third downs.
The Iggy defense was led by Senior LB Zach Ryan with eight tackles, including 21/2 for minus 21 yards and 21/2 sacks. All-Ohio safety Mike Svetina recorded five tackles.
WR Conor Hennessey made four catches for 103 yards and Mooney added seven catches for 79 yards.
Pickerington Central falls to 11-3 and St. Ignatius ends it with a 13-2 record.