Saint Ignatius Head Coach Chuck Kyle '69 plans to use special teams as a weapon this season, and for good reason.
The Wildcats will have very good special teams this season.
The team returns two experienced and talented kickers in senior Rory McConville and junior Declan Mangan. The Wildcats also have other good players manning key positions such as long snapper and holder.
In a way, it should come as no surprise that the Wildcats will have a great special teams unit. The program has produced several Division I players in recent years. Matt Trickett '18 is the starting placekicker for Kent State this season. Sean Wracher '19 will be Indiana's top long snapper as a true freshman. Colin Goodfellow '17 is on Kentucky's roster as a punter.
"We'll surprise some people with the how the kicking game is good and hopefully some big plays on special teams," said Coach Kyle. "In the last few years, we've graduated some great kickers and special teamers who are playing Division I football now. Rory McConville and Declan Mangan are good. Our kicking game was kind of a group last year and there's no reason why it can't be again."
McConville and Mangan will split the kicking duties nearly evenly this year to keep both men fresh throughout the season.
McConville will handle extra points and short field goals for the Wildcats. The returning senior connected on 29-of-32 extra points and 7-of-8 field goals last season. Mangan will take care of long field goals, kickoffs, and punting. As a sophomore in 2018, Mangan connected on 2-of-2 extra points and 3-of-3 field goals, including a 50-yarder. In an extra practice session over the summer, Mangan hit a 66-yard field goal.
Kyle and his staff won't be afraid to attempt long field goals this year with both men having strong legs.
"We'll launch 50-plus yard field goals and we'll make them," Kyle said. "Punting-wise, Declan starting learning it last year. He's starting to hit them well with consistency. Sometimes he's too eager, he needs to stay within himself. But he's hit some beauties. During the Solon scrimmage, he hit one for 48 yards, he buried it, even into the wind. He's shown that he can do the punting well."
Whoever the kicker, Bennett Adler will be the snapper and Henry Cook will be the holder. Adler assumes the reins from Wracher, while Cook held kicks for much of last season.
The reliability of the entire unit allows the Wildcats' coaching staff to rest easy before games this season.
"We graduated a very good snapper, but Adler is good, he's getting better and better. I really think we'll be solid. I think of special teams as a weapon," Kyle said. "That's been good for us with field position and scoring. You get into the red zone and you want to get a touchdown, but we'll take 3 points. You get a kickoff, and if you can bury them down there, you can keep field position and on the next series, we'll score a touchdown and we're up by 10. That's okay. Just be patient."
In the return game, Dominic DeVengencie and Connor Cmiel will lead the way. Devo returned 13 punts for 145 yards and 5 kickoffs for 130 yards last year. Cmiel returned 9 kicks for 318 yards, including an 85-yard return for a score vs. St. Edward in the Regional Quarterfinal. Cook, Michael Morgan, and James Crosby will also assist in the return game as needed.
Looking at the special teams as a whole, Saint Ignatius fans can rest easy with the knowledge that the special teams will not just be good, but a great weapon for the Wildcats this season.