On a blistering hot Maryland Saturday, the Saint Ignatius Wildcats experienced an unusual defeat.
When they play in one-sided affairs, the Wildcats are typically the team enjoying a running clock in the second half after showcasing their considerable talents in the early goings of the game. That’s been typical in the Chuck Kyle ’69 era.
But, as the old saying goes, ‘The sun don’t shine on the same dog’s [rear-end] every day.’
The Wildcats were defeated by DeMatha Catholic on Saturday, 42-0, at the Prince George’s Athletic & Learning Complex nearby FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland.
A combination of factors contributed to the lopsided defeat. First and foremost, the Stags are an extremely talented team. DeMatha is a loaded squad filled to the brim with Division I prospects. Athletes flock from far and wide from the surrounding area to play football, basketball, and other sports at DeMatha. While the Stags lost to St. John Bosco (CA) to start the season, this team deserves to be nationally ranked with all of its talent.
Another factor was the heat. While DeMatha plays frequently in hot conditions, the Wildcats are not accustomed to the Maryland heat. With temperatures reaching the high 80s and the heat index touching the mid-to-high 90s, the Wildcats had trouble keeping up with the DeMatha speed under the midday sun.
Traveling six hours by bus also will take a lot out of you. For any high school team, that’s a challenge.
But all excuses aside, DeMatha was the better, more talented team.
The Stags showed their speed and talent from the very first play from scrimmage. South Carolina commit MarShawn Lloyd exploited an opening in the middle of the Saint Ignatius defense on the first play, dashing 75 yards for a touchdown. Before many took their seats, the Wildcats trailed, 7-0.
An inopportune turnover then granted DeMatha fine field position on its next drive. The Stags used the run game to get to the end zone for a second time, finishing off the drive with a short run to advance the lead to 14-0.
On its next drive, the Wildcats started to march down the field. Jack Welcsh aided the offense with the run, with Griffin Hanna adding a couple of nice passes. But the drive stalled on fourth down at the DeMatha 37-yard line. Declan Mangan attempted a 54-yard field goal, but the wind knocked it off course.
The Saint Ignatius defense made adjustments on DeMatha’s ensuing possession. The Wildcats stopped the Stags short and managed to get the ball back without any damage. Again, the Wildcats’ offense started to drive down the field. James Crosby helped to pick up some yardage on one of the final plays of the first quarter.
Unfortunately, the drive stalled again. On a 49-yard field goal attempt, the wind again played a role in a missed field goal.
The teams traded punts before DeMatha put the game out of reach with a 21-0 run to end the half. The deluge started with another back-breaking run, this time for 64 yards. The storm continued with a 41-yard dash on a run play through the middle of the defense. Then DeMatha scored one last time to end the half, on a picture-perfect passing strike from quarterback Malakai Anthony, a Division I college prospect.
At half, the Wildcats trailed, 35-0.
The Wildcats continued to fight in the second half. But with a running clock and a pair of turnovers, the Wildcats could not get within striking distance to score. DeMatha added another touchdown on a fumble recovery in the end zone.
The game ended with a 42-0 defeat for the Wildcats, not an easy day.
Whether or not you take a glass-half-full approach, the Wildcats are 2-2. After facing a gauntlet of teams to start the season, a 2-2 record is nothing to sneeze at. The Wildcats have defeated two defending state champs in Loyola Academy and Archbishop Hoban. Take away an inopportune holding call or the penalty on a called-back kickoff return TD vs. Mentor, and the Wildcats might be 3-1. And mind you, all four of the first games have been on the road. The Wildcats have traveled 1,500 miles in four weeks.
Plenty of season remains for the Wildcats. The team has an opportunity on Saturday vs. Clarkson Football North (Canada) at Byers Field to regroup and get back on track for the stretch run. Anything is possible for the Wildcats – nothing is yet lost.
As Coach Kyle likes to say, don’t lose faith.