On March 27, Saint Ignatius and Archbishop Moeller played in a barn burner on the pitch where the Wildcats came away with a 34-26 win in Cincinnati. The rematch between the two squads would come in the Division I State Championship at Fortress Obetz on Saturday, June 5, in Columbus. The Wildcats went into the match seeking their fourth straight State Championship and the sixth title since becoming a varsity sport in 2014.
On the opening kick-off, Moeller pinned the Wildcats back deep in their territory. The Cats struggled in the opening minutes to move the ball out of their side of the field but would break out with a kick to gain breathing room. Near the 10 minute mark of the contest, the Wildcats threatened to score against the Crusaders, but great defense from Moeller would keep the match scoreless.
The defensive battle would continue until the 16th-minute mark of the State Championship as senior Chris Speelman would break the scoreless tie, using his strength to get into the try zone out of the scrum. However, junior Robert Voth’s conversion would miss as the Wildcats owned an early 5-0 lead over Moeller.
Moeller would get their first crack on the scoreboard at the 19th-minute mark as the penalty kick from the Crusaders would be good, making the score 5-3. However, immediately after the kick-off from the Wildcats, the defense would get the possession back, forcing a Moeller turnover. Then, out of the scrum was the speedy junior Timmy Putka. Putka was off to the races for a 30-yard try at the 21st-minute mark of the contest. After a Voth conversion, the Cats led the Crusaders 12-3.
The defense for both teams would intensify with hard hits by both squads, keeping each other out of the try zone. As time wound down in the first half, Voth’s penalty kick was good at the 35th-minute mark, giving the Wildcats a 15-3 lead at the break.
The Wildcats would carry their momentum built in the first half into the second as, at the 45th-minute mark of the match, Putka would get in for his second try. Putka was set up after great shifty passing by the Wildcats to open the field for the speedster Putka. After a Voth conversion, the Cats led the Crusaders 22-3.
Moeller would threaten multiple times in the second half; however, the Wildcats’ stout defense kept Moeller out of the try zone. With a 22-3 lead, the Cats relied on their defense which has improved drastically throughout the season. At the 55th minute mark, the Crusaders were just yards away from getting into the try zone, but great open-field tackling by the Cats kept Moeller out.
The Crusaders would break through at the 55th-minute mark for their first and only try of the contest. However, the conversion was no good and the Cats maintained a 22-8 lead with just minutes away from becoming State Champions.
The Wildcats dictated the final 15 minutes, dominating possession and playing their brand of stand-out defense. Then, as time expired, the Wildcats were crowned State Champions for the fourth straight season with a 22-8 victory over the Moeller Crusaders.
Head Rugby Coach Dan Arbeznik ‘00 wins his sixth title as a coach for the Rugby Cats as he continues to establish a dynasty at Saint Ignatius High School. This also mark’s the school’s 47th State Championship victory.
Their season is not over yet for the Rugby Cats as they will compete in the National Tournament beginning June 17 in Kansas City, Missouri, at Swope Soccer Village. As a high school program, Saint Ignatius is ranked second in the country. After a State Championship, the Wildcats have an opportunity to win a National Championship.
Varsity B State Championship
The Wildcats were victorious in the JV State Championship at Fortress Obetz in Columbus on Saturday with a 15-12 OT victory against the St. Edward Eagles. The Cats and Eagles were knotted at 12 apiece after 70 minutes of play and went into overtime to decide a champion.
Sophomore Aidan Pickston opened the overtime with a kick-off that put the Wildcats in prime position to win the match. Senior Brendan Roof, also known as “Roof Hoof,” hit the game-winning kick as the Varsity B squad won the JV State Championship. Junior Sebastian Duffin secured two tries in the win for the Wildcats.