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The Football Cats Win on Senior Day

By Danny Gibel '22, 10/24/21, 12:45PM EDT


Saint Ignatius cliches a home playoff game in the first round after defeating Football North-Clarkson (ONT) 58-28 to end their regular season campaign.

PARMA, Oh - Saturday was a massive day for Wildcat athletics: the Crew team rowed in the Head of the Charles Regatta in Boston, MA, the Cross Country team won the District Championship, the Soccer team began their quest for another state title with a 12-0 win, and the Golf team completed one of the greatest seasons for a Saint Ignatius golf team ever by winning the Division I State Championship.  The day ended with a Senior Day game at Byers Field as the Wildcats took on the Chargers from Football North-Clarkson.  The Cats came away with the win after dominating for nearly the entirety of the game.  The Men of Ohio City now look to make a postseason run beginning next Friday night.

Senior Day got off to a fast start for the Wildcats thanks to a 74-yard return by Edwin Abiakl to the Football North 23-yard line.  The offense, led by Josh Papesh, moved the chains down inside the ten but were forced to kick a field goal after a 3rd & goal pass fell incomplete. Zeb Eldridge nailed a 26-yard attempt to put the Cats up 3-0.  

The Wildcats were quick to get another opportunity; Gavin Berger intercepted a ball thrown over the middle on the ensuing drive for Football North.  The senior linebacker had a small return and the ball was placed at the Football North 34-yard line, giving the offense excellent field position.  Then on the first play of the possession, Papesh launched a 34-yard touchdown pass to Colin Vollmer, who used every bit of his 6’5” frame to make the catch.  The first end zone score of the day gave the Wildcats a 10-0 lead.  

The next drive for Football North also ended in a takeaway for the Wildcat defense; this time, Jack Mangan came up with a forced fumble on Chargers quarterback Callum Wither.  Tommy Wasinski then recovered the fumble at the Wildcats 49-yard line.  The next drive for the Wildcats was a quick one, as the Football North defense forced a three-and-out.  

However, a muffed punt by the Chargers gave the Wildcats the ball right back. Papesh and the offense once again started with excellent field position at the Football North 14-yard line.  The Cats quickly took advantage of the special teams mistake as a ten-yard jet-sweep run to Patrick Tompkins for a touchdown increased the lead to 17-0.  

On the next drive for Football North, coach Ryan Franzinger’s ’02 defense forced a three-and-out with 3:32 left in the first quarter. After the ensuing punt, the Wildcats began the next drive on offense from their 41-yard line.  Highlighting the drive for the Cats was Edward Musbach, who had 56 total yards, including a 41-yard touchdown catch from Papesh. Musbach’s first touchdown of the season gave the Cats a 24-0 lead.  

Football North would not be held to a scoreless first quarter. They capitalized on poor coverage downfield by the Wildcat secondary with a 71-yard touchdown pass from Wither to Mekhi Tyrell Jr. With that; the first quarter closed with a 24-7 advantage for the Wildcats.

The opening drive of the second quarter for the Wildcats was fueled by another jet-sweep, this time by Musbach, along with a 10-yard catch by Sean Ward to move the chains.  The Cats were helped out further by a facemask penalty on Football North that brought them down to the 18-yard line of the Chargers. Two plays later, Papesh lofted an 18-yard touchdown pass over the defender and into the hands of Musbach. Papesh’s third touchdown pass of the game put the Wildcats ahead 31-7.  

The Chargers went into their next drive looking for points and they were not willing to settle for a field goal.  Football North was able to drive down the Saint Ignatius 28-yard line before Wildcat defense could force a 4th & 15.  However, Wither and the Charger offense took a shot downfield into the endzone and Tyrell Jr. hauled it in for a touchdown. The Chargers cut into the Wildcat lead as the score was 31-14, with 7:59 left in the first half.

They struggled to get anything going offensively on the next drive for the Cats and were forced to punt the ball back to Football North.  With the offense scuffling, the Wildcat defense stepped up with Abiakl interception.  After a short return, the ball was placed at the Saint Ignatius 32-yard line.  The offense began to hit its stride after a 24-run by Joey Georges and a 16-yard completion to Vollmer over the middle to the 21-yard line.  Sean Martin capped off the drive for the Cats with a 21-yard touchdown run to make it 38-14 in favor of the Wildcats.  

The Wildcat defense had several chances to stop the Chargers on the next drive.  Joey Kause had the first sack of the game for a loss of five.  The Cats even forced a fourth down; Wither was able to escape the pocket and scramble 26-yards down to the two-yard line and pick up the first down.  Football North continued to hang around with a two-yard touchdown pass by Wither to Tyrell Jr. The Wildcats ran one play on offense before letting the clock run out in the first half.  After two quarters, the Cats held a 38-21 lead. 

Football North’s offense picked up right where they left off in the second quarter.  Wither was able to escape once again and pick up a first down to keep the drive moving down into Wildcat territory.  The next play went for a touchdown by Mateo Fernandez, who looked like the Wildcat defense line buried him but emerged from the pile and scored. The opening possession touchdown for the Charges cut the Wildcat lead to 38-28.

SIBN Players of the Game vs. Football North: Jack Mangan and Edward Musbach

The Wildcats struggled to move the ball on offense and were forced to punt after a three-and-out. Eldridge’s punt landed and rolled down to the one-yard line to pin the Chargers deep inside their half of the field.  The defense used that starting field position to their advantage, causing a three-and-out of their own.  Charlie Dunstan had a great return going for 21-yards to the Football North 17-yard line on the punt.  

After the Dunstan return, the Wildcats were primed to score a touchdown and swing the momentum back in their favor.  The offense did just that off a four-yard touchdown run by Lenehan to expand their lead to 44-28.  On the next possession for the Chargers, Wither was trying to target Tyrell Jr. on a slant route, but Mangan read it perfectly and jumped in front of the pass for the interception.  The senior corner had no one in front of him and returned the ball to the endzone for a touchdown.  The pick-6 by Mangan gave the Cats a 51-28 lead with 3:29 left in the third quarter.  

The Wildcats continued to fight back after giving up a couple of touchdowns on defense by forcing another three-and-out by Football North.  The punt by the Chargers placed the Cats’ offense at the Football North 46-yard line.  The running game propelled the next drive for the Wildcats as Sean Martin raced for a 17-yard pickup and Georges used his speed to get to the outside and fly into the endzone. Georges’ seven-yard touchdown run gave the Cats a 58-28 lead with 10:22 left in the fourth quarter.

The defensive players for the Cats continued to put together an outstanding performance after giving up the fourth touchdown early in the second half.  The defense was able to cause another three-and-out by Football North.  Dunstan had another explosive return on the punt, this time for 32-yards and to the Charger 14-yard line.  Even though they trailed by 30 points, the Football North defense showed no quit as they stuffed the Wildcats on four straight plays for a turnover-on-downs.  

On the last drive of the game for the Crusaders, the defense once again did not allow the Football North offense to move the ball and forced a punt. After regaining possession of the football, the Wildcats entered Victory Formation and let the remaining seconds of the fourth quarter drain away, officially closing out their regular season with a win.  

Papesh was 6-of-13 for 131 yards and three touchdowns.  Georges had 12 rushes for 63 yards and a touchdown.  Martin added six carries for 45 yards and a touchdown.  Musbach led the Wildcats in receiving with 61 yards on two catches and two touchdowns.  Vollmer had two receptions for 55 yards and a touchdown.  Berger had a team-high six tackles, an interception and a sack.  Mangan also added five tackles, a forced fumble, and a pick-6.  Chris Aerni had four tackles for a loss of two yards. Kause had one sack for a loss of five yards.  

Saturday’s Senior Night win was an all-around effort from the Cats and served as a final tune-up for the playoffs.  The Saint Ignatius Wildcats end the regular season with an admirable 6-4 record and battle through the highest schedule strength in program history.  The Football Cats will be back in action for the playoffs next Friday.  Follow @SIHSSports on Twitter this week to find out the official time and opponent of the first-round matchup as the Cats clinch a first-round home game.

Week 10 Highlights: Saint Ignatius vs. Football North-Clarkson