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The Cats Look to Play Spoiler on the Road

By Joe Mertens '15, 11/05/21, 12:15PM EDT


The sixth seeded Wildcats travel to Stow-Munroe Falls to take on the Bulldogs in the Regional Quarterfinal.

OHIO CITY, Oh - The Wildcats earned another Monday practice after surviving a late comeback from the Mentor Cardinals in the opening round of the OHSAA Playoffs. “Mentor was a better team than their record showed because of the injuries this season,” says Head Football Coach Chuck Kyle ‘69.

“Offensively in that game, we moved the ball efficiently on the ground; having two backs go over 100 yards in a game was truly amazing,”

Marty Lenehan and Joey Georges made program history, becoming the first pair of runners in a single game to rush over 100 yards. Lenehan toted the rock 17 times for 116 yards, while Georges had 22 carries for 132 yards. Both backs would find paydirt on the ground vs. Mentor.

Saint Ignatius survived a late comeback in the fourth quarter, which saw the Cardinals score 22 points to pull themselves within a field goal from tying the game. However, Mentor could not recover the onside kick late in the fourth and the Wildcats moved on to the Regional Quarterfinal.

“Mentor can come back on you with that offense as we saw in the fourth quarter,” explains Kyle. “We did a nice job limiting them on the field in the first three quarters and dominating the time of possession.”


“All season, we have run the ball very well, early part of the season through the air, we had deep opportunities that we just did not hit,” says Kyle. “We are beginning to be consistent with the deep ball, which has enhanced our production.”

The ground game a week ago vs. Mentor opened the passing lanes for senior quarterback Joey Pfaff. Pfaff was 8-of-15 passing for 131 yards and two touchdowns. Pfaff was slinging the ball downfield to receivers such as Max Muresan, Colin Vollmer and Jonathan Merimee, which set the offense in the Cardinal red zone multiple times.

“We are hitting the longer passes,” Kyle says. “It was frustrating missing those opportunities in the first weeks of the season, but now we are hitting our stride.”

For the Stow defense, they are led by middle backer Teddy Gregory. Gregory leads the Bulldogs in tackles with 133 total and has accounted for three sacks. Gregory has four interceptions and three fumble recoveries.

“This is an aggressive defense; expect a lot of blitzing,” Kyle explains. “They are more than willing to go to man-to-man in the secondary and rush defenders. The blitz pick-up has to be effective to give us time.”

Kaden Spiegel leads the team in sacks for the Bulldogs. The 6’1” 230 lbs defensive lineman is a force on the Stow defensive front and along with picking up blitz packages, the Wildcats offensive line must find a way to slow down Spiegel. The Wildcats will look to continue to build off last week vs. Mentor with a heavy dose of the run to open up the passing game for Pfaff. Pfaff has played well since returning from injury and will look to continue that growth heading to Stow.  


The Saint Ignatius defense through three quarters allowed just ten points to the Mentor Cardinals. The defense was a significant part in the Cats 21 point third quarter to put the game just out of reach from Mentor. In that third quarter, sacks from Ryan Boomer, Euguene Gibbons and Christopher Aerni gave the momentum the Cats needed heading into the second half. That same aggressiveness will have to be present in the Regional Quarterfinal vs. Stow.

Mic'd Up With the Wildcats

“We are dealing with some injuries and that showed up a little bit vs. Mentor,” explains Kyle. “We have a whole week to adjust and we are heading into another good challenge against Stow.”

The secondary has been hit with the injury bug all season long but is missing a couple of key pieces heading into week two of the OHSAA Playoffs. The Cats will be without two seniors in Jack Mangan and Griffin Taliak. Expect sophomore Sean Martin to get his first varsity start on Friday vs. Stow. Braeden Lair will move back into the secondary after working with the linebackers the last few weeks.

“Their offense is dealing with injuries as well; they have a quarterback that got hurt which is a Division I athlete,” says Kyle. “We have prepared this week for their starter and the back-up; that has been the challenge this week, but we will make the adjustments where need be on Friday.”

Owen Bainbridge, a Bowling Green State University commit, has dealt with injuries this season. Junior Nate   Boozer has stepped up in his place and the Bulldogs are 9-2 on the season. The catalyst on the Bulldog defense is their running back, Xavier Preston. Preston this season has put the team on his back, rushing for 1,665 yards on 214 carries. He averages 7.8 yards a carry and has found the endzone 23 times, 20 on the ground and three through the air. Preston is an explosive athlete that the Wildcats will have to find a way to contain.

“We have to execute playoff-caliber football,” emphasizes Kyle. “Our kids know that and it’ll be a challenge.”

The Cats are prepared to adjust the defense against Stow as they are dealing with the injury bug heading into Stow week. “We have to be ready to adjust personnel,” Kyle explains. “We’ve had some injuries; everyone does at this point of the season; we have to adjust to what we are facing, so how quickly we adapt to that will be key.”


The Wildcats won the field position game last week vs. Mentor as the Cardinals in the first three quarters were put into some bad spots thanks to the Wildcats special teams unit. Zeb Eldridge punted the ball three times for an average of 35.7 yards in a windy game, pinning the Cardinals in their territory.

This will be the second time in program history that Saint Ignatius matches up with Stow. The first time was back in 1988 in the Regional Final, which saw the Wildcats come away victorious. The Cats are looking for a Regional Semifinal berth. The winner will take on either Medina or Cleveland Heights next Friday night in the Regional Semifinal round.