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Wildcats Win Chuck Kyle's ’69 Final Regular Season Game

By Eli Maistros '24, 10/23/22, 12:15PM EDT


On a special night from Wasmer Field, the Wildcats bring home win number 375 for Head Football Coach Chuck Kyle in his final regular season game.

OHIO CITY, Oh - For the first and only time in program history, a varsity football game was played on the campus of Saint Ignatius High School, with a decked-out Wasmer Field playing host. It was Head Football Coach Chuck Kyle's '69 night, as, after a 40+ year career, he coached his final regular season game. 

The opponent came from up north, as Football North-Clarkson (ONT) made the trip from Canada and looked to play spoiler in this historic game. 

They received the opening kickoff and got their ground game going early, as quarterback Adrian Mohammed showed his ground skills. Football North kept possession for the entire 12-minute first quarter. Despite being penalized six times on the opening drive, Football North continued to find ways to get a first down and burn the clock. 

On the first play of the second quarter, Mohammed took to the air from the Wildcat 24-yard line for the first time and connected with Mekhi Tyrell Jr. in the end zone to give Football North the lead with just four seconds taken off the game clock in the second quarter.

The offense could not muster anything on their opening drive, punting it back. The defense found its footing, forcing a punt and giving the offense another chance. 

Junior quarterback Joshua Papesh got rolling on this drive, hitting Brandon Webster on the run for 19 yards and with the ball on the Football North 26-yard line, looked deep for Jonathan Merimee who caught it in the end zone to tie the game up with 2:41 left to go in the first half.

Again, Mohammed and running back Brandon Ward used their legs to get down to the Wildcat 21-yard line. With under a minute left in the half, Mohammed looked Tyrell's way again, but senior safety John Leszcz stepped in and made the interception, preserving the tie heading into the locker room. It was Leszcz's first varsity interception.

"I knew they were going to throw it to number 3," explains Leszcz, "I saw Webster force him inside and he was on a post and I just jumped right in front of it."

Sophomore Cody Haddad received the second-half kickoff and accelerated down the sideline ending up at the Football North 26-yard line. The 66-yard kickoff return gave the Wildcats excellent field position to open the half. A touch pass to Webster put the Wildcats inside the 5-yard line, but penalties and a third-down incompletion forced a Tommy Kilbane 25-yard field goal. 

The defense stood firm again as a Webster pass break up on third down forced a punt. Besides a long Max Ritt run, the offense could not move on the drive and punted. 

On third down for Football North, they tried to run up the middle with Caleb Sargeant, but the Holy Cross commit Will Robinson made a huge hit to force another punt and put the Wildcat crowd into a frenzy. 

As the fourth quarter started, again, Ritt stepped up big, breaking off a 20-yard gain on a screen pass. "I know I had to step up for Chico in his last game," says Ritt. "We had a few injuries at the running back position, so I stepped up for my team."

With 9:45 to go in the fourth quarter, Football North's Christian Salerno flew in and forced a Papesh fumble picked up and returned by Keith Bourque for a touchdown. A defensive holding penalty would negate the scoop and score by Football North and keep the score 10-7 in favor of the Wildcats.

SIBN Players of the Game vs. Football North (ONT) - John Leszcz and Max Ritt

Football North put some stops together and the Wildcats had a fourth and short upcoming. Nicholas Lewis-Joseph flew off the edge on fourth down and stopped Ritt before he could get to the line to gain. 

Max Woidke got extra reps at cornerback because of Sean Martin's increased offensive role and he impressed, first breaking up a deep ball intended for Tyrell and then making an open-field tackle to set up third down. Muhammed tried to run but was stopped by Max Palinski setting up fourth down. 

Football North trotted out their kicker to attempt a 52-yard field goal attempt which would tie the game with under a minute to go in regulation. Webster flew off the edge and blocked the kick that Ben Taliak would return the blocked kick near the goal line, but an illegal block in the back put the Wildcats back near the Football North 30-yard line. 

With only two timeouts remaining and under 40 seconds on the clock, the Cats got into victory formation. With Papesh's final kneel, coach Kyle notched victory number 375 in his historic career.

It was only fitting that the final score of Kyle's last regular season game would be 10-7 and come down to a defensive stop as in the first State Championship in 1988 against Cincinnati Princeton, the Wildcats made a defensive stand to secure a 10-7 victory. 

After the game, everyone in attendance collected on the field to sing the Alma Mater with Coach Kyle on this historic night. 

The Wildcats will host a playoff game at Byers Field on Friday, October 28, at 7 p.m. The OHSAA will announce the official pairings Sunday evening, but from Joe Eitel's computer points ranking system, the Wildcats will host the John Marshall Lawyers in the opening round of the OHSAA Playoffs. 

Week 10 Highlights: Football North @ Saint Ignatius