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The Wildcats Cruise to the Next Round

By Eli Maistros '24, 10/29/22, 10:30AM EDT


The Cats win the opening round of the OHSAA Playoffs with a 33-6 victory over John Marshall.

PARMA, Oh - The Saint Ignatius Wildcats started their climb to their 12th championship at Byers Field in Parma, Ohio, with a matchup with an old Senate foe in the John Marshall Lawyers. In the 49th matchup between the two programs, the Wildcats were able to get their playoff run rolling. This was John Marshall's first playoff appearance in program history.

John Marshall received the opening kickoff and called a timeout before the game started. The John Marshall running back coughed the ball up on the first play from scrimmage, and Max Palinski fell on it. 

It only took the Wildcat offense five offensive plays and 2:16 seconds of game time to score their first touchdown, as Sean Martin punched it in from two yards away. 

John Marshall finally settled their offense and picked up a first down via a pass interference penalty on the Wildcats. Eugene Gibbons stopped the Lawyers short on third down and the punt team came out. Punter Brayan Santiago could not handle the snap and was sent backward and brought down by Christian Cupp at the Lawyer's 17-yard line. 

Again, the Wildcats took advantage of their field position, using their ground game to get them inside the five-yard line, and Max Ritt capped it off with a four-yard touchdown run, his first rushing touchdown at the varsity level.

The Lawyer offense quickly went three and out, with Santiago punting from his end zone, giving the Wildcats excellent field position. The Saint Ignatius offense struggled to move the ball on this possession, settling for a Tommy Kilbane 24-yard field goal, making the score 17-0 in favor of the Wildcats.

The Wildcat defense held firm and John Marshall punted again. Santiago got a pretty good punt, sending Cody Haddad back to his own 45, but when he caught it, he took off down the middle of the field, maneuvering down to the Lawyer four-yard line. 

Michael Norman was the third different Wildcat running back to score a touchdown, as, on the first play of the drive, he scored from four yards out. Norman's second touchdown on the season.

With the Lawyers facing a third and short, Edmund Soeder stepped up and sent the running back backward to end the first quarter and bring the punt team out again. 

Junior quarterback Josh Papesh only played the first half and threw a mere five passes, completing three of them. On this drive, he connected with senior Brady Haddad on the goal line to set up an Ian Zalatel one-yard touchdown plunge, making him the fourth different Wildcat rusher to find paydirt.

That would cap the scoring for the offense and the Wildcats took a 31-0 lead into the intermission.

SIBN Players of the Game vs. John Marshall: Michael Norman and Max Palinski

The second half flew by quickly as the running clock was activated. Only two points were scored in the third quarter as the Wildcat reserves began to see time on the field. 

After the offense stalled on their opening drive of the second half, James Collins put his boot into a punt near midfield and would perfectly place the kick inside the five as the Wildcats would down the ball at the one-yard line.

Lawyer quarterback Jermaine Stennies was forced to his right and junior Sam Chaloub hawked him down and dropped him in his end zone for the safety. 

In the late stages of the fourth quarter, Stennies connected with Amir Ware in the end zone from 13 yards out to put John Marshall on the board. But it was too late and the Wildcats walked out of the first round with a 33-6 victory. 

The Cats will advance to the next round to take on Cleveland Heights in the OHSAA Regional Quarterfinal. The Tigers are 10-1 on the season and will host Saint Ignatius next Friday at 7 p.m. The winner will advance to the Regional Semifinal to take on the winner of St. Edward and Massillon Jackson. 

OHSAA First Round Highlights: Saint Ignatius vs. John Marshall