EUCLID, Oh - The fairytale run finally ended at Euclid Community Stadium as the Saint Ignatius Wildcats fell to the St. Edward Eagles for the second time to end the year. The final chapter in legendary Head Football Coach Chuck Kyle's '69 career was closed as his 5+ decade run as football coach ended.
The Wildcats won the coin toss and elected to kick off as the rain and wind howled in on a dark evening. The Eagles' offense was out first, led by their potent rushing attack.
That rushing attack was evident on the first drive, as senior running back Marvin Bell carried the offense down the field, with the Eagles only throwing the ball once.
On third and short, the Eagles were stopped short, forcing the Eagles field goal team out. Ben Lavelle’s 29-yard attempt was pushed right by the wind and rain, and the Wildcats took over on their 20.
The Wildcats' offense couldn’t get the ball moving through the elements, resulting in their first punt. The punt was shanked, and the Eagles took over in Wildcat territory.
With the Eagles facing a third down, captain Will Robinson stepped up and stopped Bell short of the marker to end the first quarter. Lavelle returned to try again from 39 yards out but pushed it left to keep the game scoreless.
Despite an impressive catch and run by Sean Martin on a third down screen pass, the offense stalled again and Jimmy Collins punted again, this one also not his best, giving the Eagles good field position.
Again, quarterback Casey Bullock and Bell marched down the field, but the defense held firm on third down again and forced a fourth and short. This time, Bell picked it up and eventually found his way into the end zone for the game's first score.
Still battling the conditions, the offense was not able to move. Collins came out to punt for the third time. The snap slipped through his hands, and St. Edward recovered it and gave themselves excellent field position.
Lavelle was teed up for his third field goal attempt with two seconds left in the half. His kick looked to be tipped at the line and fell short, ending the half with the Eagles up 7-0.
The Wildcats got the ball to open the second half and Papesh used his legs to get things going. The usual stationary quarterback took off from his own 40 and tiptoed the sideline down to the 11-yard line of the Eagles.
After three short gains, coach Kyle left the offense on the field for fourth and two from the three. Papesh sold the play fake and hit tight end, Hunter Moriarity over the middle for the equalizer.
The Eagles' offense finally got rolling as Bell continued to chip away at the defense before Bullock hooked up with junior Kyan Mason on a deep ball inside the Wildcat 10. Bell continually had his number called and it paid off as he scored short of regaining the lead.
The Wildcats' offense returned to its first-half form, needing another punt after an unsuccessful third down. In a deja vu moment, Bullock once again threw deep for Mason in the same spot of the field and he caught it again, setting Bullock up for a short pitch and catch to Grady Lentz-Pfiefer in the end zone for six.
The offense again had a rough go-around, ending with a Max Palinski punt to start the fourth quarter, which was his first of the season. Luckily, the defense held firm and forced a punt straight back.
With the clock falling under six minutes in regulations, the Wildcats moved into the Eagles' red zone as Papesh connected with Jonathan Merimee and Martin. The offense would stall as the Cats faced a fourth down after back-to-back incompletions. The offense stayed on the field for a fourth and eight and Papesh would be dropped in the backfield for a sack by Bradley Eaton for the Eagles' sixth of the game.
Bell and Bullock would look to burn clock with their ground game and that they did before sending out Lavelle to punt on a fourth down with three minutes remaining in the game.
In a last-ditch effort to move the ball, backed up in their own territory, Papesh threw over the middle, but his pass was intercepted by Jon Slaper, who took it down to the Wildcat red zone. Bell added one more score to seal an Eagles victory, making the score 28-7 with 53 seconds left to play in the fourth.
Ian Zaletel would get one more carry before time expired on the season. As the clock hit zero, there was a tremendous showing of sportsmanship by St. Edward. Eagle coach Tom Lombardo and players surrounded coach Kyle, thanking him for what he has given high school football in Northeast Ohio over the last 40 years.
Before leaving the field for the final time, multiple Eagle players rushed over to shake coach Kyle's hand and thank him. "The Legend" completes his career with a record of 377-108-1, 11 State Championships and four National Championships. As the reins are handed over to Ryan Franzinger '02, coach Kyle's legacy will continue at Saint Ignatius High School.
The Wildcat season ends for a third straight season in the OHSAA Regional Semifinal. St. Edward advances to the Regional Final to take on the Mentor Cardinals for a chance to move on to the State Semifinal. The Eagles are seeking to repeat as OHSAA Division I State Champions.