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2024 Saint Ignatius Football Schedule Announced

By Joe Mertens '15, 06/14/24, 11:00AM EDT

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The 113th season of Wildcat Football is set to kick off on August 23 against the Avon Eagles at Cleveland Browns Stadium.

OHIO CITY, OH - The offseason calendar has flipped to the summer for the Wildcats as the anticipation of a new season begins to build through practices and training. The Cats are 70 days away from the start of the 2024 campaign and will kick off the new season at Cleveland Browns Stadium on August 23 when they host the Avon Eagles. It will mark the program's 113th season and ring in Head Football Coach Ryan Franzinger '02 second season. 

"We got punched in the mouth quite a few times last season. But I think it was a message to the players and coaches that we must step up. In the offseason, I feel good about the players returning; majority bring valuable experience," explains Franzinger. "That experience is invaluable; we didn't have that last season. It was painful to lose a bunch of games, but we got through it and we are committed to doing a lot better."

Although the Cats are a couple of months away from the opening kickoff on the shores of Lake Erie, there are quite a few student-athletes that headline the varsity squad in 2024. Rising seniors Cody Haddad and Grant Washington have committed to playing at the Division I level. 

Haddad, who missed eight games in 2023 due to an arm injury, will continue his academic and football career at The Ohio State University. Despite missing most of his junior season, Haddad filled the stat sheet on both sides of the football. In just four games played, Haddad hauled in 11 passes for 167 yards and three touchdowns for the offense. On the defensive side of the ball, Haddad collected 32 tackles and four pass break-ups and tied for a team-high four interceptions. 

Like Haddad, Washington is a three-year letter winner with the Wildcat Football program. Washington will continue his academic and football career in the BIG10 as well for the University of Minnesota. The senior running back will anchor the Wildcat offense in 2024 as he'll be the feature back. In his junior season, Washington played in all twelve games, gaining 629 yards on 165 carries and finding paydirt three times. As a receiving back, he caught 11 passes for 167 yards. 

A headliner for the 2026 class is offensive lineman Will Conroy. Conroy enters his third season at the varsity level and appeared in all games in 2023. Conroy is a decorated lineman as he heads into his junior season with over 20 Division I collegiate offers that include the University of Oregon, the University of Michigan, and the University of Oklahoma, to name a few. Conroy has worked closely with Wildcat offensive line coach and former NFL pro-bowler LeCharles Bentley '98. 

"Those all are exceptional young men. Will behaved like a senior as a tenth grader. Cody's presence was evident. Sometimes, I forget that one of the best players in Ohio was missing for us last season. You forget about those things, but we had to move on. When he returned, we were a completely different team," says Franzinger. "We are relying heavily on Grant this season to carry the offense in some ways. I am thrilled that our guys are getting offers and committing."

The Wildcats and Avon Eagles will square off for the first time on the gridiron. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. from Cleveland Browns Stadium. It will be the seventh time Saint Ignatius will play at the home of the Browns and have achieved a 4-2 record. The most recent game was in 2022 when the Wildcats defeated the Mentor Cardinals 26-20 in triple overtime. Avon is one of three new opponents for the 2024 season. 

"I think both scenarios are exciting, whether we play Avon in the Browns Stadium or the parking lot. This is a team we have played on the JV level, but never for the varsity," Franzinger says. "They are a great team and are led by a great coach. We're excited to play them and thankful that the Browns are hosting us."

The two new opponents added are the Dublin Coffman Shamrocks and the Walsh Jesuit Warriors. This will be the first time that the Wildcats match up against Coffman, and kickoff is scheduled for September 6 at 7 p.m. from Coffman Stadium. The Wildcats have played in Coffman Stadium twice, that occurred in 2014 and 2015 when Saint Ignatius and Archbishop Moeller met halfway. 

September 13 will mark the 12th time that the Jesuit rivals of Saint Ignatius and Walsh Jesuit meet on the gridiron. The two most recently met in 2015 and 2016; the Cats won both of those meetings. Before that, the Wildcats had not squared off against Walsh Jesuit since the 1993 National Championship season, when the Cats defeated the Warriors in the OHSAA State Semifinal. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. from Conway Memorial Stadium. 

"We lost three outstanding teams and added three outstanding teams to the schedule. I think it is good for the Jesuit schools to play against each other; they are a strong program, and I am excited to play them," says Franzinger. "There are ten games of great opponents, to me that is an Ignatian motto, it aligns with our Jesuit education, each Friday night we will have a challenge."

For years, the Wildcats played on Saturday evenings/nights when they were the host venue, but coming into the 2024 season, the Cats will play each game on Friday night. They were unable to host opponents on Friday nights in the past as Byers Field hosts the Parma City Schools on Friday. With diligent work from the athletic department and coach Franzinger, the Wildcats will kick off every Friday night during the 2024 season. 

Home games this season will be hosted at Cleveland Browns Stadium on August 23, Don Shula Stadium at John Carroll University, Byers Field on October 11, and three dates at George Finnie Stadium at Baldwin Wallace University on September 27, October 4, and October 25. 

"Certain games are bound to be on Friday; all of the public schools play on Friday night. To me it is great to have a weekly consistent schedule. Sometimes when we would play on Saturday, we played on a shorter schedule," explains Franzinger. "This will allow also our guys to visit colleges on game days on Saturday, something that they would not be able to experience with a game on Saturday." 

The Wildcats will take on four teams that were Regional Champions in 2023: Archbishop Hoban, Toledo Central Catholic, St. Edward, and Archbishop Moeller. A state runner-up in Hoban and two State Champions, St. Edward in Division I and Central Catholic in Division III. 

2024 will feature the 65th time the cross-town rivals, the Wildcats and St. Edward Eagles, face off. Kickoff is in Week Seven at 7 p.m. from George Finnie Stadium on October 4. The Cats hold a 32-31-1 overall record against the Eagles, but St. Edward has gotten the best of the Cats for seven straight games. The last time the Wildcats defeated the Eagles came in 2018. 

Saint Ignatius will have two scrimmages before the season, the first on August 8 at Byers Field against Olentangy Orange and the second on August 15 at Massillon Perry. This is a change as the Wildcats and Canton McKinley will not renew their annual Jamboree game at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium.

2024 Football Schedule