After excelling on the defensive line for the West during Friday night's 38th annual Cuyahoga County All-Star Football Game at John Carroll University's Don Shula Stadium, Saint Ignatius' Pat Dowd '10 spoke about the special connection the game had for him and his teammate, Kevin Johnson '10.
“It meant a lot,” Dowd said of the opportunity to play in a game that was dedicated to the late Dick “Zip” Zunt '50, a member of the Saint Ignatius Athletic Hall of Fame and a Hall of Fame Sports Writer for The Plain Dealer for more than 40 years. “Zip” died on Jan. 2 after a courageous battle with cancer.
“Obviously, I'm from Saint Ignatius and there is a connection,” Dowd continued. “I'm very happy we dedicated this game to Mr. Zunt. I know he would have loved this game. It was back and forth, big hits and a couple of big plays. A close game (won by the East, 21-14).
"We wish his family the best and hope they enjoyed this game for him.”
Something tells me “Zip” was enjoying it too, from a seat we all can only hope to share some day.
Dick was a great supporter of the Greater Cleveland Football Coaches Association, whose scholarship fund benefits from the All-Star Game's ticket sales. The GCFCA voted earlier this year to dedicate Friday's game to “Zip,” an event he covered for 37 consecutive summers.
Prior to the kickoff, members of Dick's family and some of his dearest friends took part in a dedication ceremony near midfield in Shula Stadium. His family was presented with a beautifully framed and assembled East-West jersey with Dick's name on it. It was courtesy of Mike and Matt Duda of Sports Focus Sporting Goods.
As for the game, Kevin Johnson, who will further his education and football and track careers at Baldwin-Wallace College, made some jarring tackles on special teams.
Dowd, who is bound for the University of Dayton on a scholarship, performed on Friday night just like he did throughout his career as a Wildcat – with strength, passion and consistency.
“It was a lot of fun, a great group of guys,” Dowd said of the honor of being selected to the West team. “I think we formed a bond and came out tonight saying let's get some intensity, let's get fired up. It's an All-Star game, let's have some fun.
“Win or lose, I didn't want any regrets. Being my last high school game, I didn't want to hold anything back. I wanted to play my heart out and have a blast. And I did.”
Dowd emphasized that he is very excited about Dayton, where he will be joined by West teammate Clay Krafft, a savvy and skilled linebacker from North Royalton High School, and East quarterback Jake Voigt, who had an outstanding career for Coach Jim McQuaide at Solon.
CONGRATULATIONS go out again to Saint Ignatius head football coach Chuck “Chico” Kyle '69, who was officially inducted into the Ohio High School Football Coaches Hall of Fame on Friday night in Columbus (see the corner's tribute story that was posted on June 15th).