The second mini-camp of the summer leaves Coach Restifo smiling.
By Eddie Dwyer, Copyright June 2012
OK, it’s early, very early.
However, on what was a picture-perfect, sun-drenched Thursday evening at Wasmer Field, Saint Ignatius’ quarterbacks and receivers glowed with confidence and precision during the 7-on-7 competition.
“Great job by everyone,” said Wildcats veteran offensive coordinator Nick Restifo after Saint Ignatius wrapped up its second mini-camp of the preseason.
Anyone who has been around Coach Restifo for a significant period of time knows “great” is not a word that flows freely from the man who has helped develop the skills of numerous all-state signal callers.
In the closing 7-on-7 competition, the Wildcats’ quarterbacks – senior lefty Mike LaManna and juniors Pete Mahoney, David Black and John Thomas – had their moments. All four had throws, short and long, that also pleased Saint Ignatius assistant offensive coach Elvis Grbac. Elvis was a standout quarterback at St. Joseph High School and the University of Michigan who went on to an All-Pro career in the NFL.
As is the case with Coach Restifo, you have to earn praise from Coach Grbac.
While the Wildcats’ QBs were sharp, they would be the first to tell you that they benefitted greatly from Saint Ignatius’ deep and talented receiving corps.
Just how deep is the Wildcats’ Good Hands Club?
Well, when juniors Michael Siragusa and Jack Hyland, and senior Rocky Zingale, weren’t running precise routes and making diving receptions along the sidelines, senior Randy Buffington was coming up with second-effort grabs all over Wasmer Field – intermediate and deep.
In one sequence, Buffington made a heads-up play that didn’t result in a reception. With the football bound for the hands of a defender, Buffington, who never gave up on the play, stretched out and, in one motion, deflected the ball away from the defender and prevented an interception.
Senior wideout Conor Hennessey and senior tight end Aaron Buynak also made their presence felt, as did junior tailback Enzo Cannata and All-Ohio senior tailback Tim McVey on swing routes. The versatile McVey twice beat the coverage on deep patterns.
As solid as the passing game was, there is no need to get overly concerned about the Wildcats’ pass coverage. Remember, it’s 7-on-7 and players are rotating in and out. Senior cornerback Tommy Fanning, who is coming off an impressive 2011 season, looked to be in mid-season form during his time on the field.
*The Wildcats’ next camp will be Tuesday, with the sophomores reporting at 3 p.m., and the juniors and seniors taking Wasmer Field at 4:30.
THE RECRUITING BUZZ: Saint Ignatius’ All-Ohio senior defensive end Kevin Kavalec, who celebrated his 18th birthday on Thursday, said he was very impressed with Boston College and its football camp. As we reported on the corner earlier this week, Boston College has offered Kevin a full scholarship.
During his visit to Boston College last weekend, Kevin roomed with former Avon Lake standout Brian Mihalik, a 6-foot-8 sophomore defensive end for BC. He said he also met former St. Xavier mainstay Sean Duggan, who is a sophomore linebacker.
Kevin has also recently taken part in camps at Northwestern and Indiana, and LaManna has attended camps at Ball State and Cincinnati, and plans to attend Miami of Ohio’s camp early next week.
Wildcats junior offensive tackle Jim Byrne, who has already been offered a scholarship from Urban Meyer and the Ohio State Buckeyes, has also been offered from West Virginia.
TAKING IN THE ACTION: On hand for Thursday evening’s camp was Mr. George Veras, the President of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Enterprises. George expressed the excitement that is going on in Canton with all of the special renovations and additions taking place at the Hall of Fame.
IN CLOSING, this corner would like to wish all of the best to Saint Ignatius All-Ohio kicker and Air Force bound Tim Shenk ’12, who will be competing in the annual Cuyahoga County East-West All-Star Football Game tomorrow night (Friday) at John Carroll University. The kickoff in Don Shula Stadium will be 7 p.m.
And a big congratulations goes out to former Wildcats football great Bob Spicer, who has been chosen as an Honorary Coach for the East Team. Bob, who was a high school football coach for more years than this old-timer wants to count, did a tremendous job as the head coach of the Gilmour Academy Lancers before retiring.
As a young boy growing up in Saint Ignatius of Antioch Parish, I had the privilege to watch Bob play for the legendary John J. Wirtz at Saint Ignatius High School, covered and reported on him as a coach at Gilmour for both The Plain Dealer and The News-Herald, and in my nearly four decades at The Plain Dealer was privileged again to cover and report on Bob’s sons, Scott and Ryan, during their outstanding football careers for the Wildcats. It’s now a full circle my friends, as competing for the 2012 Wildcats is Bob’s grandson and Ryan’s son, senior wide receiver Ryan Spicer.