By Mr. Eddie Dwyer, Copyright Credit September 2016
Medina, Ohio - Saint Ignatius' Head Junior Varsity Football Coach Paul Yappel emphasized how great it was to come out to Highland High School on Saturday morning and play a program like the Hornets.
"Great program, great facilities and with a chance to compete and working to improve," said Coach Yappel after his gifted sophomores improved to 5-0 by defeating the talented Hornets, 37-15, on atmosphere-rich North Gateway Tire Field. "That's what we set out to do today. We still have room to go, but we're doing pretty well right now."
You won't get an argument from the Hornets or their coaching staff on just how well the JV 'Cats are doing.
Playing under a blue-gray sky that hovered over Highland's spacious and impressive campus Saturday morning, Saint Ignatius called on its defense to set the tone and, led by the pursuit of lineman Zach McMahan, defensive back Dan Scelza and two-way lineman Seamus Cooney, the 'Cats forced a three-and-out on the game's first possession.
Following a strong punt return by versatile wide receiver Nigel Drummond II, Saint Ignatius took passion at the Highland 45-yard line.
An 11-yard strike from quarterback Patrick Delahunty to 6-foot-4, 240-pound tight end/defensive end Aidan Wells got Coach Jim Cahill's offense started and Saint Ignatius kept the pressure on the Hornets' defense with a 14-yard reception by multi-skilled wide receiver/defensive back John Wetula and the strong running of standout tailback Jahadge "Bo" Floyd.
After Highland's gritty linebacker Gus Thornings came up with a tackle for a 3-yard loss, Delahunty called his own number and swept the right side for a 6-yard touchdown. Patrick Otter kicked the extra point and the Wildcats led, 7-0, with 4 minutes and 36 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
It didn't take Saint Ignatius long to strike again, as a fumble recovery by linebacker Kyle Sullivan put the 'Cats in business at the Hornets' 33-yard line. A 30-yard toss from Delahunty to Drummond II made it first-and-goal at the 3, and three plays later Delahunty scored on a 4-yard run that was capped by another Otter PAT.
Highland would close to 14-7, but the Wildcats responded with a 13-play drive that featured a 26-yard field goal by Otter with 5:29 to go in the first half.
In what was the defining stage of the game, the Hornets elected to go for it on fourth-and-8 from the Saint Ignatius 40, only to be stopped for no gain off a delayed quarterback draw.
From there, "Bo Floyd put his stamp on the game with a 60-yard touchdown burst over the left side and, after Otter's extra point, Coach Yappel's oh so promising sophomores led, 24-7, with 2:49 remaining in the first half.
Coach Dave Cicetti's defense then rose to the occasion again, as cornerback Owen Adler intercepted a Hornets pass at the Saint Ignatius 40 and returned the pigskin to the 'Cats' 44-yard line.
Following Delahunty completions to Wetula and sure-handed wide receiver Nathan Conry, it was "Bo" time again.
On first-and-10 from the Highland 33, Floyd, displaying exceptional vision and cutting ability, complemented the strong work by his offensive line by covering the 33 yards in style. Otter's extra point was high and true, and Saint Ignatius went into halftime leading, 31-7.
"I just think we want to continue to improve on playing a disciplined football game, playing like a team and playing selfless football," said Coach Yappel, who will lead his Wildcats against the Junior Varsity Program from Parma Senior High School on Saturday, Oct. 1 at 9 AM on Byers Field in Parma's Robert M. Boulton Stadium.
Highland would make it a 31-15 game off a touchdown pass and a 2-point conversion run by quarterback Jack McGinty, but "Bo" Floyd left no doubt by rambling for his third touchdown of the morning, a 31-yard effort with 9:14 left.