Midseason has arrived for the Saint Ignatius varsity football team.
The Wildcats enter the midpoint on a roll, having won three games in a row. The men of Chuck Kyle ’69 earned a critical 17-7 win over Elder last Saturday, dominating on defense and supplying necessary big plays on offense.
Clarkson Football North enters with a similar swagger. The No. 1 team in Canada lost two early season games to two tough teams – Elder and Archbishop Moeller – but has recovered with wins over the Erie (PA) Royals and Lorain Titans.
The Wildcats typically dominate teams from Canada, including last year, when the Cats defeated Football North, 38-7. But this year’s Football North team is for real.
“They have a number of guys back from last year. They have a really good program, the coach does a nice job,” Kyle said. “They’re 3-2 and they beat a couple playoff teams. They lost to Elder by a touchdown, they’re good. They have size and speed, and experience. This is a good football game. We made it clear to the players [on Monday] that this will be a contest, we have to be on our A game.”
FOOTBALL NORTH OFFENSE vs. SAINT IGNATIUS DEFENSE
Two quarterbacks lead the Football North offense – Nicholas DeJesus and Quincy Vaughn. Each can pass and throw effectively and hit on big plays. DeJesus typically starts games, while Vaughn enters for a spark.
DeJesus notched an 85-yard pass to Brendon Barrow against Moeller, but otherwise experienced difficulties against the Panthers and Crusaders, throwing a pair of interceptions. Vaughn also struggled against Moeller, but found Clark Barnes for a 54-yard score vs. Elder. Each QB lines up in the shotgun.
The Football North rushing attack is to be feared. The backfield features three talented backs – Barrow, Omarion Martin, and Chey Charles. Barrow has good vision and quickness, Martin is fast and elusive, and Charles is strong and tough.
When the offensive line works in unison, Football North can burn opposing defenses. Barrow and Martin combined for 440 of the team’s 469 total yards vs. Erie, as Barrow reached the end zone on runs of 11, 44, 44, and 66 yards. Barrow, the primary back, rushed for 134 yards vs. Moeller and 82 yards vs. Elder, scoring a touchdown in each game.
“We’ve had our success if we’re doing a good job against the other team’s running game, and we have been,” Kyle said. “If we’re doing a good job there, that forces the other team to be one-dimensional, and we’ve been doing that. We need to do it again this week.” It helps to put heat on the quarterback and force them into field position problems. It’s nice to dictate that they have to throw.”
On defense, look for the Wildcats to counter with different looks. Middle linebacker Tommy Eichenberg and the Linebacker Legion will blitz to add to the vaunted front line of Zach McMahan, Aidan Wells, and Anthony Gerace. The front six tallied eight sacks against Elder last week.
The Wildcats’ secondary will mix up coverages and looks. Watch out especially for Jett Elad. The senior corner hails from Mississauga, where Football North is located.
SAINT IGNATIUS OFFENSE vs. FOOTBALL NORTH DEFENSE
Last week, the Wildcats’ offense did a great job of possessing the ball and setting up Patrick Delahunty and the passing attack.
Jahadge “Bo” Floyd and the ground game will look to repeat the effort on Saturday. Jack Welcsh will also receive significant time at running back following a busy week on defense vs. Elder.
“We have to establish a running game,” said Kyle. “We did enough last week to help set up the passing, that helped. That part of the game plan worked nicely. When the secondary was forced to come up for the run, we hit some passes. If we can get the linebackers locked into the running game, that will help our passing. We have to balanced against a team like this.”
The Wildcats hit their stride in the passing game. Delahunty notched 181 passing yards, including a critical 72-yard touchdown strike to Jack Kennedy to open up the game.
The offensive line will look to keep improving on Saturday. Seamus McCarthy will get the start at center, while Grant Abbott will slide to right guard.
On the flipside, Football North does not have a shortage of playmakers. Several of the visiting team’s players could make an impact on Saturday.
Football North alternates between a 3- and 4-man front, depending on the scenario. The defense does a great job of blitzing and surprising offenses.
The defensive line is stout, with Reignings Awah and Kail Dava anchoring up front. The linebackers are quick and flow to the ball. Cameron Gilmore, Jethro Oleko, and Ife Onyemenam are the top three ‘backers.
In the secondary, Football North switches coverages frequently. Watch out for a combination of man and zone coverage, with the free safety often staying back to stop the deep ball.
The strategy has worked out well so far this year. Elder only notched 82 yards in the air on a rainy night in Cincinnati and Moeller only recorded 68 passing yards. Peter Kemeni, Melique Straker, Kevin Victome, and Brad Kemayou are players to watch in Football North’s solid secondary.
SAINT IGNATIUS SPECIAL TEAMS vs. FOOTBALL NORTH SPECIAL TEAMS
The Wildcats’ special teams have performed well as a whole this season. The Football Cats have shown a penchant for blocking kicks and making opposing kickers nervous.
On the flipside, the Wildcats have a talented punter in Pat Otter and kicker in Rory McConville. McConville has 16 points on the season.
Omarion Martin brings speed to Football North’s special teams unit. Martin returned a kickoff 74 yards for a touchdown vs. Erie in a game-changing moment.
Chey Charles handles field goal duties, converting one last week for Football North. Zach Frustaglio and Kevin Victome will take care of extra points. Tayo Smith is the punter.
Special teams plays could make a difference on Saturday, so look for the Wildcats to play smart in the field position battle.