In the last four seasons, since Saint Ignatius added an annual Week 8 game vs. Archbishop Moeller to its slate, the Wildcats have dominated Week 7 games. The Wildcats have won these last Week 7 contests by an average score of about 41-12.
Despite the history, and the 0-5 mark of this week’s opponent, Head Coach Chuck Kyle ’69 and the Wildcats are not taking the week lightly.
Kyle and the Cats are using Saturday’s 7 p.m. contest vs. West Toronto Prep as a chance to grow and prepare for the stretch run.
“We talked with the kids [on Monday] – as they look at the film, what does each kid have to work on? Find something to work on this week,” Kyle said. “We’ll play the game, and the opponent we’re playing hasn’t won a game yet. What’s more important is finding something you have to work on. Take this week to work on it, and that should make us a better team. I’ve been challenging them with it every day. By the end of the week, you’ve mastered it, and we’ll play the game and see how we’re doing. It’s important to get out there under the lights and just play.”
Kyle and the coaching staff are guarding against any kind of letdown in effort or performance.
“The last thing we want to have is some sort of letdown right now, not being focused. Frankly, that happened last year against Moeller,” Kyle said. “They came to play and I don’t know where we were. In the end, you look back, and we turned it around pretty quickly. But I would rather avoid that if we could. We regressed then we had some great practices after that and played well. That can happen on any level, but as a coach, you don’t want to see it. We have to prepare this week, and focus.”
Saturday's game at Brooklyn Stadium also offers two historical possibilities. With a win, Coach Kyle would record his 350th career win at Saint Ignatius and the Wildcats would reach 700 victories in program history.
WEST TORONTO PREP OFFENSE VS. SAINT IGNATIUS DEFENSE
Under the direction of Head Coach O’Neil Wilson, West Toronto Prep runs a spread offense. Wilson played wideout at the University of Connecticut and spent 7 seasons playing in the CFL.
Wesley Tshimanga leads the WTP offense looking to pick up momentum. Tshimanga is the team’s top offensive playmaker, anchoring the unit at quarterback. He completed 8-of-17 passes for 120 yards and two interceptions vs. Cardinal Mooney.
The running game has scuffled to start the season. Mooney limited West Toronto Prep to negative 47 yards on the ground last week. The offense’s season-high overall yard total is 201 vs. Massillon Perry.
“They’ll throw it around. It’s not something we haven’t seen,” Kyle said. “A lot of teams do it. It’s just a matter of ‘What are their favorite plays? What do they feature?’ And then you make sure you stop that.”
The Wildcats’ defense has thrived in the last four games, preventing any scoring in the first half. The defense has allowed just 26 points in the second half, with 20 of those occurring in the final minutes of the fourth quarter.
Tommy Eichenberg has made a big difference this year at middle linebacker. The senior has a team-best 49.5 tackles and 10.5 tackles for loss, along with 5.5 sacks. The defensive line has stepped up in recent weeks, with players such as Zach McMahan, Anthony Gerace, and Aidan Wells hurrying the QB consistently.
SAINT IGNATIUS OFFENSE vs. WEST TORONTO PREP DEFENSE
When the Saint Ignatius offense can run the ball, opponents beware. The Wildcats have done a masterful job of luring extra defenders into the box before popping the ball over the top via play-action.
The Wildcats will look to continue doing so against West Toronto Prep.
Jahadge “Bo” Floyd and Jack Welcsh have picked up steam in recent weeks, with the offensive line continuing to show improvement. Quarterback Patrick Delahunty has taken advantage of the extra attention to the ground game. Delahunty has hit foes with the deep ball, targeting weapons such as Connor Cmiel and Jack Kennedy. Delahunty now has 919 passing yards and 9 TDs on the year.
“When teams have done that in the last few games, we’ve hurt them. When teams go one-on-one with no safety help, we’ve hit a few very key plays,” Kyle said. “I would love to keep doing that.”
On the flipside, West Toronto Prep typically plays a 3-man front, switching between two and three linebackers.
When WTP senses a run play, or is struggling to stop the ground game, the Torontonians will bring in an extra defensive lineman to stop the run. Opponents have feasted on WTP’s defense this season, so the visitors will be hungry for success on Saturday.
SAINT IGNATIUS SPECIAL TEAMS vs. WEST TORONTO PREP NORTH SPECIAL TEAMS
In recent weeks, the Wildcats have showcased a strong special teams unit. Rory McConville has done well as the kickoff specialist, extra point man, and the field goal kicker. Pat Otter has pinned foes deep as the punter. Sean Wracher has hit almost all of his snaps perfectly, and Henry Cook has served as a good holder.
West Toronto Prep also features solid special teams.
“We always do our diligence with the kicking game and with what we’re facing. Who’s going to win the kicking game? We’ve been doing a pretty good job with that,” Kyle said. “We’ve been doing some good things with field position. It’s hard to drive 80-90 yards against any team. Let’s punt them down there to the 20-yard line or the 10 and make them drive the whole field. If your defense is having a good day, they’re punting from their end zone. We’re gonna get the ball back at the 50, and you’re in a scoring zone very easily.”
On the whole, Kyle is confident in his charges as they keep working this season.
“We’re pleased with our progress, as are the kids,” Kyle said. “They’re hungry to keep improving. They have a serious understanding that we have to keep going.”
SIBN Coverage: Saturday's game will be broadcast on the SIBN, audio-only, due to Internet limitations in Brooklyn. Zack Strom '19 and Jack O'Rourke '20 will have the call.