The 2018 season did not end with a win for the Saint Ignatius varsity football team, but a host of Wildcats earned postseason recognition.
A total of 13 Wildcats were named to the 2018 Northeast Ohio Lakes All-District football teams.
The honorees were voted on by a panel of sports writers from cleveland.com, the News-Herald, Chronicle-Telegram, Morning Journal and Ashtabula Star Beacon.
The panel selected three Mentor men for its lead awards – left tackle Ryan Jacoby as the offensive player of the year, defensive end Noah Potter as the defensive player of the year, and Steve Trivisonno as the coach of the year. Congrats to these three on the honors.
As for the All-District teams, the Wildcats placed five players on the first team, three men on the second team, and five student-athletes on the honorable mention list. The players are listed by teams, and the full article is linked at the end of the article.
Grant Abbott represented the Wildcats on the first team offense. The 6'4, 280-pound bruiser played both guard and center for the Football Cats. The captain finished the year with a 92.5% blocking efficiency. The senior will be missed next season for his leadership and his excellence at several spots on the line.
Tommy Eichenberg earned placement on the first-team defense with a phenomenal season. The linebacker completed his senior campaign with extraordinary stats – 80 solo tackles, 46 assists (126 total), 8 sacks, 23 tackles for loss, 5 pass breakups, 7 quarterback hurries, 5 forced fumbles, and one interception. One could certainly make a case for Eichenberg as the District's defensive player of the year or the Butkus Award winner as the best linebacker in the country. Eichenberg made a titanic difference for the Wildcats' defense, especially when he switched to middle 'backer after Week 2.
Zach McMahan garnered recognition on the first-team for his incredible effort on the defensive line. The senior started at defensive end to start the year, but moved to nose tackle down the stretch. McMahan completed the year with 22 solo tackles, 21 assists (43 total), 7 sacks, 14 tackles for loss, and 3 quarterback hurries. Despite absorbing double teams, McMahan caused havoc for opponents all season.
Jett Elad obtained a spot on the first-team defense at cornerback. All season, Elad locked down star wideouts on the opposing team, limiting opponents' passing games severely. Elad finished the season with 34 solo tackles, 14 assists (48 total), 4 tackles for loss, 9 pass breakups, 1 interception, and 2 blocked kicks. Elad will star at Ohio University in the years to come as a lockdown corner.
Pat Otter rounded out the Wildcats' first-team selections. The punter averaged nearly 40 yards per kick on 43 punts this season. Otter pinned opponents inside their own 20-yard line a whopping 17 times this season. The senior's longest punt of the season traveled 70 yards, and Otter had four punts of over 50 yards. He also handled kickoff duties wonderfully.
Nick Schwitzgebel reaped a spot on the second-team list as an offensive tackle. The junior finished the year with a blocking efficiency of 94% despite battling injuries. Schwitzgebel will be a key part of the offensive line next season.
Connor Cmiel claimed a spot on the second-team offense, too. The junior starred at wideout for the Wildcats, catching 38 passes for 830 yards and 6 touchdowns, adding a kickoff return for a TD vs. St. Edward. Cmiel caught a pass in all 11 games in 2018, leading the team in receptions and/or yards in nine contests. Cmiel's 187 yards vs. St. Xavier on October 20 ranks fifth-best day, yards-wise, for a receiver in Wildcats history. Cmiel also did well as a corner on defense, recording 10 total tackles and 1 interception for 46 yards. Cmiel will be a leader next year for the Cats.
On defense, Danny Scelza repped the Wildcats on the second-team. The safety enjoyed a great season in the Wildcats' secondary, applying pressure in the run and pass games all season. Scelza notched 32 solo tackles, 16 assists (48 total), 7 tackles for loss, 2 interceptions for 78 yards, 3 pass breakups, and 1 fumble recovery. Scelza made critical plays for the Wildcats late in the season as a ballhawk in the secondary.
Patrick Delahunty headed the honorable mention list at quarterback for the Wildcats. The starting signalcaller finished the year with 1,834 passing yards and 16 touchdowns through the air, along with 182 yards and 4 touchdowns on the ground. Delahunty orchestrated a memorable 99-yard drive vs. the Eagles, ending in a remarkable touchdown run. Delahunty's leadership and skills were excellent down the stretch.
Two-way stars Jack Welcsh and Jack Kennedy scored honorable mentions, too. Welcsh notched 350 yards and 5 touchdowns on the ground, averaging 5.4 yards per carry, along with 9 catches for 119 yards. On defense, Welcsh played well at safety, tabbing 21 solo tackles, 22 assists (43 total), 1 tackle for loss, 1 interception, 2 pass breakups, and 2 fumble recoveries.
Meanwhile, Kennedy finished second on the squad with 20 receptions for 396 yards and 5 touchdowns, adding a rushing touchdown. On defense, as a blazing-fast corner, Kennedy recorded 13 solo tackles, 4 assists (17 total), 2 interceptions, 5 pass breakups, and 1 forced fumble. Look for Kennedy on the track this spring.
Aidan Wells made his way onto the honorable mention list for a strong year at defensive end. The senior secured 22 solo tackles, 12 assists (34 total), 1 sack, 5 tackles for loss, and 3 pass breakups. Wells also hauled in 3 receptions for 25 yards and 2 touchdowns as a big tight end. The smart student-athlete will make his way to Harvard next fall, where the captain has a bright future.
Sean Wracher wrapped up the award winners with honorable mention at long snapper. The senior provided reliable snaps all season long on extra points, field goals, and punts. Wracher finished the year with an incredible 99% snapping efficiency, making life easy on Otter and holder Henry Cook. Wracher will continue his athletic and academic careers at Indiana next year.
Congratulations to the 13 Wildcats on earnining All-District honors! Hopefully more awards are on the way for this special group.
See below for the full list of Wildcat honorees, along with a link to the complete All-District teams.
G/C Grant Abbott
DE Zach McMahan
LB Tommy Eichenberg
CB Jett Elad
P Pat Otter
WR Connor Cmiel
OT Nick Schwitzgebel
DB Danny Scelza
QB Pat Delahunty
RB/DB Jack Welcsh
WR Jack Kennedy
DE/TE Aidan Wells
LS Sean Wracher
Link to the full list: