The 2018 Saint Ignatius football team was a special group of student-athletes. Several of those remarkable young men have earned statewide recognition.
Five Wildcats have been named to the Division I All-Ohio Team, as voted on by the Ohio Prep Sportswriters Association. The OHSAA announced the Division I award winners and Mr. Football this afternoon (full release here).
Tommy Eichenberg and Jett Elad led the way for the Wildcats, earning first-team recognition for incredible seasons. Pat Otter found his way on the second-team defense as a punter. Grant Abbott and Zach McMahan rounded out the honorees, garnering recognition on the third-team.
"These men were not just important to the season, but to the program," said Head Football Coach Chuck Kyle '69. "They played great football for four years. It's fitting for them to be honored this way. They played great football teams from across the state, including from Cincinnati, and media from across the state recognized their names."
Eichenberg steered the Wildcats' defense all season. The 6'3, 228-pound linebacker switched from the outside to middle 'backer before Week 3 and altered the course of the Saint Ignatius season. The team boasted an 8-1 record with Eichenberg in the middle of the field.
Eichenberg finished his senior season with 80 solo tackles and 46 assists (126 total). He added 8 sacks, 23 tackles for loss, 5 pass breakups, 7 quarterback hurries, 5 forced fumbles, and 1 interception. Few players across the state of Ohio enjoyed a season like Eichenberg's. The Ohio State University and the University of Michigan are both heavily recruiting Eichenberg. Regardless of which school he chooses, Eichenberg stands in the pantheon of all-time great Saint Ignatius players.
"Tommy had a fabulous senior year. Opposing coaches raved about him," Kyle said. "Coach Specht at St. Xavier said Tommy is the best linebacker he's seen in a number of years. Tommy brought our defense to another level. He was great at stopping the run, and when he blitzed, he rushed the passer with passion. Tommy dominates a football game. I speak him about him like I did Trent Zenkewicz, who starred for us and later on at Michigan. Tommy is in that caliber of Saint Ignatius football players."
In the secondary, Jett Elad locked down the best of the best all season. The 6'1, 180-pound senior played on an island all season, and thrived.
Few passing attacks could generate much of anything against Elad. The Ohio University-bound cornerback tabbed 34 solo tackles, 14 assists (48 total), 4 tackles for loss, 9 pass breakups, 1 interception, and 2 blocked kicks in a special season.
"Jett has been taking on the best wide receivers for the last two years," Kyle said. "We play different coverages, but he often did it 1-on-1. We asked him to handle the best, and he did. He has a bright future after a great senior year. He faced Division I caliber football players, and teams stopped throwing his way."
The Wildcats' lone representative on the second-team, Pat Otter, also enjoyed a grear senior season. Following in the footsteps of Matt Trickett, a star kicker now at Kent State University, Otter assumed the reins well. Otter served as the punter and kickoff specialist, booming kicks deep into opposing territory.
Otter notched 43 punts in 2018, averaging 39.6 yards per boot. Otter's longest punt of the season roared 70 yards, one of four 50+ yard punts. Most impressively, Otter pinned foes inside their own 20-yard line an impactful 17 times.
Two great seniors repped the Wildcats on the third-team, and both deserved even more.
Grant Abbott is the first. The do-it-all offensive lineman played center, guard, and tackle over the course of his Saint Ignatius career. This season, the 6'4, 280-pound lineman primarily switched between center and guard, anchoring the offensive line. Abbott served as a key team leader for the Wildcats.
Offensive lineman don't record stats, but if they did, Abbott would be ranked among the best. The Saint Ignatius coaching staff graded Abbott at a 92.5% blocking efficiency in 11 games.
Just like Abbott, McMahan often switched spots, but on the defensive line. The 6'0, 250-pound lineman started the year as an end, but played more as a disruptive nose tackle towards the end of the season. Opposing offensive linemen struggled to block this bull of a player all season.
McMahan completed his final season with nice stats. McMahan tallied 22 solo tackles, 21 assists (43 total), 7 sacks, 14 tackles for loss, and 3 quarterback hurries.
Congratulations to these five impressive young men on a fine season and remarkable Wildcat careers! Each has a bright future, both at the college level and beyond. Well-done, men!