PARMA, Ohio – The No. 8 St. Ignatius Wildcats have played quality football teams all season – Mentor and Archbishop Hoban are just two the Wildcats have gone up against.
On Saturday night, the Wildcats faced another good team in the Rockledge (Fla.) Raiders, a team that was undefeated before it traveled to Ohio. The Wildcats defeated the Raiders, 42-7, at Byers Field to end its losing streak at two games and boost their playoff hopes.
St. Ignatius came into the week ranked 12th in the OHSAA’s Division I, Region 1 computer playoff ratings. The top eight teams make the playoffs.
“First of all offensively, I think the kids realize that’s an undefeated team, and it’s into that area where computer points and all that,” Wildcats coach Chuck Kyle said. “It was one of these things where you say ‘Hey, we have an opportunity this week.’ And I think the kids really got into it.”
St. Ignatius (3-3) was led by senior quarterback Griffin Hanna, who threw four touchdowns and ran for one.
Hanna came in needing 10 passing yards to reach 1,000 on the season, and he far exceeded that number, throwing for 323 yards. Two of Hanna’s touchdowns went to senior Connor Cmiel, who had three receptions for 93 yards. Hanna also threw touchdowns to senior Jack Welcsh and senior Henry Cook.
“Offensively, it was kind of one-on-one coverage, and Griffin was getting a pretty good feel where we could have a good matchup,” Kyle said. “And Connor Cmiel’s a pretty good matchup, so is Henry Cook and (Jake) Lang.”
Cmiel and Lang, a senior tight end, combined for eight receptions. Lang finished with 79 yards.
With Hanna throwing the ball well, he praised how his receivers were able to take advantage of various matchups.
“I think we have some of the best receivers in the state,” Hanna said. “I think we have matchups almost every time we want, and we had a lot of matchups tonight. I like our guys every time.”
St. Ignatius tied a season-high for points scored, equaling its Week 3 total in a win against Archbishop Hoban.
But along with their offense, the Wildcats also had perhaps their best defensive performance of the season. St. Ignatius held the Raiders to a season-low for points. Before Saturday, the Raiders had scored at least 41 points twice this season.
“We had a lot of work to do this past week because we’ve been giving up points,” Kyle said. “And I think the kids really did a nice job all week just adjusting some of the things we’ve been having problems with, and tonight it worked really well.”
St. Ignatius contained Rockledge quarterback Elias Allen in the pocket, tallying three sacks. The Wildcats gave up 239 yards of total offense, and they held senior running back Ladarius Tennison to 44 rushing yards. Tennison ran it in for the Raiders’ lone score in the second quarter.
Next for the Wildcats is a game against rival St. Edward at Lakewood Stadium on Oct. 12 at 7 p.m.
“I think our kids realize with our schedule all year, we’ve been playing playoff-caliber teams all the way through,” Kyle said. “We’ve had some disappointments, but they’ve kept their faith, and tonight that was a nice step.”
- Cameron Fields is a freelance writer.