The Holy War
Fans around northeastern Ohio know that when you say that phrase, it can only mean one thing:
St. Ignatius-St. Edward
This Saturday night, at 7pm at Byers Field in Parma, these two teams will renew what can be argued, (with all respect to Massillion-McKinley) is the greatest rivalry in Ohio high school football. These two teams have had some classic games in the past, and this year, their usual Week 10 game takes on a whole new level of importance. Both teams come into the game undefeated after negociating the most brutal of schedules, especially St. Edward, whose last four games rival anyone’s.They come into the game as the top two teams in the state of Ohio. The winner secures the top seed in Division 1 Region 1 for the state playoffs. Finally, both teams had to defeat top twenty ranked teams on Saturday to come into the game unblemished.
St. Ignatius 32, Cincinnati St. Xavier 21…. Running back Tim McVey rushed for 142 yards and four touchdowns as the Wildcats rallied from a 21-6 deficit and came out of Cincinnati with the victory. It was the Wildcat’s 15th straight victory, and the defending state champions will look to give coach Chuck Kyle his 300th career victory against St. Edward this Saturday.
St. Edward 49, Cincinnati Moeller 42…. The Eagles rallied from a 42-21 deficit late in the third quarter to defeat the Crusaders in Cincinnati. Running back Dwayne Aaron rushed for 250 yards, and quarterback Ryan Fallon completed 16 of 30 passes for 259 yards, and the Eagles remained unbeaten. Until recent weeks, the Eagles have been flying under the radar all season. They can put their stamp on a great season by upending the greatest rival on Saturday.
What’s really at stake?…. Playoff seeding. The Eagles and Wildcats are 1-2 in computer points in Division 1 Region 1. The winner of the game on Saturday will be the top seed, and thus have a SOMEWHAT easier path trying to get through this loaded region and onto the sate final four. However, the most important thing at stake in a game like this is something that no computer or state playoff game can compare to: Bragging Rights. No one from either team wants to remember their senior year for losing to their greatest rival.
Keys to the game…. Defense, defense, and more defense. Both teams are prolific offensively, and both feature balanced attacks. The St. Edward line will have to figure out the Wildcats blitzing 3-3-5 defensive scheme, and St. Ignatius will have to slow down the Eagles vaunted pass rush, and give quarterback Mike LaManna time to throw. Whatever team can figure out how to move the ball consistently, without turning it over, should come out on top.
You know what is great about this game???…. Besides all the hoopla that goes into the game, the sellout crowd, the best two teams in the state of Ohio, and neighborhood bragging rights? What is REALLY great about this game is that there is a very real possibility that these two teams can meet again in three weeks in the state playoffs. That is a treat NO ONE should miss.
Two predictions…. Number one: St. Ignatius will make enough plays, control the Eagles running game, and beat the Eagles in another close game, 20-14. Number two: These two teams will meet again in the Division 1 Region 1 final. THAT is a game that will be another instant classic.
Saturday night at Byers Field in Parma should be another game that goes down in the history books of both teams lore. Two evenly matched teams, that despite the fact that they don’t like each other, fully respect and admire each other.
In a way, isn’t that what a great rivalry is?