There was a time when St. Ignatius won football state titles like clockwork. In the years since, fellow Northeast Ohio powers like St. Edward (Lakewood, Ohio) and Archbishop Hoban (Akron, Ohio) have emerged to take their place. Apparently St. Ignatius is ready to reassert its strength.
On Friday, St. Ignatius edged past USA TODAY No. 12 Archbishop Hoban in an epic clash of Northeast Ohio Catholic powerhouses. Here’s what we learned from the tussle:
1) Hoban was at home, so why did they play for the win?
Conventional wisdom holds that a team at home should feel more confident playing for overtime. That wasn’t the case on Friday, when Archbishop Hoban scored a late touchdown to pull within 42-41, then decided to go for 2 and the win. The ensuing attempt was a designed quarterback sneak for junior Shane Hamm, and St. Ignatius was anything but surprised. The goal line stuff effectively ended Hoban’s final rally and ensured the four-time defending state champs will lose at least one game this season.
For what it’s worth, here’s what Hoban coach Tim Tyrell told the Cleveland Plain Dealer about the decision to go for 2.
“I don’t second-guess it, for sure. We’re the younger team with two sophomores and a junior who’ve never played on our O-line.”
2) In high school football, even at the highest levels, no lead is safe
What’s the most memorable NFL deficit you can remember a team wiping out? For many, it may be the 28-3 lead held by the Falcons in the third quarter of Super Bowl LI. St. Ignatius matched that Friday night, mounting a furious comeback from a 35-10 deficit early in the third quarter. The comeback took everything St. Ignatius had and relied on a couple of big breaks — and even bigger kicks (more on that below) — but it all made for gripping theater … and reminder that you should never leave a local high school game early.
3) Declan Mangan could solve the Bears’ kicking woes
Declan Mangan may only be a junior, but he should already have a strong case to be the nation’s best high school placekicker. The St. Ignatius star connected on second half field goals of 53 and 56 yards that proved to be critical sparks in Ignatius’ fierce comeback. The thrilling touchdown pass from Griffin Hannah to Connor Cmiel is likely to take most of the plaudits, but if Mangan misses his kicks, Archbishop Hoban wins. The moral of the story? Never say your team’s kicker isn’t an important player.