Julian Love got a good look at a future teammate Friday in helping Nazareth Academy cap off its regular season with a 49-22 win over St. Viator.
Love lined up against junior tight end Cole Kmet, a fellow Notre Dame commitment. Kmet actually played some wildcat quarterback for St. Viator to go along with catching passes and playing defense.
Kmet rushed 13 times for 94 yards and added two catches for another 27 yards. He had five tackles with three tackles-for-loss on defense in the last game of his junior season.
“It went so fast,” said Kmet, who plays baseball in the spring. “I actually could’ve had 80 more yards rushing but one of the offensive linemen had an unnecessary roughness (penalty) so the play got called back.”
St. Viator finished 1-8 and out of the playoffs.
Love dealt Kmet a lesson in ball security to open the scoring. He stripped Kmet on a run then took the ball 55 yards for a touchdown to stake Nazareth to a 7-0 lead. Love added rushing touchdowns from 14 and two yards plus a 13-yard receiving score.
He offered a positive impression of Kmet, who pairs will fellow four-star tight end Brock Wright as commitments for Notre Dame in the Class of 2017.
“He’s really strong,” Love said. “He developed tremendously over this year. Him and Brock will be nice.”
Nazareth improved to 7-2 with the win and will host Sycamore (6-3) to begin its title defense in the Illinois Class 5A playoffs this week.
“About time it’s here,” Love said.
Jones stars in IMG win
Running back commitment Tony Jones Jr. ran for two touchdowns to lead IMG Academy (7-0) to a 28-20 victory over Paramus Catholic (3-4) on Friday in a game broadcast on ESPN.
Paramus Catholic led 13-7 in the second quarter when Jones punched in a one-yard touchdown run. But it was his 59-yard touchdown run on IMG’s first series of the second half that earned him the No. 5 spot on SportsCenter Top 10 plays that night.
“Once I started running down the sideline, I knew I was reaching the end zone,” Jones said. “It was my footwork, vision and a little bit of speed that helped me make that play. My entire family saw the play on TV and it felt great. I proved myself to everyone.”
Teammate and four-star wide receiver Drake Davis delivered a critical block that let Jones reach the end zone. Davis, who has a top five (in order) of Ole Miss, LSU, Texas A&M, Clemson and UCLA, was in touch with Notre Dame assistant Autry Denson after Denson and Brian Kelly visited IMG during Notre Dame’s bye week.
“We messaged a little bit on Twitter, and he told me to give him a call,” Davis said. “I haven’t done that yet, but I need to do that this week. If Tony keeps ripping off these runs, then I might just have to check Notre Dame out.”
IMG takes on Elkton (Md.) Eastern Christian Academy (2-4) next week.
Eichenberg, St. Ignatius survive
St. Ignatius is in jeopardy of being shut out of the Ohio Division I playoffs for just the second time in the last 27 years.
On Friday, the Wildcats saw their slim hopes of earning a spot in the postseason slipping away when St. Xavier jumped out to a 13-0 lead in the second quarter. The Wildcats then scored 34 straight points and went on to win 34-20.
“That game showed how this team held its composure and how we were determined,” offensive line commitment Liam Eichenberg said. “The defense had a huge game and the offense showed how we can run the ball even against one of the best run-stopping defenses in Ohio.”
Eichenberg said he and his teammates never doubted they could come back to win the game.
“It's all about being positive and knowing how important each drive is when competing against a team like Xavier,” he said. “We have to win this next game to get another.”
The Wildcats, who improved to 5-3, play at rival St. Edward in the “Holy War” on Saturday. St. Edward, the alma mater of freshman cornerback Shaun Crawford, has been ranked nationally throughout the season and enters the game 8-1 after a loss to Archbishop Moeller last weekend.
St. Ignatius has a lot is riding on this final regular season game. A win would likely earn a Week 11 game and a loss would almost certainly exclude the Wildcats from the postseason for the first time since 2010.
“We have to prepare for them as if they are the best team in the country,” Eichenberg said. “That should help us because we will do whatever it takes to win.”