In a word, the St. Ignatius football program can be described as legendary. With a record nine state championships, it's winning tradition is rivaled by few. After going 10-3 in 2004, the Wildcats look to return to glory in 2005 and continue the winning tradition that has come to be expected.
Quarterback Rudy Kirbus stepped into the starting role last season with the departure of Brian Hoyer to Michigan State. Hoyer left big shoes to fill, but the young Kirbus took the reins and led the Wildcats to the regional finals.
Kirbus is a developing quarterback and he is working hard in the offseason (when he is not leading the Ignatius basketball team in scoring) to bring home the first state title since 2001.
"Basketball is occupying a lot of his time right now," said Ignatius head football coach Chuck Kyle. "He is busy with some strength training and doing what he can do heading into the basketball tournament here. I think it shows just how athletic he is."
Kyle continued, "He wants to improve with some of his decision making on the field as well as his consistency with his release. There are some things form-wise he wants to get better at and he is working on that. He is a big, strong kid and a really accurate passer."
Standing in at 6-4, 215-pounds, Kirbus has prototypical quarterback size and colleges have taken notice.
"He is getting a lot of mail from all over the country," said Kyle. "He has no set offer yet, but it takes a little longer with quarterbacks before people start coming in. They study that position carefully."
As a result, camp attendance this summer is going to be extremely important for Kirbus, although he has not quite figured out which camps he will attend.
"He is definitely going to have to go to those one day camps since he is not going to those combines," explained Kyle. "Besides, one day camps are especially important for quarterbacks. I can send film all over the place, but they want to see a kid upfront."
Kirbus has also been making the rounds to the junior day events. He has visited Ohio State, Michigan and is scheduled to attend Notre Dame this weekend.
"He is very open to anyone showing interest in him," said Kyle.
On the receiving end of many of Kirbus' passes last season was Robert Parris. Standing in at 6-4, Parris is also a member of the Wildcat basketball team.
Parris already claims offers from Boston College and Iowa, and many other school across the country are lining up for this talented receiver.
"Robbie is getting a lot of attention, which I can understand because he is a tall wide reciever that can run," said Kyle. "He has tremendous hands and can catch passes anywhere. It is just amazing what he can do."
Parris has been working hard in the offseason to get his weight up and he is currently tipping the scales at about 190 pounds.
"He is getting stronger, which I think is something he needed to do," Kyle said. "He is one of those guys who sort of shot up quickly and needed to get bigger and stronger."
Parris also bodes well in the classroom with a 3.7 GPA in college prep courses. He has not determined which camps he will be attending, but Parris has attended the same junior days events as Kirbus.
On the other side of the ball, Ignatius boasts defensive end John Ryan. Like Kirbus and Parris, Ryan is also a member of the basketball team and has managed put on about 13 pounds since football season ended despite the physically demanding nature of basketball.
"He is doing a great job in the offseason," Kyle said. "He is up to about 240 now. Last year he played at about 227/228. He has been able to get his weight work in and he has been watching his diet and making sure he has been eating properly.
Ryan also claims an offer from Boston College as well as Michigan State, Miami (OH), and Syracuse.
At 6-5, 240-pounds, Ryan is going to see some time at the tight end position in 2005 with the departure of Boston College-bound Jim Ramella.
"He runs well and he moves well, so he is going to go both ways this year, which we are really excited about," said Kyle. "We had Jimmy (Ramella) last year, so that pretty much freed John from not having to play tight end as much as we originally thought."
St. Ignatius made a run to the regional finals last season and the Wildcats have the talent returning to make another bid at postseason glory in 2005 behind Rudy Kirbus, Robert Parris, and John Ryan.