Team Spotlight -- Cleveland St Ignatius Wildcats

A look at the St Ignatius Wildcats for the 2003 season....

If someone ever asks who you think will be in the Division I State Finals game, odds are you'd be ok saying St Ignatius. The Wildcats have a state record 9 State Titles. They won an incredible 5 consecutive Titles from 1991-1995. They were by far the most dominating team in the 90's and the only teams to match their decade dominance is Moeller in the 1980's and some of the early Massillon squads.

Ok, enough about the history here, what about this year's edition? One might think losing three big-time players in Mr. Do-it-all Tony Gonzalez (Ohio State), DB Darnell Martemus (Vanderbilt), and Big OL Kevin Sheridan (Boston College) would leave the roster a little deflated. Well this isn't your typical team. Ignatius reloads every year. They've got some good ones coming back too. Brian Hoyer (Michigan State verbal) is regarded as the top signal-caller in the Buckeye State this year. He's got an amazingly strong arm and is surprisingly mobile. He's got two of the state's top Tight Ends returning to throw to. TE/DE Mike Massey is one of them. Massey, 6'5 225, is considered a top 3 DE by most experts and has offers from quite a few schools. His older brother Pat is currently playing for Michigan. The other TE is Junior Jim Ramella. Ramella is a solid Tight End and Linebacker. Massey and Ramella give the Wildcats plenty of weapons when in 2-Tight sets. The loss of Sheridan will hurt up front, but with Ramella & Massey (two very capable blocking tight ends) and big man Steve Miller (6'5 275) anchoring the line, the Cats will get by just fine. They also have Jay Janocek at Center (6'2 255) to help out. RB Carter Welo and WR Tony Gonzalez are big holes that need filled. The leading candidates are Joe Palcko at RB and Cody Tomon at WR.

Ignatius should be very well off on the defensive side of the ball. 6'4 240 pound DE Marck Zavich and Massey will keep opponents from doing much up front. One of the bigger strongpoints for the Cats will be the LB corp with John Haneline and Ramella. The secondary will be a big question mark with the loss of Gonzo and Martemus. Knowing Ignatius though, they'll end up finding some great covermen.

The biggest strong point on the team is coaching. Chuck Kyle and his assistants are some of the best coaches in Ohio and they always have their guys ready to go. I'm predicting Ignatius to go 11-1 or 12-1 falling to Warren Harding in the playoffs. One concern for a team like Ignatius is the schedule. They annually have one of the toughest schedules in Ohio and will need to win some big games to qualify for the OHSAA Playoffs.

OPS would like to wish the Wildcats of St Ignatius good luck along with all the other teams playing in the Buckeye State this year. Stay tuned for more team spotlights....

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