Flashback: Tiger Football vs. Male
“Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat.” -F. Scott Fitzgerald
What a week it was, Tiger Nation. A huge victory over our archrivals in dominating fashion. Good vibes still fill the air at St. X High and there is a definite sense of accomplishment among the players and coaches. But that accomplishment is a minor one when the big picture is considered. The Tigers know that their victory over Trinity only counts as one credit in the win column and they have a major challenge in Male this week.
The Bulldogs are coming off a stellar season in which they advanced all the way to the State Semifinals, defeating St. Xavier and Trinity along the way. The Tigers enter this year’s battle with a 5-2 record, whereas Male boasts an unblemished record of 6-0. None of Male’s games to this point can really be considered competitive contests, as the closest an opposing team came to them was 17 points (Meade County). Nonetheless, this will be a very tight game where both teams will have to give it their best efforts. Let’s look back at what happened last time the Tigers and Bulldogs squared off.
The 2013 version of Male vs. Saint Xavier was a barn-burner. The Bulldogs came into Br. Thomas More Stadium and knocked off the Tigers by a score of 44-40. Quarterback B.J. Nagle had a huge game going 14-24 for 264 yards and two touchdowns to Luke Hayden. Austin Davis was the workhorse in this game with 25 carries for 197 yards and two scores. How did the Male manage to beat St. X with three great offensive performances? Bulldog QB Davis Mattingly and his then-junior wide receiver Keion Wakefield were flat out unstoppable. Mattingly had a monster night with 356 passing yards, with Wakefield accounting for 202 of them. The duo hooked up for two touchdowns and had some help from its defense. Male won the turnover battle 2-1 and that proved to be the difference in the game. In an offensive shootout, the two teams combined for 84 points. While both offenses are fully capable of putting up those kinds of numbers again, don’t be surprised if this year’s game turns into a defensive struggle.
2013- St. Xavier 40 Male 44 (District Semifinals: St. Xavier 21 Male 23)
2012- St. Xavier 41 Male 0 (District Semifinals: St. Xavier 55 Male 14)
2011- St. Xavier 57 Male 7 (District Semifinals: St. Xavier 56 Male 10)
2010 St. Xavier 14 Male 7
2009 St. Xavier 62 Male 21
2007 St. Xavier 42 Male 6
2006 St. Xavier 27 Male 28 (District Semifinals: St. Xavier 7 Male 33)
2005 St. Xavier 28 Male 23
2004 St. Xavier 14 Male 9
2003 St. Xavier 34 Male 7 (State Quarterfinals: St. Xavier 34 Male 7)
2002 St. Xavier 0 Male 22 (State Quarterfinals: St. Xavier 26 Male 51)
2001 St. Xavier 20 Male 28
Charles Walker (St. Xavier 2010-2014)- Walker followed in the footsteps of the two aforementioned St. X legends during his time as a Tiger. A starter at running back all four years, Walker totaled 22 touchdowns and 1,760 yards rushing in his junior and senior seasons (note: he only played in 17 of 20 possible games). He shined when given the opportunity, but was plagued by injuries in what always seemed like the biggest games during his illustrious career. Nonetheless, Walker was the heart and soul of the Tiger Offense for three years in a row and was the main proponent of team success. Following his senior year, he was heavily recruited by Vanderbilt, Penn State and Kentucky. He signed with Kentucky in the spring of 2014 and was a preferred walk-on as a wide receiver for the 2014-2015 season. It is only a matter of time before we will hear news of Walker lighting up opponents the same way he did during his time at St. X.
Michael Bush (Male 1999-2003)- A Male High School legend, Bush played quarterback, wide receiver, running back, defensive end, linebacker and defensive back throughout his career as a Bulldog. Bush was what you call an absolute freak of nature in high school. In his senior season alone, he completed 190 of 304 passes for 2,891 yards and 35 touchdowns, rushed 131 times for 911 yards and seven scores and caught 17 passes for 152 yards and three touchdowns. In the 2003 State Championship Game, Bush outgained some of his teammates on the entire season in their respective categories going 33 of 47 for 468 passing yards and six touchdowns, rushing 24 times for 116 yards and a score and catching two passes for 24 yards in a 59-56 loss. How they lost that game I do not know, but we all know one thing for sure: that was a once-in-a-lifetime performance. That season he was named Kentucky’s Mr. Football, and went on to play for Bobby Petrino at the University of Louisville. He came in expecting to play quarterback but was promptly moved to tailback because how could a coach let that kind of talent stand on the sidelines in a backup role. Widely considered to be one of the greatest to ever wear Cardinal Red, Bush was a Heisman candidate in the 2005 season. He led the nation in average scoring with 14.4 points per game and was selected in the fourth round of the 2007 NFL Draft by the Oakland Raiders where he spent four seasons. Bush played for the Chicago Bears from 2012-2013 and has 3,250 career rushing yards and 31 total NFL touchdowns.
The Tigers have won 8 of the last 12 in the series over the past 12 regular season games. The two teams have met in the postseason six times since 2002, splitting those games with three wins apiece. In 2013, the Bulldogs seemingly came out of nowhere to win the district and advance all the way to the semifinals.
There have been a fair share of blowouts between these two teams in the past, but it would be shocking if a rout occurs tonight. The Bulldogs are ranked number one in the state and the Tigers aren’t far behind at number four. The reason I don’t foresee any signs of a one-sided contest is because both of these teams have extremely solid defenses. The St. X defense is allowing an even 12 points per game and their district rival gives up an astounding 6.83. Albeit the Bulldogs opponent’s to this point have a combined 18-17 record, that’s an incredible feat. It will be a closely contested game, and the Male defense will face arguably its first challenge of the season.
The stat/fact to remember heading into the game is that the Bulldogs are returning all but three starters from last year. The St. X secondary will have its hands full with Wakefield, who is only a junior and is coming off of a 41 catch, 888 yard season last year. Mattingly is back at the helm as well and will definitely be shadowed by the Tigers on Friday. My prediction: St. Xavier 21 Male 20. The Tigers will run away with a huge district victory, proving that they are for real and able to compete with anyone that lines up across from them.