Flashback: Tiger Football vs. Manual
“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.” – Vince Lombardi
In the last 21 years, a lot of things have changed. The world looked a lot different in 1993, but one thing has remained constant since then: St. X has not lost to Manual in football. Considering that Manual is a district rival who the Tigers play every year, that winning streak is pretty impressive. St. X shared a stadium with the Crimsons for a little while during Br. Thomas More Stadium’s construction, but there is no warm-friendly feeling between these two programs. It won’t be easy tomorrow night as the Crimsons are 6-1 and are coming off a narrow defeat against Trinity last week. The Tigers enter this game with similar feelings, coming off of a tough loss at Male last week.
Last year’s game against the Crimsons was an absolute classic that came down to the final minute. It even won an EXPY for best game of the year. TaiJon Smith set the tone early and often for the Tiger offense as he ran for 106 yards and two touchdowns on just seven carries. Charles Walker served more as a wide receiver in this game, catching five balls for 67 yards and a touchdown. Each team committed two turnovers, and the score was close for the entire game. It was going to come down to whoever had the ball last. With only a handful of seconds remaining, Charles Walker caught a pass out of the backfield and willed his way into the end zone. Kicker Jake Collins saved the day for the Tigers, converting the extra point to give the Tigers the one-point victory.
2013- St. Xavier 24 Manual 23
2012- St. Xavier 55 Manual 13
2011- St. Xavier 21 Manual 14
2010 St. Xavier 38 Manual 7
2009 St. Xavier 28 Manual 21
2008 St. Xavier 57 Manual 0 (District Semifinals: St. Xavier 53 Manual 0)
2007 St. Xavier 21 Manual 14 (District Rounds: St. Xavier 27 Manual 7)
2006 St. Xavier 20 Manual 6 (Opening Round: St. Xavier 39 Manual 9)
2005 St. Xavier 17 Manual 7 (District Rounds: St. Xavier 33 Manual 18)
2004 St. Xavier 28 Manual 14
2003 St. Xavier 21 Manual 0
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.
Keenan Burton (Manual 1999-2003)- Burton played many positions at Manual, ranging from quarterback to safety. A three-year starter, Burton also played running back, wide receiver and kick returner. He was named the MVP of the Kentucky/Tennessee High School All-Star game in 2003. Burton went on to play for the University of Kentucky Wildcats, as he was recruited by Northwestern, Indiana, Marshall, Louisville, Miami (OH) and Boston College. Burton played in 45 career games at Kentucky as a wide receiver and kick returner. He is fourth in school history in receptions, third in receiving yards, second in touchdowns and ranks third in all purpose yards, amassing over 4,000 yards during his time as a Wildcat. Burton was chosen in the fourth round of the 2008 NFL Draft by the St. Louis Rams and spent two seasons with the team. He played in 22 games, including seven starts, racking up 38 receptions for 425 yards and one touchdown.
As I mentioned before, the Tigers have dominated this rivalry since its existence. The last time St. X lost to Manual, President Obama had yet to be elected to the Illinois State Senate. If you didn’t get that, it’s been a really long time, and the class of 2015 doesn’t plan on ruining that streak. Manual is a strong football team and will come into this game motivated after falling to Trinity last week. The Tigers should be even more motivated to elevate their position in the Super District Standings. Once again, it is a battle of the defenses, as the crimsons have only given up 35 points all season. St. X has played better competition to this point and should have no problem keeping up with Manual. I look for the Tiger defense to slow down the Crimson offense just enough, so that Noah Houk and the offense can put up enough points to get away with the victory. In a battle of two talented district foes, I have the Tigers extending the streak one more year, winning 24-20.