Author Archives: Evan Heichelbech

Hayslip and Heichelbech: Tiger Basketball vs. Ballard

Ballard Blackout 2015 Basketball Gameday Central Graphic

After Saint Xavier Basketball scored a huge win over Eastern Tuesday night, the focus shifts to Friday night’s showdown against Ballard.  There are many storylines to be discussed concerning the outcome of this game, and two of WSTX Sports’ best will break them down for you.

First and foremost: Can the Tigers’ torrid shooting on Tuesday carry over to Friday night?

Heichelbech: Everyone was hot the other night. No seriously, eve-ry-one. The Tigers hit six of their first seven threes, and it started with the man in the middle, C.J. Shanklin. At halftime, Shanklin was 3-4 from beyond the arc. He sparked an absolute torching performance from three-point land, as Ashanti Burgess and Lucas Miller cashed in on a combined seven more triples. To answer the question, I don’t think the Tigers will match their insane 67% from deep on Tuesday, but I do think they can heat up at any time. Once one guy gets in a rhythm, the whole squad seems to chime in and virtually anyone who checks in for the Tigers can knock down an open shot. Heck, sometimes I confuse Miller for a red-headed Jimmer Fredette.

Hayslip: I agree; it’s almost impossible to sustain 67% shooting from deep, but Ballard cannot sleep on these guys. We’ve been waiting on this team to break out of its shooting slump for a while now, and Tuesday night might have been the first in a streak of impressive percentages. We all knew Burgess and Miller were elite marksmen coming into the season, and they are proving it now.

What problems does Ballard present to St. X?

Hayslip: Ballard is always a well-coached team that is usually far superior athletically than its opponent;  tonight is no different. Last year, the Bruins attacked teams with ultra-electrifying tandem of point guard Quentin Snider and forward Kelan Martin, two guys that could score from anywhere on the floor and get a basket when they needed it most.  Now, the Bruins are more perimeter-oriented, sporting two of the best guards in the state in Jalen Perry and Anthony Eaves, a transfer who played in North Carolina last season.  These players are complimented by 6’7 senior center Corey Douglas, a great defender who isn’t nearly as polished on the offense as Martin was last year.  Ballard will blitzkrieg you with barrages of three balls from Perry, Eaves, junior Brian Alvey and sophomore Jamil Wilson. I will put it this way: If Ballard hits its first couple of treys, it could get ugly. Quick.

Heichelbech: Their shooting is out of this world for sure. But you can’t forget about the rebounding of the Douglas Brothers–Corey and Omardrick. They gobble up many of the three pointers that Ballard misses and provide valuable second-chance points. If you want to beat Ballard, you have to put a body (or two) on each of them when a shot goes up.

Can St. X handle Ballard’s offensive explosiveness?

Heichelbech: I never count the Tigers out defensively. Just look at what they did Tuesday night against Eastern. Coming into the matchup, the Eastern duo of Cam Reed and Trey Moses averaged a combined 32.7 ppg. Against the Tiger Defense: 9 points (Reed was 0-11 and failed to score a single point). Call it a fluke, and I’ll tell you why you’re wrong. Just look at what the Tigers did to Ray Spalding in the first matchup against Trinity and for the better half of the second meeting. Lucas Miller did a fantastic job of rattling the future Louisville player and put a wrench in the Rocks’ rhythm and ability to control the pace of the game. Perry and Eaves are quick, shifty guards that can fill it up in a hurry, but the Tigers have proven their athleticism in handling big projects like this Bruin tandem. I have no doubt that the Tigers are capable of slowing the attack from the Bruins

Who will have a big game on offense for St. X?

Heichelbech: There are plenty of candidates to chose from here. Burgess has been on a tear as of late, scoring 16 or more in the last 6 games. Shanklin showed us his ability to light it up on Tuesday when he went for 17 in only 23 minutes. This one’s tough, but I’m going to go with Miller. His versatility is so important to this team, and I love his range like I mentioned earlier. He can bang in the post or pull up from 20+ feet away. My prediction: 17 points, 4 assists for the Red Mamba.

Stat to watch?

Hayslip: Watch out for the foul columns for both teams. On several occasions, Miller and Burgess have been plagued by foul trouble. The Douglas brothers on the other side must watch how they body up Tiger guards like Connor McKim and Will Olsen when they come barreling into the lane, because that is prime opportunity for St. X to pin some cheap fouls on the Bruins’ interior early in the game.

Heichelbech: Keep an eye on the assist to turnover ratio for the entire team on Friday night. In the two games against Trinity, St. X registered a combined 13 assists (including 3 in the first meeting) and 32 turnovers. Moving without the basketball and sharing the rock is essential for good offensive flow. A mere three assists is extremely underwhelming and detrimental for the offense. If the Tigers want to take down a powerhouse like Ballard, they must clean up the unneeded mistakes.

How can St. X win this Game?

Heichelbech: Well Jacob, I think it’s pretty straight forward. The Tigers must limit Eaves and especially Perry. A victory is going to come with the Tigers valuing every possession, and looking for the open shots. I’m not going to say that they will have to shoot a certain percentage, because if they take care of the ball and have solid shot selection, the shots will fall. Also, it would help in a major way if the Tigers could win the battle of the boards. St. X is playing its best basketball at the right time. My prediction 74-71 Tigers.

Hayslip: I’m going to be straightforward; I expect St. X to pull out a 71-68 squeaker. Whoever finishes with the least amount of turnovers will have a huge advantage, as you alluded to earlier. Coming off of a great performance against Eastern, this squad is on an emotional high. The team is hyped. The fans will be hyped. St. X will ride a wave of energy and passion to a huge win.

The Rematch: Offensive Keys

 

If C.J. Shanklin can figure out how to operate around Raymond Spalding in the middle, St. X might just have enough offense to pull off an upset. | Photo by Kody Nalley

If C.J. Shanklin can figure out how to operate around Raymond Spalding in the middle, St. X might just have enough offense to pull off an upset. | Photo by Kody Nalley

Last Friday night, one team showed the state that it could hang with anybody. St. X gave the number one team in Kentucky everything it had and nearly knocked it off in Broadbent Arena. But in the end, it was Trinity that defeated the Tigers by a final line of 57-47. So with a rematch coming tomorrow, what can the Tigers do better on the offensive end? Lets take a deeper look at the ups and downs of the offense against its heated rival last week.

By no means am I a coach, nor do I know the personnel of the team as well as Coach Klein does, but there are some tweaks that can be made to the offense to put the team in a better position to win against heavyweights such as Trinity.

The Tigers came out firing in the first half, but shots were not falling for everybody. On a night where the defense shined brighter, the offense could have been on the same level had a few things not happened. Firstly, it is difficult to commit 8 turnovers and be in the game at halftime without playing stellar defense. Luckily, that’s exactly what the Tigers did and found themselves ahead by four at the break.

But besides the turnovers, the St. X offense relied heavily on one player. Ashanti Burgess was hotter than he’s ever been in the first half, and the Tigers kept going to him. That’s perfectly fine, but if no one else steps up to take a scoring role, it is eventually going to wear on Burgess and subsequently, the rest of the team. And that’s exactly what happened. Burgess shot a wildly impressive 71.4% from the field in the first half (58.3% for the game) and made 4-6 three pointers. None of those stats are undesirable, and he was the only bright spot for the Tigers offensively all night. If there are any bones to pick with his performance, it’s going 2-7 from the free throw line. But overall, you couldn’t ask for a much better game from the senior sharpshooter.

What you can ask for, however, is for someone else to step up and lighten the load for Burgess on offense. Lucas Miller was tasked with guarding Raymond Spalding, and having to guard an opponent seven inches taller than you is guaranteed to be physically taxing. With a fatigued Miller, St. X was down a primary scorer on the offensive end. That meant that someone needed to step up and score in the second half to help relieve Burgess. The Tigers only mustered 9 points in the third quarter and it was clear that Burgess was slowing down. He scored his final 5 points of the game in that quarter until the defense caught on to him and shut him down in the fourth quarter.

With Miller and Burgess both seemingly out of offensive gas, one would look to a Connor McKim or a C.J. Shanklin to get some buckets when the Tigers needed them most. Shanklin struggled with the defense from Spalding and often times found himself getting trapped after trying to dribble and get to the rack like he is accustomed to doing. Give the Trinity defense credit though, as they were suffocating in the paint. In the end, 8 points was simply not enough from the senior forward. I expect him to relax and find his shot a lot more easily in the rematch.

McKim had an off night, going 2-4  from the floor, 0-2 from behind the line and uncharacteristically not earning a trip to the charity stripe. I expect to see a lot more of the junior point guard in the rematch because of his pure ability to get to the basket and create. Every good player has bad outings.

Besides those key elements, the offense was not too terribly different than it has been all season. Like I said before, I don’t know if the Tigers could have played more inspired basketball on Friday night.

As for some more subtle tweaks, I look to the floor generals. Both McKim and Josh Rudy need to help communicate to their teammates to move without the ball. Basic ball screens, cutting and flashing, and sealing off the pick on a pick-and-roll situation can pay big dividends in finding easy buckets. It’s the fundamentals of motion without the basketball that the Tigers slipped up on a few occasions. Those mistakes are understandable on the big stage, but in the rematch, I would expect to see fine-tuned and clean offense from the Tigers.

Here are some stats that can be improved upon in my opinion:

– 6-14 from the free throw line as a team (43%)

-17 total turnovers

– only one player in double digits (Burgess, 20)

While those stats exist, there are some very encouraging stats for the Tigers to remember at the same time:

– 9-17 from 3pt. range (53%)

-Miller still managed to find 9 points on limited shooting

– 10 total assists

If the Tigers can replicate what they did on defense and make some minor adjustments to the offense, Kentucky’s number one team could very well taste defeat on Wednesday when these two squads are pitted against each other for the second time in less than a week.

Go Tigers. Beat the Rocks.

 

St. X vs Trinity – Positional Breakdowns: Bench

Billy Basham has an opportunity to affect the game with his relentless energy on both ends of the floor. | Photo by Jacob Hayslip

Billy Basham has an opportunity to affect the game with his relentless energy on both ends of the floor. | Photo by Jacob Hayslip

There is no denying that the both team’s benches are huge facets of this ball game. And none of these guys are benchwarmers. They are all ballers and affect the game in big ways when called upon. Let’s take a look at how these second unit guys will influence the game.

St. Xavier Depth Chart

– #15 Nick Kitchen- 6’3″| 180 lbs.| Senior

– #5 Connor McKim- 6’2″| 162 lbs.| Junior

– #22 Billy Basham- 6’2″| 185 lbs. | Junior

-#4 Connor Knight- 6’0″| 171 lbs.| Junior

St. Xavier Overview

As I mentioned in the guards breakdown, McKim is a big time player and can take over at any time. Coach Klein toggles back and forth between Josh Rudy and McKim as starting point guards, so McKim is essentially the sixth man if he’s not starting. But the real sixth man, usually first off the bench, is senior forward Nick Kitchen. Able to play the 3 or the 4, Kitchen’s versatility gives the Tigers a much needed boost. Although it may not always be a visible impact, Kitchen is a true grinder who plays with grit and veteran savvy. He scraps in the low post so hard that you wouldn’t notice he’s undersized as a power forward.

Billy Basham is usually a big energy boost for the Tigers off the bench. Although his playing time fluctuates, Basham is a reliable cog in the Tiger offense and a huge defensive asset. A big time bonus that Basham can bring to the game is he can rip off a scoring streak in an instant. Set up by his intense defense, Basham’s offensive game is one to admire because he is extremely creative in the way he gets his points. Coach Klein may go to Basham early on in Friday night’s contest if he doesn’t like what he’s seeing from the usual rotation of forwards.

Third string court orchestrator Connor Knight doesn’t get the credit he deserves. While he doesn’t log big time minutes, Knight is an elite passer and dribbler who tries to mediate pressure and game flow when he is in the game.

 

 

D'Angelo West can fill it up in a hurry coming off the bench for the Rocks. | Photo by Jacob Hayslip

D’Angelo West can fill it up in a hurry coming off the bench for the Rocks. | Photo by Jacob Hayslip

 

Trinity Depth Chart

-#1 D’Angelo West | Senior | PG

-#10 Jay Murphy | Senior | PG/SG

-#20 Gabe Schmitt | Junior | SG

-#22 Isiah Knight | Junior | PG/SG

Trinity Overview

Trinity’s bench can be summarized by one word: dangerous.  There are handful of guys at one or two positions, but there is firepower beginning the game on the pine for Trinity, and that does not bode well for St. X.

Trinity’s second unit starts with D’Angelo West.  The lefty-swingman is that “heat-check” guy who can completely change games by himself, much like Jamal Crawford of the Los Angeles Clippers and J.R. Smith for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

West loves to drive and finish inside, but he is a more-than capable outside shooter as well.  He is a complete package on offense who averaged over 20 points per game last season playing in Mississippi.  St. X needs to keep an eye out for number 1 in green and white when he enters the game.  You could make a sound argument that Trinity’s best offensive player comes off the bench.

Senior Shamrock guard Jay Murphy is another lights-out shooter who can affect games with his distributing ability.  Trinity’s offense often looks more smooth and fluid when Murphy checks in.

Murphy is another player who values his time on the court, evidenced by his demeanor.

“Coming off the bench is never seen generally seen as a good thing, but with the quality of players we have have, it’s remarkable I even get to play the minutes I do,” Murphy explained.  “For me, being a part of this team and having a chance to help us win a state title is worth it.”

Again, a player who will be playing in college puts the team in front of himself.  It doesn’t always seem like chemistry is a big thing with Trinity on the court, but when you talk to the guys, you realize why they are so good: They recognize their roles and don’t attempt to change them.

St. X also can’t forget about Gabe Schmitt.  With all the senior-laden talent on this Shamrock team, this junior doesn’t get noticed a lot.  But Schmitt can flat-out score, and if he is ignored, he could very well contribute a performance off the bench that dooms the Tigers.

Trinity has a lot of talent, so some of it gets pushed to the bench.  Unfortunately for St. X, they won’t be guarding anyone of substantially less talent when the Shamrock subs come in, and that could spell trouble for the Tigers.

St. X vs. Trinity – Positional Breakdowns: Guards

Connor McKim will have a significant influence on this rivalry game. | Photo by Jaocb Hayslip

Connor McKim will have a significant influence on this rivalry game. | Photo by Jaocb Hayslip

Perhaps the most important figure on the basketball court is the point guard. He is the orchestrator, the quarterback of the offense and makes the game pulsate. His backcourt running mate, the shooting guard, can provide a very relieving source of scoring via quick shooting or movement without the ball to help the flow of the game in a major way. Well, we have some great guards in this big time rivalry game Friday night at Broadbent Arena, and none of them will shy away from the big stage. It is almost guaranteed that these well-defined roles of point guard and shooting guard will be swapped for roles that entail just flat-out competing.

 St. Xavier Depth Chart

– #5 Connor McKim- 6’2″ |162 lbs.| Junior

– #21 Josh Rudy- 6’1″|185 lbs.| Senior

– #11 Ashanti Burgess- 6’1″|175 lbs.| Senior

– #4 Connor Knight- 6’0″| 171 lbs.| Junior

St. Xavier Overview

This Tiger backcourt is as exciting as it has been in years past and is headlined by some exciting juniors and savvy veterans. Senior combo guard Josh Rudy is a seasoned three year bench player who has finally had his chance to take control of the offense this year. Known for driving the lane and finding his teammates, Rudy can take over a game without the crowd even noticing because he never wants the spotlight. By creating off the dribble and seeing the court well at all times, he knows where to find the open man and set up the Tigers for the best shot available. Points are a secondary concern for Rudy; his game is predicated on smart decisions and good passing.

Connor McKim, on the other hand, is a scoring combo guard. While he is a truer point guard, McKim will look for his shot when it’s available or when he’s hot. His quickness is such a big part of his game as it contributes to his abilities to slash and drive the lane to find a floater for himself or to drop it off down low to big men or scoring threat Lucas Miller. McKim’s ball handling skills are sharp and clean, allowing him to play comfortably and shiftily get to the rack.

Senior Ashanti Burgess is a pure shooting guard who won’t pass up an open shot and has a smooth stroke. When he’s on, he’s on. Burgess went for a season-high 25 points against Paul Laurence Dunbar on December 18th in a 97-84 Tigers win. Burgess has a tendency to get into foul trouble when his game is not coming to him, but he can put good pressure as an on-ball defender. Rudy and McKim are no slouches on the defensive end either, as they both average over one steal per game and have come up with 43 so far this season. Oh, and one other thing: these guys don’t turn the ball over often. All three of them have positive assist/turnover ratios. This unit is hard to crack.

 

Senior Shamrock Michael Stafford anchors Trinity's guards. | Photo by Jacob Hayslip

Senior Shamrock Michael Stafford anchors Trinity’s guards. | Photo by Jacob Hayslip

 

 

Trinity Depth Chart

– #13 Daniel Ramser | Senior

– #1 D’Angelo West | Senior

– #30 Michael Stafford | Senior

– #10 Jay Murphy | Senior

 

Trinity Overview

The Shamrocks have an excellent backcourt themselves to counter St. X’s attacking group. It starts with senior combo guard Michael Stafford, who is stronger suited as a point guard because of his great ball handling skills and knack for distributing the basketball to the right teammates. What he lacks in shooting he makes up for in his penetrating skills and getting in the lane to the right whenever he can. Stafford can be stopped if the Tigers can force him left and attack him on the other end of the court.

Daniel Ramser helps complete Stafford’s game to a degree with his elite shooting and quickness. When combined with his big frame, Ramser’s quickness creates deceptive athleticism and allows him to score at a high clip while also being a strong defender.

Senior D’Angelo West is a lefty combo guard who would rather get to the cup than shoot, but he can knock down an open perimeter shot if need be. Like Stafford, West doesn’t like to switch to his off hand and is prone to gambling for steals which can leave him out of position defensively. West is a nice player and will be a big contributor in presenting a challenge to the St. X backcourt.

Trinity’s backcourt understands that this rivalry game is not one to overlook and knows that the St. X backcourt won’t lay down for them.

“We will need to play great on ball defense because [Burgess and C.J. Shanklin] are good players and are going to make plays,”Ramser said. “The rest of our defense will have to be on their toes”.

Trinity has elite height in every position on the court, giving the Shamrocks a clear cut advantage over St. X which has average height at best. But that obviously doesn’t mean anything to the Tigers, as they have mowed through some towering opponents thus far, most recently, a talented and lengthy DeSales team Monday night. Keep your eye on this battle of the backcourts Friday night, because each on is going to have to grind on both ends of the floor in order to come out ahead.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gameday Central | Tiger Basketball vs. St. Xavier

Friday, December 12 | 7:30 PM | Br. John Wills Sports Activities Center | Louisville, KY

St. Xavier 2014 Basketball Gameday Central Graphic

GAMEDAY INFORMATION

St. Xavier Tigers (2-0) vs. St. Xavier Bombers (1-0)
Friday, December 12th
Varsity Game – 7:30 PM
JV Game – 6:00 PM
Br. John Wills Sports Activities Center
Louisville, KY

GAME NOTES

After a week of rest and preparation, Head Coach Kevin Klein are ready to take over duties on Friday nights from Will Wolford and Tiger Football.  St. X’s first Friday game of the season comes at home against the Bombers of Cincinnati Saint Xavier.

After a fantastic season opener on the road against Central and a home blowout of the Collegiate Titans, Tiger Nation will now get to see how good this year’s squad really is in a game that is sure to go down to the wire.  Last season, Cincy St. X led throughout the game, but Tiger point guard Robert Shaw led a comeback effort in the fourth and ultimately was the driving force that allowed St. X to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

The Tigers were able to leave Cincinnati with a win, and there is no doubt that they want to send the Bombers home with another loss.  Cincy St. X had elite size last season, but does not return much of last year’s production.  We will have to see whether junior Tiger point guard Connor McKim can man the ship like Shaw did last season.  He has played so well to this point, but tonight is where the rubber meets the road; McKim has to play well tonight if he wants fans to stop worrying about Shaw’s absence for St. X this year.

COVERAGE

Twitter: @WSTXSports, @TigerSports_TV
Last Game: Defeated Collegiate 66-27
2014-2015 Tiger Basketball Season Preview

Recap: St. X 66 Collegiate 27

Junior point guard Connor McKim gets in a defensive stance. | Photo by Jacob Hayslip

Junior point guard Connor McKim gets in a defensive stance. | Photo by Jacob Hayslip

On Tuesday night, The Tigers drubbed the Collegiate Titans from start to finish. Connor McKim and C.J. Shanklin shined, but it was an overall team effort, as 14 players saw action. Keep in mind, starting guard Ashanti Burgess was unavailable with a bruised calf. The final score was 66-27; let’s see how it got there.

Stats of the Game

1. Connor McKim had a game high 16 points going 6-7 on field goals and 4-5 from the charity stripe.

2. C.J. Shanklin had a game high 6 rebounds and pulled them down with force; 4 of the 6 were offensive and Shanklin took them right back up and turned them into points.

3. The Tiger Defense forced 26 turnovers. Twenty of them came in the first half. Outstanding.

4. McKim had 5 assists to zero turnovers. If that continues, we are in for a treat this year. This junior point guard is special.

5. Six reserves logged minutes against Collegiate. It’s never too early to get the young bench players some varsity experience.

Pivotal Moments

1. Early in the first quarter Will Olsen had back-to-back layups off steals to build an early 6-0 lead.

2. At one point in the first half, the defense recorded three consecutive steals off the Titan inbound pass, converting all of them into six easy points.

3. Billy Basham hit a three at the halftime buzzer to extend the lead to 46-12.

There were very few “pivotal” moments in this game. It was all Tigers, all night.

Handling the Opponent

St. X handled the opponent. Literally. There’s not much to say here. Pure domination on defense and good execution on offense. The Titans shot 33% from the field to the Tigers’ 58%.

Game Ball

This game ball has to go to McKim. He was all over the place and ran the fast break beautifully on several occasions Tuesday night. He touched nearly every column of the stat sheet and did not turn the ball over. He more than made up for the absence of Burgess who should be ready to go for the next Friday’s clash with Cincinnati St. Xavier.

Tweets of the Game

What a beautiful pass it was. The Tigers had 14 assists on the night.

 

It was undoubtedly a stellar outing by the Green and Gold.

Gameday Central | Tiger Basketball at Central

Tuesday, December 2 | 7:30 PM | Central High School | Louisville, KY

Central 2014 Basketball Gameday Central Graphic

GAMEDAY INFORMATION

Saint Xavier Tigers (0-0) at Central Yellow Jackets (0-0)
Tuesday, December 2nd
Varsity Game – 7:30 PM
JV Game – 6:00 PM
Freshman Game – 4:30 PM
Central High School
Louisville, KY

GAME NOTES

The Tigers begin the 2014-2015 season on the road against a familiar opponent.  St. X has faced Central numerous times in both the regular season and the postseason.  After two lackluster performances in scrimmages against Oldham County and Bowling Green, the Tigers will be hungry to prove they are not a team to be taken for granted.

It will be a special night for senior C.J. Shanklin, as he will start his first regular season game since tearing his left ACL in the summer of 2013.  Fellow senior Ashanti Burgess will look to have a breakout season with long-time lead guard Robert Shaw now graduated.  Burgess struggled with ball security in the two scrimmages, finishing with more than 7 turnovers in both scrimmages.  Keeping turnovers at a minimum will be huge for St. X all season, but especially tonight when they take on the very underrated Yellow Jackets at their house.  Central is always well-coached, and it is known for applying heavy pressure defense.

It will be interesting to see how St. X handles the pressure, as it struggled mightily in the first two scrimmages with handling a full-court press.  All in all, this should be a great contest.

COVERAGE

Twitter: @WSTXSports, @TigerSports_TV
Last Game: None
2014-2015 Tiger Basketball Season Preview

Tiger Basketball: 2014-2015 Season Preview

Lucas Miller | Photo by Jacob Hayslip

Lucas Miller | Photo by Jacob Hayslip

It’s that time of year again, Tiger Nation. Sneakers squeaking, balls bouncing, coaches yelling and nets snapping; it’s basketball season. The Brother John Wills Arena has been quiet to outsiders for the past eight months, but players and coaches have been putting in the hours in the off-season to make this year an absolute success. It will be a relatively new group of players this year for Head Coach Kevin Klein, as he will have to replace six outstanding seniors, but I believe they are up for the challenge. Let’s take a look at how St. X stacks up.

2013-2014 Season At A Glance

Record: 21-9 (3-0 in District Play)

Last Game: Loss against Trinity at Bellarmine University, Regional Tournament 1st Round (St. X 40 Trinity 51)

Leading Scorer: Robert Shaw (Sr.) 17.4 PPG; 521 Total Points; 45% FG

Leading Rebounder: Ashanti Burgess (Jr.) 4.0 RPG ; 121 Total Rebounds

The 2014-2015 Roster

# Name (F) Name (L) Position Height Weight Year
3 Alex Hulse PG 5’7 155 JR
4 Connor Knight PG 5’11 169 JR
5 Connor McKim PG 6’1 160 JR
11 Ashanti Burgess PG, SG 6’1 170 SR
15 Nick Kitchen SG, SF 6’2 180 SR
21 Josh Rudy PG, SG, SF 6’0 185 SR
22 Billy Basham SF, PF 6’1 185 JR
24 Daniel Ryan PF, C 6’5 215 JR
31 Lucas Miller SF, PF 6’3 197 SR
32 William Olsen SG, SF 6’2 191 JR
34 Austin Brian PF, C 6’5 200 JR
35 C.J. Shanklin PG, PF, C 6’3 175 SR

Key Losses

G Robert Shaw (Sr.) (Signed with Southwest Baptist University)

Shaw will be the biggest loss for the Tigers as he moves on to play Division II basketball at Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, Missouri. Shaw joined a group of select players to score 1,000 career points at St. X last season and led the team in points and assists. He will undoubtedly be remembered as one of the best to ever don a green and gold uniform.

G Austin Chambers (Sr.)

Known for his scrappy playing style and endless energy, Chambers will be dearly missed in the Tiger backcourt this season. Chambers was among the team leaders in steals (52) and free throw percentage (74%) a year ago. He wasn’t afraid to put his modest 5’9 frame on the line inside either, pulling down 70 boards. He also recorded 74 assists, good for second on the team. A true hustle player who worked tirelessly for four years, Chambers may be replaced physically, but his spirit and intensity will be extremely tough to match.

– F Malik Carr (Sr.) (Signed to play football with Morehead State University)

Carr was one of those players that caused people to ask “What?” when they picked up the stat sheet after a game. He may not have pulled down 15 rebounds every game or scored double digit points consistently, but he touched nearly every column in the box score. The Tigers will miss Carr’s production in the low post this season as he continues on to play football for Morehead State University.

F Andrew McCormick (Sr.) (Signed to play football with Dayton University)

There are few men skilled enough to attempt to call themselves three-sport athletes. McCormick not only attempted to do so, but he excelled while doing it. A well-documented star, McCormick was a stud at inside linebacker for the Football Tigers and a State Champion outfielder for the baseball team. On top of all that, he served as a key contributor on the basketball squad doing whatever Coach Klein asked. McCormick’s heady play will be tough to replace.

F Andrew Marquess (Jr.)

Marquess would have been the go-to man in the frontcourt this season for the Tigers, but he has decided not to play his senior season due to nagging shoulder injuries. His post scoring, rebounding, and defensive presence will be dearly missed. This season will be played in part for Marquess. Once a Tiger, always a Tiger.

F Tyler Boarman (Jr.)

 An often called-on reserve last year, senior Tyler Boarman has decided not to rejoin the basketball team this year. Boarman provided fantastic outside-shooting, toughness, and intangibles that you just don’t see very often.  He would have been an integral piece on this year’s team.

Key Returners

G Ashanti Burgess (Sr.)

It won’t be easy to replace Shaw’s sheer production from a year ago, but if there’s anyone who can do it, it’s Burgess. He was the perfect complement to Shaw on the wing, and has the necessary experience to shine, as he has been earning varsity minutes since he was a sophomore. There’s no questioning Burgess’ work ethic or leadership abilities. In addition to putting in countless hours with the team this offseason, he has been working with a personal trainer three days a week to improve his ball handling and ball control as he makes the transition to being a more ball-dominant player. Burgess was second in points last season with 365 total and 12.2 per game. He doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty either, returning as the team’s leading rebounder. Nothing fazes this guy, and he will be vital to the Tigers’ success.

F Lucas Miller (Sr.)

Miller returns to his starting role in 2014 and looks to improve upon last season’s success. He will need to up his production from a season ago with Shaw and Carr departing, but his versatility is off the charts. He will be one of the first options in the high post. Miller will be used heavily in scoring situations and is a serious threat from long range, which will keep defenses honest and help free up his teammates for easy looks at the basket. Don’t be surprised if Miller delivers a few rim-rocking slams in Br. John Wills Arena while he shows off his jaw-dropping athleticism, either. Miller will have a huge impact on both ends of the court this season.

G/F William Olsen (Jr.)

William Olsen opened many eyes in a very impressive sophomore campaign last year and looks to earn a starting job this year next to Miller in the frontcourt. With his 6’2 frame and polished jumper, Olsen can spread out a defense or collapse it in tight and kick it back out for high percentage shots. He has a wide variety of abilities on offense and can put it on the floor if he needs to. Olsen will need to log some major minutes this year, as he will be leaned on heavily throughout the season.

New Faces

These players have all been part of the program for multiple years, but they will be getting their first meaningful varsity minutes this season.  Let’s meet them.

– G/F/C  C.J. Shanklin (Sr.)

Shanklin hasn’t been healthy for a full season since he was a freshman. A broken finger sophomore year and a torn ACL junior year have kept Shanklin off the court for much of the last two seasons. Now healthy, he will surely open eyes with a tantalizing blend of size, strength, and athleticism. Shanklin is 6’3” and has unbelievable ball skills. His natural position would be as a point guard, but C.J. can play all five positions comfortably. He will most likely play a lot down low because this team lacks size. This season will be a major coming out party for Shanklin as he finally gets to unveil his talent to Tiger Nation.

G/F Josh Rudy (Sr.)

Rudy has been a loyal bench player for the Tigers for the past two seasons and will finally get his chance to contribute significantly this season. At 6’0 185 lbs., Rudy is a big guard that can use his body to overpower smaller defenders. Don’t let that size deceive you though, because he can blow by his defender and get to the cup with ease. Starting or coming off the bench, Rudy will be a big factor in the Tigers rotation this season.

G Connor McKim (Jr.)

Poised, confident and fearless are perfect words to describe the junior point guard. McKim is always dangerous with the ball in his hands and has a high basketball IQ. He will be important in relieving Burgess and Rudy this season.

F/C Austin Brian (Jr.)

With the team’s glaring lack of size, Brian will be a big factor this season.  He will most likely start out slow, as he is nursing a torn ligament in his right foot now, but once he gets back to full speed, watch out.  He has great post skills and is really comfortable operating on the perimeter for a big man.  He will be a lethal weapon in pick-and-roll and pick-and-pop scenarios.

G/F Nick Kitchen (Sr.)

Kitchen missed almost all of last season with a broken right ankle, but he is 100% now and will be an impact player for the Tigers this season.  He has an uncanny feel for the game; he always seems to find the right spots on the court to make himself available. He combines deceptive athleticism with a silky-smooth mid-range game in a dangerous offensive package.

F Billy Basham (Jr.)

If anyone can fill the “emotional anchor” void left by Chamber’s graduation, it’s Basham.  His game is almost identical to that of past coach favorites Chambers and Christian Hardy.  Basham is a gritty forward that plays with an attitude, and he will do whatever his team needs at any given moment; he will be as likely a candidate as any on this team to take a charge or dive on the floor for a loose ball.  He is the prototypical “3 and D” frontcourt player that will spread the floor on offense while hounding his defensive assignment everywhere on the floor.

F/C Daniel Ryan (Jr.)

This junior is just unflappable; you will never see Ryan’s emotion change, regardless of how well he is playing.  His big frame will be valuable on this small team, and he will be a big box score contributor.  His calling card is rebounding; he has tremendous technique and lower body strength that he uses to carve out space underneath the rim.  He also has fantastic basketball IQ and will be a technician on the offensive end.  Ryan is simply a smart and sound player.  He makes the necessary play no flash or frills attached.

Projected Starting Lineup

PG – Ashanti Burgess

SG – Nick Kitchen

SF – Josh Rudy

PF – Lucas Miller

C – C.J. Shanklin

 


Coach Kevin Klein has an outstanding collection of talent on his hands this year, and I fully expect that he will extract everything iota of potential he can out of them. I have confidence that the Tigers will contend with Will Parker, Brandon Horne and the rest of a talented Male squad for the District Championship and make a deep run into the State Tournament. It may take a few games to iron out the kinks and develop strong team chemistry, but once the season is in full stride, watch out. Let’s buckle up and get ready for an exciting season. I’ll see you all at Rupp in March, Tiger Nation.

Get the full season schedule here: http://www.saintx.com/page.cfm?p=1450&teamID=24

Flashback: Tiger Football vs. Manual

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 MATCHUP

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.

SERIES OVERVIEW

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

ALL-TIME GREATS

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.

TRENDS/PREDICTION

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.

Flashback: Tiger Football vs. Male

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.

LAST MATCHUP

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.

SERIES OVERVIEW

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

ALL-TIME GREATS

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.

TRENDS/PREDICTION

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.

St. X vs. Trinity Positional Breakdown: Offensive Line and Tight End

 

Tyler Haycraft will need to bring his best to Papa John's Cardinal Stadium Friday night, as Trinity boasts a talented defensive front. | Photo by Jacob Hayslip

Tyler Haycraft will need to bring his best to Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium Friday night, as Trinity boasts a talented defensive front. | Photo by Jack Arnold

The Offensive lineman is the most disrespected and underrated position in football. Never praised, always scrutinized. But it all starts up front, and that means the offensive lines for both the Tigers and Shamrocks will have big assignments on Friday night.

St. Xavier Depth Chart

– #68 Michael Sehlinger LT- 6’2”| 250 lbs.| Senior

– #65 Palmer Thompson LG- 6’2”| 260 lbs.| Senior

– #62 Nathan Scheler C – 6’2”| 270 lbs.| Senior

– #64 Lowell Brown RG- 6’4”| 235 lbs.| Senior

– #70 Tyler Haycraft RT- 6’4”| 255 lbs.| Senior

– #85 Davis Kannapell TE- 6’3”| 230lbs.| Senior

 

St. Xavier Overview

The Tigers returned two starters from last year’s O-Line in Scheler and Haycraft. The offensive line has done very well this year in run blocking and has created some gaping holes for TaiJon Smith and John Martinez to run through. The average height of the Tiger O-Line is a modest 6’3” but they play bigger and more physical than that. Defenses have attacked with stifling blitzes on third downs this year, and the line has had trouble picking up those blitzes on third down a few times this season. In the loss to Moeller, the line gave up several critical third down sacks that cost the offense points, particularly in the red zone. Expect to see a lot of run blocking tomorrow night and an improved pass blocking scheme that has refocused and helped the offense put up 46 points last week against Central.

Senior tight end Davis Kannapell has shown flashes of brilliance this season. When the ball is thrown his way, he usually picks up the first down and then some. The thing that makes Davis so effective is his athleticism. For a tight end, he has good speed and is very hard to take down, not to mention his outstanding hands. Tiger Nation has seen him reel off some big gainers this season and it wouldn’t be a bold prediction to say that Kannapell will have a big impact on “The Game”. If the offense would go to “Big Wave Dave” more often, perhaps it would open up a whole new world of play calling opportunities.

 

Trinity Depth Chart

– #51 Bryant Colvin C- 6’3”| 255 lbs.| Junior

– #79 Max Martin RG- 6’4”| 275 lbs.| Junior

– #75 Justin Karem RT- 6’3”| 221 lbs.| Senior

– #76 Chris Tipton LG- 6’1”| 245 lbs.| Senior

– #61 Michael Hiestand LT- 6’5”| 215 lbs.| Senior

– #14 Andrew Delvisco TE- 6’2”| 210 lbs.| Senior

 

Trinity Overview

The Trinity offensive line has not slacked a bit this season as it has allowed Donald Brooks to lead the state in yards through the first six games. The pass blocking has been solid all season long as well, and most recently allowed Ryan Young to dissect the Cathedral defense.

“They are definitely more comfortable in run blocking situations,” Young said. “Our line is one of the offense’s strengths.”

Young appreciates his O-line’s performance up to this point and he has no reason not to.

Senior Andrew Delvisco started his Trinity career as quarterback but that’s not where you’ll find him today. Delvisco is now catching passes from Young as a tight end. He provides a big target for his quarterback and is an effective blocker as well.

 

EDGE: This is another tough one to call. The strength of both teams’ run blocking ability far outweighs their abilities in pass blocking. I’m going to call this one a draw, and here’s my reasoning. First off, the run blocking abilities are just about even because of each team’s success on the ground thus far. But the Trinity pass blocking has been better to this point than St. X’s has. So now the score is 1-0 Trinity. However, if you consider the tight end position away from blocking, then I feel like Kannapell has a clear advantage due to his sheer athleticism and physical play. St. X 1, Trinity 1. It’s a draw, but you know who I would put my money on if I had to.

St. X vs. Trinity Positional Breakdown: Running Back

TaiJon Smith could have a signature performance Friday night. | Photo by Jacob Hayslip

TaiJon Smith could have a signature performance Friday night. | Photo by Jacob Hayslip

The running game is the strong suit for both offenses heading into Friday night. It could very easily come down to which star tailback can find holes in the opposing defense.

St. Xavier Depth Chart

– #22 TaiJon Smith- 5’9”| 177 lbs.| Senior

– #34 John Martinez- 5’9”| 180 lbs.| Junior

– #23 Chase Rowan- 5’11”| 167 lbs.| Junior

 

St. Xavier Overview

Historically, St. X is a school that breeds outstanding running backs. Victor Anderson, Deuce Finch, Lamont McMurry, Devontae Beach, Austin Davis, Treyveon Percell, Charles Walker. I could rattle them off all day long. Soon, another young man will be added to that list of legendary St. Xavier running backs. His name is TaiJon Smith and he is ready to run all over the Rocks tomorrow. All year long the Tigers have depended on Smith to carry them on offense, especially when it was struggling. TaiJon has been there in every game and has not disappointed. In the two losses on the season where the Tigers were shutout, Smith was the only positive on offense. He gained a combined 101 yards on 35 carries in those two games. He knows how to read a defense and says he has no plans to slow down on Friday night.

“I plan on playing the game the way I know and constantly looking to move the ball down the field,” he says.

Simple enough, TaiJon. Smith’s breakout game was against Bryan Station when he shredded the Defender defense for 178 yards on a whopping 32 carries. He has scored four touchdowns on the season and couldn’t have done it without his backfield mate, John Martinez. At a solid 180 lbs. for his 5’9” frame, Martinez is a load and is hard to take down once he gets moving. He is the perfect complement to Smith and can provide a much needed change of pace for the running game. Martinez is capable of reeling off 50+ yard runs in the blink of an eye and can be a dynamic, game-changing back. He had a field day against Bryan Station as well, gaining 82 yards and scoring a touchdown on just 10 carries. If the offensive line can hold up, which it has in the run game up to this point, then watch out for this powerful one-two punch coming out of the Tiger backfield.

 

Trinity Depth Chart

– #19 Donald Brooks- 5’11”| 185lbs.| Senior

– #34 Jailen Reed- 5’10”| 200lbs.| Junior

– #3 Jody Osborne- 5’6”| 150lbs.| Junior

 

Trinity Overview

Donald Brooks is a beast. That is honestly the best way to describe him. Through 6 games, he leads the state with 924 yards and has scored 12 touchdowns. If you think those numbers are staggering, get this: he is averaging 154 yards per game on the ground. That’s more than some high school offenses can gain in an entire game. Brooks is without a doubt the center of the offensive game plan for the Rocks and is the number one player on the Tiger defense’s radar tomorrow night. Stopping him is a must in order to win. Brooks is the clear-cut feature back for Trinity and will get the bulk of the carries tomorrow night. The thing that makes him so dangerous is his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield and turn it up the field in no time. His complement in the backfield is junior Jailen Reed, who makes the most of his opportunities when he is in the game. Reed’s ability to relieve Brooks is important because his running style is different and slows the game down for the offense.

Quarterback Ryan Young said each of the Shamrock tailbacks has a certain skill.

“Donald’s strength is his power and quickness through holes, Jailen is more of a power back, and Jody is a straight speed back.”

Young appreciates his running backs’ abilities, and he should, because they help relieve him of pressure and make defenses respect them.

EDGE: In a comparison of two fairly equal backfields, I have to give Trinity the edge in this one. There are a few key advantages that the Rocks have over the Tigers. The first is that Brooks is simply averaging a lot more yards than any Tiger tailback and seems to be on top of his game right now. This is not a knock on Smith who is playing very well this season, but Brooks has been dominant. The second advantage is that the Rocks have three backs that are all healthy and are all logging minutes in every game. Chase Rowan has been the starter for the first two years of his St. X career and has been very good, but has been battling constant injuries this season that have kept him from seeing significant playing time. Once he is healthy, look out. So I’m giving Trinity the edge here because they have three fully healthy and fully experienced backs whereas the Tigers have one that is still getting back into the groove of things. Just because I am giving them the edge does not mean that I think Smith, Martinez and Rowan can’t be better than Trinity’s trio tomorrow night. You can never count out a Tiger.

St. X vs. Trinity Positional Breakdown: Wide Receiver

 

Blake Roshkowski could have a big night against the Rocks. | Photo by Jack Arnold

Blake Roshkowski could have a big night against the Rocks. | Photo by Jack Arnold

The passing attack for both St. X and Trinity will be huge, as each leans heavily on the run game. The Tigers go a solid six deep at wideout, and Trinity’s receiving corps is led by a slew of juniors.  Whoever can complement the running game through the air most effectively will likely win this game.

St. Xavier Depth Chart

– #21 Jaylon Hibbs- 6’0”| 181 lbs.| Senior

– #17 Mason King- 6’2”| 164lbs.| Senior

– #25 Michael Ackerman- 5’7”| 158 lbs.| Senior

– #16 Griffin Ackermann- 5’10”| 175 lbs.| Senior

– #37 Blake Roshkowski- 5’10”| 167 lbs.| Sophomore

– #2 Colin O’Daniel- 5’11”| 140 lbs.| Junior

 

St. Xavier Overview

The Tiger receiving corps is experienced and deep with four seniors serving as primary targets for quarterback Noah Houk. As I mentioned earlier, the passing attack Friday night is crucial for the offense to have success. TaiJon Smith will need a few plays off and I look to the receivers to provide those necessary moments of rest. Senior Jaylon Hibbs is a freak athlete who will go up in jump ball situations and come down with it just about every time. He leads the receivers with two touchdowns on the season. Lining up in the slot on the other side of the field is Michael Ackerman who is a burner. Ackerman is comparable to a Wes Welker, Percy Harvin or Brandin Cooks type of receiver. When he gets the ball in space, watch out. He is notorious for catching short passes and taking them deep into an opponent’s territory. The offense runs a lot of screens for Michael and he is a definite threat when the ball is in his hands. Senior Mason King provides Houk with a nice, tall target and has come up with some big catches this season in crunch time. Junior Colin O’Daniel and sophomore Blake Roshkowski provide the true depth of the receiving corps. Both are known for their ability to take the top off of a defense and reel off big chunks of yards after the catch.

I asked Michael Ackerman about what he thought makes the receiving corps such a threat to secondaries.

“I think the biggest threat we have is that all of us are dangerous. It’s hard to lockdown on 3 or 4 receivers at one time,” he said. “You can’t double team us all.”

 

 

Trinity Depth Chart

– #10 Rodjay Burns- 6’2″|175 lbs.| Junior

-#80 Dalton Jones- 6’2″|175 lbs.| Junior

– #21 Santo Biddix- 5’9″ | 160 lbs. | Junior

– #13 Jake Woosley- 5’10”| 170 lbs.| Junior

– #1 Connor Carrico- 5’7”| 145 lbs.| Junior

 

Trinity Overview

The Trinity corps is not nearly as deep nor experienced as the Tigers, but they are talented. There is a clear-cut number one receiver for the Rocks and his name is Rodjay Burns. If you haven’t heard of him yet, you will. Burns can set the tone of the game in just one play. His quarterback, Ryan Young, spoke glowingly of the two-way star.

“He just really has a feel for the game, he runs great routes and can go get the ball at its highest point when he needs to.”

Junior Dalton Jones is a big target and is a nice counterpart to Burns. In the Rocks’ close victory over Cocoa, Florida, Jones was the difference maker catching 2 passes for 43 yards, both of which went for touchdowns. On the other side of the field, Santo Biddix is a reception monster and can provide a change of pace in the passing game with his short, slashing routes.

 

EDGE: Both teams have formidable pass catchers that can break a game open in no time. It’s tough to say which one has the edge, but I’m going to side with the Tigers and here’s why: experience. These receivers roll deep and have learned from talented players who came before them. The trio of Ackerman, Hibbs and King have built up great chemistry with their quarterback and know how to get open when it matters. The deep play ability of the underclassmen is very important as well. It will be tough for the Tiger Defense to slow down the Rocks’ receivers, especially Burns, but they will be up for the task. In an almost even matchup, I’m giving St. X the slight advantage over Trinty at wide receiver.

St. X vs. Trinity Positional Breakdown: Quarterback

 

Noah Houk has an opportunity to make a statement against the Shamrocks. | Photo by Jacob Hayslip

Noah Houk has an opportunity to make a statement against the Shamrocks. | Photo by Jacob Hayslip

Quarterback play is always important, and it will be the most talked about aspect of Friday’s game and will assuredly help decide who reclaims the shillelagh.  Let’s take a deeper look at the guys lining up under center on Friday night.

St. Xavier Depth Chart

– #14 Noah Houk- 6’4”| 190 lbs.| Senior

– #8 A.J. Breit- 6’0”| 172 lbs.| Junior

-#13 Corey Chitwood- 5’10”| 170 lbs.| Junior

 

St. Xavier Overview

Noah Houk has been waiting for this moment for a very long time. Being the starting quarterback for St. X High School and leading them against Trinity on Friday night has been one of his goals since he was balling at St. Margaret Mary as a kid. Houk wants to follow in his dad’s footsteps and lead the Tigers to victory on Friday night in an attempt to break the current seven-game losing streak to the Rocks. And let me tell you, he is more than capable of doing so. Even though the stats might not show it right now, Noah is an elite passer. He can put the ball exactly where he wants to, when he wants to. Flashback to last year during this time, and Houk was resurrecting the offense against Central and then receiving monumental reps against Trinity as he replaced BJ Nagle. If any further proof is necessary that he can be “the man” for the Tigers against Trinity, click here to learn about how he was the last St. X quarterback to defeat the Rocks. Houk is confident, Houk is ready and Houk is the man.

In order for St. X to pull out a victory, Noah explained that ball security has to be the number one priority.

“We cannot have any turnovers. Turnovers have been the only thing that has stopped us this year.”

He went on to add that tomorrow night may be ‘The Game,” but that’s not going to cause him to change his mental preparation.

“Mentally I’m treating it like a normal game. I’ve been watching a lot of film and working hard in practice this week, but as far as my routine goes, I’m not changing anything,” he said.

Don’t worry, Tiger Nation, Noah’s got everything under control.

 

Trinity Depth Chart

– #16 Ryan Young- 6’0”| 181 lbs.| Senior

– #15 Larry Harper III- 5’9”| 163 lbs.| Sophomore

 

Trinity Overview

The Rocks have alternated back and forth between Harper and Young throughout the first half of the season and found success with both. Young started off the season with 235 yards passing through two games but failed to find the end zone and instead threw interceptions in two early season losses. Harper got the start in the next game against Imhotep (PA) and threw for 59 yards on 7-11 passing. The next game he went 15-25 for 245 yards but threw two interceptions. Young returned the next week and threw for a touchdown in a win over Cocoa (FL). Last week, Young put on a clinic against annual Indiana powerhouse Cathedral High. He threw for 323 yards and four touchdowns while only misfiring on one pass (27-28). Young will be the starter for Trinity tomorrow night and says he is confident entering into the game.

“I’m pretty confident. I just need to treat it like I would any other game,” Young said.

Young’s key to victory: “Establishing a solid running game to set up our passing game.”

Young knows how to lead a football team and has already proven that he can bounce back and handle adversity well.

The young but ultra-talented Harper cannot be overlooked here, though.  Although his size suggests that he might have problems playing around much bigger guys, he has already proven this season he can play and play well against tough varsity competition.  He is a very mobile quarterback with deceptive agility.  In the JV game on Monday, he repeatedly displayed his elusiveness, as he juked, spun, and hesitated his way out of several dropbacks that would have been sacks for most other quarterbacks.  Even when a lineman has a clear shot at him, he is extremely tough to actually bring down.

If Young cannot go for any reason at any point during the game, the Shamrocks don’t really have any drop off in talent and ability from starting quarterback to backup quarterback, a luxury that St. X simply does not have.

 

EDGE: There is no definitive option between Young and Houk as to who the better quarterback is. You can’t go wrong with either one. Whichever quarterback’s offensive weapons show up more will determine the winner of this QB battle. As Houk said, turnovers will also be a huge factor. I think it will all depend on which quarterback can lead his offense to success early and put points on the board. Three and outs will do no good in this game and whoever can avoid those more will likely be more effective. In a close battle that could go either way, I’m siding with Houk and predicting a big performance from the Tiger QB: 215 yards and 2 TDs, but most importantly, ZERO interceptions.

Flashback: St. Xavier vs. Trinity

Tiger Football vs. Trinity

“I can remember going up there last year and almost fighting at the coin toss so they dont like us and we dont like them. Its going to be a heck of a game.” – DeAngelo Hall

The St. X Football Tigers got their feet back under them last week with a 46-6 trouncing of Central. The Tigers plan to carry all of the positives from that game into a packed Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium on Friday as they finally get to square off with longtime archrival Trinity. Both teams present 4-2 records with the combined four losses coming to excellent football teams, three of which were out-of-state opponents. We all know that the pregame hype is big, but for all the players and coaches, nothing matters besides earning that illustrious “W” on the biggest stage in the regular season.

LAST MATCHUP

Last year, Trinity defeated St. X by a final score of 29-17. The final score is a bit misleading as the game was an intense battle that went back and forth until the final quarter. A lot of current players for the Tigers logged meaningful minutes in last year’s clash, including then sophomore Ethan Adams who had a breakout performance with 4 solo tackles and a sack of Trinity quarterback Reggie Bonnafon who is now the starting quarterback for the University of Louisville.

The main difference in the game was the passing game. The Tigers were outgained by 117 yards through the air (205 to 88) and quarterback BJ Nagle threw two costly interceptions. Former Tiger running back Austin Davis filled in admirably for injured backs Charles Walker and Treyveon Percell, gaining 109 yards and a touchdown.

In the end, the Rocks’ offensive attack was too much for the Tigers and they ran away with the game in the second half.

SERIES OVERVIEW

Overall Series Record: Trinity leads 37-36-2

2013- St. Xavier 17 Trinity 29
2012- St. Xavier 7  Trinity 34   (State Quarterfinal: St. Xavier 14 Trinity 15)
2011- St. Xavier 6   Trinity 41   (State Quarterfinal: St. Xavier 6   Trinity 42)
2010 St. Xavier 0   Trinity 48   (State Quarterfinal: St. Xavier 7 Trinity 35)
2009 St. Xavier 32  Trinity 7    (State Championship: St. Xavier 34 Trinity 10)
2008 St. Xavier 30  Trinity 6   (State Championship: St. Xavier 21 Trinity 28)
2007 St. Xavier 24 Trinity  15  (State Championship: St. Xavier 28 Trinity 34)
2006 St. Xavier 0 Trinity 10
2005 St. Xavier 48 Trinity 16   (State Championship: St. Xavier 6 Trinity 14)
2004 St. Xavier 36 Trinity 18
2003 St. Xavier 6 Trinity 17      (State Championship: St. Xavier 14 Trinity 17)

ALL-TIME GREATS

Victor Anderson (St. Xavier 2003-2007)-  St. Xavier’s all-time leading rusher and scorer with 4,008 yards and 75 touchdowns. During his time here he led St. X to a 37-4 record. Anderson had monster junior and senior seasons as he rushed for 1,576 yards and 27 touchdowns and 1,400 yards and 22 touchdowns, respectively. Anderson went on to play for the Louisville Cardinals and as a freshman was named the BIG EAST Rookie of the Year in 2008. Injuries plagued Anderson during his time at Louisville but he still managed to perform on a consistent basis under coaches Steve Kragthorpe and Charlie Strong. He will forever be remembered as a St. X legend.

Deuce Finch (St. Xavier 2004-2008) – Named Kentucky Gatorade Player of the Year and Kentucky’s Mr. Football in 2008.  Finch was a first-team All-State player his final two seasons and ran for 1,397 yards and 30 TDs as a senior.  Finch rushed for 1,557 yards and 15 scores as a junior and led St. Xavier to a 26-2 mark his last two years.

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.

Brian Brohm (1999-2003)- Brohm comes from a very famous Louisville football family. His father Oscar and brothers Jeff and Greg all played at the University of Louisville. His cousin and former Tiger Luke Brohm is currently a fullback for the Cards. Brohm led the Shamrocks to three consecutive KHSAA 6A State Championships and was selected as Kentucky’s Mr. Football in 2003. Like his father and brothers, Brohm chose Louisville over Notre Dame, Tennessee, Alabama, Pittsburgh, Nebraska, Purdue, and Illinois after his senior year. He was a three year starter for the Cards and led them to a BCS victory in the 2007 Orange Bowl where he was named MVP. Controversially, Brohm chose to return for his senior year following the victory and subsequent departure of coach Bobby Petrino. The team went 6-6 and Brohm’s draft stock fell immensely. He was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the second round of the 2008 NFL Draft and spent time with the Buffalo Bills, Las Vegas Locomotives (UFL) and Hamilton Tiger-Cats before joining the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in 2014.

James Quick (Trinity 2009-2013)- Quick was highly coveted talent before he even enrolled at Trinity and was a four year varsity player (three year starter) at wide receiver. As a senior, Quick totaled 85 catches for 1,413 yards and 16 touchdowns. He was selected as Kentucky’s Mr. Football in 2012. He helped lead Trinity to three straight KHSAA 6A State Championships from 2009-2012, and following his senior season, was named a US Army All-American. Quick also excelled at basketball and track while at Trinity. He is the all-time leading receiver in the state of Kentucky with 280 career receptions. He received offers from Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisville, Missouri, West Virginia, Ohio State, Oregon and Tennessee. Ultimately, Quick chose the Cardinals and now plays under head coach Bobby Petrino.

TRENDS/PREDICTION

One of the most widely attended high school games each year, the St. X-Trinity rivalry never disappoints. Even if the score is lopsided, the passion and emotion that each team plays with cannot be matched and it provides an excellent football atmosphere. The Tigers will be trying to snap a seven-game losing streak (including the playoffs) against the Rocks on Friday night.

The main reason for the Rocks’ recent success in the rivalry has been the power of its offense. This year will be different, however, as the Tigers boast a very stingy defense. Through the first six games of the season, the defense has only allowed 10.5 points per game. The best performances came when they held a high-powered Bowling Green offense to a mere 6 points, and minus a few garbage-time touchdowns, a potent Moeller offense scored only 12 points off 4 field goals. So far this season, Trinity has played supreme talent from all across the country, and is currently averaging an even 33 points per game en route to a four game win streak.

In a matchup of two juggernauts the game will all come down to the counterparts of each team’s strength. Look for the Tiger offense to come in motivated and confident. It wasn’t too long ago that this same group of Tigers defeated Trinity. The Trinity defense is no slouch either and will surely be ready when the lights come on at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.

When the Tigers and the Rocks suit up, all records, all history and all trash talking is thrown out the window and football is played. The only thing that matters is representing your school and playing with pride and passion, and I can assure you that that’s what the Tigers will do. There is no better opponent on the Tigers’ schedule than Trinity and there is no better time to face them than now. A midseason matchup with huge implications is what we have here.  I have the Tigers snapping the losing streak against their longtime foe on Friday night in a thriller. My prediction St. X 24 Trinity 16. We are one day away from game day, Tiger Nation. Get Ready.

Go St. X, Beat the Weeds!