What a week. Really, what a last four days. Tiger Fall Sports is in full swing now and all four sports had a strong week. Sometimes we, Tiger Nation, forget how good we have it here. As part of my senior year and this being my last time around the sports circuit, I want to make sure we do understand how special this program is and how this year could be extra special. To do that, I will occasionally write on Sunday nights on the latest in Tiger Sports.
Between Thursday and Saturday, Tiger Football defeated Henry Clay 40-13, Tiger Cross Country beat the other two best teams in the state at the Tiger Run, Tiger Golf continues to dominate and Tiger Soccer beat South Oldham, last year’s state runner-up.
Let’s dive into a bit more though, so here is the latest in Tiger Sports.
Coming into the season, there were some question marks for this team. Who would be quarterback? How would the new offense work? Do we have to rebuild or did we reload once again? Those three were answered Friday night.
One thing you noticed immediately at the game, was that Desmond Ridder has that “it” factor about him. He can change a broken play into a big play, and he did that Friday where he took many broken plays and ended up running or scrambling for a huge gain. One person told me, “His vision of the field makes him unlike a lot of people. He sees everything.” That can’t help but make you excited about these next two years with him at the helm.
This offense could be really good this year. The offense produced almost 600 total yards and struck early and often against Henry Clay. They were up 30-0 before you could even blink it felt like. This offense is fast paced and aggressive. There isn’t much pause in between plays. They just line back up and keep going. Their goal is to be the best conditioned team out there and make the defense tire early.
Over 400 yards rushing is huge no matter what team you’re playing, and you have to give some credit to the O-line for that. They have five new starters, but they stepped up big in the first game with a brand new offense.
With one game under the belt, are the Tigers ready for Bowling Green? The Purples have beaten the Tigers the past four years, and the team felt they should have won last year. The team took that OT loss personal and with it being Patriotic Night, they want to get a W for the fans. The team truly believes this is the year to end the streak.
Tiger Soccer is on a bit of a high too, as they just defeated South Oldham on Thursday night. Last year, the Dragons dominated the Tigers in a 2-0 win, but that didn’t happen this time around. South Oldham was ranked #4 in the state going into the game, and St. X was ranked #8.
This team feels like they have the talent to go really far this year. They feel like they are getting better week by week, and they know that they’re in really good form right now. South was a good early test for the Tigers, and they for sure passed. They didn’t start fast but once they settled in, they dominated possession and controlled the game. They have a long way until state and Trinity is good once again this year, but they believe they have the talent to pull it off. The seniors don’t want to leave this school without a state ring, and they are doing everything they can to make sure they get one.
Soccer has a road trip coming up next weekend, as they travel to St. Louis for two games against Springfield-Glendale and St. Louis University High School. These will be big tests, as both teams will be difficult competition. We will have scores up on the site and twitter feed as soon as we have them.
Last year at state, Tiger Cross Country lost by one point to South Oldham in a surprise upset. That has been eating at the runners, and many have not gone a day without thinking about it. Saturday, they got their chance to get some revenge on South Oldham for last year. The Tigers took the opportunity and beat South Oldham by 17 points and beat Trinity in the process as well.
The win was huge, and Matthew Thomas and Spencer Hayden ran great races, but it was almost more about who was out that is even more special. Freshmen Grady Shiflit and Zach Larkin both did not run in the Varsity race, and they have a very good chance of being in the top five at the end of the year. Junior Ryan Guenthner and sophomore Patrick Schaeffer were both out of the race as well and will almost certainly be one of the top five runners for St. X. Winning Saturday was great, but they could still be a lot better which is kind of scary to think about.
The vibe around the course on Saturday was how good of a race it was. Thomas battled with Cole Dowdy of South Oldham until the very end, and Hayden beat out Tanner Dowdy. It truly was a battle up front, and it shows how good this season could be for cross country racing fans everywhere in the state.
Tiger Cross Country has an off-week next Saturday, and will travel to North Oldham’s Rumble through the Jungle the following weekend. The Trinity Invitational will be the week after that.
The Tiger Golf team won once again, this time at the Madison Central Invitational. The same five members that won state last year are back again this year and looking for a repeat. They want to finish their careers at St. X. as back to back state champs. They have the experience to do it, so all they have to do is finish it out once again.
Because they brought back five members from last year, they know they are the favorites, but they also know they are their own competition. One told me, “There are solid teams that are capable of solid team scores, but at the end of the day if we play to our abilities, we’ll come out on top.” They will play at the Henry Clay Invitational next weekend.
Tiger Cross Country started their first race of the year winning the Varsity, JV, and Freshman races at Tiger Run. The Tigers won by 16 with 84 points. Trinity finished second with 100 points and nudged out South Oldham who had 101 points.
Seniors Matthew Thomas and Spencer Hayden placed 2nd and 3rd respectively in the varsity race. Sophomores Cooper Marchal, Eric Portaro, and Clay Meiers also placed top 5 for varsity.
“I definitely wanted to win,” said Matthew Thomas. “It was a fast time for this early in the season, and I know I can compete with them. It doesn’t matter now though; it matters in November. I feel confident that we will win state. If we can win here with missing Ryan Guenthner and Patrick Schaffer, two of our top 5 scorers, and two freshman [Shiftlet and Larkin] showing out the way they did, we look pretty good. Grady and Zach will probably be in our top 7 if not top 10 and at least one of them will be running state for us. To win with Trinity, South Oldham, Eastern, and other big names in the state and still being able to beat those teams without some guys was a big boost and gets us rolling into the season with a great start.”
The JV team placed first with 5 guys finishing in the top 10 including junior Brennan Schaeffer, Alex Weber, Thomas Knepshield, Brock Mayer, and Seth Goodwin.
The freshman were also succesful with Grady Shiflet winning the freshman race, followed by Zach Larkin placing 2nd and Eoin Corbett placing 4th.
“It was good,” Larkin said. “We look really strong having three of our guys in the top 4. I’m really excited for the rest of the season.”
NEXT MEET: September 12 at Rumble through the Jungle (North Oldham Invitational)
KYTrackXC.com released their Class 3A Pre-Season rankings Sunday, and the Tiger Cross Country team came in at #2.
Pre-Season Top 5
1) South Oldham
2) Saint Xavier
4) Meade County
5) Madison Central
South Oldham defeated St. X last year at the Kentucky Cross Country State Championship by 1 point.
“I feel confident that we’re better than that,” Senior Matthew Thomas said. “We have a lot of young guys that no one knows about. St. X isn’t a number 2 kind of school, and we’re going to go out and prove that.”
Tiger Cross Country will host most of these teams at Tiger Run next Saturday including South Oldham and Trinity.