The Tiger Football team advanced to 2-0 on Friday night after dominating the Bowling Grenen Purples 45-19.
We’ve seen his brother come through in the clutch, we’ve seen him come through in the biggest games, in both lacrosse and football, but did Blake Roshkowski have a game.
On the opening kickoff in front of a packed and patriotic Rage Cage, Roshkowski ran it back 99 yards to give the Tigers a 7-0 lead only fifteen seconds into the game. When asked about the opening kickoff Roshkowski said, “My mindset was that if we’re going to beat these guys, we’d have to get on them quick, and I just saw the open grass and went for it.” Blake went for it and he got it. The Tigers kept the momentum as they stripped the Bowling Green ballcarrier and recovered the fumble. A few plays later Desmond Ridder ran it in from three yards out putting the Tigers ahead 14-0. The Tiger defense quickly forced the Purples to punt and after a big pass play, Sam Taylor came through with a three yard touchdown run to put the Tigers up 21-0 in the first quarter.
As the second quarter started the Tigers threw an interception, but they quickly regained possession when Logan Butler recovered a Bowling Green fumble. The Tigers then drove down the field, but had to settle for a 23-yard field goal by Cam McDonough. The Purples finally got on the board with a touchdown, but the extra point was blocked and the Tigers lead 24-6. That’s when Roshkowski made his presence known again. He took the handoff from Ridder on an end around from the 25-yard line and scored to give the Tigers a 31-6 halftime lead.
After halftime the Purples started to get back into the game scoring two touchdowns that would draw the score to 31-19. In the fourth quarter both teams drove the ball down the field, but each threw an interception, the Tigers interception coming off a tipped pass that defensive end Ethan Adams caught (Adams also had 2 1/2 sacks). Following the interception the Tigers drove into the red zone, and handed the ball to Roshkowski who scored on another end around, this time from the nine-yard line. That score put the Tigers up 38-19, but the final nail in the Purples coffin was Roshkowski’s fourth and final touchdown which came on a 67-yard punt return. That return put the Tigers up 45-19 and that was where the score remained until the final horn blew giving the Tigers their first victory over Bowling Green since 2006.
The Tigers produced 364 yards of offense including an astounding 189 yards in the ground. A large portion of the ground game came from juniors Sam Taylor (100 yards and a TD on 16 carries) and Blake Roshkowski (61 up yards and 2 TDs on 4 carries). The Tiger defense also did a great job of forcing turnovers, ending with a total of four (three fumbles and an interception). However, special teams is what made the difference including Roshkowski’s two return TDs, Cam McDonough’s field goal and a blocked PAT.
The crowd was large and impactful, when asked about how the fans influenced the team Roshkowski said, “The crowd really helped the team. We had all these students and fans who understand how long we’ve been waiting to beat Bowling Green.”
While the Rage Cage was rowdy, and the fans were loud, they certainly had a lot to cheer for. The Tigers have come out of the gate hot and look to carry the momentum throughout the year and to Central next week. While performances like Roshkowski’s surely aren’t to be expected every game, the amount of impact players that the Tigers have will make this season a very exciting and memorable one.
NEXT GAME: Friday @ Central – 7:30 pm
Tiger Football kicked off their regular season at Lexington Catholic last night with an amazing performance. The Tigers defeated the Henry Clay Blue Devils 40-13 and dominated every facet of the game, putting up over 500 yards of offense, forcing turnovers and a safety on D and dominating on special teams.
The game started out quickly as the new fast-paced offense was active from the start. Junior Desmond Ridder and the Tiger offense drove the ball down the field in just a few minutes with Ridder capping it off on a QB keeper from five yards out. The Tiger defense quickly forced Henry Clay to punt, and the Tigers drove into the red zone before being stopped on fourth and goal at the 1 yard line. The defense picked them up though when junior Jack Kronk got into the backfield and tackled the Henry Clay running back for a safety, putting the Tigers ahead 9-0.
The score would stay that way until early in the second quarter when junior Sam Taylor took a handoff from the 9 yard line and ran it in for another touchdown putting the Tigers up 16-0. After another defensive stop the Tigers drove again as Ridder showed off his arm, connecting with senior Trey Clements for a 23 yard touchdown pass. Shortly after that score senior Logan Butler stripped University of Kentucky commit Davonte Robinson and the Tigers recovered. The offense worked quickly and scored yet again, this time on a 12 yard run by senior Chase Rowan that put the Tigers up 30-0 with 6:50 remaining in the first half. Henry Clay finally broke through on the next drive with a touchdown of their own, but the Tigers answered with a 43 yard field goal from junior Cam McDonough following a 53 yard run by Ridder to move the score to 33-7 at the end of the first half.
Shortly after the second half began, the game took a turn for the worse as junior Braidon Washburn was down for over 20 minutes after a tackle. He was moving and responsive, eventually being taken off the field in an ambulance as a precaution.
The Tigers later stopped the Blue Devils on fourth and goal, but the Tiger offense could do nothing to capitalize on it. The third quarter ended with the score still at 33-7 Tigers. Early in the fourth quarter Henry Clay scored a touchdown but had the PAT blocked making the score 33-13. On the ensuing drive. Desmond Ridder led the Tigers down the field and ran it in himself for a 19 yard touchdown. The Tigers now led 40-13 and that is where the score would stay.
In his first Varsity start Desmond Ridder had 273 total yards, including 151 on the ground. Ridder felt he did what the offense allowed him to do, “I think we executed well. We came out strong.”
Next week is a big one for the Tigers, as they face off with recent foe and 5A powerhouse Bowling Green. It’s the first home game of the season and Patriotic Night, so we expect the Rage Cage to be packed in support of Tiger Football. For now, we’ll celebrate a great opening victory over a talented Henry Clay team.
NEXT GAME: Friday vs. Bowling Green – 8:00 pm
The Tiger Football team will kick off their season this Friday, as they take on Simon Kenton at home in their first and only scrimmage. To get ready for the game, test out your Tiger Football knowledge by taking this quiz.
Can you name the last ten Tiger Football quarterbacks? Good luck.
Tiger Football Camp is the premier non-contact camp that stresses football fundamentals for all offensive and defensive positions. St. X coaches and players, along with former NFL players, will work with campers to develop proper understanding and the technique it takes to play each position. Campers will also concentrate on team concepts with more in depth 7-on-7 play, with 11-on-11 play implemented as well.
In addition, each camper will be introduced to a basic strength training regimen and permitted to work out in one of the largest and best-equipped weight and fitness complex in the state. Come experience St. X Tigers Football – Commitment to Excellence!
Registration is online now at SaintX.com. A complete list of camps that St. Xavier offers this summer is also available with information about all right now.
St. Xavier Football is reportedly switching offensive coordinators, which has been the buzz of the blogosphere surrounding Kentucky High School Football all off-season long.
Now, the focus shifts to who will replace Coach Chad Lyons as the offensive coordinator. It’s a position that’s sure to garner a lot of interest, especially with attractive weapons like Colin O’Daniel, Chase Rowan, Blake Roshkowski and others returning in 2015.
Here’s a list of potential candidates who could be the Tigers’ offensive coordinator for next season.
- Tim Tebow (SEC Network Analyst) — Tim has reportedly reached out to Coach Wolford in recent weeks looking for an opportunity to return to the sidelines after a short time as a TV personality traveling the country covering SEC Football. He said his interest was in working at a school with great academic standards and phenomenal football tradition. If Tebow gets the job at Tiger Tech, you could definitely see a return of the jump pass and more smash-mouth quarterback run plays.
- Jon Gruden (FFCA) — This is the name to watch when it comes to the next offensive coordinator at St. X. Alumni have been calling for him to come to Br. Thomas More Stadium for quite some time and he could be a great fit right next to Coach Wolford on the sideline. Could you imagine their coaches meetings? That’d be wild man. A.J. Breit better be hoping this is the move the program is looking to make. If I were a betting man, this will be the next guy.
- Andre Coleman (St. Xavier Basketball Freshman Head Coach) — A dark horse in the search for the next OC may come from another sport underneath the stands of the football field. Coleman has been mastering the art of play calling by playing Madden since the game was created in 1994. This experience is exactly what the Tigers need to regain a strangle hold on the difficult competition of Kentucky High School Football.
It wasn’t easy at all, but Saint Xavier got it done once again. They haven’t always looked sharp; there have been many mistakes. But there have been very bright high points as well, and the Tigers keep finding a way to stay alive.
St. X defeated Manual for the second time this season, 12-7, in the second round of the 2014 Class 6A Russell Athletic/KHSAA Commonwealth Gridiron Bowl. This time, however, Tiger Football earned a victory with one of the oddest plays anyone will ever see.
With the Crimsons holding a 7-6 lead as the second half began, St. X signal caller Noah Houk threw his second interception of the game. It looked like Manual defensive back Antonio Hassell had some running room, but junior St. X receiver Colin O’Daniel was covering ground quickly.
“I just knew when he got the ball that the play wasn’t over,” O’Daniel explained. “I saw he wasn’t holding it right, and I went after it and ripped it.”
O’Daniel forced a fumble, and sophomore phenom Blake Roshkowski picked up the loose ball and scampered 50 yards for a touchdown that completely changed the complexion of the game.
Houk couldn’t get a two-point conversion, but the Tiger defense didn’t need it.
The game started perfectly for St. X, who started the game on defense. On the first play from scrimmage, senior Tiger defensive end Will Edwards forced a fumble and recovered it.
St. X started its first offensive possession in the redzone, but could muster only a 29-yard field goal from Michael “Big Foot” Bennett. Bennett would hit another field goal before halftime to make the score 7-6 in favor of the Crimsons.
“[Manual] isn’t scoring in the second half,” sophomore St. X manager Patrick Wantland said at halftime.
He knows his guys well.
Saint Xavier’s defense flexed its muscles when it mattered most, as they have many times before. The Tigers snared three interceptions in the second half, and they were all at the most opportune times.
Jackie Arnold got his sixth pick of the year, Tyler Boarman stopped a redzone drive by Manual with a leaping grab, and Logan Butler sealed the game with an interception with just over a minute to go in the game.
“We just started reading their quarterback more,” Butler explained. “We knew if we just came off a few times, he would make mistakes.”
Houk repeatedly gashed the Crimsons with his legs, rushing for 96 yards on just nine carries. His effort was especially important because St. X was without two of its top running backs. John Martinez missed the game with a finger injury, and TaiJon Smith injured his quadriceps on his second carry of the game and did not return.
Now, St. X is faced with a second meeting with archrival Trinity. Game time is set for 7:30 PM next Friday at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.
We will have much more coverage this coming week, so stay logged on, Tiger Nation.
Go Tigers! We Are!
Friday night in enemy territory was not a night that Saint Xavier Football will want to dwell on for too long.
The Tigers lost to district-rival Male by a final line of 30-13. It was raining for most of the night, which made for less-than-desirable conditions on the field. After the game, players were covered with dirt and mud.
This was a tough game. In the first half, both the offense and defense were simply whipped by the Bulldogs. Male led 24-0 at halftime.
St. X Head Coach Will Wolford was adamant during the break that the team could not continue to play the same way. St. X is better than what they showed in that first half, and both Wolford and the players know it.
So, in the second half, the Tigers showed they were better.
“I think part of it was Kyle Oliver,” senior outside linebacker Clark Campbell said of his fellow senior linebacker. “He always gets us motivated every game. He said something that just ticked us off, and we needed that motivation in the second half.”
The Tigers took the second half by storm, as senior quarterback Noah Houk engineered a touchdown drive right out of the gate. His 1-yard sneak into the endzone made it 24-7, and then all momentum completely shifted to St. X’s side.
Senior cornerback Davey Sermersheim blocked a Bulldog field goal attempt on the ensuing Male possession, and Campbell scooped up the ball and returned it into Male territory. Although the Tigers didn’t get any points off of the stop, it reversed field position, which St. X later capitalized on.
After Male running back Ellis Cain fumbled inside his own ten-yard line, senior St. X running back TaiJon Smith cashed in with a 5-yard touchdown tote to make the score 24-13, after a failed PAT.
From there, though, the Tigers could not muster up any more points. Houk threw three fourth quarter interceptions, and the Bulldogs picked up an impressive victory.
But this loss isn’t really anything St. X should worry about. In fact, the Tigers should feel better about their chances of earning the school’s first football State Championship since 2009 after their effort against the top-ranked team in Kentucky.
Male features the most potent offense in the state. Bulldog quarterback Davis Mattingly is special, and he has two elite weapons with him, in Cain and senior wide receiver Keion Wakefield. But St. X intercepted Mattingly once in the first half, and allowed exactly zero points to the Male offense in the second half (Male’s second half touchdown was courtesy of a pick-six in the first quarter. The Bulldogs’ two-point conversion failed.).
The St. X defense played well, but the effort wasn’t up to the players’ standard.
“I definitely think we can play better than that,” said Campbell.
For the St. X offense, we have seen that the one key that supersedes all the rest: turnovers.
When the offense doesn’t turn the ball over, great things happen; the best offensive performance of the season came against Trinity, which just so happened to be a game where the Tigers did not turn the ball over at all.
It does sound oversimplified, but it’s true. Bottom line, when St. X’s offense doesn’t turn the ball over, it’s a great unit. Houk, Smith, the receivers and the line just have to show it against more than one good opponent.
Although nobody can blame the weather conditions for the loss, the Tigers will obviously fare much better when the field is dry.
Fortunately for the Tigers, they have two big games to end the regular season; St. X takes on Manual at home next week, and after a bye week, the Tigers will travel up to Cincinnati to take on Cincy St. X.
I know this offense has the talent to match the defense. It just isn’t quite there yet. If the squad can have two more Trinity-esque performances to end the regular season, St. X will be that team that nobody wants to play in December.
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
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.
The battle in the trenches often goes unnoticed, but tonight’s game is different. Besides it being the biggest high school football rivalry, St. X versus Trinity features two massive units that you will want to watch: the defensive line. This position very well maybe the strength of both defenses. Whichever line wins the war at the line of scrimmage will probably cop the victory after the fourth quarter horn sounds. Let’s take a look at the behemoths on the Tiger and Shamrock defensive front.
St. Xavier Depth Chart
-#94 Will Edwards-DE 6’0″ | 215 lbs. | Senior
-#79 Ethan Adams-DE 6’2″ | 210 lbs. | Junior
-#95 Max Willinger-DE 6’2″ | 221 lbs. | Sophomore
-#77 Christian Fell-DT 6’2″ | 270 lbs. | Senior
-#92 Carson Kehres-DT 5’11” |315 lbs. | Senior
-#54 Kaleb South-DE 5’11” | 215 lbs. | Junior
-#76 Tucker Donlon-DT 6’0″ | 271 lbs. | Junior
St. Xavier Overview
Saint Xavier’s defensive line is ferocious, and it is headed by senior Will Edwards, an absolute monster. That is literally the best way to describe him. He is just mean, and fortunately, that is a good thing. He is quick, smart and physical; he can beat a tackle off the edge or bull rush through him. He digs his hand into the turf each down with a mission, and he completes that mission more times than not.
There are plenty of guys behind him as well. Ethan Adams, Max Willinger, Christian Fell, and Carson Kehres know how to use their size to their advantage, and it’s interesting to watch how they get it done.
They never wow you, outside of Edwards making plays, but they are just so solid. They don’t get a lot of sacks or tackles for loss, but they hold their ground. They pressure opposing quarterbacks just enough to make them uncomfortable; they don’t get a ton of penetration, but they plug holes so effectively.
A lot of times, you can’t even tell they are winning down there, but they are grinding, and all of a sudden, they string two or three huge plays together. Then you’re just like, “Wait. Those guys are pretty good.”
This unit is special. They not only disrupt the flow of opposing offenses, but they free up space for the linebackers to shoot in and clean up whatever slips by the line.
Trinity has played some very good teams, but I’m not sure they have met a defensive line like the Tigers’.
Trinity Depth Chart
-#56 Connor Foos-DE 6’4″ | 250 lbs. | Senior
-#91 Landon Corolla-DE 6’3″ | 232 lbs. | Senior
-#47 Adam King-DT 6’0″ | 260 lbs. | Senior
When I take a look at the Shamrock defensive line, the size stands out. Connor Foos is rather large. Landon Carolla is a big boy. Adam King is just massive.
St. X has decent size; Trinity has outstanding size.
King is a stud. He has had multiple impressive performances already this season, including a contest against Philadelphia Imhotep Charter High School, where King totaled four tackles for loss and completely stifled Imhotep’s star running back, Tyliek Raynor. He is very versatile, as he can play inside or outside and be effective. He will command a double team.
Trinity’s defensive line is the anchor of the defense. Linebacker Zach Berger told me it is the backbone of the unit.
“It all starts with the defensive line,” Berger explained.
“They are very good at stopping the run and putting pressure on the quarterback,” said safety Alex Reisert.
These guys have the ability to overwhelm an offensive line, so St. X better be ready.
EDGE: Both of these groups are just menacing. It is going to be a war of attrition in the trenches. Much like the linebacker position, each group has a strength. St. X has more depth, and Trinity has more size. Which one will reign triumphantly? My guess is as good as yours. I’m calling a draw between these defensive lines. They are both so good, and their talent will be more than noticed when the lights come on at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.
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
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. Xavier Depth Chart
-#55 Dylan McFarland-OLB 6’2″ | 218 lbs. | Senior
-#49 Logan Butler-ILB 6’1″ | 190 lbs. | Junior
-#50 Trace Amshoff-OLB 5’9″ | 185 lbs. | Senior
#91 Parker Maddox-OLB 5’9″ | 185 lbs. | Senior
-#36 Andrew Lyons-OLB 5’8″ | 170 lbs. | Senior
-#6 Kyle Oliver-ILB 6’0″ | 190 lbs. | Senior
-#40 Connor Barnes-ILB 6’2″| 205 lbs. | Senior
-#32 Clark Campbell-OLB 6’2″ | 198 lbs. | Senior
St. Xavier Overview
All you need to know about the Saint Xavier linebacker corps is one word: depth. Linebacker is the deepest position of the entire team, and it shows on the field. Defensive Coordinator Bart Bruner expertly rotates these guys to create a machine that never gets tired. This machine is wild.
Junior Logan Butler had a signature performance against Bryan Station in week two with a trio of interceptions and a sack, but he wants to make an even bigger statement tonight. I don’t know about you, but it scares me that this guy could play even better than he did in Lexington, when he won the MVP of the Bluegrass Bowl.
St. X has speed everywhere. Clark Campbell and McFarland are ruthless coming off the edge, and Connor Barnes and Kyle Oliver sure up the middle of the defense with great leadership, smart decision making and uber sound fundamental skill. Oliver and Barnes play the game the way it should be played, no frills or flash, and it’s their play that anchors the defense.
The Tiger linebackers will be everywhere tonight–all eight of them. They will be flying from sideline to sideline with a chip on their shoulders. They want to end a drought of five years and seven games.
Trinity Depth Chart
-#8 Zach Berger-OLB 6’3″ | 235 lbs. | Senior
-#30 Brentton Ervin-ILB 5’11” | 215 lbs. | Senior
-#52 Damon Lowe-ILB 6’1″ | 225 lbs. | Junior
-#93 Matthew English-OLB 6’1″ | 180 lbs. | Senior
The Rocks’ linebackers are no joke either. They have stood up against some of the most athletic offenses in the country. The name to know in this group is Berger. He’s got fantastic size, and he is an animal when he pins his ears back to rush the passer. He sound against the run and the pass, and he can blow up a play in the backfield at any moment. Berger told me that the Trinity backers are first and foremost a group that loves to get after it, and they aren’t shy about it.
“We are a hard-hitting and in-your-face,” Berger said. “We all have a passion for this game.”
The tough competition to this point in the season has molded the corps into a balanced unit proficient in stuffing the run and shutting down passing lanes over the middle of the field. They’ve had to face pass-oriented teams and run-oriented teams, and they were successful against both.
It will be interesting to see how the St. X offensive line deals with this group; the Shamrock linebackers are bigger, stronger, and faster than most if not all the corps that the Tigers have gone up against.
Trinity’s unit should also be playing with a chip on its shoulder; the seniors are looking to put the finishing touches on a four-year period where there was nothing but dominance over St. X. I’m sure they would rather not lose their final game against the Tigers.
This group might even be a tad bit underrated because of the massive defensive line in front of them, so it should be a lot of fun to see this group play in front of the biggest high school football crowd in the country.
EDGE: Like the secondaries, these units are so close to each other. Each group has an advantage. St. X will have more bodies, and because of this, they will probably be as fresh and stout in the fourth quarter as they were at the beginning of the game. However, Trinity’s unit has fought tougher battles to this point in the season and should be more than well prepared to square off with St. X’s offense. I’m going to declare linebacker a draw.
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
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.
If either Trinity or St. X wants to walk out of Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium Friday night, they will have to execute a balanced offense, intelligently mixing play calling on the ground and through the air. If one defense can take away the opponent’s passing game, that defense’s team will have a huge advantage. That job falls upon the secondaries, and both the Tigers and the Shamrocks have some names back there that you want to get to know. There is a lot of talent in both defensive backfields, so it will be interesting to see which group will have the bigger impact on the outcome of this clash of titans. Let’s take a look at the St. Xavier and Trinity defensive backs.
St. Xavier Depth Chart
-#27 Davey Sermersheim-CB 5’10” | 160 lbs. | Senior
-#10 Tyler Boarman-SS 6’1″ | 178 lbs. | Senior
-#7 Jackie Arnold-FS 6’0″ | 170 lbs. | Senior
-#29 Brandon Blaser- CB 5’9″ | 162 lbs. | Senior
St. Xavier Overview
The Saint Xavier defensive backs have been nothing short of outstanding to this point in the season. They have gone up against high-level competition and made statement after statement, and against inferior offensive talent, they have not let up one bit. They have taken care of business week-in and week-out, and I don’t think fans will see anything different under the brightest lights these guys will see all season.
Sermersheim and Blaser are just so rangy and versatile. They can both be nasty, physical pitbulls in bump-and-run press coverage; they aren’t afraid to crash the perimeter running game, either. They can drop back in zone coverage and read the ball, and they all have a great feel for when to make a break on the ball. Sermersheim made an interception against Moeller that got him WDRB Sports Play of the Week. Blaser had a pick-six against Fairdale. These corners can flat out ball.
Arnold has three interceptions on the season and has shown amazing instincts in defensive centerfield. He is often the last line of defense for St. X, but he is not afraid to gamble for an interception or lay a big hit on a receiver. Remember Ed Reed when he was in his prime playing for the Baltimore Ravens? He was just scary; he could do it all. Arnold is that kind of safety for the Tigers, and he doesn’t get hurt as much as Reed did either.
Tyler Boarman deserves some choice words. In the very rare words of one of my favorite sports personalities ever to grace this wonderful planet, Stephen A. Smith, Boarman is a “BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAD MAN.” But seriously, this guy can do it all. He is probably the most physical St. X defensive back, and he is almost built like a linebacker. Again, I compare Boarman to another frightening safety who could not avoid injury: Bob Sanders. He was a nightmare coming up to the line and stuffing run plays before they even started. Boarman has that kind of effect on offenses.
These guys are ballhawks. They are brash and unafraid of any stage. They have the ability to completely shut down the Shamrocks on the perimeter, and you very well may see just that.
This is a special unit.
Trinity Depth Chart
-#2 Blake Corbett-CB 5’9″ | 160 lbs. | Senior
-#7 Canon Jackson-SS 6’3″ | 210 lbs. | Senior
-#6 Calvin Fante-FS 5’11” |180 lbs. | Senior
-#10 Rodjay Burns-CB 6’2″ | 175 lbs. | Junior
The Rocks also feature a stout secondary. I have two words for you, Tiger Nation: Canon. Jackson. This guy is big time. He has elite size for a safety; St. X doesn’t have linebackers as big as Jackson. As a junior, Jackson played cornerback and locked down some receivers that are now playing college football. He is an absolute stud, one St. X must locate before every offensive snap. This is the kind of defensive back who can change a game. Jackson has the size of a linebacker with the quickness and coordination of a defensive back. He is dangerous.
Junior Rodjay Burns plays wide receiver, but he also covers receivers–and he does it really well. He has great size for a corner, and being a receiver on offense gives him an advantage almost any other corner doesn’t have, and that is knowing the ins and outs of the position which he is defending. He has great anticipation and will be a major threat to the Tigers’ passing game.
However, the Shamrocks are a bit bruised in the secondary. Senior saftey Alex Reisert, another agile defensive back built like a linebacker, will most likely miss the game. He started alongside Jackson in Trinity’s first four games, but he tore the Lisfranc ligament in his right foot making a tackle against Cincinnati Colerain High School. He is a big part of Trinity’s back end, and his absence puts a lot of pressure on backup Calvin Fante, pressure that Fante may not be ready for.
The Shamrocks’ secondary is strong, but without Reisert in the lineup, there may be some open holes or windows for the St. X passing attack that wouldn’t normally be there.
EDGE: This is a very close call. Both units are sound, but I am confidently choosing St. X here. Jackson is a monster for the Rocks, but with Reisert’s absence, I feel more comfortable picking the Tiger defensive backs, who are 100% healthy and out to prove a point.
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
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.