CLEVELAND, Ohio – It’s down to the elite eight in the OHSAA Playoffs and the Region 1 Final in Division I pits 11-time State Champion, St. Ignatius against Mentor, and Mr. Football frontrunner, All-Ohio quarterback, Mitch Trubisky.
DIVISION 1, REGION 1:
The Region 1 Final between St. Ignatius (11-1) and Mentor (11-1) will be the fourth meeting in the budding rivalry in the last 15 months. Trubisky led the Cardinals past the Wildcats, 38-24 in week three of the 2011 regular season. But ten weeks later, Tim McVey and St. Ignatius returned the favor, knocking off the top-seeded Cardinals 23-17 in the 2011 Region 1 Final; and two weeks later the Wildcats won their Ohio record 11th State Championship.
Tonight the positions are reversed: Ignatius won the regular season matchup, 48-21 in week three, behind McVey and senior quarterback Michael LaManna. But while the Wildcats struggled down the stretch, losing their final regular season game to arch-rival to St. Edward; Trubisky, his top target, junior wide receiver Brandon Fritts, and Mentor have hit their stride, putting up 108 points in its two playoff victories over Warren Harding, and the top-seeded Eagles.
In St. Ignatius’ week three victory, the Wildcats dominated on both sides of the ball, sacking Trubisky six times, while McVey ran for nearly 200 yards and three touchdowns. Mentor struggled to run the ball against the stout Ignatius defensive front, but the Cardinals ground game has come a long way in the last month. Senior Nick Delisa has gotten the bulk of the carries, scoring nine touchdowns in the last three games. Trubisky also used his legs successfully against the Eagles, racking up 98 of 567 total yards on the ground.
Both teams feature explosive offenses, and talented playmakers; the Wildcats are led by seniors McVey, and LaManna, but also rely on a talented trio of receivers, Connor Hennessey, Rocky Zingale, and Michael Siragusa. Mentor leans heavily on Trubisky, and his favorite target, 6’4’’ junior receiver Brandon Fritts, who torched St. Edward for more than 240 yards and four touchdowns, including the game-winner. The Cardinals also have deep threats in junior receivers Connor Krizancic and Corey Plavcan.
With so many Division I college prospects on the offensive side of the ball, this game will likely come down to the defenses, which is where St. Ignatius appears to have the edge. In the first meeting, the Wildcats not only sacked Trubisky six times, but also held Mentor to season-lows of just seven points in the first half, and 21 points, overall. The Wildcats blanked North Royalton last week, 56-0 – their fourth shutout in the past nine games. St. Ignatius is allowing just over ten points per game this season, compared to more than 22 for the Cardinals defense, with has allowed 35 points to Warren Harding and 56 to St. Edward in their two playoff wins.
For all the final scores, plus video highlights and photo galleries from Friday’s games, head over to the FOX-8 High School Football page.