Cardinals and Saints match up for ICCL football battle
MISHAWAKA — A slight nip in the air projected a perfect football day as the Cardinals of Westside Catholic squared off against the Saints of Mishawaka in a pivotal matchup for the 2015 Inter-City Catholic League.
The Cardinals have a cupboard filled with skilled position players led by their coveted quarterback Derek Derda, and the Saints boasted a front line anchored by Aaron Fuller, which made this contest a battle from start to finish.
The Saints started off the day with a heavy ground pounding attack trying to impose its will and burning clock three and four yards at a time behind the tough running of tailback Michael Schafer.
The Cardinals held their ground and made the Saints pay for every bit of real estate until quarterback Josh Gill called a quick hitter and put the ball in the belly of Thadeous Horvath who burst through the line to daylight and sprinted 44 yards into the end zone. Saints’ kicker Miguel Ortiz boomed the extra points through giving his squad an early lead, 8-0.
The red-and-white adorned Cardinals roared back with big runs by Chase Tharp and Derda crossing midfield before the turnover bug hit as the snap from center to quarterback was recovered by Saint Ortiz ending a promising start.
Mishawaka Catholic struggled to get things going and the ball fell back into the hands of the Cardinals to only have Derda throw a strike that was batted and recovered for an interception by Eddie Murphy.
Again the Saints tried but were unsuccessful to mount a counter-attack as the Cardinals pushed back with the strong running of Jon Underly and a couple of passes from Derda, in and out of the hands of Hunter Holmes and a completion to Kaleb Lewandowski that was mere inches off a first down. Both teams failed to capitalize the rest of the half.
Turnovers were the rage to start the second stanza as Saint Horvath picked a tip Derda pass and Cardinal Jared Megyese snagged a Gill offering only to have another bad snap leave the purple and gold knocking at the doorstep of paydirt.
A four-yard sneak from Gill broke the game open, as Ortiz’s kick was true pushing the lead to 16 with 1:03 left in the third.
The Cardinals made a couple valiant drives that came up short going down the stretch and Mishawaka Catholic’s offensive line muscled its way for one more score as Schafer added the dagger for a final of 24-0.
“The Westside Catholic program, behind the coaching of Giles Horban at the varsity level and Adam Lagodney at the JV, have made tremendous strides and if you play their teams you better be ready for a game,” remarked long-time Saint Skipper Tony Violi. “We got off to a slow start, but I was extremely happy the way the kids buckled down and played the second half.”
“I believe we have a tremendous group of athletes. We just come up a little short on some big players in the trenches against teams like the Saints,” explained Horban. “Not to discount what we do on Sundays, but we are focused on preparing the kids to have the skills to make the transition to the next level and striving to be competitive.”
In other action around the league, Holy Cross knocked off the Blazers from St. Matthew, 28-0, behind touchdowns by Owen Bartus, Miguel Zyniewicz, Patrick Driscoll and Gavin Stefanek.
The Panthers of St. Anthony also pitched a shutout as they topped Osceola Grace, 32-0. Teddy Maginn, Tyler DeBoe, Mitchell Floran and Kenzel Kelly scored touchdowns.