High School Football: Catholic Central celebrates end of 31-game losing streak

Catholic Central's Ashton Young carries the ball between Greenon's Zach Stevens, left, and Tallyn Peterson. BILL LACKEY/STAFF
Catholic Central's Ashton Young carries the ball between Greenon's Zach Stevens, left, and Tallyn Peterson. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

SPRINGFIELD — The winless streak lasted exactly 1,114 days, but it’s finally over for Catholic Central’s football team.

The Irish beat Ridgedale 41-12 in a non-conference game on Saturday afternoon to snap a 31-game losing streak. It was Catholic Central’s first victory on the gridiron since beating Madison Plains in Week 6 of the 2017 season.

“I slept like a baby for the first time in a long time (on Saturday night),” said Irish coach Ty Myers. “We got that 1,000-ton gorilla off our backs.”

Irish junior Ashton Young caught 12 passes for 121 yards and three touchdowns and returned a punt 63 yards for a TD in the victory. Freshman quarterback Ty Myers, Jr. went 11-for-15 for 125 yards and a TD and also ran for a TD. Defensively, junior Patrick Kavanaugh and senior Dalton Muenchau each had 1.5 sacks and a fumble for the Irish (1-7).

The Irish “came out on fire,” Coach Myers said, returning the opening kickoff for a touchdown, but it was called back due to a penalty. The offensive line was the difference in the game, he said.

“We played very well up front,” Coach Myers said. “It was the best game we played up front all season. Quarterbacks had time, running backs had holes and we executed. We saw some holes in their coverages and some things we thought we could get the upper hand on as far as mismatches were concerned and we went out and executed.”

The streak nearly ended in Week 7. The Irish led 23-6 at the half against Bradford, but gave up 20 unanswered points and fell to the Railroaders 26-23. Bradford snapped a 38-game losing streak with the victory.

“We’re just a young team,” Coach Myers said. “We’ve not been in that position and we didn’t know how to finish. We have to learn how to put somebody away.”

During practice the following week, Myers and his staff focused on learning from the loss.

“In the locker room after the game, I saw the winds come out of our sails,” he said. “It was a tough one. It was embarrassing on one hand, but I told them we can either feel sorry for yourselves and fold up shop or we take it, digest it, correct our mistakes and make sure it never happens again.”

The young Irish team missed out on several key activities this spring and summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including scrimmage games. After completing its regular season, the Irish opted out of the OHSAA playoffs, instead scheduling games against teams where they could be more competitive.

“Our guys were young and thrown into the fire against some good teams,” Myers said. “We were already low on numbers and we didn’t want to take our show on the road and play a 1-seed. I thought it would be better for us to opt out and find some teams around here similar to us as far as competitive-wise and teams we matched up well with.”

The game against Ridgedale nearly didn’t happen in Week 8. The Irish attempted to schedule games against a few different teams, but they pulled out at the last second.

When Ridgedale’s opponent pulled out at the last minute, they called Catholic Central on Thursday seeking to play a game and scheduled it for Saturday afternoon.

It couldn’t have ended a better way, Myers said.

“Once we finally broke the losing streak, you could visually see the weight being lifted off of everybody,” Myers said. “It was funny because for a lot of the kids, this was their first victory in high school. They didn’t know how to celebrate.”

The Irish hope to make it two in a row on Friday night. They’ll travel nearly two hours to Hancock County to play Vanlue (1-7) in a non-conference game. They’re also still seeking a Week 10 opponent.

“The kids have been great all year,” Myers said. “We had a few games where we got beat up pretty bad. The kids always continued to work. Now that they’re seeing the fruits of their labor, I see practice this week being intense and high energy. Now that they’ve tasted success, you want to keep it going. We want to get a streak going the other way.”

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