High School Football: Catholic Central ready for No. 1 seed Ansonia

SPRINGFIELD — After four straight losses to end the regular season, the Catholic Central High School football team got back to winning ways in Week 11.

The Irish were impressive in a 33-0 victory over St. Bernard Elmwood Place in a D-VII, Region 28 playoff game last week at Hallinean Field. It was the Irish’s first home playoff win since 2007.

“They played lights out,” said Irish coach Jim Dimitroff.

Catholic Central suffered a rash of injuries in the final four weeks of the season, but the Irish are starting to get healthy at the right time.

“We’ve been really banged up in that four-game losing streak,” Dimitroff said. “Going into (Week 10) against Southeastern, we were without nine starters. We got two starters back for the playoff game, so we were still down seven, but we just tried to keep fighting through this, keep the kids spirits lifted and keep them playing hard – anything we could think of to motivate them.”

Junior Daniel Kamara scored a 59-yard TD run on their first offensive play of the game and later caught a 40-yard TD pass from freshman Brayden Strother. Senior Tyler Young and junior Darien Stapleton also rushed for TDs in the victory.

Defensively, Catholic Central held the Titans to 103 yards of total offense with nine tackles for loss, including four by senior defensive lineman Ivan Escamilla. Freshman Owen Young also returned an interception for a touchdown. The Titans entered the game with two 1,000-yard rushers in Demico Harris and Greg Miller, but they were held to 49 rushing yards.

“I thought (defensive coordinator Brian Cooper) and the defensive staff had a great plan going into the week,” Dimitroff said. “We were scared to death (of their running back). They looked really fast on turf. … We were able to hold those guys.”

The Irish face another tough test against No. 1 seed Ansonia (10-1), which beat Riverview East Academy 67-0. They’re led by senior running back Exzaviar Moody, who has rushed for 1,659 yards and 22 TDs this season. The Tigers average nearly 350 yards rushing per game in their run-heavy offense.

“They get after you at the line of scrimmage,” Dimitroff said. “They’re a very well-coached, sharp team. They pound the football and will use play action through the passing game. They run a lot of the same formations we do.”

The Tigers, the Western Ohio Athletic Conference champions, have won six straight games since falling to Tri-Village 37-36 in Week 5.

“We’re going to have to match their physicality up front, offensively and defensively,” Dimitroff said.

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