High School Football: ‘Ironmen’ Irish ready for clash with Greenon

SPRINGFIELD — The Catholic Central High School football program began the season with 28 players on its roster, but hasn’t been at full strength since the first day of practice — dressing 17 players for a game earlier this fall.

“We have a group of ironmen,” said Irish second-year coach Ty Myers. “I joke with (the coaching staff) about how we should’ve gotten ahold of Netflix to do a documentary about this season. It’s been quite the rollercoaster.”

Despite the adversity, the Irish are off to their best start since 2010. Catholic Central is 6-1 and 2-0 in the Ohio Heritage Conference South Division. They travel to Greenon (4-2, 2-0) on Friday night for a key OHC South matchup.

“I’m really proud of the guys,” Myers said. “I’m proud of everybody buying into what we preached in June and July — putting in the work and trusting in our coaching staff. We promised the kids that if they put their heads down, worked hard and did what we asked, they’d be in a pretty good position at the end of the year and I think it’s all coming to fruition.”

The Irish have won two in a row since falling to West Jefferson 47-27 in Week 5, beating both Madison-Plains and Cedarville. The program has gotten compliments from its fans about their ability to play ironman football, often calling it “the Central way,” Myers said.

“We’ve always got two or three kids down or someone is quarantined,” Myers said. “We get some kind of curveball every week. With all the adversity this team has had to go through, to be in the position we’re in now is really amazing. Every coach has done a great job keeping everyone together. They’re always giving them confidence. That’s been key to what we’re trying to do. It’s been a heck of a run and we want to keep it going.”

The young Irish squad is also learning how to win at the right time. In Week 6, Catholic Central trailed by 10 points with seven minutes remaining at Madison-Plains, but rallied and scored a late touchdown to beat the Golden Eagles 28-25.

“It showed me we do have some resolve and a little bit of grit,” Myers said. “We had to really step up and make some plays at the end.”

Catholic Central’s offense has scored a division-best 254 points this season. They’re led by senior wide receiver Ashton Young (18 catches, 556 yards, 13 total TDs) and sophomore quarterback Ty Myers, Jr. (1,063 passing yards, 271 rushing yards, 17 TDs).

Young’s 62-yard catch-and-run against Madison-Plains was recently featured on the national MaxPreps’ Top-10 Football Plays of the Week on Sept. 29. The senior caught the ball on the right hash, eluded four defenders to cut across the field to the left before weaving through more defenders and cutting all the way back to the right and falling into the end zone.

“Ashton is doing a phenomenal job,” Myers said. “When we started last year, it took him a couple games to get comfortable since he didn’t play his sophomore year. Even the second half of last year, he’s been absolutely electric when he gets the ball in his hands. Every time he touches the ball he can go the distance.”

They’ll face a tough task on Friday night against Greenon, the two-time defending league champs. The Irish are seeking their first win over the Knights since 2016. Greenon beat the Irish 24-0 last season.

The game features two of the top defenses in the Ohio Heritage Conference. The Irish are allowing 14 points per game through seven games, while Greenon is allowing 16.1 points per game through six games.

While Young and Myers, Jr. have compiled the majority of the stats, the Irish have other skill players who can score at any time, Myers said, including sophomore Da’Shawn Martin, junior Lonnie Brown and senior Tre King.

“It’s going to be a chance for one or two of them to step up and make some plays,” he said. “I think that’s what’s going to have to happen for us to win.”

The Irish are also in a position to host a home playoff game for the first time in more than a decade, but Myers doesn’t want his team looking too far ahead. They currently rank eighth in Division VII, Region 28.

“We’ve got three games in front of us,” Myers said. “If we can focus each week, we’ll be in a pretty good position at the end of the year.”

Friday’s games

Centerville (6-1, 4-0 GWOC) at Springfield (6-0, 4-0 GWOC): The Wildcats have won three straight against their longtime rival. Centerville’s offense leads the GWOC with 34.7 points per game, while Springfield’s defense is allowing just 6.6 points per game.

Tecumseh (3-4, 0-2 CBC Kenton Trail) at Shawnee (5-2, 2-0 CBC Kenton Trail): Shawnee has won back-to-back games against its Clark County rival.

Kenton Ridge (3-4, 0-2 CBC Kenton Trail) at London (5-2, 2-0 CBC Kenton Trail): Cougars sophomore Caleb Obee rushed 11 times for 136 yards, including a 75-yard TD run, in KR’s 24-21 loss to Jonathan Alder last week.

West Liberty-Salem (1-5, 0-2 OHC North) at Northeastern (4-3, 0-2 OHC North): The Tigers beat the Jets 41-40 in double overtime last season. Northeastern is seeking its first win over WLS since 2003.

Southeastern (1-5, 0-2 OHC South) at Madison-Plains (1-6, 0-2 OHC South): The Trojans haven’t beaten the Golden Eagles since 2011.

Northwestern (0-7, 0-2 CBC Mad River) at Indian Lake (5-2, 2-0 CBC Mad River): The Lakers have won three straight games, outscoring their opponents 125-54.

Mechanicsburg (7-0, 2-0 OHC North) at Fairbanks (5-2, 2-0 OHC North): The Indians are tied with Archbold atop the Associated Press D-VI state poll. The Panthers last beat Mechanicsburg in 2018.

Graham (4-2, 1-1 CBC Mad River) at North Union (6-1, 2-0 CBC Mad River): The Falcons beat North Union 14-13 last season.

Urbana (1-6, 1-1 CBC Mad River) at Benjamin Logan (2-5, 0-2 CBC Mad River: The Raiders have lost five straight since starting the season 2-0.

Greeneview (3-4, 2-0 OHC South) at Cedarville (0-7, 0-2 OHC South): The Rams have posted back-to-back shutout victories against Southeastern and Madison-Plains since starting the season 1-4.

Triad (2-5, 0-2 OHC North) at West Jefferson (7-0, 2-0 OHC North): The Cardinals have lost four straight since starting the season 2-1.

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