SPRINGFIELD, MO — The Irish finished the regular season at 7-2, earning them a #1 seed in the 8-team MSHSAA Class 3, District 5 bracket. This #1 seed would ensure that the Fighting Irish would have home-field for all future district games; a luxury that they have not had many years. This seeding would pit them against the 8-seed Rogersville Wildcats, a traditional rival and fellow member of the Big 8 East.
While the Rogersville team has struggled on the season, the team was not void of talent or physicality. The Irish beat the Wildcats in an earlier Conference matchup at Rogersville on October 5th.
The game started off slow for the Irish and the Rogersville defese held tough on their first series holding Catholic to only three yards. In the 3rd possession, the Wildcats took advantage of good field position and completed a TD strike on 4th and 9 from their own 20-yard line. The 7-0 Wildcat lead was somewhat unexpected but didn't seem to phase the Irish.
Catholic bounced back on the ensuing possession with a balanced attack of Tyson Riley and Nick & Will Crites. The trio covered 63 yards in 8 plays, capped with a Nick Crites score from the Rogersville 1-yard line. The Catholic D would take over, holding the Wildcats to 4 total yards in their next two possessions. The Irish then took the lead with only 4 seconds left in the first half on a 9-yard pass from Tyson Riley to Hunter Brown.
The Wildcats would come out strong to start the 2nd half, forcing a fumble on the Irish opening drive. Rogersville took advantage of the short field and moved the ball inside the Irish 5-yard line. The drive would come up empty-handed with a key interception by Hunter Brown. The Irish would score on their next three possessions with a 69-yard run from Tyson Riley, a 10-yard run from Tyson Riley, and a 14-yard run from Nick Crites.
The Catholic defense wouldn't allow another point the second half. The defense had big sacks out of Kye Alms, George Hall, Tyler Welch, and Wallace Squibb. Additional tackles for-loss came via Kye Alms, Nick Crites, and Wallace Squibb.
The Irish victory also added a historical touch to Coach Steve Hancock's career. This win was #300 for the Hall of Fame coach, a feat that only 7 other coaches have enjoyed in Missouri football history.
"It's pretty special," an emotional Hancock said after being handed the game ball by Hunter Brown. "It's one of those things you never think you'll ever get.
"I'm glad they've given me the opportunity to be here and continue my coaching career."
The Irish advance to face Eldon in the District 5 semi-finals, a team that was able to knock the Irish out of district play in 2012, 2016, and 2017. The Irish hope to dish out some revenge this Friday at home at 7:00pm.