Building on last year’s success has been the mantra which Ursuline football has been striving towards this off-season. On November 17, the Irish fell to Kirtland in the Division V Regional Championship by a single point (38-37).
In Larry Kempe’s first season as the Irish’s head football coach, Ursuline faced two teams who went onto win the state championship in their respective classes. On September 28, Cathedral Prep of Erie defeated Ursuline, 47-7. Almost two months later, the Ramblers knocked off Archbishop Wood (24-14) to win the PIAA Class AAA crown. The Irish came within two-points or defeating Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary (16-14) on October 26. Later in the season, Akron’s Fighting Irish doubled up Bellevue (42-21) to win the Division III Championship.
Ursuline has 77 players out for the team this summer which is the largest amount in a decade. Fifty-six are either freshmen or sophomores. The Irish welcomes back 18 lettermen from the 2012 team.
The Fighting Irish will welcome Walsh Jesuit on Friday, August 30.
2013 Ursuline Irish Football Preview
By Vince Pellegrini (@Vince_MYVS)
Head Coach: Larry Kempe, 2nd season (8-5)
2012 Record: 8-5, Independent
2012 Post-Season Finish: Lost in Division V Regional Championship to Kirtland, 38-37
Defense: Multiple 5-2
2012 Team Statistics
Points Scored: 35.3 (7th in Area)
Passing Yards: 88.7 (887)
Rushing Yards: 219.9 (2199)
Points Allowed: 25.4 (40th in Area)
Passing Yards Allowed: 122.3 (1223)
Rushing Yards Allowed: 196.4 (1964)
Passing: Chris Durkin – 887 yds, 59.0 Comp % (69-117), 6 TDs
Rushing: Chris Durkin – 122 att, 722 yds, 7 TDs
Receiving: Tannor Berry – 18 rec, 183 yds, 1 TD
Tackles: Damon Green – 45
QB Sacks: ShaHaun Williams – 11.0
Interceptions: Marcus Mosely – 2
Aug. 30 – Walsh Jesuit, 7 PM
Sept. 7 – at Lake Catholic, 7 PM
Sept. 13 – at Jackson, 7 PM
Sept. 21 – at Aquinas Institute of Rochester (NY), 1 PM
Sept. 27 – Erie Cathedral Prep, 7 PM
Oct. 11 –at Strong Vincent, 7 PM
Oct. 18 – Steubenville, 7 PM
Oct. 25 – at Cardinal Mooney, 7:30 PM
Nov. 1 – Akron SVSM, 7 PM
Offensive Strength:Senior quarterback Chris Durkin verbally committed to Michigan State following a strong junior campaign. The 6’4 signal caller threw for 887 yards while completing 59.0% (69-117) of his passes during the 2012 regular season. Durkin also racked up 722 stripes via the ground for a 5.9 average per attempt. Chris will have his fellow classmates Jordan Davis and Zach Sheetz up front to block for him this fall.
Offensive Weakness: The Irish lost a bunch of their ball carriers from last season. Tramain Thigpen (632 yards, 11 TDs) and Jermaine Williams (601 yards, 11 TDs) both graduated this past spring. The leading returning rusher besides Chris Durkin is sophomore Kimauni Johnson, who toted the ball 18 times for 150 yards (8.3 ypc).
Defensive Strength: Even with the departure of Tramain Thigpen (52 tackles) and Shawn Cole (7 sacks), Ursuline’s linebackers should be a real strength for the defense. George Baal (34 tackles), Tyler Leonard (25 tackles, 2 sacks), and Damon Green (45 tackles) all return.
Defensive Weakness: The secondary took a hit with the graduation of Shannon Hightower (55 tackles, 2 INTs) and Jermaine Williams (37 tackles, 2 INTs). Watch out for sophomore Marcus Mosely (2 INTs) to make an impact.
Storylines Facing the Fighting Irish
1. Williams Mans the Front. Senior defensive lineman ShaHaun Williams accounted for 29 tackles (4 for a loss) and 11 quarterback takedowns through his first ten games last season. Williams was named to Division V’s Second-Team All-State. How will he top last year’s performance?
2. DeSantis’ Offense. Ursuline’s offensive coordinator John DeSantis works very closely with quarterback Chris Durkin. Number 13 topped 1,000 yards in both rushing (1,103) and passing (1,375) throughout his junior season. During the regular slate, the offense totaled an average of 308.6 yards per game and were effective on 83.3% of their fourth-down tries (15-18). The Irish has been in the top 12 among area teams in scoring average in five of the last six seasons (2012: 35.3, 7th; 2010: 42.0, 2nd; 2009: 39.2, 1st; 2008: 33.6, 9th; 2007: 31.0, 11th).
3. Turnover Ratio. Last year, Ursuline’s defense was able to force 21 turnovers (11 interceptions, 10 fumble recoveries). The offense turned the ball over 16 times (7 interceptions, 9 fumbles). During the regular season, the Irish finished +5 in turnovers.
Did you know? There has been 21 Ursuline standouts recognized by the Associated Press as First-Team All-State selections since 2000. During that time, there has been four who has received multiple honors (Brandon Braxton 2002-2003, Jamel Turner, 2007-2008, Akise Teague 2009-2010, Zach Conlon 2009-2010).