LAKEWOOD, Ohio - In what has become an annual ritual for over 50 years, St. Edward High School once again asserted its dominance over their fiercest rivals, St. Ignatius, winning the 64th Annual “Holy War” with an emphatic 42-7 victory Saturday night in Lakewood. This marks the seventh consecutive time (fifth consecutive win the regular season) the Eagles have emerged victorious in this classic rivalry, showcasing their continuing supremacy.
A familiar face to the Eagles program, surprising some returned after a few weeks out. Senior QB Casey Bullock made a stellar comeback after sitting out the last two games due to a right knee injury sustained against Cincinnati Elder.
Demonstrating his prowess and mettle, Bullock was instrumental in leading the offensive charge, throwing for three touchdowns. His exceptional display of skills and leadership on the field was pivotal in the Eagles' offensive onslaught in which Eagles Head Coach Tom Lombardo views him as a on-field version of him.
"He (Casey) is the leader, he is the guy the players look up to, he's the president of the school, so in many ways, he gives us that leadership. When he steps onto that field and into that huddle, it gives a sense of urgency to the players,” Lombardo said about his quarterback postgame.
Bullock started the game with terrific field position, after junior safety Bradley Eaton jumped a route on the very first offensive play and picked off Wildcats quarterback Peyton Frontino.
The senior Davidson commit connected with sophomore wide receiver Zach Hackleman on a 42-yard catch. Sophomore running back Brandon White a few plays later would cap off the drive with an 11-yard touchdown run.
The Eagles found themselves in the end zone on the next possession w with a 1-yard touchdown run from two-way star Jon Slaper to go ahead 14-0 at the end the one quarter.
The Wildcats started the second with a 1-yard touchdown run off a sneak from backup quarterback senior Joshua Papesh.
White's dual-threat capabilities made him a nightmare for St. Ignatius' defense, as they struggled to contain his explosive plays. White had another touchdown in the second quarter off a 20-yard catch from Bullock, giving the Eagles a 21-7 lead.
"Today's win felt good against the Wildcats. The line was blocking. Our goal was to beat the Wildcats and we executed exactly just that. We made a statement," White said about the team after the win.
This week before the game, words we're exchanged about the toughness within the Eagles program. White only had two words to say in regards to what was said. "Point proven!"
Ohio State offensive line recruit and Devontae Armstrong heard the trash talk as well and felt the team responded on the field as Coach Lombardo demands.
"Yeah we heard heard it all. I think we proved it tonight. Just being dominate on both sides of the ball and in the backfield giving them no hope at all. Being physical is something that's expected of us by the coaching staff. I'm glad we played the way we played. We got a lot of knockdowns and positive yardage," Armstrong said postgame about the team's display of toughness.
This chapter in the Holy War wasn't just about the offense. St. Edward's defense put up a masterclass performance. St. Ignatius struggled to find any rhythm through the air, with the Eagles’ defense ensuring that not a single pass was completed. The impenetrable defense was the unsung hero of the game, constantly pressuring the opposition and denying them any opportunities to score in the air.
“Right off the gate, we wanted to set the tone of the whole game. They set the tone with the 74-yard kick return and then we got the interception first play, first throw. Really that scared them to throw so they had to run more and I think that really did it for us,” Slaper said about the defensive tenacity throughout the game.
Remarkably, with this win, no current player on the St. Edward roster has ever tasted defeat in the Holy War, a testament to the Eagles' dominance in recent years. This victory also means that St. Ed's completed a 3-0 sweep against St. Ignatius this year, further cementing their superiority in this historic rivalry. With seven straight victories since 2018, St. Edward not only secured bragging rights for another year but also reaffirmed their position as the undisputed king of Cleveland High School football.
The Eagles (6-1) are home next Saturday to host the Clarkson North Chargers from Mississauga, Ontario. The Wildcats (1-6) will travel about 4 hours south to Cincinnati to face the #1 running back in Ohio Jordan Marshall and the Archbishop Moeller Fighting Crusaders.