The Student News Site of Cathedral High School | Indianapolis, Indiana

Irish Connection

The Student News Site of Cathedral High School | Indianapolis, Indiana

Irish Connection

The Student News Site of Cathedral High School | Indianapolis, Indiana

Irish Connection

Football to Begin Season at Lucas Oil

The Irish will begin their season on Aug. 18, when they will face Lafayette Jefferson at Lucas Oil Stadium
The 2023 Cathedral Fighting Irish football schedule. Photo credit: Twitter @CathedralFball

After the football team’s practice ended on Aug. 16, Head Coach Mr. Bill Peebles ‘88 encouraged his players to be “the first ones in and the last ones out” when it came to high school football being played in Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the Indianapolis Colts. This year’s team has been given a unique and special opportunity to play its opening game at Lucas Oil, where they will face off against the Lafayette Jefferson Red Devils at 6 p.m. on Aug. 18. The goal, Peebles says, is to be back in that stadium in late November, playing for yet another State Championship.

That goal is much easier said than done, however, especially with the Irish now competing in 6A, which means facing tougher tournament competition. This was seen last season, as the team lost in heartbreaking fashion to Center Grove in the Semistate game. 

Last year’s team was filled with lots of impactful seniors on both sides of the ball that have since graduated. These players, such as wide receiver Jaron Tibbs (now playing at Purdue), tight end Brennan Wooten (Western Michigan), defensive end Kendrick Gilbert (Kentucky) and safety Stu Smith (Holy Cross) were integral to the team’s success, which included a regular season victory over Center Grove, snapping a two year losing streak. 

Even with the loss of those key players, Peebles is confident with the group that he has, which consists of a strong group of senior leaders and returning starters. These leaders include the five captains, seniors Danny O’Neil, Jackson Weingart, Oscar Kirch, William Neale and Zach Meeks. Peebles said, regarding the captains, “They were vocal leaders in the offseason with our leadership development program. When we had opportunities to do service projects, all of them in some way shape or form stepped into a leadership role.”

These captains are not just leaders off the field, though. Each of them is a returning starter and will look to make an impact this season as well. Weingart, an Army commit, will play defensive line after leading the team in sacks last season. Kirch, a linebacker, finished second on the team in tackles last season. Neale, who received his first division 1 offer from the University of Dayton, will anchor this year’s offensive line. Meeks, a tight end and Miami (OH) commit, is the returner with the most career receiving yards. Lastly, O’Neil, a Colorado commit, is going into his third year as starting quarterback having already broken both the career passing yards and touchdown records for the program. According to Peebles, there will be a lot put on O’Neil’s shoulders this season since he is so familiar with the system. Peebles said, “He’s earned (my trust) from day one. He makes a lot of decisions on the field.” 

Despite this strong group of senior captains, there are some questions surrounding the team, specifically about who will step in to fill the holes at wide receiver, running back and defensive back left by Tibbs, David Ayers, Carson Johnson, Kyuss Gargett, Smith and Caleb Martin. Junior Jack Lockhart has moved from outside linebacker to safety, and will be a player to watch. Senior Ben Fox and juniors Aden Chase and Owen Reyes will be in the mix at cornerback, though Fox will miss time with a shoulder injury. 

At the receiver position Peebles says he is optimistic about the next wave of potential breakout players. He mentioned a group of juniors including Albren Johnson, Devaughn Slaughter, Isaiah Rollins and Noah Bailey as well as senior Patrick Mazur as players that could make a big impact. At running back, Peebles said, “(Junior) Desare Thomas, if he’s healthy, is going to be a solid player for us, and then (junior) Jalen Bonds has been a nice addition as a transfer student from Heritage Christian.” 

The game against Lafayette Jeff will tell Peebles, the other coaches, and the fans a lot about what this year’s team will look like. Last year when the two teams met in week one, the Irish came away with a 43-12 victory. However, Lafayette Jeff improved steadily throughout the year, eventually coming within one play of defeating eventual state runner-up Fort Wayne Carroll. Peebles said, “They are a very good team, they’re well coached and they have a lot of very good players.”

Peebles believes the key to winning this week’s game and more throughout the season is fundamental, sound football. He said, “For us to be successful, the Irish can’t beat the Irish.”

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About the Contributor
Luke Spencer, Executive Editor, Sports Editor
Luke Spencer is a senior in his fourth year on the Irish Connection staff. He serves as the sports editor and executive editor. Luke plays on the varsity football and baseball teams. He lives in Carmel with his parents, his three sisters and his dog.

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