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Kirtland, Ursuline worth hype


Ursuline quarterback Chris Durkin (13) breaks through the Cuyahoga Heights’ defense during the Division 5, Region 17 semifinal in Copely. The Irish, four-time state champions, face the defending state champion Kirtland Hornets on Saturday in a matchup that everyone has been waiting for — well everyone but their coaches, that is.

Irish beat Hornets in 2008 and 2010 playoffs

By Matthew Peaslee


It’s a regional final in Aurora that will have the fanfare of a state final in Massillon.

Defending Division V state champion Kirtland and four-time state champion Ursuline, it’s a matchup everyone’s been waiting to see.

Except the coaches.

“Any time you get this deep in the playoffs, you’re going to play a good team,” said Kirtland coach Tiger LaVerde. “It’s no different than preparing for any other team. They just happen to be more talented.”

While LaVerde and Ursuline coach Larry Kempe won’t admit that these are the respective teams they had penciled in as Week 13 opponents, it’s what many fans expected.

Kirtland (12-0) is coming off a 28-14 win over Crestview, a game that showed the Hornets’ versatility.

Damon Washington, the 2011 Division V Offensive Player of the Year, is the centerpiece, but he didn’t need to be last week. Sophomore Adam Hess ran for two touchdowns with 68 yards and Sam Kukura added 60 with a 25-yard TD run that secured the victory.

Throw in quarterback Scott Ellerman who’s a dual threat and the Hornets average nearly 380 rushing yards per game.

“Last year, we played our best football in Week 15 against Coldwater,” LaVerde said of the 28-7 title game. “Hopefully our best game this year is the one coming up.”

Kempe was pleased with the improvement in his defense after a disappointing showing in the first round against Sugarcreek Garaway. The Irish limited Cuyahoga Heights to 99 rushing yards, the third time they’ve held a team to under 100 this season.

“Our secondary has gotten a lot better and we were able to blitz a lot and put great pressure on the Cuyahoga Heights quarterback,” Kempe said. “We’ve also made great strides on special teams.”

Kicker Vince Yurcho had a career day and set a school-record with 14 points. Yurcho had kicks of 30,32 and 33 yards and made all five of his extra-point attempts.

Kirtland averages 41.3 point, while Ursuline (8-4) averages 35. During the regular season, the Hornets’ biggest win was 57-0 over Newbury and their closest game was a 20-18 win against Beachwood.

The Irish have scored 108 points in the playoffs, Kirtland has scored 77.

“You never know until you get into the game if it’s going to be high scoring or low scoring,” LaVerde said. “The game plan is to take advantage of another team’s weakness, but with Ursuline there isn’t much of a weakness.”

Irish quarterback Chris Durkin has thrown for 241 yards in the postseason with two touchdown passes. He had long throws of 55, 38 and 20 against Sugarcreek.

Jermaine Williams and Tramain Thigpen have rushed for 326 and 201 yards in the past two games, respectively.

“Our offense has become very balanced,” Kempe said.

While Ursuline is just three wins away from a fifth state championship, a regional title is the first piece of hardware needed to make up for last year’s playoff absence.

“Kirtland is going to be the defending state champion until somebody knocks them off,” Kempe said. “Hopefully it can be us.”



I believe the only Division V team that can beat Ursuline is Ursuline.

posted 3 years, 8 months ago


Geez, I wonder why??

posted 3 years, 8 months ago


i hope Kirtland embarrasses them. But, the fact that Ursuline takes pride in winning Division V titles is embarrassing enough.

posted 3 years, 8 months ago


My son Delon plays for the Irish. They are getting it together!

Coach Tiggy or whatever his name is at Kirtland is good though. He almost got us two years ago. We need to stop that run game.

posted 3 years, 8 months ago


Go pens.....don't start crying about ursuline winning. They are doing great and jealousy will rear its ugly head. Until there are rules that say they are doing something wrong.....then they are playing by the book. Until u do something to change the rules then u don't have the right to complain. GO IRISH !!!

posted 3 years, 8 months ago


toothless sounds like his team didn't make the playoffs

posted 3 years, 8 months ago


Geez, I wonder why Ursuline is doing great. They should be forced to play at least D-3. How embarrassing for them and their fans to play D-5. A joke really.

posted 3 years, 8 months ago


Getting beaten by a D5 public school is an even bigger embarrassment... I know, I know....the refs cheated. The refs let Ursuline get up by 24 pts....then met at halftime and decided Kirtland should win...then the Kirtland fans and parents were racist and poor sports....yeah, we've heard it all. All the excuses...cheating, racism, poor sportsmanship...quit with the excuses and admit that we were beaten by a team that is not as talented, but wanted it more.

posted 3 years, 8 months ago


Do not speak negatively about this game unless you were there and witnessed all of the cheating. Let the children play the game. Taking three touchdowns aways from Ursuline and pushing them further and further away from scoring is not a fair game. It's not about excuses, it's about adult refs cheating for another team. Then to top it off, the racial slurring that took place after the game was the worst, as the children entered the locker room. If Kirtland felt they won fair and square, why taunt the children. Speak the Truth on this forum. NOT LIES>>>>>Doesn't matter who was playing that game, the refs had no right cheating in such a manner.. POINT BLANK>>>>>

posted 3 years, 8 months ago

(1 comment)

I was at the game. Ursuline blew a 24 point lead. That has nothing to do with cheating. The team fell apart and Kirtland wanted it more. Kirtland was outsized, but showed way more heart. And Ursuline - please - learn how to lose with class. You are supposed to be a Catholic school, but yet PARENTS were cussing at people in the parking lot. You did not show a very good side to your character. The racial slurs are being fabricated by Ursuline because they are so bitter that they lost. NOT ONE Kirtland player made any such remark. Kirtland's star player is African American and the community loves him. You should all be ashamed of yourselves for not knowing how to lose and trying to take away a great victory from a small town school.

posted 3 years, 8 months ago

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