For the fourth time, Marines were the proud presenting sponsor of one of the largest high school football rivalries in the nation: the Trinity vs. St. Xavier “Battle for the Shillelagh.” The 68th edition of the rivalry and 20th meeting at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium was moved from its traditional Friday evening slot to Saturday due to scheduling conflicts; but students, parents, alumni and fans still came out by the thousands to tailgate and root for their team.
St. Xavier (KY)
Sam Shadowen is a senior linebacker and three-year letterman on Trinity’s Varsity Football Team. Sam carries a 3.96 GPA and is a member of the National Honor Society and Beta Club. He plans to major in engineering in college. Escorting him here are his parents, Jeff and Teresa, and presenting his award is Marine Sgt Williams.
St. Xavier (KY)
A member of St. Margaret Mary Parish, Brian Buehner is a 4.0 student in the St. Xavier Honors and AP Program. He is the quarterback for the Tigers, a member of the National Honor Society and Tennis Team, and Student Council Vice President. Mike has also been involved in the Student Ambassador Program and Peer Leaders Program. He is accompanied here by his parents, Rick (Class of ’77) and Vicki. Presenting the award is Marine Sgt Hopkins.
With all of the excitement of a rivalry as intense as this and with 26,614 people on hand, nothing is as big as the game itself. After a slow start offensively or maybe a good start defensively from both teams, Jeremiah Neal ran the ball for an 80 yard touchdown with 1:33 left in the first quarter. After a missed extra point, the score was 6-0.
The Tigers waited until midway through the second quarter to score their second touchdown on a 50 yard touchdown pass from quarterback and eventual MVP Brian Buehner to Bryan Noltmeyer, putting St. X up 13-0. After playing a good defensive first half, the Shamrocks joined the scoring party with one minute left in the first half. A good drive was capped off with a 10 yard pass from quarterback Brad Kragthorpe to D. Nix making the score 13-7.
The defense got the ball back in what could have been the turning point in the game. Trinity missed a field goal as the clock ran out on the half. There was a roughing the kicker penalty on St. X, though, and Trinity had an opportunity to run another play. They opted to try another field goal and missed that one as well. With momentum on their side, the Tigers took a 6-point lead into the locker room at the half.
The players weren't the only ones ahead at halftime. Students from St. X erupted in celebration as the game announcer declared the Tigers the winner of the Marines Chin-Up Challenge. The St. X cheerleaders and Tiger mascot posed for a photo with Marines on the field. It seemed fate was on the Tigers side.The game stayed incredibly competitive in the second half as no one scored in the third quarter. St. X began to impose their will on the Trinity defense with a pair of rushing touchdowns, one by Lamont McMurry and another by M. Montano. The lead was extended to 18 as the score was 25-7.
With just over 2 minutes left in the game and Trinity holding on to some hope, Daylen Hall capped off the night with a 99 yard interception return for a touchdown. That would be the final score in the game, leaving the St. Xavier Tigers to claim their 29th regular season victory in this Great American Rivalry Series game 32-7.
As players rushed the field to receive the Shillelagh from the Ancient Order of Hibernians, Marines carried out the Championship Trophy and Championship Hats to present to the coaches and team. Immediately after the schools' traditional ceremony, the game announcer declared senior quarterback and scholarship recipient, Brian Buehner, the MVP of the game. St. X Recruiter Sgt. Williams awarded him the trophy and medal, and then presented the winning trophy to Head Coach Mike Glaser while publicly commending the team. It was a memorable and uplifting conclusion to another well-fought "battle on the gridiron."
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