Out-of-state games offer sports teams chance to explore talent

In 50’s teams did not leave Marion County says coach

Max Wirth, Reporter

Being the juggernaut that is Cathedral football, competition is hard to find. Year in and year out, the schedules feature out-of-state competition and lengthy road games.

Greater oportunities

“I think part of it is you get a different type of competition,” Athletics Director Mr. Doug Seagrave said. “We pretty much know everyone around here. It’s an opportunity to play top teams like Louisville St. Xavier next football season. There are a lot of great opportunities that other schools don’t get. Also, our athletes get opportunities to go new places.”

Difficulty scheduling is one of reasons the varsity football team and other Irish squads play elsewhere. And it is hard time-wise and it costs money. Transporting and feeding 100 people on charter buses isn’t cheap.

“Our problem is that we don’t play in a conference,” football Head Coach Mr. Rick Streiff said.  “And because of that, we have trouble finding games. After Week 2, almost everyone goes into conference play, so it’s hard to schedule.” Cathedral is like an independent football team in the NCAA, comparable to Notre Dame or Navy.

History of out of state

The broad horizons of each schedule haven’t been around too long. “Way back in the ‘50s and ‘60s, we very rarely went outside Marion County. But that’s not the case anymore. City schools don’t want to play us and (most of) the county schools are in the (Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference),” he said.

“We started playing out of state in the late ‘90s. In ‘96 we played Toledo Saint John. Shortly after, we scheduled LaSalle and then Saint Xavier came along. There have also been multiple games in Illinois and Michigan.”

At one point in the program’s history, there had been talks of a Midwest Catholic super conference, including Cincinnati Saint Xavier, Cleveland Saint Edward’s, Cincinnati La Salle, Cleveland Saint Ignatius, Cincinnati Elder and Cincinnati Moeller. “There was too much travel involved, and it just fell through,” Streiff said.

“We just needed games,” he said. “Teams around the area don’t like the physicality and toughness of Cathedral football.” A consistently out-of-state schedule “breaks up the monotony of playing the same teams all the time,” Streiff said.

Positives and negatives 

There are a few negative aspects. “Cost, travel and not knowing who we’ll be playing every year. Sometimes we are scrambling to find games,” he said. Luckily, the positives outweigh in great fashion.

“As a coach, I like it because we play others we don’t normally see. It challenges us as a coaching staff in our preparation. And (the schedules) have made us a national team. I go around the country to football clinics and people know Cathedral High School,” he said.

This branching out and becoming more familiar with new teams has opened doors for the program. “We get chances to play at cool places. Also, when we go on the road, the host pays for part of costs, including travel,” he said.

The Indiana High School Athletic Association limits the locations of those places. Its guidelines allow for a team to travel no more than 500 miles from the state’s border. Rhea County, to which the varsity football team traveled last fall, is 495 miles from that border, according to Streiff.

Other sports involved

Streiff’s team is not the only one to schedule out-of-state competition.

This season, the wrestling team made a trip to Mason, Ohio, just outside of Cincinnati. Last fall, the girls’ soccer team traveled to the Cleveland suburbs to take on Gates Mills.