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Irish rout Livingston but lose key player
Zak Tait injured, out for the season


Emotions ran high last Friday night, Sept. 21, at Catholic High School’s Blaine Stadium.

Even another big Fighting Irish 54-12 blowout against region foe Livingston Academy could sway the feelings of the KCHS football team.

Halfway through the first quarter the unthinkable happened, as key defensive end, junior Zak Tait, stayed on the ground after the play ended.

He was obviously hurt. The game was stopped as referees sent both teams to their sidelines as trainers and coaches surrounded the injured Tait.

Blaine Stadium’s capacity was seated and the volume was reduced to dull murmurs and whispers waiting for Tait to get up.

They weren’t that lucky.

“Well he’s out for the year” Catholic head coach Mark Pemberton said. “There is definitely some significant ligament damage, but Zak is a hardworking young man, and I believe he will do everything in his power to make it back next season and play well.”

The Catholic football team joined together on its sidelines, kneeling in prayer as an ambulance was seen coming down Park Village Drive, which is visible from the stadium.

Tait was met with roaring applause and a “We Love Zak” chant from Irish CCC (Irish fan base) as he was lifted on to the gurney and met by his whole team before he left for the hospital.

Tait played a big role in the Irish defensive line. Before the injury, Tait led in sacks with three and tackles for losses with six. “He has worked really hard to get where he was at,” Pemberton said.

The Irish head coach has big shoes to fill but he is not worried.

“We [the team] always talk about if something happens to one player and we put you in you always have to do the job and be prepared.” Pemberton said.

Tait’s position will most likely be filled by junior Daniel Hood. Senior running back Matt Pfleger was optimistic about the situation “Everyone is going to compensate and step up, there is no doubt our defense will be locked down,” Pfleger said.

Fellow defensive lineman senior Jonathan Wood expressed his feelings for the situation. “Anytime that a fellow teammate goes down like that is a really emotional time, Zak is a really great guy,” Wood said “But we already have people who will step up.”

The injury did not distract the KCHS Irish’s goal. It was a scoring frenzy at Blaine Stadium. All of the eight touchdowns scored were done so by eight different players.

“I couldn’t choose a single player of the game tonight it would have to be the whole team.” Pemberton said. Four were scored in the first quarter, started by a big 46 yard run from Jacob Giles on the third play of itsfirst drive.

The Irish had 200 yards rushing and 70 pass yards. Quarterback Eric Lindsey went 5-of-7 in passing. Catholic’s ending numbers do not recognize the score. Livingston Academy gave up excellent field position time after time.

The Wildcats had two bad punt snaps, putting the Irish into the red zone both times. They also did not pass the 50 yard-line until the Irish put in their freshmen during the fourth quarter.

Catholic will face off against tough Division II opponent Chattanooga Baylor Friday, Sept 28, at home in Blaine Stadium.

This game also is Knoxville Catholic’s homecoming, which adds more distraction to the team including the tough loss of Tait.

Coach Pemberton is confident his team will rise above it.

“I think they will handle it, we have a bunch of veteran kids and seniors” Pemberton said “They have been through a lot of situations and they know that Baylor will be our toughest test yet, they [Baylor] have a great football program.”

 

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