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Central Catholic's Matt Kling pulls soccer-football double duty for Crusaders

The Canton Repository
PERRY TWP. Weekends have been more interesting for Central Catholic senior Matt Kling since the Crusader football team started competing in playoff games on Saturdays.

That schedule has brought the two worlds that Kling inhabits perilously close to colliding over the past few weeks as a standout member of the soccer team and the kicker for the football team.

Saturday was as close as things came to a major conflict. Kling played for the Central Catholic soccer team as it defeated visiting Rittman 8-0 on Saturday at 4 p.m. in a Division III sectional final game before leaving at halftime for a 7 p.m. playoff football game at Norwayne.

Matthew Kling of Central Catholic (right) kicks the ball for a goal as Seth Cornelius (left) of Rittman defends during their Division III sectional final at Central Catholic on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020.
Kling scored a goal and left the soccer team in good hands with a 6-0 lead at the time of his departure.

"I talked to both coaches about how we were going to try to manage this," Kling said. "Coach (Jeff) Lindesmith and coach (Pat) Downing made a deal that if we were up by five goals at the half, they would let me leave for the football game tonight. They did a great job of working all of this out."

That cooperation between coaches of different sports seems woven into the fabric of the Central Catholic tapestry. The Crusaders have a long history of finding ways for players in more than one sport (Dan Mills, JC Colangelo are recent graduates that come to mind) to be able to compete in multiple events in one day.

"I have a great relationship with Coach Lindesmith," Downing said. "It's not an issue at all for us. Especially since Matt is such a great kid. He works really hard every day and he's done a great job of balancing both sports. You can tell he puts in the time for both."

Kling has strong appreciation to go with his strong work ethic.

"I'm just really thankful for the opportunities that I've been given to compete in both sports," Kling said. "The way I see it, I'm a member of two really great families in the football and soccer teams that really care about me and understand the situation."

Zach Leatherman (right) of Central Catholic celebrates his goal with teammates Matthew Kling (left) and Austin Ellerbrock (center) during their Division III sectional final against Rittman at Central Catholic on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. That doesn't mean the journey has been particularly easy. Participating in both sports has come with its share of challenges.

"It's usually not bad," Kling said. "It got tiring during the summer when I was going to multiple practices for both teams during a week. It hasn't been that bad since the season actually started. I try to make it to as many commitments to each of the sports as I can."

That hasn't stopped Kling from excelling on the pitch.

"Matt leads the team in assists with 15 this season," Downing said. "He also led us in that category last year. He has really helped a lot of our guys elevate their game this year. He's made everybody around him better this season."

Kling is a key cog for a Central Catholic team that is now 10-4 this year and is the number-one seed in the Division III district. The Crusaders showed they had plenty of other offensive weapons in the win over Rittman on Saturday.

Zach Leatherman scored three goals and Jaden Minarcheck and Grady Angerman added two goals each to round out the scoring for the Crusaders. Leatherman is the leading scorer for Central Catholic with 17 goals this season.

Grady Angerman (left) of Central Catholic celebrates his goal with Christian Pena-Escobar (right) during their Division III sectional final against Rittman at Central Catholic on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020.
Saturday also was the ninth shutout of the season for the Crusaders.

"This is my fourth year," Downing said. "Seeing all these kids develop has been a really great experience. I'm also happy for the kind of teammates that they have become. In the second half, all of them were on their feet cheering on the younger kids and giving them advice. You can tell the most important thing to them is the program and I'm really proud of that."

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