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Posted on 11/16/2019 at 12:24 p.m.

Luebbe’s Late TD Lifts Panthers; Porter, Payne Lead La Salle

Elder and La Salle, which just two weeks earlier played a winner-take-all game to determine the Greater Catholic League South Division championship, are now both only one win away from earning a berth in their respective state semifinals of the Ohio High School Athletic Association State Football Tournament after posting impressive victories in the regional semifinals Friday night in Greater Cincinnati and Greater Dayton.

For Elder to advance, the Panthers needed to defeat GCL South rival and No. 1 seed St. Xavier for the second time this season.  Elder, which built a 24-7 lead and held on for a 31-28 win in the first meeting between rivals on October 4 at St. Xavier, trailed 24-21 late in the fourth quarter when senior quarterback Matthew Luebbe ran 70 yards up the middle for a touchdown on a critical fourth-down play to give Elder a 28-24 victory in the Division I, Region 4 semifinal last night at Mason High School’s Dwire Field at Atrium Stadium .  Elder (10-2), which has won seven of its last eight games, advances to meet Colerain (11-1) in next Friday’s regional final at 7 p.m. at Mason.  Colerain earned the right to defend its regional title with a 28-7 win against its league rival Fairfield Friday at Princeton High School.  The Cardinals, who beat Elder in last year’s regional final, knocked off Fairfield, 16-10, in overtime two weeks ago to extend its Greater Miami Conference championship streak to 20 straight years.

Colerain defeated Elder in the 2018 regional final.

La Salle didn’t need a late rally in its Region 8 semifinal, as the Lancers built a 35-7 lead at halftime and went on to a 35-7 victory over previously undefeated Columbus Walnut Ridge at Bellbrook High School.  Senior Cam Porter scored two rushing TDs and a added a third score on a reception from junior quarterback Zach Branam, and sophomore Gi’Bran Payne scored twice on the ground to lead the Lancers to the win.  La Salle (10-2), which defeated Elder, 27-25 in the final game of the regular season to win the school’s second outright league title, advanced to meet Harrison (11-1) in its regional final at 7 p.m. next Friday at a site to be announced Sunday.  Harrison defeated Columbus St. Francis DeSales, 42-7, in its semifinal Friday at Miami Trace High School.

Elder got a huge game from Luebbe – the GCL South Co-Player of the Year – who completed 20-of-29 passes for 286 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions, while also rushing 18 times for 120 yards and the eventual game-winning score.  Senior receiver Evan Vollmer was Luebbe’s favorite target, hauling in 10 passes for 137 yards and one TD, while senior receiver/tight end and Ohio State University verbal commit Joe Royer caught four passes for 112 yards and two TDs covering distances of 7 and 34 yards, respectively.

St. Xavier (9-3), which entered the game with three straight victories and whose only losses this season were to Elder and La Salle, took a 24-21 lead with 20 seconds remaining in the third quarter when senior quarterback Matthew Rueve hooked up with junior Liam Clifford, the GCL South’s leading receiver, for a 54-yard TD strike.  Clifford wound up with four receptions for 87 yards and the one TD, while senior tight end and Northwestern University commit Marshall Lang caught seven passes for 89 yards.  The Bombers had good balance on offense, too, with senior running back Kellen Newman  carrying 27 times for 140 yards and a TD.  Newman rushed for a career-high 172 yards and two scores a week earlier in a 49-20 win over Mason.

But the Elder defense came up with a final stop after the Panthers had taken a 28-24 lead on the Luebbe TD run.  St. Xavier put together a 60-yard drive that took the ball to the Elder 15 and set up a final play with a chance to win the game.  Rueve scrambled  to his right, tossing a pass that was just out of the reach or receiver Owen Smith as time expired – giving Elder its second victory this season over the Bombers.

Elder has lost its last three meetings with Colerain the state playoffs.  Prior to last November’s defeat, Colerain knocked off the Panthers, 41-11, in the 2015 regional final after beating Elder, 35-34, in the 2012 regional semifinals.  Elder’s last win over Colerain in the postseason was back in 2008, a 27-20 OT win that helped Elder get its last DI state title game, a 28-20 loss to Cleveland St. Ignatius.  Elder also won the regional title in 2009, but lost the following week to Hilliard Davidson, 24-20, in the state semifinals.
  Elder won consecutive DI state championships in 2002 and 2003.

La Salle is looking for a return to the state semifinals for the first time since 2016 – when the Lancers went on to complete a three-peat at the DII level after winning its first two state crowns in 2014 and 2015.  This will be the third meeting between La Salle and Harrison in the state playoff in six years, with the Lancers coming out on top in the two previous games – winning 45-24 in 2014 in the second round and then 45-10 in the first round in 2017, when La Salle advanced to the Lancers advanced to the regional final before falling to Winton Woods, 16-14.

Posted on 11/13/2019 at 9:08 a.m.

Elder-St. Xavier To Play At Mason; La Salle Heads To Dayton

The Ohio High School Athletic Association announced sites for this Friday’s regional semifinals in the OHSAA State Football Tournament, with fans of Greater Catholic League South Division rivals Elder and St. Xavier heading to Mason High School for the rematch of the top two seeds in Division I, Region 4.  Kickoff is 7 p.m. Friday at the School’s Dwire Field at Atrium Stadium.  La Salle, the third GCL South team in the postseason and the No. 1 seed in DII, Region 8, travels to Greater Dayton for its semifinal matchup against Columbus Walnut Ridge.  Kickoff is also 7 p.m. Friday at Bellbrook Miami Valley South Stadium.

All three GCL South teams opened the state playoffs with impressive victories last Friday.  No. 1 St. Xavier (9-2) won its third straight game by scoring 42 unanswered points – 35 straight coming in the second half – to erase a 13-point deficit and post a 48-20 win against No. 8 Mason.  Senior tailback Kellen Newman rushed 22 times for a career-high 172 yards and three touchdowns, while senior quarterback Matthew Rueve connected on 11-of-16 passes for 196 yards and two scores for the Bombers.

No. 2 Elder (9-2) rebounded from a 27-25 setback at La Salle the final week of the regular season, to take a 21-0 lead less than a minute into the second quarter and post a 42-17 victory against No. 5 Lakota West at The Pit In Price Hill, Elder’s sixth victory in its last seven games.  Senior quarterback Matthew Luebbe turned in another strong performance, completing 11-of-15 passes for 188 yards and two TDs, while rushing 13 times for 103 yards and a pair of scores.  Luebbe – named GCL South Co-Player of the Year last week – had a big game in the first meeting between league rivals, a 31-28 Elder win at St. Xavier on October 4.  In that game, Luebbe rushed 21 times for a season-high 236 yards and three TDs as Elder built a 24-7 halftime lead.

La Salle (9-2), a week after winning its second GCL South title in school history, raced out to a 21-0 lead in just over six minutes and increased it to 35-0 at the end of the first quarter over No. 8 Little Miami in what ultimately was a 42-0 opening-round victory at Lancer Stadium.  The Lancers have now won 18 of their last 19 state playoff games dating back to 2014, including a string of three straight DII state titles from 2014 to 2016.  Senior Cam Porter, the GCL South Co-Player of the Year with Luebbe, carried 11 times for 96 yards and three TDs against Little Miami.  Porter has now scored at least one TD in each of the Lancers’ last four games.

All second-round playoff sites will feature presale online ticketing via OHSAA's website. Fans are encouraged to purchase tickets in advance, as participating schools keep a portion of presale ticket revenue. 

Posted on 11/9/2019 at 8:48 a.m.

Big Offensive Nights Pace St. Xavier, Elder & La Salle To Victory 

It was a strong kickoff for the three Greater Catholic League South Division football teams in Friday’s opening round of the Ohio High School Athletic Association State Football Tournament, as St. Xavier, Elder and La Salle each scored more than 40 points to win their respective regional quarterfinal games by a combined 132-37 score and advance to the second round. 

St. Xavier, the No. 1 seed in Division I, Region 4, trailed at halftime before exploding for 35 unanswered points in the final two quarters to defeat No. 8 Mason, 48-20, at St. Xavier Stadium.

Senior running back Kellen Newman carried 22 times for a season-high 172 yards and two touchdowns as St. Xavier (9-2) won its third consecutive game.  The Bombers scored in every facet of the game, including a 100-yard interception return for a TD by sophomore Eli Kirk, and a 58-yard punt return for a score by senior Tucker Hundley.

As a result, St. Xavier earns a rematch with GCL South rival and No. 4 Elder in the regional semifinals next Friday at a site to be announced by the OHSAA.  Elder (9-2) built a 28-3 halftime advantage and went on to a 42-17 victory against No. 5 Lakota West at The Pit in Price Hill, posting its sixth in the last seven games.  One of those wins was a 31-28 victory against St. Xavier on October 4 at St. Xavier, behind 236 yards rushing and three TDs by senior quarterback Matthew Lueebe.  Against West, Luebbe – named GCL South Co-Player of the Year by league coaches earlier in the week – completed 11-of-15 passes for 188 yards and two scores, while rushing 13 times for 103 yards and a pair of TDs.

La Salle, the third GCL South team in the postseason and the No. 1 seed in DII, Region 8, scored three TDs in just over six minutes and built a 35-0 lead after one quarter in a 42-over victory against No. 8 Little Miami at Lancer Stadium.  The Lancers, who won three straight DII state titles from 2014 to 2016, are now 18-1 in their last five state playoff appearances.  Senior Cam Porter, named GCL South Co-Player of the Year with Luebbe, rushed 11 times for 96 yards and three scores to lead the Lancers.  La Salle (9-2) advances to face Columbus Walnut Ridge (11-0). A 28-7 winner over Xenia Friday night, in the semis next Friday at a site to be determined.

All regional semifinal games in Divisions I and II are set for 7 p.m. kickoffs next Friday.  The OHSAA will announce the regional semifinal sites Sunday afternoon.  In Region 4, Colerain and Fairfield – which played just eight days ago for the Greater Miami Conference championship (Colerain won the game, 16-10, in overtime) – will meet again in the other semifinal.  Colerain (10-1) advanced with a 30-7 win against Princeton, while Fairfield (10-1) knocked off Hamilton, 37-1, in two playoff games involving all GMC teams last night.  Harrison faces Columbus St. Francis DeSales (9-2) in the other Region 8 semi, after DeSales defeated previously unbeaten and No. 2 seed Turpin, 27-13, last night.  Harrison (10-1) advanced with a 24-18 win over Canal Winchester.

Posted on 11/8/2019 at 2:46 p.m.

St. Xavier, Elder & La Salle Host First-Round Games Tonight

Three Greater Catholic League South Division football teams have earned the right to host first-round games when the Ohio High School Athletic Association State Football Tournament kicks off tonight in four divisions around the state.  St. Xavier, the No. 1 seed in Division I, Region 4 and No. 4 seed Elder, along with GCL South champion La Salle, the No. 1 seed in DII, Region 8, each begin their postseason journeys on their respective campuses tonight in the regional quarterfinals.

St., Xavier (8-2), which vaulted into the top spot in its region after posting close road victories the last two weeks against Cleveland St. Ignatius, 13-10, and Louisville St. Xavier, 35-30, faces No. 8 seed Mason (5-5), which earned the region’s final spot with a 35-19 victory against playoff qualifier Princeton last Friday.  Kickoff is 7 p.m. at St. Xavier Stadium.  The Bombers are led by the aerial combination of senior quarterback Matthew Rueve and junior receiver Liam Clifford, who were both named first team All-GCL South by league coaches earlier this week.  Rueve has completed 234-of-355 passes for a league-leading 2,687 yards, 25 touchdowns and only four interceptions.  Clifford is his favorite target, with 73 receptions for 1,093 yards and 12 TDs – best in the league in all three categories.

Elder (8-2), with the league’s most-potent offense averaging 38.4 points a game led by GCL South Co-Player of the Year in senior quarterback Matthew Luebbe (134 rushes, 1,099 yards, 11 TDs to lead the league and a156-of-241 passing for 2,064 yards, 18 TDs and six interceptions), meets No. 5 Lakota West (7-3) at 7 p.m. at The Pit in Price Hill.  Elder, which saw a furious comeback fall just short a week ago in a 27-25 loss at La Salle in a game that determined the league champ, has won six of its last seven games.  The Panthers’ only previous loss was to defending DI state champ Lakewood St. Edward.  West first-year coach Tom Bolden, who took over the Firebirds’ program before this season after a decade-plus of success at Colerain, is no stranger to facing GCL South teams.  Last season, Bolden’s Cardinals got past St. Xavier in the first round and later defeated Elder in the regional final.

La Salle (8-2), like St. Xavier, vaulted to the region’s top seed after a victory the final game of the regular season and, as a result, welcomes No. 8 Little Miami (8-2) to Lancer Stadium at 7 tonight.  Pat McLaughlin, named GCL Coach of the Year, and versatile Cam Porter – GCL South Co-Player of the Year – are hoping a difficult schedule has the Lancers prepared for a deep postseason run.  The Lancers’ lone losses this season are to undefeated Covington Catholic and talented Winton Woods.  The Lancers are in the postseason for the fifth time in six years, posting a 17-1 record from 2014 through 2017, with three straight state titles in 2014, 2015 and 2016 and a regional final appearance in 2017.

Quarterfinal winners advance to the regional semifinals next Friday at neutral sites to be announced by the OHSAA.  The three GCL South representatives have seven state titles between them, with Elder winning back-to-back DI state crowns in 2002 and 2003, and St. Xavier going 15-0 and winning state titles in 2005 and 2007, and then becoming the first team in OHSAA playoff history to finish the regular season 5-5 and go on to win the state championship, in 2016.

Posted on 11/7/2019 at 11:43 a.m.

Moeller’s Grinstead, Welker Each Player, Coach Of Year Honors

The Greater Catholic League South Division is pleased to announce its all-star soccer team for the 2019 season.  Members of this prestigious team, along with winners of the categorical awards, were voted on by league coaches at the conclusion of the regular season.  Moeller senior midfielder Parker Grinstead, who this season became the school’s all-time assists leader with 40, helped the Crusaders win a third straight league championship and advance to the Division I regional final, was named the GCL South Player of the Year.  Grinstead recorded nine goals and a league-leading 15 assists for 33 points, third in the GCL south.  He is second in career points at Moeller, with 84 (22 goals).

Moeller coach Mike Welker, whose team again finished first in the Greater Cincinnati area Division I poll, was ranked No. 3 in the final Ohio Scholastic Soccer Coaches Association DI state poll, and No. 6 in MaxPreps national rankings, is the GCL South Coach of the Year.  The Crusaders followed up last season’s state runner-up finish by going 18-2-2 this fall, winning a third straight league championship and advancing to the regional final.  Moeller is a combined 37-4-5 the last two seasons, the most victories in a two-year span in the school’s soccer history.

It was an outstanding fall for the GCL South in soccer, as Moeller, St. Xavier and Elder each won district championships and finished with a combined 42-14-6 record.  Moeller and St. Xavier played three dramatic matches during the season, each decided by a single goal – including the third and final match, in the regional semifinals, needing sudden-death penalty kicks for Moeller to emerge a 3-2 winner.

St. Xavier and Elder both wound up 12-6-2 overall.  The Bombers were led offensively by junior John Schaeper, who finished third in the GCL South in goals (10) and fourth in points (23) and is a first-team selection.  He is joined on the first team by teammates Charlie Bower and John Steigerwald.  St. Xavier finished the season with victories in 12 of its final 16 matches.

Elder also had a tremendous season, and three Panthers were named to the first team – senior forward Connor Ammon, and senior midfielders Nathan Bill and Carson Owens, who made the first team each of the last three years.  Ammon – who also made first team as a junior – finished second in the league in goals (14) and second in points (37), one behind Moeller junior and first-team member Kade Tepe in each category.  Owens ranked seventh in points, with 20, having scored seven goals and registered six assists. 

Here is a look at the all-league teams, with the players listed in alphabetical order with school, position and class.  Special award winners are listed after the all-star teams.

ALL-GCL SOUTH DIVISION SOCCER TEAMS

FIRST TEAM
NAME, SCHOOL, POSITION, CLASS
Connor Ammon, Elder, FWD, Senior
Connor Andrews, Moeller, MID, Senior
Nathan Bill, Elder, MID, Senior
Charlie Bower, St. Xavier, DEF, Senior
Cal Collins, Moeller, GK, Senior
Parker Grinstead, Moeller, MID, Senior
Carson Owens, Elder, MID, Senior
Charlie Pearson, La Salle, MID, Sophomore
John Schaeper, St. Xavier, FWD, Junior
Jason Steigerwald, St. Xavier, MID, Junior
 Kade Tepe, Moeller, MID, Junior

HONORABLE MENTION
NAME, SCHOOL, POSITION, CLASS
Andrew Beirne, St. Xavier, DEF, Senior
Hogan Daley, Moeller, DEF, Senior
Nathan Fantetti, La Salle, GK, Senior
Nick Hunter, Elder, DEF, Senior
Sam McAlister, La Salle, MID, Junior
Andrew Mueller, Elder, DEF, Junior
Briggs O’Toole, St. Xavier, GK, Senior
Jake Renneker, Moeller, DEF, Senior

SPECIAL AWARDS
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Parker Grinstead, Moeller

COACH OF THE YEAR
Mike Welker, Moeller

ACADEMIC ALL-STARS
Elder
Nick Hunter
La Salle
Sam Efkeman
Moeller
JP Bugada
St. Xavier
Mike Scott

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