Elder Takes One-Game Lead Into Season’s Second Half

Posted on 1/22/2022 at 2:04 p.m.

Panthers 3-0 After Road Win, Hold One-Game Edge Over Moeller

Carson Browne and Sean Keller scored 16 and 14 points, respectively, and Elder blew open a close game by outscoring St. Xavier, 23-9, in the final quarter to post a 59-38 road victory in the third straight Friday night of Greater Catholic League South Division games.  The win gives Elder to 3-0 after the first round of home-and-home games that will decide the prestigious league basketball championship.

Moeller remained one game off the pace heading into the second half of league play by winning its fourth straight game overall, 48-37, at La Salle.  The Crusaders, whose lone league loss is at Elder, are in sold possession of second place in the GCL South and host Elder next Friday at 7:30 p.m. on its Montgomery Road campus.  Elder, Moeller and St. Xavier tied for the league crown last season with identical 4-2 records.

Elder (14-3, 3-0 GCL South) won its third consecutive game behind Browne – who was 5-of-10 from the field and made 6-of-7 free throws to go along with six rebounds – and Keller, the second-leading scorer in the league who played his third game after missing two games with an injury.  Keller made 4-of-7 field goals, including two three-pointers, and went 4-of-6 from the line to go along with four rebounds, three assists and two steals.

The Panthers are off until facing Moeller.

Senior Johnny Vanover was the lone scorer in double figures for St. Xavier (9-4, 1-2) with a game-high 18 points, including 5-of-11 three-pointers.  The Bombers, however, were held to just 10-of-33 shooting from its starters but managed to trail only 36-29 entering the final eight minutes before Elder pulled away.  David Clark added seven points and four rebounds for the Bombers – who next host Covington Catholic at 7:30 Tuesday night.

Moeller (12-3, 2-1) got another strong performance from Evan Mahaffey at La Salle.  The 6-foot-6 senior forward led all scorers with 19 points, his fifth straight game of scoring 13 or more points.  The Crusaders built a 25-16 lead at halftime and were able to maintain their advantage in a low-scoring game.  The Crusaders host Turpin at 2 this afternoon.  The Spartans defeated Elder, 48-41 Tuesday at Turpin.

Junior guard Nick Heffron scored 15 points, knocking down a pair of three-point goals, to lead La Salle, while senior JJ Ruffin added eight.  La Salle (2-12, 0-3) travels to Greater Dayton to face Trotwood Madison at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Moeller Postseason Streak Ends In DI State Semifinals

Posted on 11/29/2021 at 4:17 p.m.

Springfield Scores Game-Winning TD In Fourth Quarter To Advance

Moeller, making its first appearance since 2014 in the Division I State Semifinals of the Ohio High School Athletic Association Football State Tournament, was less than four minutes from advancing to the state championship game before Springfield scored the game-winning touchdown to emerge with a 22-21 victory Friday night at Sidney Memorial Stadium.

The win earns Springfield (13-1) its first trip to the state final in school history and a matchup with perennial state power Lakewood St. Edward (13-1), which advanced with a 16-10 win against previously unbeaten Upper Arlington in the other DI semifinal.  The DI state final is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton.

The loss snapped a four-game postseason winning streak for Moeller (11-4), which was in search of its state title No. 10 in the Crusaders’ storied program.  Moeller won back-to-back titles in 2012 and 2013 and advanced to the DI Final Four the next season before falling to Huber Heights Wayne, 29-22.

Sophomore back Jordan Marshall had Moeller in position to move on after breaking away for a 63-yard TD run, his third score of the game, with 7:44 left to give Moeller a 21-16 lead.  The Crusaders’ defense made the lead hold up until Springfield’s Ramon Browder scored from eight yards with 3:43 left out to give the Wildcats a 22-21 advantage.

Springfield entered the game having allowed just seven points in its last five games while recording four shutouts.  Marshall led Moeller with 16 carries for 154 yards and the three TDs, while junior Alec Weeder rushed 10 times for 57 yards.  The Crusaders, however, were held to a season-low two completions in 15 attempts for 15 passing yards.

Springfield senior quarterback Te’Sean Smoot had a big night, connecting on 19-of-24 passes for 286 yards and a TD.  He also rushed 25 times for 111 yards and a score for Springfield, which finished with 23 first downs and 460 total yards.  The Wildcats did commit two turnovers.

Moeller, which won just five games combined the last two seasons, did rush for 229 yards and averaged just over seven yards a carry.  The Crusaders close an outstanding season that included six wins in its final seven games, including back-to-back victories against Cleveland St. Ignatius and Lakewood St. Edward.  Moeller knocked off Lakota West, 21-17, in the regional final.  Moeller earned the No. 1 seed in Region 4 entering the postseason.

There are three Greater Cincinnati teams set to play for state championships next week, including champion of the Greater Catholic League Co-Ed Division Hamilton Badin – which will attempt to close a perfect season when it opposes Chardon in the DIII state title game at 3:30 p.m. Friday. Winton Woods and Clinton-Massie will be vying for DII and DIV state crowns, respectively.

Here are the state championship pairings (in order by date/time of championship game):

Division II – Thursday, 7 p.m.
Winton Woods (12-3) vs. No. 8 Akron Archbishop Hoban (11-3)

Division IV – Friday, 10:30 a.m. 
No. 4 Clinton-Massie (13-1) vs. Youngstown Ursuline (11-3)

Division III – Friday, 3 p.m.
No. 2 Hamilton Badin (14-0) vs. No. 1 Chardon (15-0) 

Division I – Friday, 7:30 p.m.
No. 5 Springfield (13-1) vs. No. 3 Lakewood St. Edward (13-1)

Division VII – Saturday, 10:30 a.m. 
No. 3 Newark Catholic (14-1) vs. No. 1 Maria Stein Marion Local (15-0)

Division VI – Saturday, 3 p.m
No. 6 Coldwater (13-2) vs. No. 8 Carey (14-1) 

Division V – Saturday, 7:30 p.m. 
No. 8 Versailles (14-1) vs. No. 1 Kirtland (14-0) 

Moeller Defeats Lakota West, Wins Region FB Title

Posted on 11/20/2021 at 7:44 p.m.

Crusaders To Face Springfield In DI State Semifinals Next Friday

Moeller entered the Ohio High School Athletic Association Football State Tournament as the No. 1 seed in Division I, Region 4 after closing the regular season with a 7-3 record against an arduous schedule.  The Crusaders have certainly lived up to that ranking in the postseason, winning four consecutive games – including the most impressive, a 21-17 victory over No. 3 seed Lakota West Friday night at Mason High School to capture the regional championship.

The victory, Moeller’s sixth in its last seven games, earns the Crusaders their first berth in the state semifinals since 2014 – when Moeller fell to Huber Heights Wayne, 29-22, to suffer its first loss in 14 state playoff games after winning back-to-back DI state titles in 2012 and 2013.  This time, Moeller (11-3) will face another member of the Greater Western Ohio Conference in Springfield (12-1), which defeated Marysville, 27-0, last night to win Region 2.

Kickoff is 7 p.m. Friday at a site to be announced Sunday by the OHSAA.

Sophomore running back Jordan Marshall finished with a team-high 123 yards rushing, including a 4-yard scoring run early in the fourth quarter that helped the Crusaders erase a 17-14 deficit and take the lead for good.  Marshall also caught a scoring pass in the first half from senior quarterback Noah Geselbracht, who had 140 yards passing and two TDs, to help Moeller defeat its fourth Greater Miami Conference opponent in as many weeks.

But Lakota West (11-2) was no ordinary opponent.  The Firebirds entered the game riding an 11-game winning streak, their only loss back in week one at St. Xavier, 31-14.  West, however, avenged that defeat just eight days ago with a 12-2 victory against the GCL South Division champion and defending state champ Bombers at Mason – limiting St. Xavier to no offensive points.

West, which had never made it to the regional final before last year (a 10-7 loss to St. Xavier in the final minute), was back there again this November under the guidance of longtime Colerain coach Tom Bolden, who is in his third season at West.  Sophomore quarterback Mitch Bolden totaled nearly 300 yards in total offense for the Firebirds against Moeller.

Moeller, which has won nine state titles, also is enjoying a transformation on the field under the leadership of second-year coach Mark Elder.  The Crusaders finished 2-8 in 2019 and 3-6 in 2020, earning their first postseason victory last November since 2014.  Now, Moeller is just two wins away from another state crown.  Lakewood St. Edward will meet Upper Arlington in the other state semifinal next Friday.  Moeller handed St. Edward its only defeat this season, 28-21, in Northeast Ohio last month.

But it won’t be easy getting past a Springfield team that is two points away from being undefeated – the lone loss, 22-21, at Miamisburg in mid-October.  Since then, the Wildcats have won five in a row – including a dominating performance in the regional final.  Senior quarterback Te’Sean Smoot completed 26-of-37 passes for 363 yards and three TDs in the win.  Springfield’s defense has allowed just one score during its five-game winning streak, while recording four shutouts.

Moeller Rallies From Early Deficit To Defeat Princeton

Posted on 11/13/2021 at 10:43 a.m.

St. Xavier, La Salle Fall In Respective FB Regional Semifinal Games

After falling behind Princeton, 14-0, in the first quarter of its Division I, Region 4 semifinal game in the Ohio High School Athletic Association Football State Tournament on Friday night at Mason High School, Moeller came alive to score 28 unanswered points and eventually emerge with a 28-21 win in this classic matchup of marquee state gridiron powers.  The win earns Moeller its first berth in the regional final since 2014, when the Crusaders advanced to the state semifinals before falling to Huber Heights Wayne, 29-22.

St. Xavier and La Salle, the other two Greater Catholic League South Division teams vying for a berth in the regional finals, did not enjoy the same fortune as Moeller in the semifinals.  St. Xavier, the defending DI state champion and winner of eight straight postseason games dating back to last year, was held to its lowest point total since the season opener in 2016 (a 34-0 loss to national power St. John Bosco) in a 12-2 setback to Lakota West at Princeton High School.  The Bombers also were victimized by four turnovers against a strong West defense.

Moeller (10-3), which has won three straight games in the postseason and five of its last six overall, advances to face Lakota West (12-1) in the regional final next Friday at a site to be determined this weekend by the OHSAA.  The winner advances to the state semifinals set for Friday, November 26.

La Salle, which held Winton Woods to a single TD in a 21-7 win in week two, was unable to control the Warriors’ ground game this time around.  Winton Woods had a pair of 100-yard rushers, including a 228-yard, five-TD performance by junior KC Spears, in its sixth straight victory, 42-25, at Lakota East High School in Liberty Township.  Last week, the Warriors handed Kings its first loss of the season, 31-21, to earn a shot at La Salle.  Winton Woods (10-3) will oppose No. 1 seed Piqua (13-0) in the DII, Region 8 final next Friday.

Here is a quick look at Friday’s regional semifinals:

Moeller Moves On – Senior quarterback Noah Geselbracht continues to be productive, rushing for one score and tossing a pair of TD passes to help Moeller get past Princeton in the first meeting between the two schools since 2008 – when Moeller won, 27-17, in the season-opening Skyline Chili Crosstown Showdown.

Geselbracht connected on 19-of-28 passes for 242 yards, two TDs and one interception.  His TD pass to senior Tennel Bryant in the first quarter tied the game, 14-14, and his hook up with senior Kurt Thompson before halftime gave Moeller the lead for good at 21-14.

The Crusaders extended the advantage to 28-14 in the third quarter with their lone score of the final two quarters, a 38-yard TD scamper by junior Alex Weeder – who led Moeller in rushing with 19 carries for 107 yards.  Bryant and Thompson each had six receptions good for 109 and 69 yards, respectively.

St. X Offense Slowed – The Bombers’ offense, which averaged more than 40 points in the first 12 games, could not get untracked against West – which held St. Xavier to a single TD in last year’s postseason, but that one score (a 17-yard TD pass from Brogan McCaughey to Liam Clifford) proved to be enough for St. Xavier to post a 10-7 win in the regional final on its way to a fourth DI state title.

Facing West for the third time in a year, the Bombers were held without any offensive points – the lone score coming on a safety after a blocked punt.  McCaughey, who came into the game with nearly 2,000 yards passing to go along with 31 TDs and only two interceptions in 12 games, was just 12-of-25 passing for a season-low 74 yards and three interceptions against a West team that extended its winning streak to 12 games.

Senior back Charles Kellom capped an outstanding season and career with 24 carries for 121 yards, going over 100 yards rushing for the eighth time in the last nine games.  Kellom closes the season with 1,443 yards rushing and 20 TDs.  But it was the West defense, led by junior Joshua Fussell’s two interceptions, that stole the show on this night.  St. Xavier finished with 11 first downs and 205 total yards, while the Bombers held West to nine first downs and 204 total yards.

Spears Gets Untracked – Winton Woods gave the ball to Spears only eight times, but five of those touches turned into scores – including explosive runs of 83 and 94 yards for TDs from a back that had not surpassed the 100-yard mark in his varsity career before this memorable night.  Spears entered the game with 21 rushes for 200 yards and three TDs this season.

Winton Woods, which racked up 399 total yards, got 104 yards on 21 rushes from senior Tyrek Spikes.  The Warriors never trailed, built a 21-10 halftime advantage and increased it to three scores with a 36-yard TD run by Spears in the third quarter.  Senior Cam Cope led La Salle, throwing for 146 yards and a score while also rushing for 59 yards and another TD.

The Lancers faced perhaps the most difficult schedule in school history, facing its three GCL South opponents, Kentucky Class 6A power Louisville Trinity, Indiana state power Indianapolis Cathedral and defending national champion IMG Academy from Brandenton, Fla., as well as rival Colerain and Winton Woods during the regular season.  La Salle posted wins against Harrison and Anderson in the state playoffs.

GCL South Teams Prepare For FB Regional Finals Friday

Posted on 11/11/2021 at 10:33 p.m.

Moeller, St. Xavier & La Salle Look To Keep Their State Title Hopes Alive

It will be a busy Friday night for three members of the Greater Catholic League South Division, as Moeller, St. Xavier and La Salle will hit the field for their respective regional semifinal games in the Ohio High School Athletic Association Football State Tournament.  Moeller and defending Division I state champion St. Xavier are one win away from meeting again, this time in the regional final, while La Salle prepares for a familiar opponent in the DII semis.

Moeller (9-3), the No. 1 seed in Region 4, faces No. 4 Princeton (11-1) for the first time since the two longtime Cincinnati rivals and state powers met in the season opener in 2008 as part of the Skyline Chili Crosstown Showdown at University of Cincinnati’s Nipper Stadium.  Moeller won that meeting, 27-17, between a p[air of Ohio gridiron powers that were synonymous with state appearances in the 1970s and 1980s.

Kickoff is 7 p.m. Friday at Mason High School.

No. 2 St. Xavier (10-2), the GCL South outright champion for the second consecutive year, looks to extend its postseason winning streak to nine games when it faces Greater Miami Conference winner and No. 3 Lakota West for the third time in a year.  The Bombers, who got past West, 10-7, in the final 30 seconds last season at West to keep their state title aspirations alive, also rallied from a 14-3 deficit late in the first half to post a 31-14 win at St. Xavier this August as part of the Showdown.

Kickoff is 7 Friday night at Princeton High School.

No. 6 La Salle (6-4), which has won four DII state titles since 2014, is coming off an impressive 45-31 win at Anderson last Friday to earn a berth in the regional semis and a second meeting this season with No. 7 Winton Woods (9-3), which handed No. 2 Kings its first defeat last week, 31-21. The two schools, which have become annual rivals, played in week two of the regular season – a game in which La Salle posted a 21-7 victory on its home field.  But the Warriors enter the game having won five games in a row.

Kickoff is 7 p.m. Friday at Lakota East High School.

If Moeller and St. Xavier are victorious, the league rivals would meet in the Region 4 final on Friday, November 19 at a site to be determined.  The winner would advance to the DI Final Four.  If La Salle wins, the Lancers will face the winner of No. 1 Piqua vs. No. 5 Edgewood in the DII Region 8 final on that same night.