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Posted on 10/29/2020 at 7:14 a.m.

Bombers Take Early Lead In GCL South All-Sports Trophy Race
 
It has been quite the start to the 2020-21 athletics season for St. Xavier High School, as the Bombers completed a sweep of the fall sports season in the Greater Catholic League South Division by winning the league meets in golf and cross country, and then finishing atop the standings in football and soccer to earn a maximum 32 points after the first of three sports seasons.  As a result, St. Xavier leads Elder (22), Moeller (14) and La Salle (12) heading into the winter sports season.
 
St. Xavier has won outright or shared the GCL South All-Sports Trophy every year since 2012-13. Teams are awarded points based on finishes in each sport, with eight points going to the league champion, six to the runner-up, four to the third-place finisher, and two for fourth place.  If there is a tie, the points for those two finishes are divided evenly among the two schools.
 
The last time St. Xavier swept all four fall sports was in 2012.
 
The Bombers and Elder each had 46 points after the fall and winter sports seasons in 2019-20, which wound up being the final tally after the spring sports season was canceled because of COVID-19.  The race is usually extremely competitive with single digits normally separating the winner from the runner-up and sometimes the third place-finisher.  St. Xavier edged Elder, 68-66, in 2018-19, and the Bombers outlasted Moeller, 73-69, the previous year.  Moeller is the last school besides St. Xavier to win the prestigious honor in 2010-11, finishing with a total of 71 points to 64 for St. Xavier.  
 
Here is a summary of each of the fall sports:
 
Cross Country – St. Xavier captured the GCL Championships in dominating fashion on October 17 at Christ’s Church in Mason, with senior Nathan Mountain leading the way for the second consecutive year.  The Bombers,  who have now won the league meet 10 years in a row and are the defending Division I state champions, had the top six finishers in the race, covering the 3.1-mile course.  Since then, coach Andy Wietmarschen’s runners compete in the regional Saturday at Troy Memorial Stadium after winning sectional and district titles.  The 10-year winning streak in cross country by the Bombers is the longest in any sport in GCL South history.
 
Golf – The Bombers won their sixth straight league championship in golf, which features a format of four quad matches at each school’s home course and then a two-day, 72-hole championship. The combined results determine the GCL South champion.  Since earning another league crown, St. Xavier has also captured sectional and district titles to earn an eighth straight appearance in the DI State Tournament – where they came in third behind champion Akron Archbishop Hoban and runner-up Cleveland St. Ignatius at The Ohio State University’s Scarlet Course in Columbus.  Bombers’ sophomore Eric Braun was named the GCL South Golfer of the Year, and Alex Kepley was named Coach of the Year.
 
Football – St. Xavier won the outright GCL South championship for the first time since 2017, by posting double-digit victories in each of their league games.  The Bombers opened with a 24-10 win at La Salle, followed that with a 38-24 victory at Elder, and then wrapped up a perfect league season with a 43-14 home triumph against Moeller.  Coach Steve Specht’s team, which earned the No. 3 seed in Region 4, has beaten Moeller and Elder the last two weeks in the postseason to advance to the regional final this Friday at No. 1 seed Lakota West.  The Bombers last won a state title in 2016.
 
Soccer – The Bombers have been one of the elite teams in the region all season, winning the GCL South championship with a 5-0-1 record and earning the No. 2 seed in the Southwest Sectional / District Tournament that started last week.  The Bombers’ overall record of 11-2-2 in the regular season came against a brutal schedule, and coach Brian Schaeper’s team has won two postseason matches to advance to the district final of the OHSAA Division I State Tournament.  St. Xavier will oppose Oak Hills Thursday night.

Posted on 10/27/2020 at 6:06 p.m.

Elder Has Four-Match Winning Streak Snapped By Loveland in 2 OT
 
Junior Brady Manahan and senior Lawrence White each scored goals to help St. Xavier post a 2-1 victory against Walnut Hills in the district semifinals of the Ohio High School Athletic Association Boys’ Division Soccer State Tournament on Monday night at Princeton High School’s Viking Stadium.   The Bombers advance to the district final for the fourth consecutive year, when they will meet Oak Hills at 7 p.m. Thursday at Princeton.  Oak Hills advanced with a 2-1 win against Anderson in its district final last night at Lakota East.
 
Elder, the second Greater Catholic League South Division team looking for a berth in the district final, narrowly missed moving to its district final – falling 3-2 in double overtime to Loveland at Sycamore Stadium, located at Sycamore Junior High School.  The defeat ended a four-match winning streak for Elder, which also made a solid postseason run last season before falling to DI state semifinalist Lakota East, 4-2, in the district final.
 
St. Xavier (13-2-2), the No. 2 seed behind Mason in the Southwest District and winner of three straight district titles,  took a 1-0 lead when Manahan scored on a corner kick with seven minutes left in the first half.  Neither team scored again until junior midfielder Patrick Ahrens long throw in found White at the post, who scored to give the Bombers a 2-0 advantage with 20 minutes remaining in the match.  Walnut Hills (9-2) scored its lone goal just about a minute later, but the Eagles would get no closer thanks to senior keep Briggs O’Toole and the St. Xavier defense.
 
St. Xavier, which has not lost in its last five matches (the lone blemish a 0-0 draw against Moeller), has been a model of consistency in the state playoffs since 2017 – when, including this year’s 2-0 record in the postseason, the Bombers are 11-3 in tournament play.  St. Xavier has won at least three postseason matches four consecutive seasons and five of the last six.
 
The Bombers, too, have been a difficult out, too – evidenced by the last three seasons in the regional semifinals.  A year ago, St. Xavier fell to Moeller, 3-2, in overtime in the district final; in 2018, Turpin edged St. Xavier, 2-1, and a year earlier, the Bombers fell to Anderson, 2-1, in OT. Oak Hills (10-4-4), which finished third in the Greater Miami Conference during the regular season, has won both of its tournament matches by one goal – edging Kings, 1-0, in its opener and then getting past Anderson to set up a match with St. Xavier.  The two schools have not played in soccer since September 16, 2004, a 1-1 draw during the regular season at Oak Hills.

Loveland took an early 1-0 lead when junior midfielder Zach McHenry scored in the first 13 minutes, which is where the score remained until Tigers’ senior midfielder Ethan Smith scored with 17:48 left in regulation.

Elder )4-9-3) rallied back first on a goal by senior midfielder Andrew Mueller – who scored his league-leading eighth this season, with 9:56 remaining, and then senior forward Stephen Bankemper tied the match with just 2:19 to go.

Finally, in the second OT, Loveland senior defender  Helge Harris scored goal No. 16 on the season.  Loveland is the second Eastern Cincinnati Conference team to knock GCL South schools out of the postseason, with Milford eliminating both La Salle and Moeller earlier by single goals in each

Loveland (13-2-3) meets Centerville in Thursday’s district final.

Posted on 10/26/2020 at 11:22 a.m.

Bombers Win GCL South, Sectional And District Championships This Fall


 

A 30-degree decline in temperatures along with cloudy, soggy and windy conditions didn’t deter the St. Xavier High School golf team as the Bombers capped their successful season with a third-place finish at the Ohio High School Athletic Association Boys’ Division I Golf State Tournament played over two days at The Ohio State University’s Scarlet Course in Columbus.
 
St. Xavier shot a combined 310 on the second day to wind up with a team score of 616, trailing only champion Akron Archbishop Hoban (which finished with a tournament-record 606) and runner-up Cleveland St. Ignatius (609). Rounding out the top five teams in DI are Dublin Jerome, 618, and Mason, 621.  Lakota East came in seventh, with a 639.
 
In Friday’s first round, St. Xavier finished with a 306 as temperatures neared the 80-degree mark under sunny skies.  In the end, though, the Bombers tied the two-day scoring total of 616 that they fired to win the 2015 DI state championship.  St. Xavier golfers shot nine of 10 rounds in the 70s (a school record) and, on Saturday, the Bombers were the only team to have all of its scores in the 70s (also a record).  All five golfers from St. Xavier had at least one of their rounds count toward the four scores that are counted on each day of competition, showing the consistency of play.
 
Junior Zack Beard led St. Xavier with a 73-78--151 to finish tied for seventh place and earn second-team All-State honors, while senior Nolan Schuermann fired a 77-75--152, tying for 10th and earning second-team honors.  Sophomore Eric Braun (77-78--155) tied for 20th, senior Zach Braun ( 79-79--158) tied for 29th, and senior Nick Stachler (81-79--160) tied for 37th in the talented field.
The strong finish at state caps a memorable season for St. Xavier’s golf program, which earlier this season captured the Greater Catholic League South Division championship for the sixth consecutive year.  The Bombers went on to win sectional and district titles before posting their score at state, which normally would have been low enough to likely win another state crown, but this October was good enough for a third-place finish during a record-setting tournament.

Posted on 10/24/2020 3:04 p.m.

Bombers Use Explosive Offense To Beat Elder, Earn Regional Final Berth

A 15-hour delay and an uncharacteristic Saturday morning kickoff did little to negatively impact St. Xavier and its recent offensive surge as the Bombers used a variety of big plays and a huge second half to pull away from Greater Catholic League South Division rival Elder and post a 56-28 victory earlier today at Ballaban Field at St. Xavier Stadium in a Division I, Region 4 semifinal of the Ohio High School Athletic Association Football State Tournament.

The victory, St. Xavier’s second this season over Elder, moves the No. 3 seed Bombers – the GCL South champions this season – into the regional final next Friday against No. 1 seed Lakota West, which defeated Colerain, 23-7, in the other regional semifinal played today.  Both games were scheduled for Friday night, but lightning and thunderstorms in Greater Cincinnati prompted school officials to move kickoffs to 10 this morning.  The regional final will be played at Lakota West’s Firebird Stadium at 7 p.m. in West Chester.

St. Xavier (7-2), which is 7-0 against teams from Ohio and has won seven of its last eight games, last played West (8-0) to kick off the 2018 season at Paul Brown Stadium – a game won by the Bombers, 34-0.  The two teams also scrimmaged back In August.  It will match St. Xavier’s offense, which has scored 63, 49, 45 and 56 points, respectively, in its last four games, against a West defense that has pitched four shutouts, held six opponents to single digits and has only allowed 41 points in winning the Greater Miami Conference title.  West also beat Colerain, 10-0, in week one.

St. Xavier – which trailed Elder by seven or more points three times during the regular-season meeting earlier this month at The Pit in Price Hill before scoring 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to pull away, 38-24, used big plays in the first half to head to intermission with a 28-14 lead this time.  But Elder (5-4), which swept two games from St. Xavier last season and advanced to the DI state final, rallied back after junior quarterback Ben Hambelton connected with junior Drew Ramsey on a 65-yard pass on third down to set up a 4-yard TD run by Ramsey to make it 28-21.  Then, just 11 seconds later, senior defense end Tony Willenborg picked off a short pass by St. Xavier’s Brogan McCaughey and returned it 21 yards for a score to tie the game at 28 with under nine minutes left in the third quarter.

But St. Xavier came right back on offense, scoring the game’s final 28 points to pull away and earn its first trip to the regional final since 2016 – when the Bombers won their third state championship after finishing just 5-5 during the regular season.  McCaughey first hit junior tailback Charles Kellom with an 8-yard score, then back Luke Vrsansky ran it in from 5 yards to make it 42-28.  The Bombers’ scored two more times, both by Kellom – the first a 22-yard reception and the last a 10-yard run.

McCaughey finished by completing 17-of-25 passes for 345 yards and five TDs, including strikes of 65 yards to junior Jalen Patterson and 63 yards to senior Liam Clifford, a Penn State University recruit who caught five passes for 127 yards – all in the first half.  Patterson finished with four catches for 101 yards.  Kellom had a versatile game, scoring four total TDs – two rushing and two receiving.  He was named the Most Valuable Player in a game that also was featured as part of the Skyline Chili Crosstown Showdown presented by Mercy Health Orthopaedics & Medicine, and Meijer.  Kellom rushed 12 times for 78 yards, while also hauling in three passes for 37 yards.

St. Xavier managed to somewhat slow Hambelton, who was sacked three times and completed 6-of-14 passes for 169 yards.  Ramsey, who accounted for more than 300 yards total offense and had four rushing TDs two weeks ago in the first round against Fairfield, caught five passes for 141 yards but was held to just 51 yards rushing on 19 attempts.  Senior Scott Nieman hauled in five passes for 74 yards, while senior back Cooper Johnson ran for 100 yards on 17 rushes, including a10-yard TD run.  Elder’s four losses this season are to St. Xavier (twice), La Salle and undefeated Indianapolis Cathedral, the top-ranked team in Indiana.

Posted on 10/24/2020 at 8:33 a.m.

La Salle Waits Out Weather, Posts Second Straight Lopsided Victory
 
Immediately after St. Xavier had scored 21 points in the fourth quarter to erase a 24-17 deficit and emerge from The Pit at Elder High School in Price Hill with a 38-24 victory in the first meeting between league rivals during the regular season, Elder coach Doug Ramsey told his team that it would get another shot at the Greater Catholic League South Division champion in the postseason.  St. Xavier coach Steve  Specht expected to see Elder again as well.
 
That is exactly the storyline this morning, when these perennial area powers and league rivals – with a great amount of respect for each other’s program and storied history in the state playoffs – meet again in the Division I, Region 4 semifinals of the Ohio High School Athletic Association Football State Tournament.  Kickoff is 10 a.m. at Ballaban Field at St. Xavier Stadium.  The game, originally scheduled to be played Friday night, was among the many in Southwest Ohio moved back a day because of lightning and thunderstorms that moved through just before kickoff and remained for a few hours.
 
The game can be seen live at http://SpectrumNewsApp.com and http://OHSAA.tv.

La Salle was the third GCL South team scheduled to play Friday night, and the Lancers waited through a lengthy delay to start its game before continuing defense of the DII state championship with a 49-0 victory over Dayton Stebbins at Lancer Stadium on La Salle High School’s North Bend Road campus.  La Salle, the region’s No. 2 seed in Region 8 behind only undefeated Winton Woods, has now won seven consecutive postseason games and is 24-1 in the state playoffs in its last five appearances that include state titles four of the last six years.  Junior quarterback Zach Branam completed 10-of-16 passes for 199 yards and four touchdowns to four different receivers, while the Lancers’ defense held Stebbins (5-3) to just under 50 total yards and four first downs.

The Lancers, who have won four consecutive games and five of their last six, advance to met No. 6 seed Anderson, which survived the weather and posted a 29-22 victory against No. 3 Piqua on the road last night.  Anderson (7-2), a member of the Eastern Cincinnati Conference, also is riding a four-game winning streak.  Kickoff is 7 p.m. Friday at La Salle in the region’s lower-bracket final.  Winton Woods will host Edgewood at 2 p.m. today, with No. 4 Kings meeting No. 5 Turpin at noon in the upper-bracket semifinals in Region 8.   Winton Woods and Kings are the only teams to beat Anderson this season.

This is the second consecutive year that Elder and St. Xavier have met twice in a season.  A year ago, Elder swept the two meetings – building a 24-7 lead entering the fourth quarter before holding off a furious St. Xavier comeback to post a 31-28 win at St. Xavier in the regular season.  Then, in the second round of the Region 4 playoffs, Elder emerged with a 28-24 win that was a catalyst for the Panthers making it to the DI state final, where they lost to Pickerington Central, 21-14.
 
It looked like Elder might win the first meeting this year, holding leads ot 10-0, 17-10 and 24-17 before St. Xavier came alive to score three touchdowns in the last quarter and win by two TDs.  The victory helped the Bombers win the GCL South title outright this season.  The Bombers’ late offensive surge in that game was perhaps a preview of things to come, as St. Xavier has rolled up 63, 49 and 45 points, respectively, the last three weeks – including 42 in the first half of convincing playoff wins against Walnut Hills and Moeller.
 
Junior quarterback Brogan McCaughey continues to play well, having completed 129-of-184 passes for 1,678 yards, with 17 TDs and four interceptions.  He was 26-of-30 for 278 yards and four scores against Moeller last week.  His favorite targets are senior Liam Clifford, a Penn State University commit who leads the GCL South in receiving yards with 768 on 49 catches with nine TDs.  Clifford’s biggest game came against Cleveland St. Ignatius, a 63-38 Bombers’ victory in which he hauled in 12 catches for a school-record 300 yards and two scores.  Junior Jalen Patterson also is a threat receiving for St. Xavier, ranking third in receiving yards with 623 on 50 catches, with four TDs.
 
Victories in the postseason have not been as easy for Elder (5-3), which has endured its share of adversity in the first two rounds.  The Panthers trailed Fairfield, 39-28, in the fourth quarter of the opening round before scoring two TDs, the last pm a 13-yard run by junior Drew Ramsey  with 1:07 left, to pull out a 42-39 win at home.  Then, a week ago, Elder traveled to No. 2 seed Princeton and emerged with a 26-21 win – the Panthers’ defense again coming up big late, forcing a late fumble and holding the Vikings scoreless in the final quarter.
 
First-year starting quarterback Ben Hambelton, like McCaughy at St. Xavier, has been solid all season – connecting on 109-of-158 passes for a league-best 1,723 yards with 19 TDs and just five interceptions.  The Panthers’ most versatile player is Drew Ramsey, son of coach Doug Ramsey, who is used as a runner and receiver and takes his share of direct snaps at QB.  Ramsey also has seen time on defense, where he has come up with some big plays this season.  He is second in the GCL South in rushing yards, with 670 on 110 attempts and 12 TDs, while ranking fourth in receiving yards, with 621 on 50 catches and eight scores.  Senior Scott Nieman is second in receiving yards, with 749 on just 20 catches and seven TDs. He averages better than 25 yards per reception as a big-play threat.
 
Both coaches agree that running the football will be critical for the winner of today’s game and, while the offense of both teams catches the attention of most, it could come down to which team is able to make the most big plays on defense.  Both have played difficult non-conference schedules, along with the rigorous GCL South matchups.  St. Xavier is 6-0 against Ohio teams, its lone defeats coming to two of Indiana’s best, Indianapolis Cathedral, 25-22, and once-beaten Brownsburg, 30-24, in overtime in week one.
 
Undefeated Lakota West (7-0), the No. 1 seed in Region 4, meets No. 4 seed Colerain (6-2) in the other regional semifinal.  That game also was moved to 10 this morning at West because of Friday’s inclement weather.  This is the second meeting this season between Greater Miami Conference rivals, with West winning the season opener, 10-0, at Colerain.  The winner will face either Elder or St. Xavier in the regional final next Friday, with the game to be played at the home field of the higher seeded team.

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