Posted on 12/7/2016 at 3:20 p.m.

Bombers Defeat Winton Woods In Mercy Health Tipoff

Senior Daniel Keyes scored 16 points to pace three double-figure scorers and lead St. Xavier to a 57-29 victory over Winton Woods Tuesday night at Winton Woods as part of the season-opening Mercy Health Tipoff Classic   Keyes, who was named the game’s Most Valuable Player, has now scored 42 points in St. Xavier’s first two games – pouring in a game-high 26 last Saturday against Fairfield.

St. Xavier (1-1) , which shot 61.8 percent connecting on 21-of-34 field goals, also was sound defensively by holding a young Winton Woods (0-2) to just 10-of-37 shooting from the field and forcing 18 turnovers.  Joining Keyes in double figures were Matthew Budde and Nathan Stockman, who each added 13.  The trio combined to hit 16-of-26 field goals and make five three-pointers.  Keyes has not made 9-of-13 three-pointers this season.

Posted on 12/5/2016 at 8:23 a.m.

Fairfield Gets Past St. Xavier Behind Big Third-Quarter Advantage

Guards Keegan McDowell, Miles McBride and Isaiah Payton combined to score 46 points and help lead Moeller to a 63-46 victory Friday night over Pickerington North in the Ohio Valley Hoops Classic at Southern State Community College’s Patriot Center in Hillsboro.  Moeller was the lone GCL South basketball team to play on the opening night of the regular season boys’ basketball in Ohio.

St. Xavier opened its season less than 24 hours after the Bombers won the Division I state football title with a 27-20 win over Cleveland St. Ignatius in double overtime in Columbus, falling in a close game to Greater Miami Conference member to Fairfield, 58-52, Saturday at St. Xavier.  The Bombers got a huge opening game from senior guard Daniel Keyes, who poured in a game-high 26 points.

McDowell finished with a game-high 17 points, also grabbing six rebounds, while McBride added 16 and Payton chipped in 13 for Moeller – which outscored Pickerington North, 34-20, in the second half after holding a three-point lead at halftime.  McDowell and McBride connected on 14-of-22 field goals for the Crusaders, who hit 24-of-44 field goals (54.5 percent) while only committing three turnovers.

A night after completing one of the most improbable state championship runs in football, St. Xavier hit the hardwood for the first time.  The Bombers were scheduled to open the season Friday, but rescheduled its games with Anderson for Saturday, January 21.  St. Xavier held a 31-27 lead at halftime after a 23-point second quarter, but the Bombers were outscored, 18-8, by Fairfield.

Keyes was extremely proficient from long range, knocking down 6-of-7 of his three-point attempts.  He was joined in double figures by senior guard Matthew Budde, who added 10.  St. Xavier was playing without five members of its state championship football team who are on the varsity roster. Fairfield had three players in double figures, with Andre Givens scoring a team-high 18 in the win.

All GCL South teams are in action this week, with Elder and La Salle tipping off  their seasons.  The Panthers being with a difficult two-game stretch in two days, hosting Walnut Hills at 7:30 Friday night and Cooper, one of the Northern Kentucky’s top teams, at 4 Saturday afternoon as part of the Mercy Health Tipoff Classic.  La Salle, coming off its third straight Division II state football championships, does not play its first game until Saturday – when the Lancers travel to meet Turpin at 7:30 p.m.

Here is the GCL South schedule this week:

St. Xavier at Winton Woods, 7:30 p.m.

Walnut Hills at Elder, 7:30 p.m.

Cooper at Elder, 4 p.m.
Hughes at St. Xavier, 7:30 p.m.
La Salle at Turpin, 7:30 p.m.
Moeller at Kings, 7:30 p.m.

Posted on 12/3/2016 at 2:01 p.m.

Bombers Finish Improbable Postseason With Win over St. Ignatius

St. Xavier would have had it no other way – down 10-0 at halftime to a perennial state football power that had easily defeated the Bombers back in week nine of the regular season.  But Friday night, like every other Friday night during the Ohio High School Athletic Association Football Tournament, St. Xavier proved once again that it is a different team than the one that finished 5-5 during the regular season and needed a win in its final game to make a state playoff appearance.

Led by senior quarterback Sean Clifford, who had accounted for 10 touchdowns in the last three victories, St. Xavier rallied back and eventually left Ohio Stadium in Columbus with a 27-20 victory in double overtime over Cleveland St. Ignatius in the Division I state final.  The win capped a remarkable five-game winning streak in the postseason, a streak that included two victories in overtime and one in double OT, and come-from-behind rallies in its final four games to earn the school’s third state football title.

Coach Steve Specht’s team, which also won state crowns in 2005 and 2007, became the first school in Ohio high school history to win a state title after entering the postseason with five losses.  The Bombers’ title was the second in as many days for the Greater Catholic League South Division, as La Salle came back from a 7-0 halftime deficit Thursday night to defeat Massillon Perry, 14-7, and win the Division II state championship for the third consecutive year.

Victories by La Salle and St. Xavier extended the GCL South streak of winning state football titles to five straight years – with Moeller getting it started by winning DI state crowns in 2012 and 2013.  St. Xavier’s win came against a St. Ignatius team that was 11-1 in state finals, including two victories over the Bombers (in 1992 and 2001).  St. Ignatius defeated St. Xavier, 31-14, in week nine of the regular season at St. Xavier.

But, after opening the state playoffs by forcing five turnovers in a 35-14 road victory at Fairfield, St. Xavier wasn’t to be denied in the postseason.  The second week, the Bombers trailed No. 1 and unbeaten Colerain 23-7 with two minutes left in the third quarter before rallying for a stunning 29-23 win in OT.  The next game, in the regional final against Sycamore, St. Xavier was down 28-14 with just over two minutes left in the game before staging a comeback that culminated in a 35-28 victory in OT.

Then, in the state semifinals, St. Xavier needed another late rally to knock off Pickerington Central, 29-27, and earn another shot at St. Ignatius – which led 10-0 at halftime in the final after holding St. Xavier to just one first down and forcing the Bombers to punt on all seven of its first-half possessions.  But St. Xavier rallied in the third quarter, getting a field goal from senior Kevin Rockwood and a 22-yard TD pass from Clifford to junior Andrew Wittrock.

St. Xavier then managed to take a 17-10 lead on a fumble recovery in the end zone by Blake Bacevich with 6:49 remaining.  The Bombers looked to be in even better shape in the final minutes, after a defensive stand that left St. Ignatius needing a lengthy fourth-down conversion – which they would make, when quarterback Jake Ryan connected with Michael Drobnick on a 17-yard pass, and the ensu8ing extra point tied the game, 17-17, with 1:11 left.  St. Xavier had one final possession in regulation, but failed to score.

In OT, St. Ignatius kicked a field goal on its first possession.  The Bombers countered with a 29-yard field goal by Rockwood to tie the score, 20-20.  St. Xavier got the ball first in the second OT, and Clifford found Wittrock with a 7-yard TD pass, Rockwood converted the extra point and St. Xavier led, 27-20.  St. Ignatius got the ball, but was unable to score on its final possession – the final play an incomplete pass, and the St. Xavier celebration was on at Ohio Stadium.

The Bombers had their usual great support from fans, most noticeably from the school’s student body – most of whom spent a chilly night shirtless at Ohio Stadium making plenty of noise.  And, once the final play had ended and St. Xavier had realized one of the most memorable runs in state championship history, the celebration between football team and its fans began. 

Not a bad couple nights for two schools, La Salle and St. Xavier, located just a few miles apart on North Bend Road.  Not a bad season for the GCL South either.

Posted on 12/2/2016 at 1:00 p.m.

St. Xavier Looks To Win DI State Title Tonight In Columbus

La Salle capped a memorable season Thursday night, rallying from a rare halftime deficit to defeat Massillon Perry, 14-7, in the Division II state championship game of the Ohio High School Athletic Association Football Tournament.  The victory earns La Salle its third straight state title, becoming the first Cincinnati school since Moeller to three-peat.  Moeller won Class AAA (big school) state crowns from 1975 to 1977.

St. Xavier will attempt to give the Greater Catholic League South Division its second state championship in two days when the Bombers (9-5) play Cleveland St. Ignatius (13-1) in the Division I final at 8 tonight at Ohio Stadium.  St. Xavier is vying to win its third state football crown, having captured state titles in 2005 and 2007.  St. Ignatius has won more state football championships (11) than any other Division I school in Ohio.

For La Salle, it was an unusual circumstance to be shut out in the first half and to have to rally for a win.  The Lancers., who ended the season with 11 consecutive wins and extended their postseason winning streak to 15, had outscored its three previous state playoff opponents, 114-17.  And, coach Jim Hilvert’s team beat Perry, 42-0, in last year’s DII state final.  That was not the case this time.

La Salle, which became the first team in Ohio to win three DII titles in a row, could not get untracked offensively.  The Lancers completed just one pass for no yards, so Hilvert and his team relied on running the ball and playing sound defense.  Senior TreSean Smith took over at quarterback and wound up scoring both Lancer touchdowns, a 3-yard run to cap a 12,-play, 84-yard drive in the third quarter to tie the game, and then the eventual game-winner.

Smith, a University of Louisville commit, finished with 127 yards rushing on 17 carries.  He ended his team’s 65-yard, game-winning drive with a 12-yard run with just under four minutes remaining.  La Salle’s defense was solid down the stretch, forcing Perry to turn the ball over on downs, and then creating two turnovers on the final two possessions.

Now, it’s St. Xavier’s turn.  The Bombers are riding a five-game winning streak that started the final week of the regular season.  The last three wins by coach Steve Specht’s team have been in come-from-behind fashion, knocking off Colerain, Sycamore and Pickerington Central late  - two in overtime – to earn another shot at St. Ignatius.  St. Xavier lost to St. Ignatius, 31-14, in week nine of the regular season.

Senior quarterback Sean Clifford has been solid in the last three games, completing 45-of-77 passes for 526 yards and five TDS, while rushing 65 times for 360 yards and five more scores.  Clifford, a Penn State commit, has led St. Xavier to 93 points in the three games.   St. Xavier struggled offense the first meeting with St. Ignatius, finishing with 230 yards of total offense – including 26 rushing attempts for 51 yards.  The Bombers also committed two turnovers.

Posted 12/1/2016 at 1:50 p.m.

Fans Can View Lancers Game Live on TWC SportsChannel

La Salle looks to become the first Cincinnati area high school to win three consecutive state football championships since Greater Catholic League South Division colleague Moeller captured Class AAA (big school) state titles three years in a row from 1975 to 1977, when coach Jim Hilvert’s team plays Massillon Perry in the Division II final of the Ohio High School Athletic Association State Football Tournament at 7:30 tonight at Ohio Stadium in Columbus.

The Lancers (12-2), who have won 10 straight games this season and 14 in a row in the postseason over the last two-plus seasons, defeated Perry, 42-0, in last year’s state title game.  La Salle enters the game playing its best football of the year, having outscored its last three opponents, 114-17, after getting by Edgewood, 23-21, in the opening round of the state playoffs.  Perry (12-2) enters the game riding a 10-game winning streak.

Fans unable to attend the game can watch it live on Time Warner Cable SportsChannel, the official broadcast partner of the GCL South.  TWC SportsChannel is airing all seven state finals live tonight through Saturday evening.  The games will be available statewide to TWC customers on channel 311, as well as on the TWCTV app and at  The coverage also includes 30 minute pre- and post-game shows for every state final.

The finals  schedule features GCL South member St. Xavier against Cleveland St. Ignatius in the Division I final at 8 Friday night.  St. Xavier is trying to win the school’s third state crown, having also won in 2005 and 2007.  La Salle and St. Xavier are attempting to extend the GCL South streak to five straight years having one of its four schools win a state football championship.

Tickets to both the La Salle and St. Xavier games can be purchased in advance at the participating schools.  Advance tickets are $10, with a portion of sales benefiting the corresponding school’s athletic department.  Tickets also are available on game day at the Ohio State Box Office for $15 (club level, with inside access) and $12 reserved.

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