Moeller-St. Xavier Opens GCL South FB Season


Posted on 9/23/2016 at 9:45 a.m.

Elder, La Salle Continue Non-Conference Schedule Tonight  

Moeller and St. Xavier, both coming off perhaps their biggest wins of the season on the road last week, return to Cincinnati to kick off the always rigorous Greater Catholic League South Division regular-season football schedule by facing each other in the league’s first matchup tonight.  Kickoff between two of Greater Cincinnati’s top three ranked teams is 7 p.m. at a sold-out St. Xavier Stadium’s Ballaban Field on the St. Xavier High School campus.

Moeller (3-1), which traveled to Ramsey, N.J. last Saturday evening to defeat nationally regarded Don Bosco Prep, 20-14, is looking to extend its winning streak to three games and take the early GCL South lead.  The Crusaders, ranked No. 2 in The Enquirer’s Division I weekly area coaches poll, are looking to senior quarterback Evan Ernst to lead their team against a tough St. Xavier defense.  Ernst has connected on 49-of-85 passes for 600 yards this season with eight touchdowns and four interceptions.

Against Don Bosco, Moeller had a balanced offensive attack as junior running back Colin Thurman rushed 13 times for 113 yards and a TD.  Thurman has gained 311 yards, which ranks him second in the GCL South in rushing yards, and scored three TDs.  Sophomore running back RJ Khayo ranks third in the GCL South in receiving yards, with 237, having hauled in 14 passes from Ernst.  He had three catches for 90 yards, including a 70-yard TD reception in the win last week.

St. Xavier senior quarterback Sean Clifford, sidelined much of the early season with an injury, returned to action last week – coming off the bench to complete 13-of-22 passes for 224 yards and a TD.  Clifford, a Penn State University commit, also rushed for 32 yards and two scores to help the No. 4 Bombers knock off Indianapolis Cathedral in the Butler Bowl last Friday, the Bombers’ second straight win.  Cathedral entered the game unbeaten and ranked No. 1 among Indiana’s Class 6A schools. 

The Bombers have been solid in their last three games – including a week two 20-14 overtime defeat to No. 1 Colerain – a game in which St. Xavier trailed 14-0 at halftime before rallying with two third-quarter scores to eventually send the game into overtime.  Defensively, St. Xavier senior back Colton Paul leads the GCL South with four interceptions – including a key pick in last week’s win over Cathedral, a week after he intercepted a pass and returned it 83 yards for a TD to preserve a 20-7 win over Mentor.

St. Xavier won last year’s meeting, 14-10, at the University of Cincinnati’s Nippert Stadium.   Bombers’ senior running back Sean Prophit scored the game-winning TD on a 5-yard run with just over six minutes remaining to cap a St. Xavier comeback after Moeller held a 10-0 lead into the third quarter.  Prophit gained a team-high 75 yards  to help St. Xavier snap a four-game losing streak in the series between the two perennial GCL South contenders. 

Elder and La Salle, which begin their league schedules next Friday, face non-conference opponents tonight.  No. 3 Elder is looking to extend its winning streak to four when it hosts  Pittsburgh University Prep (0-3) at 7 at The Pit in Price Hill.  The Panthers are coming off a 15-9 home victory against Lakewood St. Edward, the two-time defending Division I state champion and previously No. 1 ranked team in Ohio.  The win snapped St. Edward’s 15-game winning streak.

La Salle (2-2), No. 1 in The Enquirer’s Division II poll this week, is looking to get back on track after suffering consecutive losses when it travels to face Winton Woods (2-2).  The Lancers suffered a 31-18 loss Christian Brothers, Tenn. last Saturday afternoon in Memphis – a game that that La Salle led 18-16 entering the final three minutes.  A week earlier, La Salle endured its first loss of the season – falling 6-0 on the road to rival Colerain, 6-0.  Kickoff is 7 p.m. at Winton Woods High School.