St. Xavier Looks To Win FB Title Outright Tonight

10/07/2016

Posted on 10/7/16 at 4:58 p.m.

La Salle Stands In Bombers’ Path; Elder, Moeller Play At Lockland

After victories over Moeller and Elder the last two weeks, St. Xavier can win the Greater Catholic League South Division football championship outright with a victory tonight in its final league game.  But it won’t be easy for the Bombers, who travel a few miles down North Bend Road to face a La Salle team coming off its most impressive win of the season.  Kickoff is 7 tonight at La Salle High School’s Lancer Stadium.

St. Xavier (4-2, 2-0 GCL South), now up to  No. 2 in The Enquirer’s Division I weekly area coaches’ poll, opened GCL South play with a 21-14 win over Moeller on September 23, a game that the Bombers led 21-0 in the third quarter.  St. Xavier followed that with a convincing 31-7 win over Elder last Friday night at The Pit in Price Hill, snapping Elder’s four-game winning streak in the process.  Senior quarterback Sean Clifford accounted for four TDs in the win, rushing for three scores and passing for another.  The St. Xavier defense did the rest, recording four interceptions and five sacks.

The Bombers hope to make it four consecutive wins tonight against La Salle – the No. 2-ranked Division II team that is coming off an impressive 55-14 home win against Moeller, a game in which the Lancers led 42-7 at halftime.  Junior quarterback Griffin Merritt accounted for seven TDs, including six through the air to go along with 388 yards passing.  Merritt also ran for a score to give La Salle (4-2, 1-0) an opportunity to win at least a share of the GCL South crown with a win tonight.  If La Salle defeats St. Xavier and then wins against Elder in the regular-season finale, the Lancers can win the title outright.

Moeller is the last GCL South school to win all three league games, back in 2013 when the Crusaders went on to win the second of its two back-to-back Ohio Division I state championships.  Tonight, though, No. 5  Moeller (3-3, 0-2) will be looking to avoid an 0-3 league record and third consecutive defeat, which has only happened once previously (in 2001) when it plays No. 3 Elder (4-2, 0-1) at Lockland Stadium.  Kickoff is 7 p.m.  Moeller will likely turn back to senior quarterback Evan Ernst after sophomore Miles McBride, making his first varsity start last week, suffered a shoulder injury.

Elder lost last week for the first time in five games, unable to get its offense in gear against a stingy St. Xavier defense.  The Panthers’ defense has been solid all season, too, allowing just 37 points in its first five games, including an impressive performance in the Panthers’ 15-9 win three weeks ago against Lakewood St. Edward.  Junior quarterback Danny Nieman continues to lead the GCL South in passing, having completed 96-of-156 passes for a league-best 1,083 yards and five TDs. 

St. Xavier and Elder are currently in good standing for the postseason, holding down the third and fourth spots, respectively, in this week’s Division I, Region 4 Harbin computer ratings that are used to qualify teams for the state playoffs.  Moeller is sitting at No. 9, with the top eight schools in each region earning a postseason berth.  La Salle is No. 4 in the Region 8 weekly rankings, with the top four schools also set to host a first-round game before moving to neutral sites.  The weekly Harbin computer ratings are released each Tuesday by the Ohio High School Athletic Association.