La Salle Wins School’s First Outright FB Championship


Posted on 10/29/2016 at 5:31 p.m.

Lancers Victory At Elder Clinches Title; St. Xavier Win Good For Playoffs

La Salle had earned a share of the coveted Greater Catholic League South Division football championship three times previously, in 1995, 2010 and 2014.  Never before, though, had the Lancers stood on their own atop the league.  Until Friday night, when senior running back Christian Turner accounted for nearly 300 total yards and the Lancers’ defense came up big in the second half to give La Salle a 24-10, title-clinching victory over Elder at The Pit in Price Hill.

The win, La Salle’s sixth straight since opening the season 2-2, also provides the Lancers with plenty of momentum heading into the state playoffs that begin next Friday.  La Salle (8-2, 3-0 GCL South), projected to be the No. 3 seed in Division II, Region 8 and host a first-round postseason game when the Ohio High School Athletic Association state football tournament begins next Friday, is the two-time defending Division II State champion riding a 10-game winning streak in the playoffs.

Speaking of the playoffs, it appears that fellow GCL South colleague St. Xavier has clinched its fourth consecutive berth in the postseason after a 28-3 victory over Louisville St. Xavier in the Bombers’ regular-season finale Friday night on its home campus.  Trailing 3-0 at halftime, coach Steve Specht’s team scored 21 points in the third quarter and 28 unanswered to snap a three-game skid.  St. Xavier entered the game ranked No. 8 in Region 4 and, with the win, is now projected to be the region’s No. 5 seed.

Elder (6-4, 1-2) also is expected to make the postseason according to the website,  The Panthers are projected to wind up No. 6.  The top eight teams in each region of the Harbin computer ratings qualify for the playoffs, with the top four seeds hosting first-round games.  If the projections hold true, Elder would travel to No. 3 Mason next Friday, while St. Xavier would be on the road against No. 4 Fairfield.

Moeller (3-6), the fourth GCL South member, closes its season against Royal Imperial Collegiate of Canada at 1 p.m. today.  The Crusaders, who have lost five straight games, will play for the first time on the school’s campus on Montgomery Road.  Moeller normally plays its home games at either Lockland Stadium or the University of Cincinnati’s Nippert Stadium.

La Salle trailed Elder, 10-7, in the second  quarter before the Lancers put together a touchdown drive that culminated with a 1-yard score by senior Tre’Sean Smith with 19 seconds left in the half.  From there, the La Salle defense – which has come up big in games this season – did it again.  The Lancers finished with six sacks and 10 tackles for loss, led by Ethan Campbell and Zach Rumpke, who each had 1.5 sacks.  La Salle completely shut down Elder’s offense in the second half, as the Panthers finished with 129 total yards and averaged 1.9 yards per rush.

Turner was the offensive leader for La Salle, ranked No. 2 behind unbeaten Turpin in The Enquirer’s Division I weekly area coaches’ poll, finishing with 23 carries for 150 yards on the ground while also catching five passes for 133 yards and one score, a 67-yard TD reception from junior quarterback Griffin Merritt that gave the Lancers a 7-0 lead with just under four minutes left in the first quarter.  Merritt was efficient passing, going 8-of-13 for 150 yards, while Smith scored two rushing TDs, both on 1-yard runs.

For two quarters, it appeared as thought St. Xavier was going to be unable to get things rolling on offense.  But, the Bombers came alive in the third quarter to score three times and end Louisville St. Xavier’s three-game winning streak.  Junior quarterback Chase Wolf had a big night, connecting on 31-of-41 passes for 242 yards and four TDs, with two of his TD tosses going to sophomore Jared Kreimer, who had eight catches for a team-high 71 receiving yards.  Junior Cameron Specht also had eight receptions.

St. Xavier, historically known for its powerful rushing attack, was held to just 18 yards on 20 attempts.  Instead, the Bombers went to the air and accounted for 242 of its 260 total yards in the passing game – led by Wolf, who has been a solid performer this season.  Wolf has now thrown for 983 yards, 11 TDs and just five interceptions.  He also has rushed for three scores.

The official OHSAA state playoff qualifiers and pairings will be announced Sunday afternoon.  The release of this information will include the final regular season Harbin computer ratings, along with the first-round pairings and sites for all divisions.  The OHSAA postseason begins next Friday.