La Salle Begins Quest For DII FB Three-Peat

11/04/2016

Posted on 11/4/2016 at 9:39 a.m.

Elder, St. Xavier Hit The Road Tonight For State Playoff Openers

Fresh off its first outright Greater Catholic League South Division championship in its history, La Salle looks to extend its 10-game postseason winning streak when the Lancers begin their quest for a Division II three-peat by hosting Edgewood when the Ohio High School Athletic Association State Football Tournament begins tonight.  Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. at Lancer Stadium, while GCL South colleagues Elder and St. Xavier hit the road to open play in the Division I postseason.

Elder (6-4), the No. 6 seed in  Region 4, travels to face No. 3 Mason (6-4).  Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. at Mason’s Dwire Field at Atrium Stadium.  No. 5 St. Xavier (5-5) travels to play No. 4 Fairfield, with kickoff slated for 7:30 tonight at Fairfield Stadium.  This is the first year that Division I playoff games are being played on Friday nights instead of their customary time slot on Saturday evening in recent years.  The move from the OHSAA came at the request of the state football coaches’ association.

La Salle (8-2), the No. 3 seed in Region 8, enters play riding a six-game winning streak – the latest triumph being the most significant, a 24-10 victory last Friday at Elder that gave the school its first outright GCL South title.  The Lancers shared league crowns in 1995, 2010 and 2014.  Earlier this week, Lancers coach Jim Hilvert was named the GCL South Coach of the Year, while La Salle senior running back Christian Turner was named the GCL South Player of the Year.

Turner is coming off a big game against Elder, in which he carried 23 times for 150 yards and also caught five passes for 133 yards and one score, a 67-yard TD reception from junior quarterback Griffin Merritt – who was named first team All-GCL South after completing 121-of-183 passes for a league-leading 1,729 yards, 16 touchdowns and just six interceptions.  Turner has hauled in 45 passes for 628 yards and eight TDs.

Elder is looking to get back on track after dropping three of its last five games.  The Panthers – who opened the playoffs last season at home by defeating Greater Miami Conference-member Fairfield, 50-42 – look to get back on track when they face Mason.  Both teams have lost three of their last five games entering tonight.  Elder is led by junior quarterback Danny Nieman, who returned last week after being sidelined with an injury. 

In his last full game played, Nieman completed 23-of-33 passes for 253 yards and four TDs in Elder’s 30-28 victory against Moeller four weeks ago.  He left the game against Winton Woods after completing 3-of-4 passes for 14 yards, did not play in week nine and then returned to action against La Salle.  Nieman’s favorite targets are senior Adam Schwallie (43 catches, 577 yards, four TDs) and junior Danny Faillace (35-448-4).

St. Xavier is hoping to maintain the momentum from the second half of its regular-season finale – when the Bombers scored 21 points in the third quarter and outscored Louisville St. Xavier, 28-0 in the final two quarters to erase a 3-0 halftime deficit and post a playoff-clinching win at home last Friday.  The victory also snapped a three-game losing streak for St. Xavier, which played the nation’s second-toughest schedule this season according to MaxPreps.

It doesn’t get any easier tonight against Fairfield, which is riding a two-game winning streak entering postseason play and finished tied for second in the GMC behind unbeaten Colerain.  The Indians’ losses this season all came against Division I playoff qualifiers in Dublin Coffman, Colerain and Mason.  And the Indians figure to have a raucous crowd, as the school is hosting its first playoff games in 17 years.

St. Xavier junior quarterback Chase Wolf, who connected on 31-of-41 passes for 242 yards and four TDs last week, will be tested by a strong Fairfield defense that is ranked second in the GMC to Colerain.   Wolf needs 17 yards tonight to surpass 1,000 passing yards this year.  The Fairfield secondary is led by senior and Michigan State University commit Josiah Scott – who has five interceptions.  The Indians allow just under 125 yards passing per game.