GCL South Friday Night Football Preview

09/29/2018

Posted on 9/28/2018 at 10:00 a.m.       

Intriguing Matchups Highlight First Full Night Of League Play

A pair of intriguing matchups tonight highlight the first full night of games in the Greater Catholic League South Division.  Thee is Moeller, coming off a road win at St. Xavier last Friday, looking to move to 2-0 in the league under first-year coach Doug Rossfeld.  To do so, the Crusaders will have to win a second straight on the road – this time traveling to face La Salle, playing its GCL South opener and looking for its fifth win in a row since a season-opening loss at Colerain, the No. 1-ranked team in Ohio Division I.  Kickoff is 7 p.m. at Lancer Stadium.

The other GCL South game has Elder hosting St. Xavier in a game featuring two of Greater Cincinnati’s top teams who are both looking to end two-game losing streaks.   Elder (3-2) is looking to forget about its last two games against Northeast Ohio powers Lakewood St. Edward (36-30) and Cleveland St. Ignatius (17-7) and hoping to open the GCL South schedule with a win against St. Xavier (2-3, 0-1 GCL South), the defending champion that also has lost two straight and three of its last four – including a 19-14 home setback to Moeller last week.  Kickoff is 7 p.m. at The Pit in Price Hill.

Moeller (4-1, 1-0) looks to do something it has not done since 2013 – beat La Salle, which has won four straight in the series that includes two lopsided victories over the Crusaders in the last two meetings at Lancer Stadium, winning 34-9 in 2014 and 55-14 two years later, in 2016.  La Salle (4-1,) enters the game riding a four-game winning streak, outscoring its opponents, 136-40, during the winning streak.  The Lancers started the streak with a 34-21 win against Mason, and then went on the road and defeated a good Scott County, Ky. Team, 37-7 – scoring on its first five possessions, including four touchdowns.

Moeller has been equally impressive the first half of the season, with the Crusaders’ lone setback to Scott County, 10-7.  Moeller’s defense has been solid as well, allowing just 52 points in the five games.  Senior linebacker Luke Szabados leads the Crusaders with 29 total tackles, while senior defensive end Ryan Mullaney has 23 tackles and a team-high five sacks.  Senior linebacker Joe Craft has 20 tackles and 1.5 sacks for Moeller.  They will try and slow versatile La Salle quarterback MJ Horton, who has 502 passing yards while rushing for 320 yards, second in the GCL South.  Horton has accounted for nine TDs.

Elder will attempt to get back on track offensively.  The Panthers have scored just one TD in the last six quarters after holding a 28-14 halftime lead over St. Edward two weeks ago.  Elder was outscored 22-2 in the final two quarters of that game, and did not manage another offensive TD until the fourth quarter last Saturday at St. Ignatius.  Senior quarterback Michael Bittner is the Panthers’ offensive leader, having completed 85-of-147 passes for 996 yards, tops in the league, with eight scores and just three interceptions.  He also ranks third in rushing yards, with 246 and five scores.

Like Elder, St. Xavier is vying to get its offense untracked after the last two weeks – when it scored just two offensive touchdowns, including a 22-yard pass from senior quarterback Wyatt Hudepohl to senior receiver Jared Kreimer with one second left that enabled the Bombers to convert the ensuing two-point conversion and send the game against Indianapolis Cathedral into overtime before losing, 20-14.  Last week, St. Xavier did not score an offensive TD against Moeller until there was 1:51 remaining, the score coming on a 27-yard strike from Hudepohl to Marshall Lang. 

Both games are important as the four GCL South schools attempt to build their resumes for postseason play.    Moeller and Elder hold down the third and fourth positions, respectively, in this week’s Division I, Region 4  Harbin computer ratings that are used to qualify teams for the state playoffs.  The top eight teams in each region advance to postseason play.  St. Xavier is tied with Lakota West at No. 12 entering the second half of the regular season.  La Salle is in a good playoff standing through five weeks of the regular season, as the Lancers are No. 2 behind Kings in the Division II, Region 8 rankings.