Elder, St. Xavier Quarterbacks Take Center Stage In Key GCL South Game

10/04/2019

Posted on 10/4/2019 at 12:13 p.m.

Luebbe, Rueve To Direct High-Powered Offenses Before Sellout Crowd At St. Xavier

The much-anticipated matchup between Elder and St. Xavier tonight figures to have serious implications on a number of levels, including a big step forward to winning the coveted Greater Catholic League South Division football championship, positioning in both the local and state Division I rankings while also solidifying a hold on one of the top spots in the Region 4 Harbin computer rankings used to qualify teams for the Ohio High School Athletic Association state playoffs.  Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at a sold-out St. Xavier Stadium.

This is the 100th meeting between the two schools.

La Salle, along with St. Xavier and Fairfield, is one of three remaining unbeaten DI teams in Cincinnati entering tonight’s week six games. The Lancers open their GCL South schedule by facing defending league champion Moeller at 7 tonight at Princeton High School.  Tonight is the first full night of games in the GCL South, which has three of its four members ranked among the top teams in this week’s Associated Press state polls – with unbeaten St. Xavier No. 2 behind Mentor in DI and Elder at No. 8.  La Salle is rated No. 2 in DII behind Massillon.

Taking center stage in the Elder-St. Xavier matchup are the team’s quarterbacks, senior Matthew Luebbe of Elder and senior Matthew Rueve of St. Xavier, along with a group of talented receivers for both schools.  Luebbe is second in the GCL South in passing yards, having thrown for 1,020 yards with 11 touchdowns and just three interceptions in five games.  He also leads the league in rushing yards, with 413, and five TDs.  Rueve, who had started just two games entering this season, has completed 108-of-163passes for a GCL South-leading 1,314 yards, 13 TDS and has yet to be intercepted.

Both quarterbacks have a wealth of talented receivers, led by St. Xavier senior Liam Clifford – who leads the GCL South in receptions, with 41, and receiving yards, with 631, and is second in receiving TDS, with six.  Clifford had a career-best 13 catches for 176 yards and two scores in a 27-24 victory last Friday over Moeller in the Bombers’ GCL South opener at UC’s Nippert Stadium.  Senior tight end Marshall Lang, a Northwestern University recruit, also is a big-time threat – with 26 catches for 286 yards and four TDS despite missing a game because of injury.  He hauled in eight passes for 111 yards and three first-half scores in a 21-14 win at Colerain in week two.

Luebbe’s favorite target is senior tight end and Ohio State University commit Joe Royer, who has 32 receptions for 550 yards and GCL South-best eight TDs.  Royer has put together an unparalleled three-game stretch in which has 24 catches for 333 yards and six TDs.  In the Panthers’ 49-7 win against Ryle last Friday, Royer had seven catches for 161 yards and four TDs – all coming in the first half.  One week earlier, Royer hauled in 11 passes for 166 yards against defending DI state champion Lakewood St. Edward.  Sophomore Drew Ramsey ranks fourth in the league in receiving yards, with 242, on 25 catches with one TD.

As a result of the potent passing attacks, Elder (4-1) and St. Xavier (5-0, 1-0 GCL South) are averaging 42.6 and 32.8 points per game, respectively.  Elder’s season high in points came in a thrilling 60-54 win against talent-rich Clearwater Academy from Florida in week three at The Pit in Price Hill.  The Panthers’ lowest output of the season came two weeks ago in their lone loss, 42-25, to St. Edward in Northeast Ohio.  St. Xavier has scored 37 or more points in three of five games.  The Bombers have been held below 30 twice, last week against Moeller (27) and in week two at Colerain (21).  Elder won last year’s meeting, 51-26, at The Pit behind 569 yards of total offense, led by quarterback Michael Bittner – who accounted for six total TDs, three passing and three rushing.

La Salle (5-0) has been nothing short of dominating so far this season.  The Lancers, who opened the season by defeating Lakota West and Mason by a combined 62-7 score, are looking to continue their dominant defensive performance against Moeller (1-4, 0-1) in their league opener.  La Salle has given up just 30 points in five games, including shutout wins against Mason, 31-0, in week two and St. Joseph’s Institute in Buffalo, N.Y., 48-0, last Friday.

The Lancers are led offensively by junior quarterback and first-year starter Zach Branam, who has been efficient and error free through five games – completing 39 of 58 passes for 552 yards, 11 TDs and no interceptions.  He has thrown two or more TDs in each of the last four games and is coming off an 11-of-12 performance last week for 189 yards and three scores.  Senior Jake Seibert, an Ohio State commit for his kicking prowess, is the Lancers’ leading receiver with 16 catches for 211 yards and three TDs.  Senior Cam Porter leads La Salle in rushing, with 301 yards on just 38 attempts and five scores.  Branam has rushed for 284 yards and four scores.

Meanwhile, Moeller is coming off its best game of the season – at one point up 24-12 in the second quarter against St. Xavier.  The Bombers rallied to score a pair of TDs in the final 3:35 of the first half to take a 27-24 lead, which turned out to be the final score as neither team put up any points in the second half.  The Crusaders, who have been shut out in three of five games, took advantage of big plays – including a 99-yard kickoff return for a TD by Carrington Valentine to start the game, and two long scoring passes from senior Drew Altemuehle, onetco Brandon White covering 66 yards and the second to Anthony Sledge that covered 70 yards.