GCL South Teams To Kick Off State Football Playoffs


Posted on 11/8/2019 at 2:46 p.m.

St. Xavier, Elder & La Salle Host First-Round Games Tonight

Three Greater Catholic League South Division football teams have earned the right to host first-round games when the Ohio High School Athletic Association State Football Tournament kicks off tonight in four divisions around the state.  St. Xavier, the No. 1 seed in Division I, Region 4 and No. 4 seed Elder, along with GCL South champion La Salle, the No. 1 seed in DII, Region 8, each begin their postseason journeys on their respective campuses tonight in the regional quarterfinals.

St., Xavier (8-2), which vaulted into the top spot in its region after posting close road victories the last two weeks against Cleveland St. Ignatius, 13-10, and Louisville St. Xavier, 35-30, faces No. 8 seed Mason (5-5), which earned the region’s final spot with a 35-19 victory against playoff qualifier Princeton last Friday.  Kickoff is 7 p.m. at St. Xavier Stadium.  The Bombers are led by the aerial combination of senior quarterback Matthew Rueve and junior receiver Liam Clifford, who were both named first team All-GCL South by league coaches earlier this week.  Rueve has completed 234-of-355 passes for a league-leading 2,687 yards, 25 touchdowns and only four interceptions.  Clifford is his favorite target, with 73 receptions for 1,093 yards and 12 TDs – best in the league in all three categories.

Elder (8-2), with the league’s most-potent offense averaging 38.4 points a game led by GCL South Co-Player of the Year in senior quarterback Matthew Luebbe (134 rushes, 1,099 yards, 11 TDs to lead the league and a156-of-241 passing for 2,064 yards, 18 TDs and six interceptions), meets No. 5 Lakota West (7-3) at 7 p.m. at The Pit in Price Hill.  Elder, which saw a furious comeback fall just short a week ago in a 27-25 loss at La Salle in a game that determined the league champ, has won six of its last seven games.  The Panthers’ only previous loss was to defending DI state champ Lakewood St. Edward.  West first-year coach Tom Bolden, who took over the Firebirds’ program before this season after a decade-plus of success at Colerain, is no stranger to facing GCL South teams.  Last season, Bolden’s Cardinals got past St. Xavier in the first round and later defeated Elder in the regional final.

La Salle (8-2), like St. Xavier, vaulted to the region’s top seed after a victory the final game of the regular season and, as a result, welcomes No. 8 Little Miami (8-2) to Lancer Stadium at 7 tonight.  Pat McLaughlin, named GCL Coach of the Year, and versatile Cam Porter – GCL South Co-Player of the Year – are hoping a difficult schedule has the Lancers prepared for a deep postseason run.  The Lancers’ lone losses this season are to undefeated Covington Catholic and talented Winton Woods.  The Lancers are in the postseason for the fifth time in six years, posting a 17-1 record from 2014 through 2017, with three straight state titles in 2014, 2015 and 2016 and a regional final appearance in 2017.

Quarterfinal winners advance to the regional semifinals next Friday at neutral sites to be announced by the OHSAA.  The three GCL South representatives have seven state titles between them, with Elder winning back-to-back DI state crowns in 2002 and 2003, and St. Xavier going 15-0 and winning state titles in 2005 and 2007, and then becoming the first team in OHSAA playoff history to finish the regular season 5-5 and go on to win the state championship, in 2016.