Elder-La Salle Kick Off Showdown Tonight


Posted on 8/28/2020 at 10:42 a.m.

Moeller, St. Xavier Hit Road To Begin 2020 Football Seasons
An historic week one matchup between Greater Catholic League South Division football powers Elder and La Salle kicks off the schedule in the 2020 Skyline Chili Crosstown Showdown presented by Mercy Health Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine and Meijer on at 7 tonight at The Pit on Elder High School’s campus in Price Hill, while GCL South colleagues Moeller and St. Xavier hit the road to open their varsity football seasons with games on Friday and Saturday, respectively.

Moeller opens the coach Mark Elder era when the Crusaders travel to face Bishop Harley at 7 this evening in Columbus., while St. Xavier will wait an extra day before trekking to Indianapolis to play Brownsburg at 6 p.m. Saturday in the Bombers’ season opener.  The game is being televised nationally on ESPN2.

Just two years removed from winning the GCL South championship outright, Moeller kicks off 2020 against a perennially tough Hartley team, which won Division III state titles in 2015 and 2016, and finished 12-2 a year ago advancing to the state semifinals.  Elder took over as the Crusaders’ head coach after compiling a 21-24 the last four seasons at Eastern Kentucky University, winning seven games each of the last two seasons.  The Crusaders finished 2-8 last season and were 0-3 in the GCL South.

St. Xavier, which went 9-3 a year ago and , meets Brownsburg in its season opener for the second straight year.  Last August, the Bombers scored 22 unanswered points in the second half to pull away after trailing, 17-16, at halftime.  St. Xavier defeated Mason in the opening round of the state playoffs before falling to Elder, 28-24, in the Region 4 semifinals.  The Bombers again are expected to challenge for the GCL South title.

The Elder-La Salle game is the first between GCL football teams in the storied history of the league also matches two of the state’s elite teams from a year ago and two programs that compete annually for the top spots in their respective divisions in Greater Cincinnati.  Elder finished 12-3 last season and advanced to the Division I state final, where the Panthers fell to Pickerington Central, 21-14.  La Salle also went 13-2 last season and defeated Massillon Washington, 34-17, in the DII state title game to win its fourth championship in six years.
The two schools normally meet in week 10, the final week of the regular season, but the game was moved up this year after the Ohio High School Athletic Association announced the regular season would go from 10 weeks to six this fall because of the COVID-19 global pandemic, eliminating the Harbin computer rating system for one year and allowing all schools that choose to compete this fall the opportunity to advanced to the state playoffs, which are scheduled to begin October 9.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signed an Ohio Department of Health Sports Order last week giving the go-ahead for fall contact sports to proceed with contests between schools under certain provisions – which include attendance restrictions and other protocol guidelines.
Elder and La Salle have enjoyed great success in the Showdown through the years.  The Panthers, who are the only team to have played in the event since its inception in 1998, own an impressive 18-4 record against some of the most difficult competition.  Elder defeated Moeller, 42-6, in last year’s Showdown.  La Salle also has been a tough team to beat in the Showdown, posting a solid 15-6 record in its 21 appearances.  The Lancers lost to Winton Woods, 26-21, last year.
Elder coach Doug Ramsey will be attempting to replace a very talented class of seniors that included versatile quarterback Matthew Luebbe – who threw for more than 3,000 yards and rushed for more than 1,700.  Gone, too, is tight end Joe Royer – and Ohio State University signee – who had 1,258 receiving yards and 15 TDs last season.  But Ramsey’s teams always seem to reload on offense, and he has talent returning led by his son, Drew, who was fourth in the GCL South a year ago in receiving yards, with 445, with five touchdowns while also rushing for an additional 319.  Senior David Larkin, an Appalachian State commit, will step in at tight end.  Defensively, the Panthers have some holes to fill up front with first-team All-GCL South performers Colton Sandhaus, 135 total tackles, and Connor Keyes, 101, both having graduated.
La Salle returns plenty of talent on both sides of the ball from last season, including a defensive secondary that most coaches would wish they could have on their roster over the duration of their careers.  Instead, Lancers coach Pat McLaughlin backfield comprises four seniors who already have committed to Division I college programs in Devonta Smith (Alabama), Jaylen Johnson (Ohio State), Isea Jarmon (Cincinnati) and Jaymar Hargrove-Mundy (Miami, Ohio).
La Salle’s defense pitched three shutouts last season and allowed just 15 points to win the Region 8 championship.The Lancers’ closest game in the state playoffs came in the state semifinals, a 35-21 win against Toledo Central Catholic.  
La Salle has plenty of firepower back on offense too.  While Cam Porter, named DII first team All-Ohio in 2019, is off to Northwestern.  But Porter will be replaced by junior Gi’Bran Payne, who many believe is the best running back in the area’s 2022 class.  As a sophomore, Payne ran for 905 yards and 18 TDs, including 10 in the postseason.  Back to direct the offense is senior quarterback Zach Branam, a third team All-Ohio selection last season after finishing third in the GCL South in passing yards, with 1,676, and second in rushing, with 1,394 that included three consecutive games with 100-plus yards in the postseason.  Branam accounted for 35 total TDs last season for an offense that averaged nearly 33 points a game.
La Salle is vying to defend its state title and win at the DII level for the fifth time in the last seven years, including three straight from 2014 to 2016.  La Salle won last year’s meeting, 27-25, in Monfort Heights.  The Lancers built a 27-12 lead before holding off a furious charge by Elder to win the GCL South championship outright.
The Showdown, which kicked off in 1998, is designed to annually showcase the quality of high school football in Greater Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky and Southeast Indiana.  While this year’s Showdown will be modified on site at games to comply with the Ohio Department of Health Sports Order, the event will feature a marquee matchup in the region every Friday night – with the weekly games being announced on Monday of game week via the Showdown’s digital platforms.    
For Showdown updates, fans can follow @xtownshowdown.