St. Xavier Vying To Win GCL South FB Title Outright


Posted on 9/25/2020 at 1:22 p.m.

Elder, La Salle Step Out Of League Play As State Playoffs Inch Closer
St. Xavier, which posted 14-point wins in its first two Greater Catholic League South Division games against La Salle and Elder, respectively, looks to close to finish with an unblemished league record when it host Moeller at 7 p.m. tonight at Ballaban Field at St. Xavier Stadium on the school’s North Bend Road campus.  A victory will earn the Bombers their first league title since they went 3-0 to finish atop the prestigious GCL South in 2017.
You might find little argument that St. Xavier (2-2, 2-0 GCL South) is the best .500 team in Ohio if not the region after four weeks.  The Bombers’ only two losses are to Cathedral seven days ago and Brownsburg, Ind., which is unbeaten and ranked No. 3 in its state by MaxPreps.  The Bombers fell to Brownsburg, 30-24, in overtime back in week one after holding leads of 10-0, 17-3 and 24-10, in a game that was televised nationally as part of the ESPN High School Football Kickoff.
The Bombers will start junior Ryan Nolan at quarterback tonight.  Nolan made his season debut last week, replacing injured starter Brogan McCaughey, and performed admirably against a strong Cathedral team – completing 111-of-19 passes for 157 yards, one TD while tossing two interceptions  Senior Liam Clifford, a Penn State University recruit, gives the Bombers a big-play threat.  Clifford hauled in eight passes for 119 yards and two scores last week.
Moeller (1-3, 0-2) is looking for its first league win after jumping out to a 13-0 lead against Elder at The Pit last Friday before the Panthers stormed back to score 21 unanswered points.  Moeller inserted junior Noah Geselbracht at quarterback last week against Elder, and the junior connected on 13-of-22 passes for 198 yards and two scores.  Senior TJ Rotello moved to back and had a huge night, rushing 16 times for 106 yards and catching three passes for 108 yards, including a 71-yard TD reception.
Elder and La Salle, the other two GCL South teams, will attempt to fine tune their games for the upcoming state playoffs when they step out of league play tonight.  Elder (2-2), led by junior quarterback Ben Hambelton plays its first road game after four straight home game when it travels to Walnut Hills (1-0) at 7, which played its first game of the season last week and defeated Withrow, 24-6.   The Panthers’ lone defeats this season are to La Salle, 53-52, in double overtime and St. Xavier, 31-17.
Hambelton leads the league in passing yards, having completed 70-of-91 passes for1,126 yards, 14 touchdowns and no interceptions.  His favorite targets have been senior Scott Nieman, who leads the league in receiving yards with 418 on 16 catches, a 26.1-yard average per reception, and five TDs.  Junior Drew Ramsey is second in that category, with 396 yards on 33 catches and six TDs.
La Salle (3-1), which has won two straight after suffering its lone defeat of the abbreviated six-game regular season to St. Xavier, 24-10, faces a difficult challenge on the road when it travels to the Hoosier state to face perennial Indian state power and top-ranked Indianapolis Cathedral (5-0) at 7 p.m. at Arlington Community High School.  La Salle is coming off road wins at Lakota East, 35-13, and Louisville DuPont Manual, 17-7, while Cathedral held on to beat St. Xavier, 25-22, in Indianapolis last Friday.
Cathedral is ranked No. 1 in Indiana this week by MaxPreps.
Lancers’ senior quarterback Zach Branam continues to be a dual threat, leading the GCL South in rushing with 65 attempts for 400 yards and five TDs, while also competing 43-of-70 passes for 567 yards, four TDs and one interception.  Junior back Gi’Bran Payne has amassed nearly 400 all-purpose yards and scored seven times for the Lancers – who have tightened up the defense the last two weeks as well in pursuit of defending their Division II state title and winning the fifth state crown in the last seven years.