GCL South FB Teams Go 3-0 In DI Opening Round


Posted on 10/11/2020 at 10:59 a.m.

St. Xavier, Elder, Moeller All Post Wins In DI Football Playoffs Friday
It was a perfect 3-0 night for the Greater Catholic League South Division football teams as the Ohio High School Athletic Association Football Tournament kicked off with opening-round games in Division I around the state Friday night.
St. Xavier (5-2), voted the No. 2 seed in Region 4 by area coaches, rolled to 42-6 halftime lead en route to a 49-13 victory against Walnut Hills at Ballaban Field at St. Xavier Stadium – the Bombers’ fifth win in the last six games.  The win moves St. Xavier to a perfect 5-0 against teams from Ohio, with its lone defeats coming to two of the top teams in Indiana, Indianapolis Cathedral and Brownsburg.
It wasn’t nearly as easy for No. 7 seed Elder (4-3), which rallied from an 11-point deficit in the fourth quarter behind a huge night from junior Drew Ramsey to pull out a 42-39 win against Fairfield at The Pit in Price Hill.  Elder advances to face No. 2 Princeton (6-1) at Viking Stadium at 7 Friday night.  The Vikings defeated fellow Greater Miami Conference member Oak Hills, 55-0, at home Friday night.  Princeton beat Fairfield, 40-23, in the last week of the regular season eight days earlier.
Finally, it was a big performance from the passing combination of Moeller quarterback Noah Geselbracht and receiver Tennel Bryant, who connected on 13 passes for 197 yards that included a 60-yard TD hookup with just over a minute remaining in the first half to help lead the No. 11 seed Crusaders to a convincing 43-27 win against Hamilton at Virgil Schwarm Stadium on the Big Blue campus.  The postseason win was the first for Moeller (2-5) since the Crusaders advanced to the state semifinals in 2014, losing to Huber Heights Wayne,  Moeller won back-to-back DI state crowns in 2012 and 2013.
The Moeller win earns the Crusaders another shot at St. Xavier in the Region 4 quarterfinals at 7 p.m. Friday at St. Xavier.  The Bombers defeated Moeller, 43-14, on September 25 after Moeller trailed just 21-14 at halftime.  St. Xavier’s defense came up big in the game, intercepting three passes in the first half and the Bombers were near-perfect in the final two quarters, scoring 22 unanswered points to pull away.
The other two Region 4 quarterfinal games involved a pair of GMC matchups.  No. 4 seed Mason will host No. 6 Colerain, while No. 1 seed Lakota West hosts district rival Lakota East in the other game.  West advanced with a 44-0 win against West Clermont on Friday, recording the Firebirds’ fourth shutout in six games.  West has allowed just 20 points in six games.  East and West did not play during the regular season because of the abbreviated conference schedule.
La Salle (4-2), the fourth GCL South team, is the No. 2 seed DII, Region 8, earned a first-round bye this week and will face Little Miami in the second round at 7 p.m. Friday at Lancer Stadium.  Little Miami advanced with a 49-40 win against Loveland in a first-round matchup of Eastern Cincinnati Conference teams.  The Lancers are the defending DII state champs and have won four of the last six state titles, posting a 22-1 record in the state playoffs since winning the first of three straight state crowns in 2014.
Here is a quick look at the three Friday games:
St. Xavier – The Bombers continued their recent offensive surge against Walnut Hills, scoring six TDs in the first half after putting up eye-popping numbers six days earlier in a 62-37 win against Cleveland St. Ignatius.  Junior Ryan Nolan got the start at QB and was nearly perfect, completing 12-of-13 passes for 143 yards and three TDs as the Bombers were strong on both sides of the ball.
Defensively, St. Xavier held Walnut Hills to just nine first downs and forced two turnovers, one a 41-yard interception return for a score by senior defensive back Gabriel Dubois, who picked off two passes. Senior linebacker Matthew Devine had eight total tackles to lead St. Xavier.   
Elder – It’s no secret that many questioned how Elder received its seed, and the Panthers wasted little time to send a message – scoring on the first two drives to take a quick 14-0 advantage.  But Fairfield battled back, aided by Elder’s defense and two Panther turnovers, to take a 39-28 lead in the fourth quarter.  That’s before quarterback Ben Hambelton hit Andrew Harp on an 11-yard TD pass to make it 39-34, and then Ramsey scampered 13 yards for a score with just 1:37 left and also scored on a two-point conversion run.
Ramsey finished the night with 17 rushes for 188 yards and four scores, caught six passes for 120 yards, and even completed his only pass attempt for 19 yards.  Hambelton completed 9-of-14 passes for 146 yards, two TDs and one interception.  He has now thrown 18 TD passes and just three interceptions in seven games.

Moeller – The Crusaders, without question, are playing their best football of the season – evidenced by their performance the last two games.  Before knocking off Hamilton on the road, Moeller held a 25-24 lead at La Salle one week earlier after rallying from a double-digit deficit in the final quarter before the Lancers converted a game-winning field goal in the final seconds.  The insertion of Geselbraccht three weeks ago has sparked the Moeller offense, which has scored 68 point the last two games.
Geselbracht, who completed 21-of-24 passes for 302 yards and a pair of scores against Hamilton, has connected on 35-of-47 throws for 476 yards and three TDs without an interception in the last two games.  Besides Bryant, junior tight end Josh Kattus has been solid – catching a TD pass for the fourth consecutive game.