GCL South State Football Playoff Roundup

10/18/2020

Posted on 10/18/2020 at 3:17 p.m.

St. Xavier, Elder To Meet In Semifinals; La Salle Wins Opening Game
 
Greater Catholic League South Division members St. Xavier and Elder both posted victories Friday night in the second round of the Ohio High School Athletic Association Football State Tournament, setting up a rematch between the league rivals next week in the Division I, Region 4 semifinals with the winner moving one step closer to representing Southwest Ohio in the DI Final Four.
 
La Salle is the third GCL South team to advance with a win Friday night, opening its defense of the Division II state championship with a convincing win to move into the Region 8 semifinals and a matchup with Dayton Stebbins.  The Lancers now own a six-game postseason winning streak and are 23-1 in the state playoffs in their last five appearances – winning four of the last six DII state titles.
 
St. Xavier (6-2), without question, has been the hottest DI team in the region the last few weeks. The Bombers, who have won six of their last seven games and are a perfect 6-0 against Ohio opponents this season, have now scored 63, 49 and 45, respectively, the last three games.  The latest Bomber outburst came against a rejuvenated Moeller team that was coming off a 43-27 road victory against Hamilton in the opener one week earlier.
 
In he first meeting between the GCL South rivals, St. Xavier took a 21-14 lead into halftime before scoring 22 unanswered points in the final two quarters to post a 43-14 win at home on September 25.  This time, though, the Bombers wasted no time in building a 28-7 lead after one quarter and extending the advantage to 42-7 at intermission and recording a 45-14 win against the Moeller at Ballaban Field at St. Xavier Stadium.  The Bombers combined a diverse offense, led by junior quarterback Brogan McCaughey – who completed 19-of-25 passes for 272 yards and four TDs – with a strong defense that limited Moeller to just six first downs.
 
It wasn’t as easy for Elder (5-3), which left The Pit in Price Hill and traveled to Viking Stadium to meet No. 2 seed Princeton – which entered the game with one of the area’s most explosive offenses along with the Panthers.  The game was tight throughout, but Elder scored consecutive TDs in the third quarter and managed to hold on for a  for a 26-21 win to keep its postseason hopes alive.
 
The Panthers advanced to the DI state title game last season before falling to Pickerington Central, 21-14.  To get there again, Elder will have to find a way to slow St. Xavier – which won the regular-season meeting, 38-24, on September 11 at Elder.  The Panthers, however, held leads of 10-0 after one quarter, 17-10 in the second quarter, and finally 24-17 entering the fourth quarter before St. Xavier scored the game’s final three TDs to pull away late.
 
Against Princeton (6-2), it was the Elder defense that rose to the occasion – limiting the Vikings to just one score in the second half and pitching a shutout in the final 12 minutes to negate a possible game-winning TD.  Senior running back Cooper Johnson came up big for Elder, carrying 17 times for 143 yards while senior receiver Scott Nieman hauled in five receptions for 127 yards.   Junior Drew Ramsey rushed 21 times for 93 yards and a score, while also catching four passes for 33 yards and a TD.
 
Greater Miami Conference members Lakota West, the region’s No. 1 seed, and No. 5 seed Colerain, were winners in the other two quarterfinal games and, as a result, will meet for the second time this season in the other regional semifinal matchup Friday.  West, with former Colerain coach Tom Bolden in his second season as the Firebirds’ head coach, opened its season with a 10-0 win at Colerain late August.
 
West (7-0) advanced with a 31-14 win against district rival Lakota East on Friday, ending East’s four-game winning streak.  Meanwhile,  No. 5 seed Colerain (6-2) extended its winning streak to five games with a 28-7 win at No. 4 seed Mason to advance.  Kickoff is 7 p.m. Friday at West, with the winner advancing to meet either Elder or St. Xavier in the regional final on Friday, October 30.
 
After earning a bye in the opening round, La Salle returned to action by erupting for four first-half TDs, two on long runs by senior quarterback Zach Branam to build a 28-0 lead on its way to a 42-14 home win against Little Miami.  Branam, who played only the first two quarters, finishing with nine carries for 190 yards and two scores – coming on runs of 54 and 67 yards, respectively.  Lancers’ senior Jack Rutz carried 14 times for a career-high 129 yards and a TD as La Salle rolled up 28 first downs and nearly 600 yards total offense, including more than 450 on the ground.
 
La Salle (6-2), which has won two straight and four o its last five games, advances to the regional quarterfinals against Stebbins (5-2), which moved on with a 24-23 win against Sidney in the second round.  Kickoff is 7 p.m. Friday at Lancer Stadium.
 
Region 8 is loaded with talented teams entering this week’s quarterfinals.  In the other lower-bracket semifinal, No. 3 seed Piqua will host No. 6 Anderson with the winner advancing to meet either La Salle or Stebbins on October 30.  In the upper bracket, No. 1 seed and unbeaten Winton Woods (7-0) will host No. 8 Edgewood (5-3), which advanced via forfeit, and No. 5 seed Turpin (5-1) will travel to No. 4 seed Kings (6-0) in a matchup of Eastern Cincinnati Conference rivals.