By Tom Gamble, GCL South Commissioner
It was a perfect afternoon for high school football in Northeast Ohio, but the weather proved to be about the only enjoyable aspect of Saturday for Greater Catholic League South Division members St. Xavier and Moeller, which made the three-plus hour trek upstate to suffer losses about one hour apart to Cleveland St. Ignatius and Lakewood St. Edward, respectively, in a SW Ohio vs. NE Ohio showcase.
St. Xavier (8-1), the defending Division I state champion and No. 1-ranked team in Greater Cincinnati and Ohio entering the game, had its 14-game winning streak snapped in a 28-14 loss to No. 6 St. Ignatius at Byers Field in Parma. The Bombers, who knocked off St. Ignatius, 27-20, in double overtime in last year’s DI state title game, could never get untracked offensively against the Wildcats – falling behind 14-0 minutes into the second quarter and 28-6 by the end of the third. St. Xavier managed 235 total yard and rushed 24 times for just 32 yards, an average of 1.3 yards per carry.
Senior quarterback Chase Wolf, who entered the game completing nearly 70 percent of his passes for almost 1,500 yards while tossing 18 touchdowns passes with only one interception in the first eight games, completed 19-of-43 against St. Ignatius for 203 yards, one TD and an interception. Senior running back Jahadge Floyd had the big day offensively for St. Ignatius (8-1), carrying 36 times for 215 yards, including a 75-yard scoring run in the first quarter. St. Xavier’s defense had not allowed more than 17 points in any game this season (20-17 overtime win at Colerain in week two) and was giving up less than 10 points a game.
Moeller (4-5), vying to lock up a DI state postseason berth and fresh off a 41-20 win over St. Ignatius last Friday in Greater Columbus, also had difficulty getting going offensively in a 31-7 loss to No. x St. Edward (9-0) at Lakewood High School. Both games were televised live by Spectrum Sports, the official broadcast partner of the GCL South. The Crusaders were held without a point for almost 46 minutes, trailing 14-0 at halftime and then 31-0 after three quarters to a St. Edward team that has yet to lose this season. St. Edward meets St. Ignatius in the regular-season finale later this week.
Like St. Xavier, Moeller could not get its running game unleased – carrying 21 times for only 36 yards, a 1.7-yard average. The Crusaders finished with only eight first downs, 141 total yards while converting just 3-of-12 opportunities on third down. Quarterbacks Mitch McKenzie and Austin Bradfish combined to connect on 10-of-25 passes for 105 yards and one TD, a 32-yarder from McKenzie to Eric Wills with 2:33 left in the game. Moeller, which was third in last week’s Division I, Region 4 Harbin computer ratings, likely needs a win at Winton Woods Friday to safely secure a state playoff berth and possibly host a first-round game.
St. Xavier travels to Louisville St. Xavier in its final regular-season game. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. this Friday. The Bombers, who have held the top spot in Region 4, having already unofficially clinched the top seed and corresponding right to host a first-round game, are looking to start another winning streak. A year ago, St. Xavier won over Louisville St. Xavier at home, 28-3, to guarantee a playoff berth and then went on to win five playoff games to earn the school’s third state football title.
GCL South colleagues Elder and La Salle wrap up the regular season by facing each other at 7 p.m. Friday at La Salle’s Lancer Stadium. Elder (6-3, 1-1 GCL South) has won two straight and was fifth in last week’s Region 4 ratings. La Salle (7-2, 1-1), the three-time defending Division II state champion and winner of two in a row, was No. 1 in Region 8 last week, followed by Anderson (which lost to Milford Friday) and Winton Woods (8-1). La Salle defeated Elder, 24-10, last year at The Pit to win the GCL South title outright. St. Xavier already has clinched this year’s league championship.
In the latest ratings at JoeEitel.com, a website that predicts the Harbin computer ratings each week, all four GCL South teams are in the playoffs if they started today. These projections Include the results from this past weekend, St. Xavier is No. 1 in Division I, Region 4, while Elder is sixth and Moeller is seventh. The top eight in each region qualify for the Ohio High School Athletic Association state playoffs that begin with first-round games on Friday, November 3. La Salle is still in the top spot in Region 8. The top four finishers in each region host first-round games. According to Joe Eitel, Elder and Moeller control their own destiny. La Salle, too, has clinched a home game.
This week’s official Harbin computer ratings will be released at noon Tuesday.