By Tom Gamble, GCL South Commissioner
La Salle High School graduates Jeremy Larkin and Jordan Thompson came up big Friday afternoon in Nashville, helping lead Northwestern to a 24-23 victory over Kentucky in the Music City Bowl – helping the Wildcats end the season on an eight game winning streak and, in the process, complete a 10-win season for just the fifth time in its history while also winning consecutive bowl games for the first time. Moeller graduate Sam Hubbard capped his Ohio State University career by helping the Buckeyes to a Cotton Bowl victory Saturday night, and then declared his eligibility for the 2018 NFL Draft the following morning.
Both players contributed to the victory. Larking, a redshirt first-year and former two-time Greater Catholic League Co-Player of the Year (in 2015 and 2016 with Elder’s Payton Ramsey, now at Indiana University), carried nine times for a career-high 112 yards, including a 64-yard run in the fourth quarter, and also completed a 24-yard pass to Wildcats’ quarterback Clayton Thorson. Both plays helped set up touchdowns for Northwestern. The game also was Larkin’s first 100-plus yard rushing performance, and his 64-yard scamper was the team’s longest run of the season.
At La Salle, Larkin put up eye-popping record numbers – helping La Salle win three straight Division II state championships during his sophomore through senior seasons. He gained 666 yards and scored eight rushing touchdowns as a sophomore, before setting school single-season marks for rushing (2,584 yards) and rushing TDs (38) as a junior. He ran for 1,829 yards and 28 TDs on the ground as a senior, when he averaged 10.1 yards per rushing attempt. He finished his varsity career at La Salle with more than 5,100 yards rushing. Larkin should be in line to get a majority of the carries next season with the graduation of standout Justin Jackson, named the Music City Bowl MVP.
Thompson, a junior defensive tackle, made career start No. 24 at Northwestern in the bowl game. He has been a solid performer on the defensive line during his career, and Thompson helped the Wildcats’ defense limit UK to just 65 yards rushing, after UK was forced to play much of the game without its leading rusher Benny Snell (who was ejected). He also helped Northwestern put continuous pressure on speedy UK QB Stephen Johnson. At La Salle, Thompson was named firs team All-GCL South his junior and senior seasons, while being named to the second team as a sophomore.
Moeller’s Hubbard Caps Career: Former Moeller standout Sam Hubbard concluded his college career with 2.5 sacks of University of Southern California quarterback Sam Darnold in Ohio State’s 24-7 victory over the Trojans Friday night in the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. Hubbard, a 2014 Moeller graduate and former first- team All-GCL South safety for the Crusaders, announced via Twitter Saturdaymorning his intent to declare for the 2018 NFL Draft and forgo his final season of eligibility with the Buckeyes. Hubbard is projected by many pundits to be a first-round selection after three outstanding seasons that included 116 tackles, 30 tackles for loss and 17 career sacks at OSU.
Playing alongside Nick Bosa, the now 6-foot-5, 265-pound Hubbard teamed to form one of the most productive pass rush duos in college football in helping OSU to a xx-x record the last two seasons. He also was solid in the classroom, named the 30th Academic All-American in the program’s history in 2016. At Moeller, Hubbard helped lead the Crusaders to back-to-back Division I state titles in 2012 and 2013 during his junior and senior seasons. As a senior, Hubbard was named a first- team Associated Press all-state safety after recording 109 tackles and five interceptions – including 10 tackles in Moeller’s win against Mentor in the state final.