By Tom Gamble, GCL South Commissioner
The Ohio High School Athletic Association made it official Sunday afternoon. Three Greater Catholic League South Division teams have earned spots in the Division I State Football Tournament, with two – Elder and Moeller – scheduled to face each other in the first round when the state playoffs begin at 7 p.m. Friday. St. Xavier, the third GCL South team to earn a postseason berth, will get an opportunity to avenge a close loss earlier this season to No. 1 seed Colerain when the Bombers hit the road for their opening game.
The final regular season Harbin computer ratings and state playoff pairings for all divisions were released Sunday by the OHSAA. Elder (6-4) claimed the highest seed in the league, finishing third in the DI, Region 4 ratings and – as a result – will host No. 6 Moeller (6-4) at 7 Friday night at The Pit in Price Hill. Moeller rallied from a 10-point deficit in the second half to post a 24-21 win against Elder on October 5 at University of Cincinnati’s Nippert Stadium to wrap up the Crusaders’ first outright GCL South championship since 2013 – when Moeller won the second of back-to-back state championships.
St. Xavier (5-5) clinched the eighth and final regional seed with a 34-7 win last Friday against Louisville St. Xavier at home. The Bombers will now attempt to do something that no team has managed to do this season – beat Colerain, which is ranked No. 1 in the final Associated Press DI state poll. The Colerain-St. Xavier series has become one of the best in Ohio this decade, with the two teams meeting the second week of the regular season each fall, and then seemingly winding up matched against one another again in the state playoffs.
This is the fifth consecutive season where the two Cincinnati gridiron powers will meet twice, once in the regular season and once in the playoffs. Colerain has a slim 5-4 edge in the meetings dating back to the 2014 season – taking the one-game lead with its 14-12 win earlier this season. St. Xavier led Colerain, 6-0, on September 1 at halftime before inclement weather forced the game to be suspended and resumed early Saturday. Colerain scored a pair of quick TDs and took advantage of five St. Xavier turnovers to emerge with a 14-12 victory.
No other opponents came closer than 23 points in losing to the Cardinals, who have won or shared every Greater Miami Conference championship since 2000. La Salle lost to Colerain, 23-0, in the season opener that was part of the Skyline Chili Crosstown Showdown. The Cardinals outscored their other opponents by a combined 325-43 score.
No. 7 seed Lakota East (7-3) travels to No. 2 Mason (8-2) in a matchup of Greater Miami Conference teams. The two teams did not meet during the regular season because of the GMC’s schedule rotation. No. 5 Fairfield (7-3), one of four GMC schools in the postseason, travels to No. 4 Milford (8-2) – which made its first postseason appearance in 30 years last season and is now hosting a first-0round game one year later. Mentor, Reynoldsburg and Hilliard Davidson are the top seeds in Regions 1 through 3, respectively, all finishing the regular season with 9-1 records. Defending state champion Pickerington Central (8-2) is the sixth seed in Region 3 and plays at No. 3 Hilliard Bradley (9-1) at 7 Friday night.
Visit www.ohsaa.org for the complete state playoff pairings.