St. Xavier Smashes La Salle, Wins GCL South Football Title

 Photo courtesy Alex Vehr, Cincinnati Enquirer

Photo courtesy Alex Vehr, Cincinnati Enquirer

By Adam Baum, abaum@enquirer.com

The 5.27 miles that separate the defending Division I and Division II state champions disappeared Friday night as La Salle made the familiar trip down North Bend Road to St. Xavier's Ballaban Field for the 59th meeting between the blue and red rivals. 

When it was over, the distance between North Bend Road's finest felt a lot further than five miles, and the "King of the Road" trophy returned to the blue terrain as the Bombers blasted the Lancers 42-7 to win their first outright Greater Catholic League South title since 2012. 

After his team reminded him that next week the record is "0-0," St. Xavier head coach Steve Specht said, "We're getting better. I've been on both ends of this. I've been on the end when you get rolling and it's like an avalanche and then I've been on the part where they get rolling and you're just trying to keep your head above water. 

"And we caught that avalanche. We caught that flow today in the first half and that's tough. It's tough on a high school kid to come back from that because La Salle's a very good football team. They're a talented team and when the Division II playoffs roll around, La Salle's gonna be a factor again." 

Unlike the last four meetings, all of which were decided by 10 points or fewer, St. Xavier (7-0) played arguably its best football of the season, scoring touchdowns on its first five possessions of the game. 

St. Xavier's offense looked as rhythmic as an orchestral symphony from the game's first note. On the opening possession, six plays and 65 yards later, senior quarterback Chase Wolf threw a tricky 19-yard touchdown pass across his body to Cameron Specht to put the Bombers up 7-0. 

Hardly two minutes later in the first quarter, Wolf's next pass hit Jared Kreimer in stride on a deep slant pattern for a 61-yard touchdown that made it 14-0. 

Before his first incompletion, Wolf was the game 9-of-9 for 144 yards and three touchdowns. 

"I thought it was gonna be a tough game; that was a great team," said Wolf, a Wisconsin commit. "We were on our game tonight." 

Wolf, describing the wizardly ways of his offensive coordinator, Bob Klotz, said, "So before the game, this is pretty funny, coach Klotz said we were gonna run that play. (Klotz said to Wolf and Kreimer) 'Chase is gonna throw one ball to you that's a line drive,' and (Kreimer) is like, 'Why?' 

"And that's why," laughed Wolf, who finished the night 16-of-21 for 194 yards and four touchdowns. 

It was 28-0 at the end of the first quarter. The Bombers blocked a punt to start the second quarter and four plays later, Wolf completed his fourth touchdown pass of the night, the second to Wittrock and it was 35-0 as spectators double-checked the scoreboard. 

Leading 42-7 at halftime, St. Xavier started the second half with a running clock and La Salle never got going. Kendall Newman and Matthew Fox did work on the ground for the Bombers and Newman found the end zone twice. 

"I believe last week we got humbled and we stepped up big time tonight," said Wolf. "It was great to see improvement from Week 6 to Week 7 so to know that we can improve like that week-to-week is a great sign. 

"My preseason goal was to win GCL and then worry about what happens next and now I'm worrying about winning the next game." 

Specht said cleaning up the penalties and mental errors was a major factor Friday night. 

"I told them all along, 'I think you guys have a chance to be really special but you've got to clean up the little things.' Because we play awfully hard. We've got talent and we play hard." 

As for the record going out the window next week when the Bombers host a Canadian club out of Ontario, Specht said, "It's part of the blueprint. They celebrate tonight and I want them to be proud of that and enjoy that but when they wake up in the morning, yesterday's gone, now we have to attack the day."