State Spotlight: St. Xavier invades Elder for GCL South opener

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Cincinnati Elder hosts Cincinnati St. Xavier in the GCL South opener on Friday

The speculation and hype has been rampant all week around the Cincinnati area. Cincinnati St. Xavier opens its Greater Catholic League South division schedule with a trip to rival Elder at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the “The Pit.” The game is sold out, according to school officials. Besides the Colerain-St. X season opener in late August, Friday’s game is arguably the best matchup between two Cincinnati teams on the schedule to date.


The speculation and hype has been rampant all week around the Cincinnati area.

Cincinnati St. Xavier opens its Greater Catholic League South division schedule with a trip to rival Elder at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the “The Pit.”

The game is sold out, according to school officials.

Besides the Colerain-St. X season opener in late August, Friday’s game is arguably the best matchup between two Cincinnati teams on the schedule to date.

“Number one, it’s great to play GCL football,” Specht told the school Web site. “I don’t care if you play it at a parking lot behind a sporting goods store or a Kroger. It’s a lot of fun and we are excited for the opportunity.”

Adding even more intrigue is the fact St. X is coming off a 17-6 loss to Louisville Trinity last week. In that game, St. X junior QB Luke Massa broke his collarbone and is out four to six weeks.

Despite the Bombers’ second loss of the season, St. X (3-2) has a five-game win streak against Elder (4-1, 1-0 GCL-South) heading into Friday. Elder last defeated St. X 28-7 during the 2003 season, although the Panthers hold a 46-35-6 record in the all-time series.

“St. X is still St. X,” Elder coach Doug Ramsey said. “They are awesome on defense. They have played a brutal schedule and they have not given up very many points.”

Yet St. X coach Steve Specht said this week his team is the underdog. The Bombers, ranked No. 9 in the Ohio High-ONN High School Power Poll, aren’t accustomed to losing twice in a season.

The Bombers, the reigning Division I state champions, are 12-0 in the GCL-South since Specht took over as head coach in 2004.

Still, injuries have been a concern for the Bombers this season. A number of offensive starters have been out at some point in the season including junior OL Matt James, senior WR Ian Cummins and Massa.

Among the candidates for the quarterback position are seniors Joe O’Toole and Sam Male and sophomore Nick Albers.

Specht said he was disappointed to learn about Massa’s injury, but is looking forward to giving an opportunity to one of the backup quarterbacks. The starter will be a game-time decision.

Elder, which is fourth in the Ohio High-ONN poll, will likely prepare the same defensively no matter who is named the St. X starter.

“Their offense has been killed by injuries but they still have the ability to move the ball and put points on the board,” Ramsey said.

Elder, which has started the season 4-1 for the first time since 2004, has won three consecutive games. The Panthers defeated visiting Lakewood St. Edward 52-31 last week.

In that game, several records were set for the Panthers as head coach Doug Ramsey won his 100th game at Elder.

Elder junior QB Mark Miller set a single-game school record with 449 yards and tied the school mark with six touchdown passes.

“Mark is getting better each week,” Ramsey said. “He has a better understanding of where to throw the ball every time he goes on the field.”

Senior WR Josh Jones, a University of Cincinnati recruit, had eight receptions for 240 yards and tied the school mark with four touchdown receptions.

“He’s a tremendous player,” Specht said.

While Elder has a high-powered offense, the Bombers have a formidable defense. St. X allows just 11 points per game. The Bombers’ defense allows just 101 yards rushing and 89 yards passing per game.

Junior DL Nigel Muhammad has five sacks, while senior DL Pat Muldoon has 2.5 sacks and two fumble recoveries. Senior LB Luke Kuechly has a sack and an interception.

“We are going to have to play fundamentally sound football,” Specht said.

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