Specht: ‘The ball just didn’t bounce our way last year’

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Cincinnati St. Xavier Bombers

Between 2005-07, St. Xavier posted a
40-2 record with a pair of 15-0 state championship seasons. But the Bombers took
a step back in 2008, losing several tight games and posting a losing record.

The Bombers are looking to rebound this season with 12 total starters returning.


Cincinnati St. Xavier (4-6) 

* Players to Watch – QB Luke Massa (6-6, 205, Sr.),
OL Matt James (6-7, 290, Sr.), OL Eric Gantzer (6-3, 250, Sr.), CB Nick
Weston (6-1, 185, Sr.), CB Will Carroll (6-1½, 175, Sr.), LB Steven Daniels
(6-0, 235, Jr.). 

* Outlook – Between 2005-07, St. Xavier posted a
40-2 record with a pair of 15-0 state championship seasons. But the Bombers took
a step back in 2008, losing several tight games and posting a losing record. 

“You never settle for anything but the best,” said St. X
coach Steve Specht, who is back for his fifth year with the Bombers. “But we
felt the schedule we had was brutal. We played a number of teams ranked in the
top 20 in the country. We didn’t stay healthy. We lost three games by a total of
seven points. I don’t look at last year as a failure. We had a group of young
kids who worked hard. The ball just didn’t bounce our way last year. 

“Our game with Moeller went down to the wire and we lost in
the fourth quarter. We had St. Ignatius beat and our kicker hits the upright.” 

Specht welcomes back seven starters on offense and five on
defense. 

“Our offensive line should be the strength of our team,”
Specht said. “We bring back our quarterback and we feel he is a major college
prospect. We have a nice stable of running backs. We have to find some
receivers.” 

Massa, a Cincinnati recruit, split time at quarterback last year. He threw for 752
yards and three touchdowns a year ago. 

“He is the smartest quarterback I have coached,” Specht
said. “He makes unbelievable decisions. He is very even keeled and poised in the
pocket. He doesn’t panic. He is a leader and he has that it factor. He’s not
going to throw a football through a wall, but his arm strength is developing.” 

James is considered one of the nation’s top offensive line
prospects with offers from a number of top schools, including Cincinnati, Notre
Dame and Ohio State. 

“We have leaned Matt out a little bit and he looks good,”
Specht said. “Other than the fact he’s got size and athleticism, if you come to
our practices you’ll see a kid who works as hard in practice as he does in a
game. He makes everyone around him better, especially on the offensive line. 

“He practices like he’s playing in a state championship
game every week. He is clearly one of the best offensive line in Ohio, if not
the country. He doesn’t accept where he is.” 

St. X opens with Cincinnati Colerain in the Crosstown
Showdown. 

“Colerain will clearly be one of the best teams in the
state,” Specht said. “To open up against them, it’s going to be great.” 

Four state championship teams – Indianapolis Cathedral,
Louisville Trinity, Fort Thomas (Ky.) Highlands and Cleveland St. Ignatius – dot
the schedule. Plus, the usual Greater Catholic League challenges of Cincinnati
Elder and Cincinnati Moeller loom large. 

“There is no break in our schedule,” Specht said. “Our kids
know they will be challenged week in and week out with this kind of schedule.” 

Schedule 

Aug. 28, vs. Cincinnati Colerain (Skyline Chili Crosstown
Showdown at UC’s Nippert Stadium), 8:30 p.m. 

Sept. 4, at Indianapolis Cathedral 

Sept. 11, at Louisville (Ky.) St. Xavier 

Sept. 18, Louisville Trinity 

Sept. 25, at Fort Thomas (Ky.) Highlands 

Oct. 2, Cincinnati Elder 

Oct. 9, Cincinnati LaSalle 

Oct. 17, Lakewood St. Edward, 2 p.m. 

Oct. 24, at Cleveland St. Ignatius, 2 p.m. 

Oct. 30, at Cincinnati Moeller

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