Cincinnati St. Xavier was shocked last week with a loss to Highlands (Ky.) Friday, it was the Bombers’ turn to shock.
Behind a strong running game and stout defense, St. X knocked off nationally-ranked Elder 17-7 in front of a sellout crowd behind a stout defense and strong running game.
CINCINNATI – Last week, nationally-ranked Cincinnati St.
Xavier was humbled by Highlands (Ky.) 12-7 for its first loss of the season.
Friday, it was the Bombers’ turn.
St. X knocked off visiting Greater Catholic League South rival
Cincinnati Elder 17-7 in front of a sellout crowd at Ballaban Field at St. Xavier Stadium.
Elder was previously ranked No. 3 in the country according
to USA Today with St. X coming in at No. 25.
“This feels real good,” St. X head coach Steve Specht said.
“After last week’s game, I shouldered the blame. I didn’t get (our team) ready
to go but I didn’t need to get them ready to go this week. I think what our kids
learned from last week is that you can’t take any day for granted. It
“This was a team victory and the kids played well. We were
a better football team tonight. We played with passion and a little chip on our
St. X (5-1, 1-0) held an Elder team that was averaging 32.1
points per game coming into Friday’s tilt to its lowest point total in over two
years behind a stout defense that tallied three sacks.
“We stepped up and played hard,” said Specht. “We did a
good job of mixing things up defensively and I thought we had a real good game
plan and the kids executed. If the kids can do that, we’re going to be pretty
Running back Conor Hundley had 95 yards rushing on 23
carries for the Bombers and fullback Nigel Muhammad rumbled for 23 yards on four
carries and the go-ahead touchdown in the second quarter.
The Bombers took a 10-7 lead into the break after trailing
Elder 7-3 early.
“Offensively, the whole goal was to be able to run the ball
and we were able to do that today,” Specht explained. “I think our offensive
line is doing a tremendous job this year. (Hundley and Muhammed) are doing a great job and it
Of course, the Bombers offensive line features senior Matt
James, who is ranked as the No. 3 player in the Class of 2010 by Ohio High
magazine. He is considering offers from Ohio State, Notre Dame, Boston
College and Cincinnati among others.
St. X senior quarterback Luke Massa was 10-of-13 passing
for 147 yards and a touchdown.
“I think the biggest thing is (James’ and Massa’s)
leadership,” Specht said. “They understand what it takes to get there and they
understand what it takes to be a team.
“It all can’t come from me. It’s got to come from the
seniors and our senior class has done a great job.”
Elder (5-1, 0-1) was dealt a devastating blow on its first
offensive play from scrimmage when senior receiver and Indiana recruit Tim
O’Conner left the game with an apparent broken wrist on a 32-yard reception.
The Panthers turned to senior tight end and Notre Dame
recruit Alex Welch, who reeled in six Mark Miller passes for 103 yards and a
“Hopefully, O’Conner is okay because that hurts when you
lose a guy like that,” Specht said. “Losing a player of the caliber of O’Conner
limits them and that leaves (Welch).”
O’Conner tallied 29 catches on the season for 394 yards and
five touchdowns before suffering what is seemingly a season-ending injury. Elder
offensive lineman and fellow Indiana recruit Pete Bachman went down for the
season last week with a broken leg.
Miller was 18-of-37 passing for 250 yards and a touchdown
for the defending GCL South champs.
“It’s great to get a GCL win and it was great to beat Elder
simply because that’s who we played tonight,” Specht said. “All the GCL games
are great games. They’re hard-fought.
“When you are playing a GCL team like Elder, it’s not hard
to keep (your team) focused. The kids were incredibly focused at halftime and
were focused the whole game. We made a few adjustments defensively for what we
wanted to do in the second half.
“The rest is history. That is a good team we beat.”
As for upending the No. 3-ranked team in the country, that
is the last thing on Specht’s mind.
“Rankings mean absolutely nothing to me and they mean
absolutely nothing to these kids,” he said. “I think in any year you can take
all four GCL (South) teams and throw them in a hat and pull out a different
order every time. That’s how it is every single year.
“At the end of the year, we’ll worry about rankings but
right now we’re worried about getting better every day.”
And it is apparent the Bombers got better every day last
week following the loss to Highlands evidenced by the historical win over Elder.
“You’ve got to be humble in victory and gracious in defeat
and our kids learned that last week,” he said. “Hopefully we build on it and we