Elder won back-to-back state titles in 2002-03 and then went largely
quiet until a state title game appearance in 2008. The Panthers advanced
to the state semifinals last year before falling to eventual champion
Hilliard Davidson 24-20. What’s in store this year?
Cincinnati Elder (10-3)
* Players to Watch – RB-WR Ben Coffaro (5-9, 180, Sr.), LB Jake Lindsay (6-2, 210, Sr.), DT Rakhim Johnson (6-0, 215, Jr.), LB Kevin Hyland (6-2, 205, Sr.).
* Outlook – Elder won back-to-back state titles in 2002-03 and then went largely quiet until a state title game appearance in 2008. The Panthers advanced to the state semifinals last year before falling to eventual champion Hilliard Davidson 24-20. Along the way, Elder beat three pretty good programs in Huber Heights Wayne (35-14), GCL rival Cincinnati St. Xavier (17-14) and Cincinnati Anderson (28-21).
“We lost a couple of games during the regular season, but our kids just kept believing,” said coach Doug Ramsey. “A lot of people didn’t think we could make it that far. But our kids were able to overcome a lot of things.”
Ramsey, who is starting his 14th year as the Panthers head coach, has just five starters back (two offense, three defense).
“We are going to be inexperienced,” Ramsey said. “We will have some jobs that need to be won. We’ll have some seniors who have not played a lot and the question is whether they can step up and win a job and be leaders.”
Coffaro was a second-team All-Ohio pick as a junior. He is a dual threat player who had 684 yards and nine touchdowns rushing and 46 catches for 536 yards and four scores receiving.
“Ben is just a complete football player,” Ramsey said. “We will use him just like we did last year. He will get the ball a whole bunch. He has a chance to be one of the best players I’ve had a chance to coach. He is a good running back, he caught 40 passes and he also returns punts and kicks. If we put him on defense, we know he’d make a lot of tackles, too.”
Ramsey was looking at a pair of juniors – Mario Jansen and Ben Granke – to compete at quarterback.
“Neither of them have any varsity experience,” Ramsey said. “We’ll see how this works out.”
As always, Elder will play a strong nonleague schedule. Elder faces defending Division II state champion Cincinnati Winton Woods in this weekend’s Skyline Chili Crosstown Showdown.
“That will be a challenging game for us,” Ramsey said. “It is a Division II school, but they have stepped up against a lot of bigger schools and had success. We have a lot of respect for them. They rolled through the playoffs last year.”
Other nonleague highlights including a game at Cincinnati Colerain and a trip upstate to Lakewood St. Edward.
The meat of the schedule is the Greater Catholic League schedule against LaSalle, St. Xavier and Moeller.
“LaSalle has got a lot of talent back,” Ramsey said. “Everybody else will need to start a new quarterback. We know those games will always be tough.”
Aug. 27, vs. Cincinnati Winton Woods (Skyline Chili Crosstown Showdown at UC’s Nippert Stadium), 8:30 p.m.
Sept. 3, at Cincinnati Colerain
Sept. 10, at Louisville (Ky.) Trinity
Sept. 17, Indianapolis Bishop Chatard
Sept. 25, at Lakewood St. Edward, 7 p.m.
Oct. 1, Cincinnati St. Xavier
Oct. 8, at Cincinnati Moeller
Oct. 23, Mundelein (Ill.) Carmel Catholic
Oct. 29, Cincinnati LaSalle