By Mike Dyer
Back-to-Back state champs head north; Crew Stadium to host Moeller-Pickerington North meeting in August
An intriguing season opener awaits the back-to-back Division I state football champions in late August.
The Moeller football team will travel 90 minutes north to play Pickerington North for the 2014 season opener Aug. 29 in a game which is sure to generate plenty of anticipation in the Columbus area.
The Crusaders, the reigning 2013 and 2012 Division I state champions, play Pickerington North on Friday, Aug. 29 at 7 p.m. at Crew Stadium in Columbus. There is a possibility for a doubleheader on Saturday with other teams with that schedule yet to be announced.
The Moeller vs. Pickerington North game will represent a rematch of the Division I regional final game Nov. 24, 2012 at Dayton’s Welcome Stadium in which Moeller edged Pickerington North 26-21. At the time, Moeller senior Kaleb Nypaver forced a fumble on fourth down near the goal line in which Moeller senior Ethan Frericks recovered.
Moeller athletic director Mike Asbeck acknowledged the previous regional final game as being what will create interest for the Pickerington North fan base.
“It’s great football,” Asbeck said.
Asbeck, who was previously the athletic director at St. Francis DeSales in Columbus before arriving in Southwest Ohio, used some of his Columbus connections to get this game scheduled.
Asbeck worked with Pickerington North athletic director Molly Feesler knowing the previous game was a classic.
“When Pickerington North and Pickerington Central first began to compete in football, the games were played at Crew Stadium,” Feesler said. “We have since moved back to our two home sites to play and have had sellout games virtually every time we meet in the regular season. Our fans really back our team in football since the game will be close to home, I believe we will have a nice following for this game.”
Pickerington North coach Tom Phillips said 18 lettermen are expected to return this upcoming season. Pickerington North (10-2 in 2013) has made two straight playoff appearances.
All eyes will be on Moeller again this season and coach John Rodenberg understands the expectations don’t change.
There is possibly a bit more pressure this season for the opportunity at a three-peat. The Crusaders last won three in a row in 1975-77 under former coach Gerry Faust. More recently, Maria Stein Marion Local won its third consecutive state title this past season in Stark County – the first Division VII state champion.
Moeller will have to replace some talented starters from the 2013 state champion squad but have capable players returning. Junior quarterback Matt Crable is expected to be the replacement for Gus Ragland (Miami University).
Moeller has two tight ends with early offers in junior Doug Bates and sophomore Jake Hausmann. Elijah Taylor, 2015 defensive tackle, has multiple offers and is expected to help lead the defense.
Make no mistake: There is plenty of talent returning for Big Moe.
Pickerington North will lose 24 seniors to graduation but has lofty expectations, according to This Week News. Junior lineman Kyle Beemiller, sophomore defensive back Trezden Johnson, junior Jaye Williams, defensive back Matt Myers and junior wide receiver Quincy Storey are expected to be players to watch, according to This Week News and the Pickerington North football website.
“Every game is a great opportunity compete and become better,” Pickerington North coach Tom Phillips said.