LaSalle is really vulnerable to the run, but WW doesn't have a huge O Line. If LaSalle has G'Bran Payne at full speed I think they can win this in a shoot out. If WW accrues 100 yards in penalties that could cost them the game also.
St Xavier 12
Sloppy game with 5 Bomber turnovers (4 picks and 1 fumble) and a missed PAT. Springfield also left points on the field with a missed FG and another FG was blocked. Lots of penalties on both sides.
Bombers’ D Comes Up Big Again; Lancers Continue Postseason Dominance
Greater Catholic League South Division rivals St. Xavier and La Salle, with their respective high school campuses separated by just 5.1 miles on North Bend Road, each took a huge step toward winning state football championships in the same season for the second time in five years by posting victories in the Ohio High School Athletic Association Football State Tournament on Friday night in Southwest Ohio.
For the second straight game, the explosive, high-powered St. Xavier offense was held to a single touchdown and, this time, was victimized by five turnovers. But, for the second game in a row, the Bombers’ defense stepped up to the challenge and held Springfield scoreless in the final two quarters as St. Xavier came from behind to earn a 12-10 win in the state semifinals at Piqua High School’s Alexander Memorial Stadium.
St. Xavier (9-2), which won the 2016 state title after entering the final week of the regular season at 4-5 before qualifying for the state playoffs and then putting together an improbable postseason run to become the first team in OHSAA history to win state after going 5-5 during the regular season, advances to meet defending state champion Pickerington Central (11-0) in the state final at 7 p.m. next Friday at Fortress Obetz, located just southeast of Columbus. Pickerington Central held off Mentor, 38-31, in the other semifinal last night at New Philadelphia.
La Salle (8-2), which has now won five straight and seven of its last eight, traveled to No 1 seed and previously undefeated Winton Woods and recorded a 35-10 victory against the talent-laden Warriors to move to the DII state semifinals. The Lancers, who won the third of three straight state crowns in 2016 and also are the defending state champs, have won nine consecutive state playoff games and are 26-1 in their last five postseason appearances.
The Lancers will now play Massillon Washington (9-1) in the state semifinals at 7 p.m. next Friday at a site to be announced this weekend by the OHSAA. The Lancers played Washington in the DII state final last season, a 34-17 win by La Salle at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton. Washington is coached by Nate Moore, who led La Salle to its first of three straight state titles in 2014 before heading to Northeast Ohio. Washington advanced to the DII Final Four with a 43-13 win at No. 1 seed Massillon Perry to win Region 7 last night. Washington has won nine straight after opening with a 24-23 loss to Lakewood St. Edward.
Winton Woods, too, is the last team to defeat La Salle in the state playoffs – winning 16-14 in the 2017 regional final before going on to play against Akron Archbishop Hoban in the DII final that year. Kettering Alter, a member of the GCL South Co-Ed Division, is the third overall league school to advance to the state semifinals – earning a berth in DII with a 35-21 win at Ross last night.
St. Xavier has had its share of drama the last two games – including last week’s 10-7 victory at No. 1 seed Lakota West, when the Bombers put together a 12-play, 79-yard scoring drive that culminated with a 17-yard TD pass from junior quarterback Brogan McCaughey to senior receiver Liam Clifford with just 27 seconds remaining to give the Bombers their lone TD of the game and the win after averaging better than 50 pints per game in the previous four weeks.
It again was difficult scoring against Springfield (8-2), which posted a shutout against Powell Olentangy Liberty, 19-0, in its regional final the previous week and was allowing just under 15 points a game. The Bombers were unable to capitalize on a couple big plays, were victimized by key penalties (including offensive holding that called back a 61-yard TD pass from McCaughey to tight end Max Klare) and turnovers – with McCaughey being intercepted four times and losing a fumble.
Yet, after trailing 10-3 at halftime and after the penalty negated the TD pass, St. Xavier managed to cut the deficit to 10-9 on a 38-yard strike from McCaughey to Clifford, who earned the last five yards on his own before the Bombers missed their first extra point of the season because of a bad snap to trail by a point, 10-9, left in the third quarter. Clifford finished with nine catches for 124 yards. St. Xavier would take the lead at 12-10 when junior kicker Mason Rohmiller booted a 21-yard field goal, his second of the game, with 3:17 remaining in the third quarter to make it 12-10.
In the end, it was the St. Xavier defense – which prevented Springfield from scoring on three trips inside the Bombers’ 20 in the second half, that made the difference. As Springfield lined up to attempt a relatively short field goal, the Bombers came up with a block and turned away the Wildcats every time they threatened to take the lead to earn a shot at Pickerington Central.
Senior linebacker Matthew Devine had eight solo tackles and four assists, for 12 total tackles, and two sacks to lead the St. Xavier defense. He was joined by juniors Sam Berkle (seven total tackles, including two for loss and a sack), Eli Kirk and Grant Lyons (six each), and senior Gio Albanese and junior Alex Kemper (five).
Pickerington Central – which is playing in its third state final in four years – defeated Elder, 21-14, in last year’s state final. The Tigers won their first state football title in 2017, knocking off Mentor,56-28, in the final. St. Xavier has not lost to a team from Oho this season, with its lone defeats to Indiana powers Brownsburg, 30-24, in overtime in the season opener and later to top-ranked Indianapolis Cathedral, 25-22.
Ironically, St. Xavier opened the 2011 season with consecutive victories against Springfield and Pickerington Central. The Bombers knocked off Springfield, 40-7, at University of Cincinnati’s Nippert Stadium as part of the Skyline Chili Crosstown Showdown and then trekked to Columbus to defeat Pickerington Central, 38-21, as part of the Kirk Herbstreit Football Classic. The Bombers wound up 10-4 that season and made it to the state semifinals, where they lost to Pickerington Central, 14-7, in the last meeting between the two schools.
Local high school football fans had envisioned a La Salle-Winton Woods matchup in the Region 8 final and, when the seedings were announced, that would occur as long as the seedings held up – which they did rather easily for these two perennial powers. La Salle racked up 375 yards of total offense against a strong Winton Woods defense, which had allowed just under 14 points a game.
For a La Salle team that has been saddled with its share of injuries to key players this season, one constant has been senior quarterback Zach Branam – who racked up impressive numbers again against Winton Woods. Branam, who leads the GCL South in rushing, carried 27 times for 209 yards and four TDs, while also completing 9-of-13 passes for 108 yards and another score. He helped the Lancers build a 21-3 lead at halftime after scoring a pair of rushing TDs and tossing a 17-yard TD pass to senior tight end Cole Schneider in the second quarter.
La Salle’s offensive line played well, as did the Lancers- defense that limited a fast and talented Winton Woods offense to just over 200 yards of total offense. The Warriors scored a TD in the third quarter when three-year starting quarterback Mi’Chale Wingfield connected with junior receiver Antonio Turner Jr. on a 70-yard scoring play. Winton Woods shared the Eastern Cincinnati Conference championship with Kings in its first season as a conference member.
In the D1 state championship game, Pick Central is a heavy favorite to beat St X this weekend. (PC by 11)
Once again, no teams from the ugly part of the state (Region 1-Northeast Ohio) will be playing in the D1 state finals.
In the D2 state semifinal, LaSalle and Mass. Washington could go either way. (LaSalle by 3)
First the good news...
My Bombers take Pick Central to the woodshed with a 44-3 beating. This marks the 4th D1 state title for the Bombers.
The Bombers return most of their starters and will start the 2021 season as the team to beat
Now the bad news...
Massillon scores on a 48 yard TD pass with 2 minutes left to beat LaSalle 14-10. Congrats to the Tigers and they now advance to take on Hoban for the D2 state championship.
St. Xavier football coach Steve Specht had talked to his team all season about putting a complete game together, emphasizing the need to get back on track offensively and to keep its mettle on defense heading into Friday’s Division I state final of the Ohio High School Athletic Association Football State Tournament. To say that the Bombers got the message would be a minor understatement.
Facing Pickerington Central, the defending DI state champion and winner of 23 consecutive games behind a powerful rushing attack and sound defense, St. Xavier saved its best game of the season for last – exploding for 30 points in the first quarter and taking a 44-3 lead at halftime in what would be the final score of a game on a perfect night for football at Fortress Obetz, a multi-purpose facility that serves as home of the OHSAA state football titles games in all divisions this year.
St. Xavier (10-2), which posted its eighth straight win and ends the season with 10 victories in 11 games, racked up 555 yards total offense, keyed by a huge night from senior receiver Jalen Patterson, and limited the Tigers’ offense to five first downs and 76 total yards in a dominating win to earn the school’s second state title in five years and fourth in its program history – also winning crowns in 2005, 2007 and 2016.
La Salle, St. Xavier’s Greater Catholic League South Division rival and neighbor on North Bend Road, was looking to successfully defend its DII state title from last season and win for the fifth time in seven years while giving the schools state titles in the same year for the second time since 2016 – when La Salle won the last of three consecutive state crowns before winning again last December.
But the Lancers (8-3), who entered last night’s semifinal matchup against Massillon Washington riding a nine-game postseason winning streak and a 26-1 record in the state playoffs in its last six appearances, fell just short in a 14-10 setback at Marysville High School’s Impact Stadium. La Salle defeated Washington, 43-13, in last year’s state final. This time, however, the Lancers were without two of their top playmakers in junior back Gi’Bran Payne and senior Devonte Smith, a University of Alabama commit.
Still, behind another stellar performance from senior quarterback Zach Branam (who rushed 25 times for a game-high 150 yards), the La Salle was in position to advance late in the game. That is, before Washington QB Zach Catrone found receiver Martavien Johnson on a 48-yard scoring strike with just 2:13 remaining to put Washington ahead, 14-10. La Salle picked up one first down on the ensuing possession before four incomplete passes turned the ball over.
Washington (10-1), which has won 10 in a row after opening with a one-point loss to Lakewood St. Edward, advances to meet Akron Archbishop Hoban (10-0) in the DII final at 7 p.m. next Friday at Fortress Obetz. Hoban defeated Avon, 28-14, in the other semifinal last night at Byers Field in Parma.
Against Pickerington Central (11-1), St. Xavier was looking for another win in the DI Final Four after a late field goal and a 29-27 win against the Tigers moved the Bombers to the title game against Cleveland St. Ignatius, where St. Xavier capped an improbable run through the postseason after finishing the regular season at 5-5 with a 27-20 win against St. I in double overtime in the final at Ohio Stadium.
No one would have ever expected St. Xavier’s latest state final win to be so dominant against a talent-laden Pickerington Central team. But the Bombers got four first-half TD connections from junior quarterback Brogan McCaughey to senior receiver Jalen Patterson to stun the Tigers’ defense. Patterson, who had five receiving TDs entering the game, came within one yard of scoring a fifth in the first half when he was found just short of the goal line.
McCaughey, coming off a four-interception, one-fumble performance in the state semifinal win against Springfield, was on target Friday – completing 26-of-40 passes for 292 yards and four TDs, while also rushing for another score. Patterson hauled in five passes for a team-high 105 yards and the four scores. Patterson caught TD passes of 14, 35, 8 and 10 yards, respectively.
Junior receiver Terrell McFairlin had seven catches for 71 yards, while junior back Charles Kellom had seven catches for 61 yards. Senior receiver Liam Clifford, St. Xavier’s all-time leading receiver who had his team’s lone TD receptions in the last two games, had four catches for six yards on this night. But Clifford, a Penn State University commit, joins his brother Sean as a state champion at St. Xavier. Sean Clifford was the Bombers’ catalyst during their 2016 state title run and is now starting QB at Penn State.
The St. Xavier defense, coming off winning performances in a 10-7 victory against Lakota West in the Region 4 final and a 12-10 win versus Springfield in the state semis, this time turned it up another notch and held Pickerington Central without a TD. The Bombers’ defense even outscored their opponent after senior defensive back Gabe Dubois returned a fumble 58 yards for a score near the end of the first half to close the scoring. Pickerington Central’s previous offensive low this season was in a 34-7 win against Hilliard Bradley back on October 23.
That was plenty for a St. Xavier offense, one of the school’s most prolific in its history behind offensive coordinator Andrew Coverdale – who had the perfect game plan all season. In the end, the Bombers average 36.8 points per game against a grueling schedule and had a four-game stretch at the end of the regular season and the opening three rounds of the state playoffs where they scored 62, 49, 45 and 56 points, respectively. The Bombers also did not commit a turnover in the state final.
St. Xavier finishes 10-0 against Ohio schools.
La Salle, which entered the state semis after an impressive 35-10 win against previously unbeaten and the region’s No. 1 seed in Winton Woods a week earlier to win the regional title for the fifth time in seven years. La Salle took the early 7-0 lead near the end of the first quarter on a 1-yard TD run by Branam, who set up the short score with a 76-yard run. Branam even showed his versatility, by playing in the secondary to help make up for the loss of Smith, and he came up with a key pass break up in the first half.
The La Salle defense held an opponent to 14 points or less for the fifth time in six games, and they did a solid job on Washington receiver and Ohio State commit Jayden Ballard, who had only one catch for five yards. But Washington managed to put together a lengthy drive that ended with a 3-yard TD run by Jumacius Portis to tie the game, 7-7, entering halftime.
La Salle took a 10-7 lead with 7:57 left in the fourth quarter when sophomore Mason Luensman capped a 72-yard scoring drive that chewed up more than nine minutes with a 32-yard field goal. The Lancers’ defense did force on more punt, but the offense was unable to maintain possession and run out the clock. So La Salle was forced to punt the ball back to Washington – which was able to come up with the big passing play that ultimately was the difference in the game. The Lancers’ seniors had quite a career, including state and regional championships, along with a GCL South title in 2019.