CINCINNATI - The term “rebuilding” is not in Moeller's vocabulary. The Crusaders just reload and go after state championships each year.
The Crusaders are entering this season as back-to-back Division I state champions, and they have made the playoffs in each of the last 12 seasons. It could be a challenge to repeat again, as senior defensive lineman Elijah Taylor, a Notre Dame commit, is the only player left that played a significant role in both state championships.
The Crusaders open Friday against Pickerington at Columbus Crew Stadium.
Quarterback Gus Ragland and wide receiver Isaiah Gentry had a great quarterback-receiver relationship, but now with them graduating someone needs to fulfill their shoes.
Thst should be senior Matt Crable, who saw some time under center last season, and Chase Pankey, the leading receiver last season. Junior Kyle Butz could also be a factor at wide receiver.
Moeller fans and alumni should anticipate another superb season, as the offense is expected to continue to be explosive, and the defense should continue its dominance over opponents. Taylor is always causing problems for opposing quarterbacks.
The Crusaders did lose many pieces from their two remarkable state champion teams, but head coach John Rodenberg has proven repeatedly that he can find a way to win with what he has.
Division I, Region 2
2013 RECORD: 14-1, 3-0 GCL South
COACH: John Rodenberg (57-19 @ Moeller, six years, 138-98 overall)
Elijah Taylor, DL, Sr – Taylor could be the best lineman in the Tri-State. He is the only returnee to have started on each of Moeller's past two state title teams. Taylor was in on 68 total tackles and had 5½ sacks on his way to the First-Team All-GCL South last year. Just over a month ago, Taylor ended the recruiting process by committing to Notre Dame.
Jack Hausmann, TE, Jr – As only a sophomore, Hausmann had an exceptional season as one of the team’s top tight ends. Hausmann was third on the team with 16 receptions for 144 yards and three touchdowns. His three touchdowns ranked third on the team among receivers. The opportunities will be endless for Hausmann and other receivers with Isaiah Gentry graduating. He currently has offers from Michigan, Tennessee, Florida State, Cincinnati, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Illinois, Indiana and Louisville.
Doug Bates, TE, Sr - Primarily a blocking tight end, Bates will see his role expand in the passing game this fall. He has verbally committed to play for Cincinnati in 2015.
Matt Coghlin, K, Jr – He is only going into his junior season, but he already has ice water in his veins. As a sophomore, Coghlin’s strong leg made 10 of 14 field goal tries and connected on all 67 of his extra point attempts for 97 total points. Three of his field goals were from 42 yards or longer. He was a Special Mention All-Ohio and First-Team All-Southwest District selection.
Chase Pankey, WR, Sr – Returns as the leading receiver from a year ago on the Moeller roster. The All-GCL South Second Team member caught 30 passes for 551 yards and 10 total touchdowns (nine receiving, one rushing). Pankey is expected to be the go-to-receiver in one of the best offenses in the state. He has verbally committed to Boston College.
Noah Able, DB, Sr – The senior defensive back had 20 tackles last fall, but what made him a Second-Team All-GCL South member was his interceptions. His six picks were second most on the team in 2013. He was a very important part of a defense that held opponents to only 20 points per game. Able will be more of a factor this year.
Matt Crable, QB, Sr – He has some big shoes to fill with Ragland graduating, but Crable should be up for the challenge. Crable threw the ball 41 times and completed 20 of those passes last fall, and three resulted in touchdowns. This offense can be explosive and powerful once again, but its success will fall on Crable’s shoulders.
Sterling Noes, RB, Sr – The transfer from Harrison returns as the leading rusher from last fall. Noes carried 46 times for 363 yards and a touchdown in 2013. This team usually rotates three to four running backs into the game, but Noes is expected to be the top rusher this fall.
Kyle Butz, WR, Jr – In his sophomore season, Butz gained 826 all-purpose yards on 50 touches. He returns as the third-leading receiver, but will be the focal point as the kick and punt returner.
Jake Gall, OL, So – A member of the rotation up front as a freshman, Gall is primed for a big career at Moeller.
Ryan Stofko, LB, Sr – One of the leaders on the defense last fall, Stofko finished with 67 tackles. He also had two forced fumbles. Now Stofko returns as the Crusaders second-leading tackler.
Christian Wersel, DB, Sr – Another
top senior on the defensive unit, Wersel had 29 tackles last fall and is expected to be a huge part of the secondary this season. With all of the graduating seniors, Wersel returns as the third leading tackler.
Demetrius Yett, RB, Jr – Played in six of the first eight games of the season with a handful of carries in each of those games, but did not see the field after Oct. 18. His best performance was against Toronto St. Michael College when he rushed for 84 yards on seven carries, including a touchdown. He returns as the second-leading rusher from last fall.
Ryan Smith, TE, Jr – Smith could emerge as a good blocking tight ends and a reliable receiver. He only played in one game last season, but with Gentry and Jack Gruber graduating, there is room for Smith to see the field more this fall. He is 6-feet-4 and about 230 pounds, so he has the physical presence to play on the varsity level.
(32 appearances, 46-23 overall) – 2013 (state champions), 2012 (state champions), 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2000, 1999, 1997 (state runner-up), 1996, 1993 (state runner-up), 1990, 1989 (state runner-up), 1988, 1985 (state champions), 1984, 1983, 1982 (state champions), 1981 (state runner-up), 1980 (state champions), 1979 (state champions), 1977 (state champions), 1976 (state champions), 1975 (state champions), 1974, 1973.
This year’s schedule will once again challenge the top ranked team in Division I. Moeller opens with Pickerington North, which made the playoffs last fall. The Crusaders will also have a rematch against Lakewood St. Edward, the only team to defeat Moeller. Elder, LaSalle and St. Xavier are all expected to improve from last year, so Moeller will be challenged for the GCL title.
KINGS OF THE HILL
The Moeller Crusaders open the season having won 10 consecutive Division I playoff games.
NOT SO KINGS OF THE HILL
Of Moeller’s four total losses during the last two state championship seasons, Lakewood St. Edward has taken the Crusaders down twice. The Crusaders fell to the Eagles 49-42 in 2012 and 45-42 in 2013. St. Xavier and Elder defeated Moeller in the regular season in 2012. The Crusaders got revenge last year by beating both in the regular season and in the playoffs.