LOCKLAND, Ohio – Last December, St. Xavier became the first Ohio high school football team to win a state championship with five losses.
Eight months later, the Bombers are 5-0 for the first time since the 2007 season and arguably playing the best football of any large-school team in the state.
“It’s awesome,” senior wide receiver Cameron Specht said. “It gives us great confidence in practice. We know we still have a long road ahead. Last year we were 5-5. This year we are 5-0 and rolling. We just need to keep playing hard and keep working the way we do and we are going to be great.”
St. X continued its solid production offensively, but it was the defense that shined the most Friday night in a 30-7 win over host Moeller in front of an estimated crowd of 6,500 at Roettger Stadium.
The matchup between the GCL South rivals was billed as one of the nation’s top 10 games this week, according to MaxPreps. The game was sold out as of 7 a.m. Friday.
St. X (5-0, 1-0 GCL South) limited Moeller (3-2, 0-1) to 188 yards of total offense, including 78 yards passing, in the Greater Catholic League South division opener for both teams this season.
“Defensively I thought we played really well,” St. X coach Steve Specht said. “Going into the game, I thought Moeller was the most explosive offense we’ve seen.”
Leaders of the St. Xavier’s defense included senior defensive back Grant Kirby (six tackles), senior lineman Bobby Jefferson II (4.5 tackles) and senior lineman Sean Mesue (4.5 tackles).
The Bombers’ offense was efficient, led by senior quarterback Chase Wolf (Wisconsin commit), who was 16 of 26 passing for 202 yards. He rushed for a touchdown and threw for another.
Senior running back Matthew Fox rushed for 116 yards and a touchdown. He also caught a touchdown pass.
Cameron Specht had five receptions for 71 yards. Senior Andrew Wittrock had four receptions for 62 yards.
“Overall I’m awful proud of the kids,” Steve Specht said. “We’re in a pretty good place right now sitting at 5-0 at the halfway mark and 1-0 in the GCL South, which is more important than anything to us.”
Moeller led 7-0 early in the first quarter after senior linebacker Luke Szabados picked off Wolf on the Bombers’ opening drive.
Four plays later, Moeller junior Miles McBride found senior Jack McCracken for a 28-yard pass connection for a touchdown.
St. X responded quickly when junior Jared Kreimer took the ensuing kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown to help tie the game. That tied four other players for the second-longest kickoff return for a touchdown in program history, according to St. Xavier statistician Kurt Brinkman.
The Bombers struck again at the 3:08 mark of the first quarter when Wolf found Fox for an 8-yard touchdown to give the Bombers a 14-7 lead. Wolf scored on a 1-yard carry with 1:30 left in the second quarter to put St. X up 20-7.
McBride was injured on the Crusaders’ next drive on third down. He had to be carried off the field at 1:10 of the second quarter and missed the remainder of the game.
McBride dislocated his left foot and will have an MRI Saturday morning, according to his father Walt McBride.
McBride is likely out for the remainder of the football season, Moeller coach John Rodenberg said after the game.
St. X went ahead 23-7 at halftime after senior Donny Stock made a 38-yard field goal with one second left in the second quarter.
Fox scored his second touchdown – a 3-yard run - early in the fourth quarter to put St. X ahead 30-7.
The Bombers have won the past three meetings against Moeller.
Cameron Specht said winning at Lockland Friday night was very significant.
"Coming in here was awesome," Cameron Specht said. "Getting a leg up on the GCL early always makes you feel good, especially against a rival like Moeller. They are a great team. They play just as hard as we do. It's always great to come out on top against those guys."
Moeller was led defensively by Szabados, who had eight tackles along with his interception. Senior defensive back Alex Deyhle had a season-high nine tackles.
“I like the way we battled,” Rodenberg said. “We just have to fix our mistakes.”
St. X, which went 15-0 in 2007 and won the program's second state title that season, will enjoy the win Friday night. But the players and coaches understand the importance of perspective.
"Honestly, it means a lot," Wolf said of the win Friday. "But it's just another win. We wanted to go 1-0 this week and that's what we did. We start 0-0 (Saturday) and we need to get ready for Elder."
St. X, rated No. 14 nationally by MaxPreps and No. 20 nationally by USA Today, is rated No. 1 in this week’s Ohio High School Athletic Association Division I, Region 4 computer points standings. Moeller is rated No. 2.
St. X plays host to Elder and Moeller plays host to La Salle Sept. 29.