SPRINGFIELD TOWNSHIP, Ohio – St. Xavier football coach Steve Specht stood at midfield and gave his team an honest assessment of what occurred Saturday afternoon.
Cleveland St. Ignatius defeated St. X 31-14 at Ballaban Field, and the Wildcats were as good as advertised.
But, in the first half, it sort of seemed like it was the Bombers who made the five-hour drive instead of the Wildcats.
Specht offered his team some insight into life lessons and an approach to the final week of the regular season. Each week requires a personal best from each player.
The Bombers (4-5) have felt the ups and downs of a season that no one could’ve seen in the summer with the numbers of injuries with what many have said is the toughest schedule in the country.
“What else can you do but keep moving forward?” Specht said. “It isn’t like we’ve forgotten about the guys who got injured. But, the reality is life is not going to wait on us. What I am so happy about these kids is they haven’t quit.”
St. X (4-5) plays host to Louisville St. Xavier at 7 p.m. Oct. 28 in the final regular season game. The playoffs are certainly within grasp, but the Bombers must win.
St. X, which was No. 5 in the Ohio High School Athletic Association computer points ratings entering Saturday, will likely have to win next week in order to make the playoffs.
“Let’s make this the best week of our lives,’” Specht told his team.
St. X has the longest active streak of most consecutive playoff appearances (seven) among Division I area teams.
Specht, St. X head coach since 2004, has coached 28 years overall.
He offered some perspective on a season which has seen the Bombers share the GCL South title for the moment but also a last-second loss to Warren Central Oct. 14 and numerous injuries.
“This has been without question the most frustrating year in my coaching career,” Specht said. “But, on the flip side it’s been one of the most rewarding.”
The Bombers played such a rugged schedule and that's evident even short-handed. The lessons are clear.
“The one thing these guys will always be able to do at the end of it all is to say ‘We’ve played the best in the country,’” Specht said. “What else can you say?”
St. Ignatius (8-1) is rated No. 7 in Division I, Region 1 by JoeEitel.com. The Wildcats were No. 7 in the OHSAA Region 1 computer points ratings entering Friday.
St. Ignatius jumped out to a 24-0 lead with 3:54 remaining in the second quarter.
The Bombers scored with 19 seconds left in the first half when junior quarterback Chase Wolf scored on a 1-yard touchdown run.
That completed a 13-play, 60-yard drive that took 3:30.
St. X also scored with six seconds left in the fourth quarter when Wolf found senior wide receiver Nick Moeller for a 26-yard touchdown pass connection.
Wolf was 25 of 44 passing for 179 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for 30 yards.
Junior Cameron Specht - Steve's son - was very effective on special teams having five punt returns for 80 yards and two kickoff returns for 92 yards.
His 69-yard return in the fourth quarter was the longest kickoff return for the season for St. X.
Senior Jake Buerkle had a game-high eight tackles also for the Bombers.