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Moeller-Wayne showdown could be early preview of Division I state semifinals

Best of private, public football programs of late
Early preview of Division I state semifinals?
Posted at 5:54 PM, Sep 01, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-02 07:29:42-04

CINCINNATI - When Moeller heads to Huber Heights Wayne on Friday, two teams with high aspirations will get a look at how good they are or how far they need to go to be a championship contender.

This could be a preview of the Division I state semifinals.

These programs have been the class of private and public school football in Southwest Ohio over the past four years. All signs point to that royalty continuing this fall. This contest is going to be worth the price of admission and then some.

MOELLER CRUSADERS (1-0) at WAYNE WARRIORS (0-0-1)
Kickoff: 7:00 p.m., Heidkamp Stadium
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PLAYERS TO WATCH: Dynamic players fill the Moeller offense. Junior RB Colin Thurman is off to a breakout campaign coming off career highs of 115 yards and two touchdowns rushing in the opener. Over his last six games TE Matt Dotson has had at least two receptions and four touchdowns catches. Sophomores RB/slot RJ Khayo and QB Miles McBride are just beginning to tap into their amazing talent. The sky is the limit for those youngsters. They are “scary” good. The Big Moe defense is still a work in progress.  DE Aeneas Hawkins, LB The-Moor Kelly and LB Hunter Hughes could make this a very special unit by season's end.

Life is good for Wayne head coach Jay Minton knowing he can rely on a dependable, proven set of offensive skill players including RB Fred Pitts FL/DB Matt Wilcox, SE L’Christian “Blue” Cochran-Smith and transfer from Xenia FL/DB Ray James. Wilcox, Smith-Cochran and James have a combined 282 receptions for 4,659 yards and 50 touchdowns catches at the varsity level. The Warriors defensive line is stellar with studs like DE Alex Reigelsperger and DL Mazon Walker anchoring it.

TEAM TRENDS: These two are becoming familiar foes as they meet for the fifth time in seven years. Wayne has won the last two, including the 2014 state semifinal. Moeller won the only game in that span decided by more than seven points in the first round of the ’14 playoffs, 43-21.

Over the past four seasons Moeller has gone 13-1 in the playoffs including state championships in ’12 and ’13. Wayne is 10-3 in postseason play over the past three campaigns. The Warriors were state runner-ups in ’15 and ’14.

MOELLER’S KEYS TO VICTORY: Depth is an issue with Wayne. The Big Moe O-line needs to wear them down and make this contest a battle of attrition in the fourth quarter. The Crusaders defense got good pressure on Lakota West in Week 1 and it led to three interceptions. Forcing a young Warriors signal-caller into bad decisions could lead to a comfortable margin on the scoreboard and that would allow Moeller to open things up on offense.

WAYNE’S KEYS TO VICTORY: Let the horses do their job on offense up front and at the skills positions. Long sustained drives using all the weapons in the arsenal is a must. The Warriors aren’t going to win if they let this become a shootout.

Prediction: MOELLER 31, WAYNE 27