SPRINGFIELD TOWNSHIP, Ohio — The St. Xavier football team will represent the Cincinnati area on ESPN2 Saturday night.
The Bombers open the season at Brownsburg (Ind.) at 6 p.m. Saturday as part of the Geico ESPN High School Football Kickoff.
Brownsburg is a little more than two hours west of Cincinnati.
"It's a shot in the arm for the kids," St. X coach Steve Specht said last week. "When we were able to tell them about ESPN contacting us about playing - after all they've been through - what a neat experience for the kids."
St. X defeated visiting Brownsburg 38-17 in the 2019 season opener at Ballaban Field in what was then called the Cincy-Indy Challenge.
"Now we are going into a buzzsaw," Specht said. "This Brownsburg team brings back their entire offensive line, two receivers and a quarterback - that's just on the offense. They're a very talented group, they're incredibly well coached and we have to go there."
Brownsburg (1-0) defeated Ben Davis 38-6 last week as Indiana opened its season.
"I really like how physical we have been," Brownsburg coach John Hart said. "We have five Division I (college) kids and they all are on offense."
That includes senior quarterback Ben Easters (Kansas commit), wide receiver Preston Terrell (Purdue), wide receiver Luke Lacey (Ivy League interest) along with offensive linemen Pete Nygra (Northern Illinois) and Josh Scales (Indiana).
Defensively, Brownsburg is led by junior defensive tackle Carl Biddings and senior linebacker Jalen Wilson. Senior defensive back Chris Williamson had two interceptions last week.
"I love that this is on national TV," Hart said. "St. X has an incredible team."
St. X is led by several players including senior wide receiver Liam Clifford (Penn State), who had 77 receptions for 1,180 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2019. Clifford is the brother of Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford, a former St. X standout.
Seniors wide receivers Jalen Patterson and Lucas Cates along with junior Terrell McFarlin have had solid camps.
The tight ends are also effective including junior Max Klare and sophomore Joey Wassler.
Junior Brogan McCaughey is the starting quarterback.
Three starters return on the offensive line including juniors Cameron Collins, Jack Renneker, Brian Parker and Jackson Wassler.
Defensively, the Bombers have many talented players.
The Bombers return senior middle linebacker Matthew Devine, who had 99 tackles (47 solo) including 5 1/2 sacks and two fumble recoveries last season.
Senior nose guard Gio Albanese had 65 tackles including seven sacks and a forced fumble last season.
Senior safety Gabe Dubois (Lafayette College) had 43 tackles (27 solo), three interceptions, a sack and a forced fumble last season. Watch also for junior safety Eli Kirk.
The Bombers have made 11 consecutive playoff appearances — the longest active streak among Division I Cincinnati-area programs.
The Ohio High School Athletic Association said earlier this month that all football teams this fall will make the postseason for the first time since the playoffs were implemented in 1972.