Preview: St. Xavier at Elder

St. Xavier QB Brogan McCaughey (photo by Dan Beineke/

The season has started off with the GCL South making big buzz with some great games. Friday night will continue that trend as the Blitz 5 Game of the Week stops by The Pit for a huge conference showdown. 

The #1 team in the Blitz 5 Top 25, St. Xavier, is on the road for a third straight week. The Bombers moved up to the apex after they knocked off previously top-ranked La Salle last Friday. 

Now #3 Elder aims for some glory and to stay in the race for a share of the GCL South title. The Panthers lost a one-point double overtime heartbreaker to La Salle to open the 2020 campaign. They bounced back last week beating Floyd Central (IN) and now look to keep their winning ways going.

Each team’s familiarity with each other makes for some intense dogfights. Discipline and attention to detail prevails in these affairs. There is a difference between being aggressive and being anxious. The team that can grasp and harness that concept on Friday will be celebrating a big win.

#1 ST. XAVIER BOMBERS (1-1, 1-0) at #3 ELDER PANTHERS (1-1, 0-1)
Kickoff: 7:00 p.m.
Elder Stadium, The Pit
Follow on Twitter @TSFootball 

PLAYERS TO WATCH: The St. Xavier Class of 2022 offense is making a strong showing to start the season. The junior horses up front, OL Nick Uhl, C Brian Parker, LG Jack Renneker and LT Cam Collins lead the way for a very talented backfield. Skill players QB Brogan McCaughey, RB Luke Vrsansky and RB Charles Kellom will all be back next season. McCaughey has thrown for 561 yards and five touchdowns. Senior WR Liam Clifford is arguably the best receiver to ever lace them up for “The Long Blue Line.” The Penn State-commit has 109 receptions, 1,668 receiving yards and 19 touchdown catches in his career. Clifford has had at least five receptions in 12 of his last 14 games. 

The Elder junior class isn’t too shabby either. The versatile ATH Drew Ramsey lines up at receiver, running back and in the Wildcat for the Panthers. He has 343 all-purpose yards (152 rushing, 173 receiving), 14 receptions and five touchdowns (three rushing, two receiving). Classmate QB Ben Hambleton is completing 78 percent of his passes, has 562 passing yards and seven touchdown tosses with no interceptions. Senior Scott Nieman is a big target at 6-foot-6 and 215-pounds. He has seven receptions for 191 yards (27.3/catch) with three trips to the end zone. Teammate RB Cooper Johnson has 13 rushing touchdowns at the varsity level.

TEAM TRENDS: This is the 102nd meeting between the two schools. Elder leads the series 53-42-6. Dating back to last season. This is the third time that St. Xavier has faced the Panthers in its last 10 games. 

St. Xavier ran for 198 yards against La Salle. The Bombers have not run for more than 200 yards in a game since doing it against Clarkson North, Canada (200) on October 12th, 2018. A span of 17 games. During that same time frame, they have thrown for more than 200 yards on 12 occasions.

Elder is averaging 47.0 points per contest. The Panthers have scored 40 or more points eight times in their last 17 tilts. 

XAVIER’S KEYS TO VICTORY: The Bombers need to show that they can run the football consistently. Moving the chains is when St. Xavier is at its best. Last week was a good start, but doing it two weeks in a row has been a struggle. 

The Bombers also need to clean up the 69.0 yards per game in penalties that they are averaging. Do those two things and St. Xavier is on its way to a special year.

ELDER’S KEYS TO VICTORY: Limit the big plays on defense. The Panthers have given up seven touchdowns of 19-yards or more and 10 plays of 20-yards-plus in two games. 

Win the battle on special teams, which is easier said than done against St. Xavier. Accomplishing that will ease the pressure on the other two phases of the game.

Prediction: St. Xavier 31, Elder 28


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