The GCL has been represented well

Two local teams win state championships in football.

OHSAA 2016 state

OHSAA 2016 state

The GCL has always been a top conference in high school football. This year, the Greater Catholic League showed it true colors bringing back two state championships to Cincinnati.

Both St. Xavier and LaSalle ended their final game of the 2016 season with a win. A state championship, especially in the state of Ohio is an accomplishment that not only the school can be proud of but also the league that they represent.  Many kids dream of this moment throughout their lives but not many are able to achieve it.

Division 1

St. Xavier made one of the most historic runs in high school playoff history, beating Cleveland St. Ignatius in double overtime 27-20. St. X barely even made it into the playoffs with five losses in the regular season. I think that is what fueled them most. They loved being the underdog because they had nothing to lose. Senior safety, Jake Buerkle said that he enjoyed being the underdog, stating “I think that’s what pushed our team through the playoffs. We never were the heavy favorite in any game.”

St. Xavier takes home the state championship
St. Xavier takes home the state championship

What also made this so special were the teams they were able to take down throughout the playoffs. The first being Colerain High School who they lost to in the regular season, 20-14. Another being the team they beat in the state championship, St. Ignatius, who they lost to in the regular season, 31-14. It was an exciting playoff run for the Bombers, being that every game besides one was decided by seven points or less.

Buerkle, when asked where this moment ranks with the greatest moments of his life said, “Probably first, just because how exciting the postseason was, and the fact that we were the first team with five losses to win state.”

He also claimed that it is what he has always dreamed about as a little kid. With the state championship on the line you look to your key players and leaders for the extra push and that is just what Buerkle was able to bring to the table for his team. Jake forced a fumble late in the game that was scooped up in the end zone for a score and also delivered some big hits which gave the Bombers the energy to overcome Cleveland St. Ignatius.

Although a division one championship is more impressive, the Bombers aren’t the only team that made the members and schools of the GCL proud.

Division 2

LaSalle had many things that made their 2016 football season impressive. One was that they won their first outright GCL title, going 3-0 in the league.

LaSalle, already coming off of two state championships in 2014 and 2015, completed the three peat in the 2016 division two state championship defeating Massillon Perry in a 14-7 shootout.

Only a handful of teams have completed a three peat in the whole country no matter the division. Even though the teams that the division two playoff consists of aren’t quite up to par, it is still an impressive milestone that the school can cherish.

LaSalle takes the division 2 state championship
LaSalle takes the division 2 state championship

Having 30 seniors on the Lancer football team this year is what really stuck out. These veterans were able to string together another state championship to keep the streak alive. This act was impressive being that they lost plenty of key players last year on both sides of the ball. Senior defensive lineman, Shane Dashley, said that this state championship meant the most to him out of all three. “I was able to actually contribute to this year’s wins instead of just being a part of the team on the sidelines in the past years.”

LaSalle’s head coach Jim Hilvert, who is a former Elder Panther, lives and breathes GCL football. In just the two short years that he has been head coach for the Lancers he has been able to achieve two division two state championships.

I asked both Buerkle and Dashley whether they would rather win one division one state championship or three division two state championships and both replied two different answers.

that’s a tough one but I’d rather win three division two state championships just because only a handful of teams have been able to complete the three peat.

— LaSalle defensive lineman Shane Dashley

Dashley claimed, “that’s a tough one but I’d rather win three division two state championships just because only a handful of teams have been able to complete the three peat.”

Buerkle had different thoughts keeping his answer short and sweet “division one no doubt.”

Both of these teams had unbelievable seasons overcoming plenty of obstacles. It makes being a part of the Greater Catholic League that much more special. The things that this league has been able to accomplish are truly impressive. The GCL has and always will be one of the greatest leagues in all of high school sports.