X-Game warm up


Photo taken from ehsports.com

Panthers look to bounce back versus St. X

During the middle of the football season, there is one game that catches all Elder fans’ attention. In the hallways of Elder this week, you might hear people chanting “X-Week.”

In case you haven’t figured it out, that chant means the football team is playing the St. Xavier Bombers.

It is a much anticipated game every year. Since we hosted St. X last year, the game will be played on North Bend Road. It seems, however, that being the visitor might be in our favor as the trend recently is that the road team has won . Last season, the Bombers defeated Elder at The Pit 31-7. However, this year, the Panthers are looking to bounce back.

So far this year, the Panthers have a 3-2 record. The season started off with three straight wins against Lakota West, Oak Hills, and Gahanna Lincoln. This week, Elder is coming off a two game losing streak against (#3 in the North) St. Edward and (#1 in the North) St. Ignatius. St. Xavier is now ranked number one in the state after winning the D1 title last year. So far this season, the Bombers are undefeated.

The Panthers are playing the top teams in the state in a row. To add to the challenge, after this week, the football team will take on the Moeller Crusaders. After playing such a tough stretch of games, I decided to get some feedback from the team about what it is like to play the best. I asked senior wide receiver Danny Faillice about the challenge. He told me that the team gets more experience playing against hard teams and playing better competition will only help this team get better going forward.

At this moment, the season has reached its halfway point. Elder has a respectable 3-2 record going into GCL play. Elder played very well against St. Ignatius. In fact, Elder almost won had it not been for a kicker who hit two 45+ yard field goals. But, according to tight end Andrew Broxterman, Elder needs to improve in a few areas.  “We need to improve on special teams and tighten up our blocking,” said Broxterman.

St. X has a good sized stadium. Expect it to be packed for a GCL game. Expect the student section to be totally full as well as the rest of the stadium. However, junior Spencer Bono will not be phased by the crowd. I asked him about the atmosphere of playing road games. Bono loves playing in harsh environments. “I love playing away games. It is fun to shut the crowd up. We need to beat them with authority and to play our hardest to ultimately beat them.” Bono will look to make St. Xavier Stadium very quiet come Friday.

Looking at this big game, the Panthers will, obviously, feel some pressure. Elder plays in one of the toughest conferences in the entire country. I wanted to know if players feel more pressure than usual since it is a GCL match up. Andrew “Ski” Shibinski had a lot to say about this topic. One of the things he noted was that Friday night will be more than just a football game.

“There is always going to be pressure to win. In the GCL South, the stakes are always raised. You play against players you were raised with and grew up with.” Ski also noted that the GCL South has the best competition in the whole country.

Elder’s own trainer, Jeff Fitz, has some concerns about the game, especially hydration. The game versus Ignatius was very hot and lots of water was needed. Later this week, the temperature is supposed to cool down. Game time temperature is supposed to be in the sixties. That temperature change causes Fitz to worry that players will not hydrate enough because it feels good outside.

“At the end of the week, it will be cooler, so they will not want to drink a lot. If they do not hydrate, their bodies will not have enough fluid to function.” Fitz said that, in past football seasons, the first cool game has been a struggle. The temperature fools players into thinking that they don’t need to hydrate as much.

Elder vs. St. X is always a wild game. Elder leads the all-time series 50-41-6. The last time Elder lost at St.X was 2011, when Elder finished the year 2-8. Friday’s theme will be a white out and the team will be wearing the traditional away jerseys, purple on white. It should be a great game to watch. As Drew Shibinski said, it is more than a football game. Two schools, with lots of pride, trying to battle it out on the gridiron. Kickoff time is 7:00 pm. So get your ticket, find a ride, and cheer the Panthers on to victory!