Elder challenges Moeller in one of the GCL’s greatest rivalries


The Elder Panthers football team travels to Nippert Stadium on Friday, September 30th, in attempt to conquer the nationally ranked Moeller Crusaders. Clifton will rock with football fever and heat up with the intensity that pours from these high schoolers’ school pride.


Elder goes into this week to face an undefeated Moeller after battling St. Xavier to open the GCL at home this past Friday. The Crusaders are ranked number 12 in the country as of September 20 according to High School Football America, and number 21 according to MaxPreps. Elder, as of the same date, is ranked number 88 nationally and number 7 in Ohio according to MaxPreps. The GCL-South alone was ranked the fifth toughest conference in high school football according to High School Football America.



As one can see, the game already has high stakes. It will be a battle of young, talented athletes, struggling and competing in ways that are unimaginable to the normal high school football atmosphere. But, as anyone who knows these two schools would understand, this is nothing near a normal atmosphere.

GCL football games are packed, seat to seat, even with local stars attending many matchups. The PIT alone holds around 10,000 people and is most always close to full. The experience is like no other in America: from the fans to the atmosphere to the venues. The proof is held through the long history of this rivalry.

While Elder was built in 1922, Archbishop Moeller was started up in 1960. Over the years, many players have gone through both schools’ programs. The Crusaders have been the home for players like Marcus Rush, Greg Jones, andSam Hubbard. Elder has helped produce stars including Tommy Kraemer, Eric Wood, and Kyle Rudolph. Elder has won two state titles in back-to-back years in 2002 and 2003. Moeller holds claim to nine state championships, the latest in 2013, and a co-national championship back in 1976. The success is impossible to ignore, forcing those to gawk at talent maintained throughout the decades.

Even the playing locations are historic. Elder’s Coach Walter Bartlett Field resides in the historic Elder PIT, completed in 1947 by the dedication and hard work of the students. Moeller hosts most of their GCL home games at Nippert Stadium, home of the Cincinnati Bearcats since 1901, one of the oldest collegiate football stadiums still in use as the Division I level. The thousands of people and athletes that have passed through these fields, their sweat and dedication to this sport cascading from the hearts; it is all remembered and honored each time these men step on the gridiron, and that is something one cannot just find anywhere.

Football in this area is so special and unique. Former Elder lineman Luke Kandra ’20, who now starts for the Louisville Cardinals, discussed his experience playing against Moeller. As one may expect, he mentions how it was always one of the biggest games of the year, from the feeling and intensity of the game to the stakes it held. “During the preparation (of the week leading up) of them, there is just a different feel, and you can tell in the air the intensity that everyone is having,” Luke said. He also described the heart and character it brought out of his teammates while on that field on a Friday night. “In every occurrence against Moeller,” Luke said, “everyone played harder and more physical.” It brings out the greatest football in one of the greatest areas for the sport. Still today, current lineman Evan James ’23 shares a similar message. “It’s just special. There’s no real words for it,” Evan says on his thoughts about playing the Crusaders. “These games are why you really fall in love with the sport.”

The clash of the Panthers and Crusaders once a year on a Friday night is one of those events one just cannot miss. It summons the people of Cincinnati and the West Side. It bargains for the game of the year each rotation of the calendar. It begs for national recognition. There is truly nothing like it in high school sports. If anything, it would be highly encouraged to not miss this annual showdown.