October 14th, 2017

Albers leads St. X past Male to capture district crown

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Conor Revell

Managing Editor

Albers leads St. X past Male to capture district crown
St. X's Ben Mueller hauls in his 60-yard touchdown pass / photo by Mark Sims

St. Xavier’s second-ranked football team has been waiting to play a complete game – where both the defense and offense showed up.

That happened Friday night when the host Tigers defeated No. 4 Male 27-0 at Brother Thomas More Stadium to capture the Class 6-A, District Three regular crown for a second straight year.

“I think during practice they were more attention to the details and played a lot smarter,” St. X head coach Will Wolford said. “We weren’t happy with the way the defense played against Manual. Don’t get me wrong, Manual has some players, but we felt like we made several mistakes a lot like the offense did against Trinity and they played fantastic against Manual.”

It has been a long time coming since Manual dropped 34 points on the Tiger defense the week before and the offense dropped a goose egg against Trinity two weeks ago.

St. X (7-1) has now beaten the Bulldogs (7-2) three straight times after ending a five game losing streak in the series last season.

“We came out ready to play,” St. X defensive end Evan Walker said. “We knew that this was for the district championship. I feel like we had developed a great game plan. We came out strong and took it from there.”

It also means the Tigers have home field advantage in the playoffs. Their next game away from Brother Thomas More Stadium would be at Kroger Field in the state championship game if they make it that far.

Male had no answer for St. X quarterback Jack Albers who rushed for 74 yards and three touchdowns and completed 8 of 14 passes for 137 yards and another score.

“Early on Male was doing a great job of stopping our inside run so we knew we were going to have to get some runs to the outside,” Albers said. “Our wide receivers did a great job of blocking which allowed us get to the outside and Anthony (Moretti) was able to fake the defensive ends.”

Albers found a lot of his success by running to the outside – and had touchdown runs of 1, 5 and 36 yards.

“We’ve always known that he’s a pretty talented kid,” Wolford said. “He knows that he’s talented in his own eyes. We’ve been working with him on his decision making. He can really take off and run with the ball. He played well tonight.”

Then there was the defense – the Tigers recorded five sacks – two by Nolan Bruner and one by Wyatt Smock, Ben Shugart, and Andrew Uhls.

“Our defense was ready to deliver the shutout,” Bruner said. “We studied a lot of film this past week. It came natural to us. We simply wanted to played harder than their offense and we were tough as nails.”

Wolford praise his defensive line for sneaking into the backfield time and time again.

“Nolan plays incredibly hard,” Wolford said. “He’s athletic, fast, and strong. There’s no doubt that it’s his name that has made some big plays in big games. And Uhls is a big playmaker. He’s going to play in college somewhere. There’s no doubt these guys have done their jobs.”

Albers 1-yard touchdown run on the first drive of the game put the Bulldogs in a 7-0 hole with 5:54 left in the opening quarter. The Tigers converted on third down three times that drive.

But the play of the game came from the special teams – with a 7-0 lead, Desmond Andrews-Ogbogu blocked Male’s Drew Hutchinson’s 40-yard field goal.

“It was a great play,” Walker said. “We have worked on that play a lot in practice. They left a gap open and Desmond and I was able to get through it. Des got a hand on it and then we did a good job of recovering the ball.”

Two plays later, Albers found a streaking Ben Mueller for a 60-yard touchdown pass putting the Tigers up 14-0 with 4:53 left in the second quarter.

“We’ve been working on that play a lot in practice,” Mueller said. “When coach called it, everything kind of went well on that play. When I lined up, I noticed the safeties had crept up. I knew the middle was going to be wide open and I ran my route like I would in practice. I got a good block on the edge and went into the end zone.”

And that set the tone for the rest of the game.

“You always want to answer after a big play like that,” Wolford said. “We were able to do that a couple of times throughout the game. Ben made a great even though there was a PI on the play. That’s the way to respond. To do that against Male is great. Male is a great football team and we hope to play them again.”

Albers had touchdown runs of 36 and 5 yards in the second half to ice the game.

“We had run the same play a few times in a row and it was an inside run,” Albers said of his 36-yard touchdown run. “I decided to fake the inside run and then pulled to the outside and the field was wide open.”

The Bulldogs found some success on offense but turned it over on downs three times, fumbled it once, and had a field goal blocked.

St. X turned it over twice – Albers threw an interception – and lost a fumble.

Quarterback Cam Chesher led the Male offense and completed 15 of 26 passes for 135 yards.

The game also marked the 100th anniversary of St. X football. Their first game was played on a vacant lot on known as Lutz Park on Oct. 13, 1917 where the Tigers defeated Jeffersonville (Ind.) High 18-0.Tonight's contest against the Bulldogs marked the 1070th game all-time in program history.

St. X will host Butler in their final district game of the season next Friday at 7:30 p.m. 


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