Improvement on defense helps Moeller stand alone in GCL South
November 22, 2012Cincinnati Moeller High School
By Kevin Goheen
Jim Lippincott knows the numbers. He knows how many points Moeller’s defense has given up this season and how many yards opponents have gained against the Crusaders.
The Moeller defensive coordinator, back at the school after 20 years working with the Bengals, just doesn’t care about the numbers. After the final seconds had ticked off the clock at Nippert Stadium last Saturday and Moeller had beaten Colerain, 24-21, for its first Division I, Region 4 championship in 15 years, Lippincott said: “This is why I love these kids.”
Moeller (10-3) will face Region 3 champion Pickerington North (12-1) Saturday at 7 p.m. at Dayton’s Welcome Stadium in the state semifinals. As high-octane as its offense has been this season, it’s been the improvement of the Moeller defense as the season has progressed that has the Crusaders in this position for the first time since 1997.
Moeller was last in the Greater Catholic League South in the regular season, allowing an average of 30 points a game and 373 yards. The yardage has been the same in the postseason, but the Crusaders have dropped their points allowed to 21 points per game in wins against Huber Heights Wayne, Lakota East and Colerain.
Colerain entered the regional final averaging 462 yards and 42.3 points per game, but Moeller held the Cardinals to 110 yards below their average and their lowest point total of the season.
“They’re extremely bright,” said Lippincott of his players. “The other thing I like about them is they never blink. Nothing bothers these kids. Score, deficit or big lead, nothing bothers them. Our practices have been outstanding because of their attention to detail. They’re competitors.”
Lippincott was Moeller’s defensive coordinator from 1981-91 and the school’s athletic director from 1988-92. When he returned this year and joined John Rodenberg’s staff, he had to teach the other assistants his scheme before they could teach it to the players.
“It’s definitely more of an attack defense,” said senior linebacker Shane Jones.
Against Colerain, Moeller’s biggest success was limiting big plays. Colerain’s first two drives were stopped on third-down tackles to the outside by junior defensive lineman Chalmer Frueauf. The first was a loss of four yards at the Moeller 9-yard line and led to a missed field goal. The second was a 1-yard gain on third-and-5 from the Colerain 48 and forced a punt.
Frueauf pointed to a 48-13 win against Indianapolis Cathedral, one week after the Crusaders lost 17-13 at Elder, as a turning point in the season.
“We’re believing in ourselves, believing in each other and listening to the coaches,” Frueauf said.
Pickerington North, in just its 10th year of existence, is playing in its first state semifinal. The Panthers are averaging 36.5 points per game while allowing just 10 points per game. They’ve shut out five opponents this season, including two of three in the playoffs.
Pickerington North has a trio of senior skill players on offense in quarterback Mason Olszewski, running back Godwin Igwebuike and tight end Jake Butt that can dictate and decide any game.
Igwebuike has rushed for 1,787 yards and 24 touchdowns this season. Butt has 64 receptions for 854 yards and 12 touchdowns while Olszewski has completed 62.9 percent of his passes for 1,761 yards and 20 touchdowns against just six interceptions. He’s also run for 542 yards and three touchdowns. All three are also major contributors on defense.
Igwebuike, like Moeller running back Keith Watkins, has committed to Northwestern. Butt, who is 6-foot-6, has committed to Michigan.