STATE CHAMPS STORE
Moeller makes most of its non-Gulfshore trip to Naples
January 3, 2013Cincinnati Moeller High School
By Adam Fisher
Although it's located 1,000 miles north on Interstate 75, Cincinnati's Moeller High School would be right at home in Naples.
Moeller is a football powerhouse. The Fighting Crusaders have won eight state championships, including this fall, and finished state runner-up four times in the school's 41 years. Moeller is second all-time in the Ohio record books in titles, championship game appearances and playoff berths.
The Crusaders have one of the country's top gridiron programs, but Moeller was in football-crazed Florida this week to play basketball. While the football team gets plenty of recognition, the Crusaders hoped to prove to Southwest Florida that their basketball team is no slouch.
"We have a pretty good situation," Moeller coach Carl Kremer said. "We're really pretty good at everything. It's a great place to coach. We have kids that understand what it takes to be successful."
Moeller is in town after signing up for the Gulfshore Invitational, which was canceled two weeks before its scheduled start. With travel plans already booked, the Crusaders opted to make the trip to Naples anyway.
Thanks to some last-minute scrambling by local coaches and athletic directors, Moeller and two other stranded Gulfshore teams were able to salvage some games. The Crusaders played Golden Gate and Community School, as well as the other out-of-town teams, Wilbraham (Mass.) and Monson and Toronto-Waterloo.
"The few teams we've played have been good competition," senior Josh Davenport said. "We always look to play the best to get our team better. The overall trip was good."
The Crusaders were able to show local fans that they play basketball, too, not just football. While the football team grabbed headlines recently, the basketball program got more attention the past decade.
The football title was the first for the all-boys Catholic school since 1985, and the first finals appearance since 1997. Since then, the basketball team won state championships in 1999, 2003 and 2007 while finishing runner-up in 2010.
"The basketball team's done better than the football team lately," said Keith Watkins, the Crusaders point guard who is committed to play running back at Northwestern. "Every year we do pretty good. Basketball's definitely not overlooked."
This year's Moeller team is young but talented. The Crusaders have one starter back from last year's 21-4 team, but Kremer likes his team's chances.
Moeller has a big front line, with five players listed at 6-foot-5 or taller. Two others are 6-4, including Davenport, a senior shooting guard who is committed to Winthrop.
"Talent-wise we're as good as we've been since the last championship team in 2007," Kremer said. "I think by March we could make a run. We've got size, great shooters, athletic wings that attack the rim. This is the most balanced team I've had since 2007."
At a school where championships are the norm, expectations can be high. Last spring, Moeller's baseball and boys volleyball teams each won state championships. Add in the football team's title four weeks ago, and Crusaders basketball fans are hungry for another championship of their own.
"That's motivation for us," senior forward Corey Muchmore said of the football's title. "We saw how happy they were. That's our goal. We're taking small steps to get there.