Just two seasons ago St. Xavier head coach Steve Specht guided his team to a Division One state championship. In 2007 Specht is not only fighting high expectations within Ohio, but the fact his squad has been given an overall national ranking as the top team in America. From watching the Bombers take on Hamilton on Friday night it's easy to see why the talented team from Cincinnati is held in such high regard.
With 136 players listed on their 2007 roster, St. Xavier High School has no shortage of bodies to take the field and help them towards an Ohio "Big School" championship. Depth is not an issues as each position has several players who show skills with some being major college prospects.
During their final scrimmage before opening their season next Saturday in the Skyline Chili Crosstown Showdown against Winton Woods (Cincinnati, OH), the Bombers took on an athletic Hamilton team looking to hang tight. That goal lasted only for the opening kickoff, as the Bombers took their first play from scrimmage for a 70-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback John Hurley to junior Patrick Reagan.
Hurley understands what his job is and is being pushed by several younger quarterbacks in junior Sam Edmiston and super-sophomore Luke Massa. Edmiston stands 6-foot-6, 220-pounds and Massa shows a strong arm and the ability to use his feet to keep plays alive. Massa will be a name to remember as the 6-foot-4, 175-pound signal caller showed the ability to run the Bombers offense.
Offensive weapons are a plenty for the Bombers as senior running back Darius Ashley brings veteran leadership and the understanding of what is needed for success. Don't be surprised to see the star running back lining up at quarterback taking direct snaps and making things happen.
Ashley is joined by the very athletic Danny Milligan who is considered a college kicking prospect with enough athletic ability to play receiver and make big plays. The other top target is Stephon Ball who is fast becoming a prospect college coaches will be looking at early. The son of former NFL player Eric Ball, the 6-foot-5, 220-pounder has giant, soft hands and the ability to get yards after the catch.
During the night the Bombers used their offensive weapons to score three touchdowns in the first half as Reagan and Hurley would connect for a second time and Milligan would make a tough over-the-shoulder catch and find pay dirt.
The Bombers starters returned for the first series after halftime and wasted little time as Hurley would hit Ashley for a short swing pass and watch as the talented back weaved his way 70-yards to the end zone.
But while it would be easy just to talk about the Bombers offense, their defense is also a force to deal with as several players can also claim to be college prospects.
Led by Fred Craig (Stanford), the Bombers bring toughness to the field on every play. Senior Nick Schneider (linebacker) is way underrated as a prospect as are Michael Holbrook (SR. linebacker) and Ross Morand (SR. defensive back).
Just as on offense the Bombers have some younger players to keep an eye on. Luke Kuechly (LB – 6-foot-3, 205-pounds) and David Herman (LB- 6-foot-1,195-pounds) are both juniors to follow as the season progresses.
As stated the Bombers have several young players to keep an eye on and a "Hidden Gem" who is going to end up a college prospect when it's all said and done. But the biggest overall prospect is only a sophomore. Offensive lineman Matt James stands 6-foot-7, 260-pounds and shows great potential in the trenches. How good are the Bombers? James is not a starter at this time but should see playing time.
The "Hidden Gem" is senior first year player Greg Scruggs who is the only player taking snaps on offense and defense. A fulltime defensive end and part-time tight end, Scruggs stands 6-foot-5, 230-pounds and is super athletic. A former basketball player, Scruggs was encouraged by his best friends Ashley and Ball to play his senior season.
Another player many will want to keep an eye on is Nevin Heard who is the back-up for Ashley. A junior, Heard is a lot like his running mate in terms of size and running style.
Are the Bombers the nation's best team? Only time will tell if St. Xavier can match their preseason hype. But knowing Bombers head coach Steve Specht and his coaching style you can be sure he'll keep his team focused and working on the finer details of the game.
Here are some photos from Friday night's action.
SR Quarterback John Hurley
SR Danny Milligan Over-the-Shoulder Catch
FRED CRAIG PHOTOS
GREG SCRUGGS PHOTOS
DARIUS ASHLEY PHOTOS
DAVID HERMAN #45 & MICHAEL HOLBROOK #30
ST. XAVIER HC STEVE SPECHT