CINCINNATI, Feb. 15, 2013 -- The Archbishop Moeller High School football team has finished sixth nationally for the 2012 season. The announcement was made by MaxPreps, a California-based company that ranks more than 16,000 high school varsity football teams.
Archbishop Moeller (12-3) returned to national prominence when the Fighting Crusaders defeated previously unbeaten Whitmer of Toledo, 20-12, to capture the Ohio Division 1 state championship. It was the school's eighth state crown, but only its first since 1985. Moeller, which improved its record from 9-4 the previous season, is one of 50 schools being honored on the eighth annual MaxPreps Tour of Champions presented by the Army National Guard.
"For nearly a decade, MaxPreps and the Army National Guard have honored America's finest high school football teams with the prestigious Army National Guard national ranking trophy," said MaxPreps President and Founder Andy Beal. "Coach Rodenberg and the Archbishop Moeller Fighting Crusaders have proven on the field that they are among the nation's truly elite high school football teams."
"To be able to capture the tradition of excellence at Moeller High School is something we strive to continue. It's a great honor for us to win a state championship and be part of the Tour of Champions," said Archbishop Moeller head football coach John Rodenberg, who completed his fifth season.
Moeller played a challenging schedule. Whitmer finished No. 10 in the final rankings while the Fighting Crusaders also posted victories against 50th ranked Grand Rapids (Mich.) Christian and No. 11 Trinity of Louisville, Ky. The school's losses came at the hands of No. 32 St. Edward of Cleveland, No. 81 Elder and No. 89 St. Xavier - both of Cincinnati.
Senior tailback Keith Watkins, who will play at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. next season, sparked the Fighting Crusaders offense with 2,031 rushing yards and 23 touchdowns. Quarterback Spencer Iacovone, who will play baseball at Marshall University in Huntington, W. Va., passed for 1,484 yards and 13 TDs and gained another 628 yards on the ground. Junior Gus Ragland was the team's leading receiver with 30 catches for 358 yards and four scores.
Linebacker Shane Jones, who moves on to Michigan State University in East Lansing, had 99 combined tackles, including 11 for losses. He also recorded two quarterback sacks and fell on a pair of loose balls. Senior defensive back Logan Kelleher picked off five passes and broke up six other pass plays to go along with 46 tackles.
Ohio Army National Guard Sergeant First Class Jimmy Gribben presented offensive line coach Doug Rosfeld and the team with the Army National Guard national ranking trophy during halftime of the boys' varsity basketball game Friday night. The team also received a banner for their accomplishment.
"For eight years the Army National Guard has recognized nationally ranked football teams with the Army National Guard national ranking trophy," said LTC Christian J. Johnson of the Army National Guard. "We take great pride in doing so because it symbolizes the indomitable spirit common to high school athletes and the U.S. Soldier. It is our honor to share this symbol with the team, coaches, parents, and school. It is an award for the entire community and is much deserved."
MaxPreps uses a sophisticated computer program, known as the Freeman Rankings, to determine team rank for the Tour of Champions. The system utilizes the huge number of game results stored in the MaxPreps database. Generally, the more a team wins the higher the ranking, but the system takes into account quality wins (against other highly ranked opponents), margin of victory, and strength of schedule. Playoff games are weighted 2.1 times a regular season game.