October 14, 2011

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Dallas Jackson is the Senior Analyst for RivalsHigh. Email him your question, comment or story ideas to DallasJ@Yahoo-Inc.com and follow him on Twitter.

Just when we want to thank a coach for admitting that he actually does look at the national rankings ...

Just when we want to thank a coach for admitting that his team actually does look more than one game ahead on the schedule ...

Just when we want to thank a coach for trying to be perfect ... the imperfect happens.

Welcome to the world of Cincinnati (Ohio) Moeller football this week.

On Tuesday, it was reported that Cincinnati (Ohio) Moeller coach John Rodenberg and his team added the goal of a national championship to his team's already lengthy list of goals.

After all, why just be happy with winning the always-tough-to-achieve state title in Ohio, the thought went. With Moeller already at No. 6 in the RivalsHigh 100, why not try to add a victory in the regular-season finale against highly regarded Louisville (Ky.) Trinity and go for it all?

"It's up to us whether we want to a national championship or state title," was the message from Rodenberg according to standout receiver Mardy Madaris.

His private moment - likely meant to stay inside the locker room - became a sensation on message boards when it was released by the local media.

The reason: Moeller's big meeting with Trinity isn't for a few more weeks.

And now it's not so big - thanks to a stunning, 26-24, victory by Indianapolis (Ind.) Cathedral Friday night.

Rodenberg's words are perhaps the only thing that could upstage a have-to-see-it-to-believe-it ending.

Moeller looked as if it wasn't ready to win a Pop Warner title for the first three quarters, falling behind 23-10.

But then - with just over five minutes left - Madaris and the Crusaders showed why they felt they should have such lofty expectations.

After making a crucial fourth-down stop on its own 26, Moeller began to mount a comeback.

Following a long completion from Spencer Iacovone to Madaris down the sidelines, Moeller hit a 14-yard throwback-screen to junior running back Keith Watkins, who went in for a touchdown to cut the lead to 23-17.

With just over three minutes to play, Moeller opted to kick deep.

And just as he has done for most of the season, Nick Palopoli kicked the ball out of the end zone for a touchback, forcing Cathedral to start at its 20.

Moeller responded by forcing its second three-and-out of the game and - following a great punt return - the Crusaders took over at the Cathedral 32 with 2:22 to play.

Moeller, like it had done for much of the game, struggled to move the ball but converted a fourth-and-10 to keep the drive and its title hopes alive.

With the clock ticking down, Moeller was still running plays to the middle of the field when a gang tackle near the 12 errantly caused the game clock to be stopped.

It was unable to be restarted and the remaining time in the game was kept on the field.

Moeller pushed the ball forward with another first down and then down to the 1 yard line.

On third down, the Crusaders did not get in.

On fourth down, they did. An ugly extra point made it 24-23.

The problem was, no one knew just how much time was left.

Palopoli again kicked the ball into the end zone. But this time it may have been a mistake as no time came off the clock, allowing Cathedral to set up at the 20.

Cathedral then completed a 56-yard pass to Wyatt Wood to the Moeller 24 and immediately called timeout.

Announcers broadcasting the game declared there was now just one second left on the clock - or just enough time for Cathedral to kick a game-winning 40-yard field goal and end Moeller's national championship dreams.

Which it did.

MORE: RivalsHigh 100 Scoreboard | What games Rivals.com will be at


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