For the third year in a row, it’s an all-Louisville football showcase in the Class 6A state championship game featuring the St. Xavier Tigers (13-1) and the Male Bulldogs (13-0). Fans on both sides of the line couldn’t be prouder of their respective teams representing for the city on the highest competitive stage possible for football.
“Jefferson County’s got a lot of talent here,” said Glenn Hubbuch, a St. X alum and season ticket holder, whose older brother played on St. X’s first ever state championship team in 1956. “When you look at St. X, Male and Trinity, those three teams are pretty dominant. Not only that, you look at some of the scores during the playoffs (and) they’ve been rolling pretty good.”
“There are a lot of good athletes,” said Dutch Boehnlein, another St. X alum whose grandson, Bennett, plays tight end and punts for the Tigers. “But obviously when you get to the larger schools, you got more of them. When you combine good coaches with players and numbers…that’s where it’s going to end up.
"Every once in a while, there’s going to be a good school out in the state. But when you look at Male and St. X, it’s not surprising that you have an all-Louisville final. To play up there at UK is going to be quite a thrill for the kids.”
Saturday’s game will be St. X’s first trip back to state since 2017, where it lost 38-21 to Trinity. St. X’s last state championship win also featured Trinity, as the Tigers beat the Shamrocks 34-10 at Houchens-LT Smith Stadium in Bowling Green in 2009 to walk away with the title.
Conversely, Saturday marks Male’s fourth straight trip to state with their last championship win coming in 2018, a 37-20 victory over Scott County. Making history is cool, but Male’s fans are more interested in ending the recent state title drought the program has experienced the last two seasons.
“I look at Male as the Alabama of (high school),” said Chris Pointer, who played on the Male football team from 1990-94. “You expect them to be in the championship every year. Being a former Bulldog, that’s what it’s supposed to be. We don’t go off moral victories. We get the job done, that’s what Male High School does.”
Saturday’s game will also serve as a rematch between both teams, as Male and St. X tussled all the way back in September. The Bulldogs walked away with the 28-21 win, but St. X fans don’t look at that game as a signal to worry about Saturday. In fact, at least one Tigers fan thinks September’s game could have easily gone to St. X if a couple of key plays had broken their way.
“Male was beating them pretty bad the first half,” recalled Hubbuch. “They were up 21-7, (but) St. X came back. St. X had a long touchdown run called back through a holding penalty. Male also scored on the last play of the first half on a long touchdown pass. St. X had a shot a beating them if some of those breaks would have gone their way.”
But that game is over and done with, and both fan groups are looking towards Saturday for the final showdown for the state championship. Each team has slogged through their schedule to get to Kroger Field, and both fan groups are confident their respective squad has the goods to walk out of Lexington with a ‘W’ to end their season.
“(Male) reminds me of the team I played on in the ’93 state championship year,” said Pointer. “They’re fast. They have good skill positions everywhere, so it’s hard to double team anybody. They got strong quarterback play (and) special teams. They have a complete squad. If all of them on the field do their job, it shouldn’t be a problem.”
“Defensively, we’re going to have to play very strong to contain their speed and athleticism,” said Boehnlein. “I think we have athletes also. (St. X’s) offense will do fine; it’s going to boil down to stopping them defensively. We got to play two good halves. If we do that, we’re going to win or it’s going to be a darn close game.”
Reach Jonathan Saxon at JSaxon@gannett.com or 502-715-1393 and follow him on Twitter at @TheSleepyScribe.
This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: St. Xavier, Male meet in all-Louisville 6A title game for first time