By Conrad Clowers
The Greater Cincinnati League (or widely known as the GCL) has long been thought of as one of the toughest and most competitive conferences in high school football. The league consists of The St. Xavier Bombers, Elder Panthers, Moeller Crusaders and La Salle Lancers. Between the four schools they have produced 17 state championships from 1975 to 2018.
Producing a great team doesn’t always mean individual talent is at a peak. In some cases, teams just play well together. On the other hand, producing a great team doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t have great talent either. In fact, the odds are you do. The GCL currently has three NFL starting players in 2019, who happen to be three of the best at their position.
Luke Kuechly was an absolute stud at St. Xavier. He led the Bombers to a 2007 state championship victory. After a strong college career at Boston College, Kuechly was thought to have the potential of having a solid professional career. Picked #1 by the Carolina Panthers in the 2012 draft and #9 overall, Kuechly has had much better then a solid career. Not only has the former St. Xavier standout been a pro bowler and arguably the best linebacker in the NFL, Kuechly could one day find himself being inducted into the Hall of Fame. His career has been that elite. The only drawback to Kuechly’s career is that it has been marred with concussions.
It’s not a surprising thing that St. Xavier produced a top NFL linebacker. The Bombers have always had a trademark and reputable stingy defense. While St. X has produced notoriously and stingy defenses, Elder has always had one of the most fluent and exciting offenses to watch. The Panthers have produced a long line of division 1 tight ends. There was one that stood out above all. Kyle Rudolph didn’t win a state title at Elder, but he may have been the most highly rated, recruited player ever to come out of the Cincinnati area. Rudolph chose Notre Dame where he starred on some average Irish teams. In 2011 the former Panther was selected in the second round of the 2011 draft. Rudolph has established himself as one of the best tight ends in the NFL while being chosen to multiple pro bowls.
In the 2018 draft, the Bengals finally decided to get in on the GCL gems. Sam Hubbard was instrumental in reviving the Moeller dynasty in back-to-back state titles in 2012 and 2013. A star amongst stars, Hubbard selected Ohio State to take his talents to. The former Moeller product gained a reputation as one of the most fierce pass rushers on the Buckeyes. Then Bengal coach Marvin Lewis took note of Hubbard’s style and chose Hubbard in the third round of the 2018 draft. In just one year, Hubbard has taken over the starting defensive end position for the Bengals and has become a leader on the team. As a rookie, the former Crusader had five sacks in a part time role. He already has two sacks this season. It’s to an advantage that Cincinnati has gotten in showcasing talent from the area.