Pickerington Central junior linebacker Taco Charlton said he and his teammates were left with a bad taste in their mouth after a 14-0 loss to Cincinnati Moeller on Saturday, Aug. 27 at the University of Cincinnati's Nippert Stadium.
More importantly, Charlton vowed his teammates would pick things up and be ready for the Sept. 4 matchup against Cincinnati St. Xavier in the Kirk Herbstreit National Kickoff Classic at Ohio Stadium in Columbus. That game will be televised live on ESPNU.
Next week will be the second time the Tigers (0-1) will play an opponent from Cincinnati's renowned Greater Catholic League South division.
Moeller junior running back Keith Watkins had two touchdown receptions to lead the Crusaders (1-0) in the Skyline Chili Crosstown Showdown. Moeller improved to 10-3 in the 14th annual event. It was the first appearance for the Tigers, ranked No. 1 in the ThisWeek Super 7 poll.
"They played good out so I give them props for that," Charlton said. "But we should have also had blocks out there where we could've done better. I think we can do better. We will do better I promise you that. You will see a better Pickerington Central team out here."
The Tigers struggled to run the ball effectively finishing with just 24 net rushing yards compared to Moeller's 146. However, the Tigers had 182 yards passing to Moeller's 75.
Pickerington Central senior quarterback Nick Jensen-Clagg was 14 of 25 passing for 188 yards, including a 34-yard pass. Sophomore Andrew Meyer had four receptions for 54 yards for the Tigers.
Moeller had 221 yards of offense. Senior Mitch Catino had seven tackles to lead Moeller.
"They had a lot of great players," Charlton said. "They did their thing out here. We had our chances, we just didn't do it right. We will work it out in practice. With the great coaches we have we will definitely come back next week for St. Xavier and we will be ready."
The Tigers trailed 7-0 at halftime after both teams played a sloppy first quarter where penalties were common. Moeller blocked a punt in the second quarter to help set up the first score for the Crusaders.
"It was two good teams going out at it," Pickerington Central coach Jay Sharrett said. "It was a slugfest."
Sharrett said he knew there would be some size problems going into the game, but he was proud of the way the Tigers went toe-to-toe with the Crusaders late in the game. The Tigers arrived in Cincinnati on Friday night and Sharrett said his players enjoyed the experience of playing at historic Nippert Stadium.
"There is nothing to hang our heads up about," Sharrett said. "You just go back, lick your wounds and get ready for next week's game."
Moeller coach John Rodenberg said he was nervous going into Saturday's game and said he expects the Tigers will make a deep run into the postseason with their talent. Pickerington Central was a Division I regional finalist last season.
"That's a heck of a team," Rodenberg said.
M -- Watkins 12 pass from Iacovone (Palopoli kick)
M -- Watkins 4 pass from Iacovone (Palopoli kick)