Tuesday, March 30, 1999

Championship reality sinks in for Moeller




BY RAY SCHAEFER
Enquirer Contributor

        SYCAMORE TOWNSHIP — Moeller High School principal Dan Ledford confessed Monday to breaking three of his own rules during Saturday's boys Ohio Division I basketball finals.

        As it turned out, Mr. Ledford broke them for a good cause. The Crusaders defeated Shaker Heights, 67-62, to claim their first state basketball title. That allowed the school to hold its second pep rally in five days Monday.

        “I don't believe in praying for victory, but I did,” Mr. Ledford said. “I don't believe in yelling at officials, but I did. And I don't believe in giving a free day, but I did.”

        The free day means students begin spring break Thursday instead of Friday, but Mr. Ledford said the extra day off was built into the calendar in case Moeller won.

        Senior guard Mike Monserez was still a bit overwhelmed at all that had happened.

        “It's been such a dream for so long,” he said Monday. “You dream about it, but you never expect it.”

        But until the rally at the end of the school day Monday, one wouldn't have know anything special had happened over the weekend.

        “It was kind of quiet,” said Debbie Brandt of Symmes Township, who volunteers in Moeller's alumni office. “I think they were worn out from Friday and Saturday.”

        Said sophomore Tony Lane of Pleasant Ridge: “It wasn't anything special until the pep rally.”

        Parents and students arrived at school as much as 30 minutes before the rally started, and it didn't take long for them to start talking about the title.

        “It was wonderful, exciting, great, terrific, all those words,” said Ginny Bauer, who works in the development office.

        Junior Rob Ward of Morrow chose the word “excited” to describe his emotions after Saturday's game.

        “There was so much going on,” he said. “People were screaming and yelling. Everything went crazy.”

        Moeller coach Carl Kremer singled out the student cheering section.

        “It's an unbelievable thing to go to Columbus and feel like we were playing a home game in (Jerome) Schottenstein Center,” he said.

        As with Thursday's rally to send the team to Columbus, former Moeller, Notre Dame and University of Akron football coach Gerry Faust — who left a meeting in Akron for about a five-minute speech at Moeller and flew back to Akron to finish the meeting — was on hand.

        “That is unbelievable,” Mr. Faust said. “But that is what this school is all about.”

        Saturday's title was the school's 15th overall — seven in football, three in baseball, two in lacrosse, two in volleyball and one in basketball.

        Mr. Kremer said being the coach of a state championship team had not completely sunk in Monday.

        “I know there are coaches much, much better than me that never get to state,” he said. “To have this happen to me is humbling.”

        Coverage of Moeller's victories in the state tournament