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Rival high school football players become close teammates at Miami

Swoop the RedHawk and Rufus the Bobcat got heated during Miami's Nov. 2 matchup vs. Ohio University.
Swoop the RedHawk and Rufus the Bobcat got heated during Miami's Nov. 2 matchup vs. Ohio University.

When you think about Cincinnati high school football, two rival schools immediately come to mind: Archbishop Moeller and St. Xavier. This year, Miami has managed to recruit a freshman from each of the Greater Catholic League schools. 

Grant Lyons was a 3-star linebacker at St. Xavier. In his senior season, the Bombers’ captain won his conference’s defensive player of the year award, after tallying eight sacks and three interceptions. In his last game against Moeller, Lyons had a sack and a pick.

Danny Dunlop was a 6.8-yard-per-carry running back at Moeller. Dunlop, in his second year at Miami, joined the squad this season. 

Despite St. Xavier being the oldest high school in the Cincinnati area, Moeller’s reign on the gridiron started decades before its rival’s. From 1975, the Crusaders have claimed nine state and five national titles. 

However, St. Xavier has had the edge since 2004, adding four state and two national championships to its trophy case. In the last 24 matchups, the Bombers recorded 14 victories, including blowing out the Crusaders twice on their way to their 2020 state title. 

When the rivals battle, it is a huge event in Cincinnati, featuring famous athletes in attendance. When the #2 state-ranked Moeller beat St. Xavier 20-17 this September, Bengals running back Joe Mixon and head coach Zach Taylor were in attendance.  

For the two Miami players, they deeply love their alma matters because of how special the programs are. For example, St. Xavier produced former NFL Defensive Player of the Year Luke Kuechly.

“Knowing that you’re playing for the Long Blue Line, it means more than playing for yourself,” Lyons said. “You are playing for the guys around you and the guys who came before you.” 

Before becoming teammates, Dunlop knew the type of player Lyons was.

“He’s a great player,” Dunlop said. “I was always aware of where he was on the field when I was playing him.” 

Although they come from rival schools, their relationship is the opposite. The friends credit their southwestern Ohio Catholic schooling for allowing them to click so well.

“I think that Danny and I have a special GCL connection,” Lyons said. “I think all the guys that played in that league have a connection of some sort.”

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Lyons and Dunlop laugh with each other, whether it’s in the locker room or hanging out on the weekends. A common conversation they have revolves around their high schools. 

“We talk about the games,” Lyons said. “I kinda have the upper hand because we won both years I was there, but Danny and I have good fun with it.”

Moeller and St. Xavier wouldn’t be a real rivalry without any chirping involved when the pair is together. However, their trash talk does not have bad intentions; it is just how they get along.

“We’ll talk a little good natured smack every now and then,” Lyons said. “I’d be lying if I said we didn’t.”

Dunlop especially enjoys joking with Lyons. 

“You know the classic: you’re from St. X, you’re a pretty boy, you don’t know what it’s like,” Dunlop humorously said. 

As first-years, Lyons and Dunlop have a small role on Miami’s team this year. Currently, they serve as scout team players to help the starters prepare for the upcoming opponent. 

“When the defense is doing well out there, I like to think I played a part in that,” Dunlop said.

The two will travel upstate with the RedHawks to Akron (1-7) this Saturday, October 29, to watch Miami (3-5) try to regain some conference control. Kickoff is scheduled for noon on ESPN+. 

@stevenpepper38

pepperse@miamioh.edu

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