Jeff Pharion believes there is no better time than now for his St. Charles Preparatory School football team to snap a 33-game losing streak to DeSales.
His Cardinals will get their chance Friday when the teams meet in their CCL-Silver opener at DeSales.
The Stallions hold a 35-3 advantage since the teams began playing in 1963 with the Cardinals did not having a team from 1965-70. St. Charles won the first game 26-22, but did not win again until a 14-7 decision in 1975 and again in 1976 with a 14-7 score, but they have not won since.
"I want it to be over. It needs to be over. Everyone understands that it's something that we need to do," said Pharion, whose team improved to 5-0 after defeating Sandusky 24-21 last Friday. "We've had some close battles with them. Now it's time to get the job finished."
Last year, DeSales won 10-7 as the Cardinals committed four turnovers, dropped a touchdown pass inside the Stallions' 2-yard line and had trouble with a hold for a field goal.
"It's a three-team league and everyone knows significance of playing St. Charles and Watterson," said DeSales coach Ryan Wiggins, whose team dropped to 3-2 after falling to Orchard Lake (Mich.) St. Mary's 24-0 last Friday. "We play teams from all over the state, but we always know the importance of playing well in those rivalry games close to home."
The Cardinals are led in both rushing and passing by Joe Spahr. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound senior quarterback has rushed for 551 yards in 95 carries with three touchdowns. He also is 36 of 80 passing for 401 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. The one pickoff came last Friday.
His favorite targets are senior wide receivers Jourdan Wickliffe (13 catches for 160 yards, 1 touchdown), J. Schroeder (7 for 95, 1 TD) and Colin Merrill (7 for 68).
The team's second-leading rusher is junior Gunner Francis, who had totaled 236 yards on 22 caries with two touchdowns. Last Friday, he had 165 yards on four carries with scores of 61 and 71 yards.
"They have a really good football team and it shows because they are 5-0," Wiggins said. "Their offense has some really good weapons with the quarterback, running back and wide receivers. You have that many weapons on offense and you're gong to be good. They are a good, solid football team."
Last Friday, DeSales was stymied by Orchard Lake (Mich.) St. Mary's, who was led last season by Penn State freshman quarterback Rob Bolden. The Stallions had just 2 yards rushing on 22 carries with two first downs while playing a second consecutive game without running back Warren Ball, who is nursing ankle injury. They had only 29 yards of total offense.
"That was a good football team and had great athletes on both sides of ball," Wiggins said. "We didn't play so well and they played very well.
"They were big, fast and physical and we were not going to show up and win the game just because of who we are. We needed to execute our offensive plays, move the chains and play good solid defense and we didn't do any of those things."
As for the return of Ball, Wiggins was not definite.
"If we were playing (last Monday), there is no way he would be playing," Wiggins said. "Maybe with a few more days rest, things will be better. Will he be 100 percent, probably not. But I don't know if he'll 100 percent the rest of the year."
Ball has rushed for 334 yards in 44 carries with six touchdowns and senior quarterback Nick Gentile has 407 yards in 80 carries with five scores.
"Nick Gentile has been a starter for 2 1/ 2 years at quarterback for them," Pharion said. "That's a great element to have in your corner when you have that much experience running their system."