The Bexley High School football team failed to cash in on some opportunities against both Canal Winchester and St. Charles in its first two games a year ago, with the initial result being a pair of losses and the long-term result being a 4-6 record.

The Bexley High School football team failed to cash in on some opportunities against both Canal Winchester and St. Charles in its first two games a year ago, with the initial result being a pair of losses and the long-term result being a 4-6 record.

Those first two losses were by a combined eight points -- 14-9 to Canal Winchester and 22-19 to St. Charles. They still weigh heavily on the Lions, who opened last Friday with a 28-7 loss to Canal Winchester after leading 7-6 through three quarters.

"(The contest against St. Charles) was one of those close games (the Lions lost last year)," receiver Jon Thomas said. "It was kind of like the Canal Winchester game last year. We didn't finish well. This year we have to finish it."

Canal Winchester, which a year ago went on to finish 10-2, owned the fourth quarter last Friday. It took advantage of a fumble by Seth White to set up its go-ahead touchdown, then blocked a punt less than two minutes later to extend its lead.

"Not to take away anything from Canal Winchester, but we were doing things that allowed them to be successful," coach John Smith said. "We lost the lead in the fourth quarter and some heads went down. We have to correct that."

Bexley is 0-6 against St. Charles since 1996, and last year's meeting was the only time it came within a touchdown of victory.

"We thought we were going to shut them down last year, but they put up a good fight," St. Charles linebacker Rob Reckner said. "It's going to be interesting to see what happens this year. I'm excited. (The stadium is) going to be packed for that game, with a lot of emotion."

"We definitely enjoy playing someone like St. Charles," Thomas said. "St. Charles is right (down the street from) us. We have to learn from our mistakes and do the things we're supposed to do."

The Cardinals won their opener over Walnut Ridge 26-20 last Friday.

Shane Bauman threw an 85-yard touchdown pass to Vinny Spahr in the first quarter and then hit Michael Ryan for an 18-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter. Brad Marchese made two field goals and Jourdan Wickliffe scored on a 1-yard run.

But St. Charles was vulnerable to the big play, with each of Walnut Ridge's touchdowns coming on plays of 40 or more yards. The Scots scored on a 99-yard kickoff return, a 60-yard pass and a 40-yard pass.

"Offensively, they're doing some things differently," Smith said of St. Charles. "They're running some spread offense. Last year they were very big and they ran the ball straight at you. This year they're much more athletic and running an offense that plays to their strengths.

"This week is going to be a very different challenge than Canal Winchester. The Indians handed it off to their running back and they ran straight at you. This week we are going against a spread with a very athletic quarterback. He adds another dimension to what they do."

Bexley hopes to get its no-huddle offense a little more on track. Against Canal Winchester, the Lions' longest run from scrimmage in the first half came when White mishandled a punt snap on fourth-and-15 but picked up the ball and gained 22 yards.

The Lions briefly got on track when White hit Alan Hess for a 68-yard pass to the Canal Winchester 10 to set up Mike Edwards' 1-yard touchdown run.

But after falling behind, the Lions gained just two first downs, had nine yards rushing and were 4-for-10 passing for 37 yards in the final 11 minutes.

"Defensively, St. Charles is pretty basic, but they are very good at hustling to the ball," Smith said. "They made some great plays (against Walnut Ridge).

"We have a saying here that we have to be quick but not hurry (offensively). Mentally we just didn't finish. Mental things, not physical things, were the problem in the second half. That's on me to correct that."