The Watterson High School football team likely won't see much that's unconventional when it plays host to Steubenville on Friday in the third matchup between the programs.

The Watterson High School football team likely won't see much that's unconventional when it plays host to Steubenville on Friday in the third matchup between the programs.

For more than two decades, the Big Red's offensive attack has centered around living or dying by the running game. With amazing consistency, Steubenville has found life to be pretty comfortable following that motto.

The Big Red have won 55 consecutive regular-season games and had won 42 in a row overall -- including a pair of Division III state championships -- before losing to Youngstown Mooney 35-20 in a Division IV regional final last year.

When Steubenville junior quarterback Dwight Macon does pass, he has done so with efficiency the last two years. Macon passed for more than 1,000 yards last season and was 8-for-14 for 147 yards and two touchdowns in a 43-14 win Sept. 12 over Buffalo (N.Y.) St. Joseph's.

But most of Watterson's focus Friday likely will be spent trying to stop a running attack led by Branko Busick, Zach Howarth, William Jackson and Jordan McIntyre. Busick, a third-year starter who has committed to play for West Virginia, rushed for 68 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries in a 23-14 win over Watterson a year ago.

The Eagles improved to 4-1 with a 28-7 win last Friday over Cleveland Benedictine as they held the Bengals to two first downs in the first half. Watterson has given up an average of just 7.5 points in its four victories since opening with a 29-23 loss to Willoughby South on Aug. 22.

"The key (last Friday) was just plugging up the middle and gang-tackling," defensive lineman Jon Lorenz said. "I think we've definitely made some strides with our defense. We have some new guys who have been adjusting to what we do. This is a good time for us to be clicking because the next couple weeks with Steubenville and DeSales are probably the biggest games of the year."

Watterson caused four turnovers and took advantage of a bad snap on a punt in last year's game but still ended up on a short end.

The Eagles have found particular success the last two game running the ball behind an offensive line that features Craig Freeman, Matt Krajcovic, Kurt May, Zach Shepard and Stuart Vagnier.

Kevin Obyc rushed for 110 yards and one touchdown on 14 carries last Friday. Quarterback Pat Nester had 93 yards rushing and was 8-for-11 passing for 95 yards. Ryan Kiger, who saw his first action in a 28-13 win over Cincinnati Winton Woods on Sept. 12, had 49 yards rushing last Friday.

Steubenville has given up an average of 9.4 points in opening 5-0.

The Big Red, like the Eagles, are beginning the toughest portion of their schedule. Including Watterson, Steubenville's next four opponents are a combined 16-2.

"They're good and they just keep winning," coach Dan Bjelac said. "Offensively, (Steubenville spreads) it around and run a lot of formations. Defensively, I think we're starting to get our assignments down. We've been stopping the run well and the kids are starting to settle into their roles."

At a glance

NEXT GAME

WATTERSON vs. STEUBENVILLE

•When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

•Last meeting: 2007, Steubenville 23-14

•Steubenville (5-0) to date: Defeated Wintersville Indian Creek 34-0; def. Akron Buchtel 42-12; def. East Liverpool 45-14; def. Buffalo (N.Y.) St. Joseph's 43-14; def. Lisbon Beaver Local 42-7

•Top Big Red: Demetrius Brandon, Branko Busick, Michael Goodwin, Zach Howarth, William Jackson and Dwight Macon

•Of note: Coach Reno Saccoccia has guided Steubenville to a 262-46 mark with two state championships and three state runner-up finishes since taking over in 1984.

LAST GAME

WATTERSON 28, CLEVELAND BENEDICTINE 7

•Star: Kevin Obyc, who rushed 14 times for 110 yards and one touchdown

•Key play: Ryan Kiger scored on a 2-yard run with 2:18 remaining in the third quarter to end any hopes of a rally by Benedictine.

•Key stat: The Eagles limited the Bengals to 40 yards of offense in the first half and 145 for the game.