The Watterson High School football team made a long road trip last weekend worthwhile.

The Watterson High School football team made a long road trip last weekend worthwhile.

In addition to posting a 28-10 victory last Saturday over Cleveland Benedictine in Bedford Stadium, the Eagles made significant progress running the ball -- a major goal entering the game.

If Watterson again can find success in that area Friday against visiting Cincinnati La Salle, it should go a long way toward tempering an offense centered around the shotgun spread for the second consecutive week.

Behind an improving offensive line that features Craig Freeman at center, Ben Rutkowski and T.J. Gilles at tackle and Andrew Buening and Kurt May at guard, the Eagles piled up 308 yards rushing last Saturday. Mark Theado (124 yards), Matt Redfield (72), Kadell Nevel (46) and Dorian Gabrek (35) led the rushers.

"I just think we executed better," coach Dan Bjelac said. "(Redfield's) got a little bit more speed. (Theado) is more the old-school fullback. I think our offensive line has been doing a good job. We've shown flashes of what we're capable of."

The Lancers, who hung with DeSales before losing 31-21 last year on the way to a 4-6 season, are 4-1 but haven't had a winning season since 2005. They play in the same Greater Catholic League-South Division as 2008 Division I state runner-up Cincinnati Elder and suffered their only loss this season to the Panthers, 23-13 on Sept. 18.

Watterson is 4-1 and was fourth in the Division III, Region 10 computer ratings last week.

La Salle quarterback Andrew Kummer (6-foot-3, 170 pounds) has thrown for 969 yards. His favorite targets have been Matt Woeste (317 yards), Rodriquez Coleman (282) and Zach Abbatiello (189). Matt Farrell is the leading rusher with 224 yards.

According to Redfield, Watterson's biggest area of improvement on defense has been in a secondary that features cornerbacks Nick Liimatta and Brad McCurdy.

The Eagles led Benedictine 14-3 at halftime and limited the Bengals to 57 yards passing and 99 yards rushing. Linebacker Michael Szaraz and Redfield had nine tackles apiece.

"Their quarterback has got a nice arm and a good, quick release," Bjelac said. "He's a tall, lanky guy and he's got a good feel for what they're trying to get him to do."

"We know this is going to be a tough game, especially since they only lost to Elder by 10 points," Redfield said. "Our defense has been stepping up. We'll be ready."

Last Friday in a 48-7 win over Lima Senior, La Salle's defense gave up 161 total yards, had three sacks and one interception.

On the season, Lancers defensive end Keenen Gibbs (6-4, 246) has four sacks and linebackers Joe Anders and Marco Dates both have two sacks.

"Our (offensive) line has started to pick it up," Redfield said. "We're starting to click on offense. It helps that we can pass this year. I think we have good chemistry as a team because we worked harder in the offseason."


Next game

CINCINNATI La SALLE at WATTERSON

• When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

•Last meeting: First meeting

•Watterson (4-1) to date: Defeated Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary 21-7; def. Westerville South 16-10; def. Reynoldsburg 16-14; lost to Cincinnati Winton Woods 19-13 (OT); def. Cleveland Benedictine 28-10

•Cincinnati La Salle (4-1) to date: Def. Cincinnati Oak Hills 7-3; def. Covington (Ky.) Catholic 44-35; def. Liberty Township Lakota East 33-7; lost to Cincinnati Elder 23-13; def. Lima Senior 48-7

•Top Eagles: Craig Freeman (OL/DL), Greg Hock (QB), Nick Liimatta (WR/DB), Kurt May (OL/DL), Matt Redfield (RB/LB), Matt Schweitzer (OL/LB) and Mark Theado (RB)

•Top Lancers: Zach Abbatiello (RB), Joe Andrews (LB), Keenen Gibbs (DE), Pat Bachman (DB), Cameron Cole (DB), Matt Farrell (RB), Drew Kummer (QB) and Matt Woeste (WR)