During its 17-12 win over Walnut Ridge in its opener Aug. 30, the Watterson High School football team held the Scots' offense to 150 yards rushing and recorded three interceptions.
Led by safety Cody Calhoun, lineman Kyle Fada and line- backers Eli Kirk and Patrick Roark, the Eagles' defense prides itself on aggressiveness and being able to stuff the run based on what Fada calls "relentless effort."
That mindset has helped the Eagles make the playoffs 18 of the past 21 seasons.
"A lot of it is the tradition," said 11th-year coach Dan Bjelac, who was an assistant under former coach Mike Golden before taking over the program in 2003. "We try to teach the fundamentals, know your assignments and hopefully not be too complicated. You've always got to pride yourself in stopping the run."
Watterson's run defense will be tested Friday, Sept. 13, when it faces Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit in its third consecutive road game to begin the season. The Eagles lost to Mason 24-7 on Sept. 6 to fall to 1-1.
Walsh Jesuit, which stumbled to a 3-6 finish a year ago but has made the playoffs 16 times under 34th-year coach Gerry Rardin, fell to 0-2 after losing to Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary 35-20 on Sept. 6.
The Warriors' run-oriented offense includes running backs D.J. Aguilar, Bryan DiCillo, Matt McShane and Anthony Rozum, 6-foot-5, 205-pound quarter- back Pat Ford and linemen Alex Conley (6-4, 290) and John Conner.
Conley has received a Division I scholarship offer from the University at Buffalo and DiCillo (6-2, 208) has offers from Kent State, Miami University and Ohio University as a linebacker.
Fada believes the Eagles' defensive unit has the potential for big things this season, not only because of its ability to be physical, but because the players "have that bond off the field."
Fada was a freshman in 2010 when the Watterson defense -- led by his brother, Craig -- gave up an average of just 8.3 points per game, which helped the Eagles win the Division III state championship.
Craig Fada is a sophomore walk-on for Ohio State who plays on special teams.
"(My brother) just says to be relentless on every play and just dig down," Kyle Fada said.
"Our defensive line is really aggressive and fast," Kirk said. "I think a big part of it is the tradition. The coaches instill in us being tough, mean and always willing to go 100 percent."
Watterson got interceptions from Calhoun and defensive backs Ryan Urquhart and Teddy Walter against Walnut Ridge.
According to Michael Roark, who has been the defensive coordinator since 2009, the Eagles have found success over the years defensively with a set of what he calls "core principles."
"We talk about be aligned, know your job and then do it," said Roark, who is Patrick's father and has been on the Eagles' coaching staff since 1999.
"We talk about how that requires you to have faith and trust in the guys around you.
"We've got an incredible number of good athletes, but rarely do we have Division I type of guys. That's almost a good thing, though, because when you've got one guy that gets all of the tackles, sometimes the other guys start to take it for granted. It's probably page 36 of the coaching cliche handbook, but we get after it pretty good."
Field hockey team out to strong start
The field hockey team defeated Lancaster 9-0 on Sept. 4 in a Central Ohio Field Hockey League-East Division game.
Watterson was 3-0 overall and 3-0 in the COFHL-East before playing Granville on Sept. 11.
Against Lancaster, attacker Leah Delp scored three goals, midfielder Stephanie Polletta and attacker Erin Robenalt each scored two, midfielder Abby Marshall and attacker Shannon Maloney each scored one and goalkeeper Bridget Wagy had four saves.
Watterson plays Thursday, Sept. 12, at Upper Arlington and Saturday, Sept. 14, against Cincinnati St. Ursula at Thomas Worthington.
Last year, the Eagles beat St. Ursula 1-0 and UA 2-0.
Watterson returns to league play Tuesday, Sept. 17, at Columbus School for Girls.
Girls soccer team wins CCL opener
The girls soccer team was 3-0-2 overall and 1-0 in the CCL before playing Ready on Sept. 10.
Watterson tied Perrysburg at 1 on Sept. 7 after defeating Hartley 8-0 in its league opener Sept. 5.
Midfielder Ellie Gantz scored four goals to lead the way against Hartley. Midfielders Abby Demboski and Julianna Rotolo, forward Kate Jones and defender Hannah Manion each added one goal and goalie Marissa Wierzbicki had two saves.