The Watterson High School football team finally seemed to make some headway offensively in a 20-14 loss to St. Charles on Oct. 25 at home.
The next week, the Eagles turned in their best offensive performance of the season in a 38-14 win over host Jona-than Alder on Nov. 1, but it wasn't enough to secure a playoff berth.
Watterson finished 3-6 overall and missed the postseason for the second time in three seasons, finishing 11th in the Division IV, Region 13 computer ratings as the top eight made the playoffs. The Eagles averaged 13.7 points but were held to seven points or fewer four times.
Even though the season did not unfold the way Watterson had anticipated, junior quarterback Sam Maglicic is encouraged by the progress the Eagles made heading into the offseason.
"Our offense wasn't as efficient as it needed to be," said Maglicic, who started eight games. "We just didn't convert in the red zone and on third downs. (Against Jonathan Alder), our running game spread them out a little bit more and we were able to complete more easy passes and drive the ball easier."
Watterson, which went 3-7 in 2011 before bouncing back to go 7-4 and make the playoffs a year ago, opened with a 17-12 win over Walnut Ridge on Aug. 30. That victory, along with a 23-20 overtime win over Division II-foe Cincinnati LaSalle on Sept. 27, kept the Eagles in the playoff hunt.
Watterson, which lost to DeSales 13-3 on Oct. 18, went 0-2 in the CCL-Silver Division to finish behind St. Charles (2-0) and DeSales (1-1). The league title was St. Charles' first since 1962.
The Eagles lose 21 seniors, including John Bogue (OL/DL), Cody Calhoun (RB/DB), Kyle Fada (OL/DL), Walter Green (RB), Alec Greene (TE/DL), Eli Kirk (LB), Patrick Pirrmann (DB), Patrick Roark (LB) and Ryan Urquhart (WR/DB).
Green led the team in rushing with 348 yards and three touchdowns. Calhoun rushed for 248 yards and four touchdowns, added a touchdown reception and had 47 tackles and three interceptions on defense. Greene and Urquhart each had one touchdown catch and were key players on defense.
Kirk led in tackles with 52, Fada led in tackles for loss with 6.5 and Pirrmann was third in tackles with 36.5.
Of Watterson's nine opponents, only three made the playoffs but six finished with a winning record.
"As the year went on, I think we were getting better offensively relative to who we were playing," said coach Dan Bjelac, whose team averaged 10.6 points before facing Jonathan Alder. "Obviously, we have to start doing the weight-room stuff and we've got to get kids stronger. When you play better teams, the margin for error is always less. It's always one or two plays when you're in those type of ballgames."
Maglicic completed 48 of 117 passes for 458 yards with three touchdowns and was the team's second-leading rusher with 308 yards and three scores. Junior Alex Loscko (WR/DB) had 11 catches to tie Urquhart for the team lead.
Junior Jack Haley (RB/LB) should be back to lead the defense after finishing with 25.5 tackles.
Junior kicker Michael Harper made four of seven field-goal attempts and 15 of 16 extra-point attempts.
Other key players expected to return include juniors Tyler Bair (WR/DB), Ben Kaminski (RB/DB), John Pirrmann (OL/DL) and Teddy Walter (WR/DB) and sophomore Nick Melaragno (RB/DB).
"We have a pretty good sophomore class," Maglicic said. "There's not much size on the line, but they definitely have a good work ethic."