New Albany News

Football

Eagles primed for DeSales

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The DeSales and New Albany high school football teams each regard the other as something of a measuring stick.

For Eagles coach Pat Samanich, that goes back to 2005, when the Stallions routed New Albany 35-14 in a Division III, Region 12 semifinal. That was Samanich's first year as offensive coordinator, a role he filled for eight seasons until taking the head coaching job this past March.

"There are good football teams and there are good football programs, and DeSales is one of the top programs in Ohio," said Samanich, whose team improved to 2-0 by outlasting Westerville Central 57-50 on Sept. 6. "We learned a lot when we played them back in '05. We were on the way up back then, and that loss was one of the things I think that helped elevate us toward being a good program. We've gauged ourselves by a pretty high standard since that point."

Stallions coach Ryan Wiggins' approach is more immediate. DeSales, which evened its record at 1-1 with a 23-6 win at East Cleveland Shaw on Sept. 6, stands to gain considerable computer points with a victory. The Stallions are in Division III, Region 9, and New Albany is in Division II, Region 5.

"It's definitely a big game, and it's been a great game since 2005," said Wiggins, whose team had an 18-year streak of postseason appearances snapped last year. "There are a lot of (computer) points on the line for us, and it's just going to be a great atmosphere. Last week, there might have been 50 people in the stands. This week, it could be a classic high school environment."

Eagles senior receiver Joe Siegenthaler had seven catches for 188 yards and four touchdowns last week, and he took his only carry 61 yards for a score. Senior quarterback Tanner Cline completed 11 of 13 passes for 223 yards with five touchdowns and an interception.

The Eagles' ground game likely will depend on senior fullback Hayden George. Projected senior starter Leslie Anokye still is recovering from an injury suffered in the preseason, and junior Christo Semertsidis -- who rushed for 255 yards and three touchdowns in a 38-20 win over Reynoldsburg in the opener Aug. 30 -- will miss the remainder of the season with a torn knee ligament.

"Hayden got some tough yards last week," Samanich said. "(Westerville Central) had to gang-tackle him a few times. He earns everything he gets."

DeSales' defense is led by linebacker Griff Saunders and senior defensive backs Sayyid Kanu and Tucker Yinger.

Yinger accounted for all three Stallions touchdowns against Shaw, catching an 8-yard pass from junior quarterback Brandon Krietemeyer in the first half before adding scoring runs of 17 and 21 yards in the second half. Yinger finished with 94 yards on eight carries, and DeSales amassed 224 of its 276 total yards on the ground.

"I really liked that we were able to move the ball consistently and just keep drives alive," Wiggins said. "That was something we weren't able to do in our first game."

New Albany has won three consecutive games in the series, including 56-22 last year, but DeSales leads the all-time series 5-4.

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