Needing to stop one of the top passing attacks in the state last Friday, the DeSales High School football team used an aggressive, blitzing defense to help lead it to a 38-21 win over Louisville in the Division II, Region 7 championship game at Arlin Field in Mansfield

Needing to stop one of the top passing attacks in the state last Friday, the DeSales High School football team used an aggressive, blitzing defense to help lead it to a 38-21 win over Louisville in the Division II, Region 7 championship game at Arlin Field in Mansfield

The Stallions will look for a similar result -- but likely with a much different approach -- when they travel Friday to Welcome Stadium in Dayton to face Cincinnati Anderson in a state semifinal.

The defending state-champion Redskins have shown a variety of looks out of the pistol shotgun, sometimes mixing in the wing-T and the option, but they're primarily a running team.

Since Anderson lost to DeSales 38-17 on Sept. 12 in the first meeting between the programs, it has gone 8-1 and is 11-2 overall.

Last Friday, the Redskins avenged their other loss -- 23-13 to Cincinnati Winton Woods on Sept. 26 -- when they rallied from a 21-7 deficit to win 24-21 in the Region 8 championship game at Cincinnati Princeton.

In addition, Anderson will be at full strength. In the earlier matchup with the Stallions, quarterback Daniel Rod played sparingly -- going 1-for-5 passing for 6 yards with one interception -- and was one of several players who were banged up for the Redskins.

Rod has passed for more than 1,400 yards and 10 touchdowns, and last Friday threw a touchdown and also ran for a crucial first down on fourth-and-5 on the Redskins' final scoring drive.

The Redskins also have a pair of big offensive linemen in senior Andrew Norwell (6-7, 280 pounds) and junior Nick Schirmann (6-2, 245).

"You have to look at each week differently," said coach Ryan Wiggins, whose team is 13-0 overall. "Louisville was so good at finding open zones, and our philosophy was to disguise things and get after the quarterback. This week I think our focus has got to be about winning the battles up front. They're a very high-powered offense."

Running back Kyle Slater, who rushed for 103 yards and one touchdown on 24 carries in the earlier matchup, had 223 yards and two touchdowns on 41 carries last Friday to lead the Redskins.

Slater and Rod were key players a year ago when Anderson beat Louisville 31-25 for the state title.

This is the furthest the Stallions have gone since 2005, when they lost to Steubenville 28-7 in the Division III state final. They lost in regional finals each of the last two seasons.

"As far as their size and physicality, their line is as good as I've seen," Wiggins said. "They're relentless blockers. Their quarterback is very, very good. He did not play much the first time we played them, and he's their emotional leader. Plus he's got a state championship ring."

DeSales had 289 yards rushing in the earlier matchup with Anderson, led by running backs Adam Griffin (100 yards on 9 carries) and Josh Kusan (95 yards, 4 touchdowns on 16 rushes) and quarterback Thomas Gentile (65 yards on 14 carries). Griffin also had a 43-yard catch.

Last Friday, Kusan rushed for 211 yards and three touchdowns and Griffin had 76 yards and one touchdown.

"It feels pretty good to be in a state semifinal," Griffin said. "I remember the first time we played them we were able to run the option really well. Our offensive line has been playing great. Everybody has been playing their assignments.

"We're feeling really good about ourselves. We just played our best game of the season and hopefully we'll knock off the defending state champions again and get to the state final."

Next game

DeSALES vs. CINCINNATI ANDERSON

•When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

•Where: Welcome Stadium in Dayton

•Last meeting: Sept. 12, DeSales 38-17

•Anderson (11-2) to date: Defeated Cincinnati Taft 56-6; def. Mason 42-13; def. Hamilton 31-10; lost to DeSales 38-17; def. Batavia Amelia 65-0; lost to Cincinnati Winton Woods 23-13; def. Loveland 52-12; def. Cincinnati Glen Este 28-21; def. Milford 50-27; def. Harrison 56-34; def. Trenton Edgewood 55-7; def. New Carlisle Tecumseh 31-13; def. Cincinnati Winton Woods 24-21

•Top Redskins: Andrew Norwell, Luis Perez, Daniel Rod, John Runk, Nick Schirmann, Bryan Schlosser, Mike Sears and Kyle Slater

•DeSales (13-0) to date: Def. Lima Shawnee 28-0; def. Toledo St. John's 31-17; def. New Albany 28-7; def. Cincinnati Anderson 38-17; def. Findlay 38-7; def. St. Charles 20-10; def. Watterson 21-17; def. Erie (Pa.) Cathedral Prep 41-21; def. Cincinnati LaSalle 31-21; def. Cleveland Benedictine 35-21; def. Watterson 20-17; def. Marion-Franklin 31-23; def. Louisville 38-21

•Top Stallions: Ike Ariguzo, Davon Custis, Thomas Gentile, Adam Griffin, Dion Keaton, Josh Kusan, Chris Rock and Jake Smith

Last game

DeSALES 38, LOUISVILLE 21

•Star: Josh Kusan, who rushed 24 times for 211 yards and three touchdowns and had a sack and a tackle for loss

•Key play: With 7:02 remaining, Adam Griffin scored on a 14-yard run for the final margin of victory

•Key stats: DeSales held the Leopards to (minus)-13 yards rushing and forced four turnovers.