Watterson set to battle DeSales
Rivalry aside, the Watterson and DeSales high school football teams have had an extra week to ponder what will be on the line when they meet Friday, Oct. 18, on the Stallions' home field.
Both teams are coming off week-seven byes and lost by double-digit margins in their last respective games.
The Stallions' 36-0 loss to St. Charles on Oct. 4 means they'll need a win over Watterson and help from the Eagles to earn their fifth CCL-Silver Division championship in seven seasons under coach Ryan Wiggins.
The Eagles, who lost to Hartley 35-14 on Oct. 4, will finish the league schedule Oct. 25 when they play host to St. Charles.
Both teams also know their respective playoff hopes could be on the line.
DeSales is 3-3 overall and was 13th in the Division III, Region 9 computer ratings last week, while Watterson is 2-4 but was eighth in Division IV, Region 13. Eight teams in both regions qualify for the playoffs.
"Watterson is always the biggest game on our schedule and is a huge rivalry -- always has been, always will be," Wiggins said. "But for us, we need to win some football games to make the playoffs and Watterson also just needs to keep winning to get in. It's a huge game for us and a huge game for them."
Watterson, which is 9-6 against DeSales since coach Dan Bjelac took over in 2003, needed three overtimes to get past the Stallions 24-21 last season. The game was tied at 7 at the end of regulation.
Another defensive struggle could be on tap this year considering both teams have experienced offensive struggles.
Watterson is averaging just 157.2 total yards and 11.3 points per game. It has been held to seven points or fewer three times.
The Eagles have been led offensively by senior running backs Walter Green (188 yards, 1 touchdown) and Cody Calhoun (155 yards, 3 touchdowns) and junior quarterback Sam Maglicic, who has rushed for 116 yards and completed 27 of 76 passes for 288 yards with two touchdowns and five interceptions.
"We did a good job moving the ball against Hartley but just had some turnovers," said Calhoun, who also plays safety. "When we had the ball, we were driving on them, but we had three interceptions."
DeSales trailed St. Charles 15-0 at halftime before giving up three third-quarter touchdowns. On Sept. 27, however, the Stallions held the high-powered offense of defending Division IV state champion Clarksville Clinton-Massie in check in a 21-16 win.
The Falcons entered the game averaging 45.3 points.
"The big thing for us has been working on fundamentals and getting guys healthy," DeSales senior running back and defensive back Sayyid Kanu said. "We'll also have to focus on what Watterson does well, which is run the ball."
Against Clinton-Massie, DeSales began showing more looks running the triple option, Wiggins said. That continued against St. Charles, as the Stallions inserted junior Josh DeLozier, who Wiggins believes is one of his team's best athletes, at quarterback.
DeLozier completed three of six passes for 50 yards but was held to minus-5 yards rushing by the Cardinals. The Stallions had only 82 yards rushing on 32 attempts against St. Charles.
Senior Tucker Yinger and sophomore Austin Andrews have been among the Stallions' busiest ball-carriers of late.
Senior linebacker Eli Kirk (35.5 tackles), Calhoun (32 tackles) and senior lineman Kyle Fada (28 tackles, 3 sacks) have been leading Watterson's defense, but the Eagles might have had their poorest defensive performance against Hartley after playing well during the first five weeks, according to Bjelac and Calhoun.
"It puts more pressure on us because we need to win," Calhoun said. "But with it just being Watterson-DeSales is enough excitement on its own. DeSales is always a must-win."
According to Wiggins, the Stallions will be without junior two-way lineman Drew Selegue (mononucleosis) against Watterson and they also could be without senior two-way lineman K'Jon Gibson (ankle).
"Watterson's record doesn't indicate their ability," Wiggins said. "They've been beaten by some good (teams) and Watterson is what they always are, which is a team with nice size up front and good at what they do, which is play stingy defense."
"I think we have to prepare really hard and forget about what's happened in the past," Stallions defensive lineman Bryan Stopar said. "We have to find a way to win."