When St. Charles Preparatory School football coach Jeff Pharion breaks down his team's game Friday against visiting DeSales in the CCL-Silver Division opener, the matchup that sticks out pits the Cardinals' offensive line against the Stallions' defensive front.

When St. Charles Preparatory School football coach Jeff Pharion breaks down his team's game Friday against visiting DeSales in the CCL-Silver Division opener, the matchup that sticks out pits the Cardinals' offensive line against the Stallions' defensive front.

The mental battle also could have a big impact on the outcome. The last time the Cardinals beat the Stallions was 1976.

"I think it would be foolish to act like DeSales is like any team we play every week," Pharion said. "A lot of our guys went to school with guys from DeSales in seventh and eighth grade. We need to have the mentality that we can be as good if not better than them."

On the way to its second consecutive 10-0 regular-season last year, DeSales had just two games -- including a 20-10 win over St. Charles -- with a margin of 10 or fewer points.

A win by the Cardinals would have been put them into the playoffs for the first time since 2002.

St. Charles is 4-1 and was sixth in the Division II, Region 7 computer rankings last week. DeSales is 3-2 and was seventh last week in Division III, Region 10.

The Cardinals have one of the bigger offensive lines the Stallions will see this season. Led by senior twins Justin Stumph and Jordan Stumph, who both are 6-foot-4, 270 pounds, the Cardinals have bulk and experience up front.

Although they lost one of their biggest offensive threats when junior running back Jourdan Wickliffe went down early in the season with an injury, senior quarterback Shane Bauman, senior wide receiver Michael Ryan (6-3, 185), junior wide receiver Dane McLoughlin (6-4, 180) and senior running back/wide receiver Steve Lutter all have picked up the slack.

Wickliffe's status for the remainder of the season is unknown. Lutter has rushed for about 400 yards since taking over as the No. 1 running back. Bauman has more than 250 yards passing and has run for about 300. McLoughlin scored two receiving touchdowns last Friday in a 45-0 win over Sandusky.

DeSales' defensive front is led by linemen Chris Rock (6-5, 245), Travis Jackson (6-5, 265) and Alex Vance (6-4, 235) and linebackers Chi Chi Ariguzo (6-3, 215), Evan Killilea (5-11, 200) and Malcolm Burrell (5-10, 210).

Burrell was the leading tackler through four games with 41. Rock had three sacks and three pass-breakups, Vance had 1.5 sacks and Jackson had one sack. Killilea had 39 tackles.

"They've got a great offensive line, guys with good size and quickness and good feet," DeSales coach Ryan Wiggins said. "The difference for them is that they spread it out well. As a defense we have to understand that they've got a lot of balance there offensively. It should be a good challenge."

St. Charles had its biggest struggles defensively in a 46-22 loss to Youngstown Ursuline on Aug. 29 but has given up just more than 10 points per game since.

DeSales' top two rushers are running back Warren Ball (353 yards and five touchdowns) and quarterback Nick Gentile (314 yards and five touchdowns).

Gentile split time in the first half last Friday with Mitch Herbert and both were effective running the triple-option. Herbert had been out with a bruised left femur.

The Stallions have attempted just 25 passes, with Gary Lewis (three catches for 101 yards and three touchdowns) being the top receiving threat.

Senior linebacker John Mackessy, senior cornerback Robert DeJaco and Ryan (DE) are among the Cardinals' top defenders.

"They've got a lot of returning starters and obviously it's going to be a good game," Gentile said. "It was a close game last year. This year we need to come out and stop their whole offense because last year I remember that we couldn't stop them defensively."

Next game

DeSALES at ST. CHARLES

•When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

•Last meeting: 2008, DeSales 20-10

•DeSales (3-2) to date: Defeated Gahanna 38-0; lost to Youngstown Mooney 21-14; def. New Albany 13-6; lost to Cincinnati Anderson 28-25; def. Findlay 56-23

•St. Charles (4-1) to date: Lost to Youngstown Ursuline 46-22; def. Eastmoor 26-7; def. Beechcroft 15-13; def. Marion Harding 41-21; def. Sandusky 45-0

•Top Stallions: Chi Chi Ariguzo (LB), Warren Ball (RB), Malcolm Burrell (LB), Adam Griffin (RB/DB), Travis Jackson (OL/DL), Evan Killilea (LB), Chris Rock (DE) and Alex Vance (OL/DL)

•Top Cardinals: Shane Bauman (QB), Breen Cullivan (OL), Alex Franco (OL), Steve Lutter (WR), John Mackessy (LB), Michael Ryan (WR/DE), Jordan Stumph (OL) and Justin Stumph (OL)