Among the aspects that has made the annual matchup between the DeSales and Watterson high school football teams one of central Ohio's best the past six decades is that the CCL title or a playoff berth often is on the line for one or both programs.
That won't be the case when the teams meet Friday, Oct. 27, at DeSales, but the Eagles and Stallions both expect an emotional contest considering it likely will be each team's final game of the season.
DeSales was projected to enter the game at No. 11 in the Division III, Region 11 computer ratings and needs to beat Watterson and get unlikely help from several others to reach the postseason for the fourth consecutive season. The top eight teams in the region qualify for the playoffs.
The Stallions are 5-4 overall and 1-1 in the CCL and the Eagles are 2-7 and 1-1. Barring a major upset, Hartley will wrap up the outright CCL title Oct. 27 when it plays host to St. Charles. The Hawks are 8-1 overall and 2-0 in the league, while the Cardinals are 1-8 and 0-2.
"(We) just (have to) get back to work," DeSales coach Ryan Wiggins said. "Watterson is a huge game for both communities. It's a game we circled and they've circled. We've got one football game left, so we're going to get back to work and try to do everything we can to win that game."
Since Wiggins took over as coach in 2007, the Stallions have gone 10-3 against Watterson, including 2-1 in the postseason. DeSales has won four games in a row against the Eagles and five of the last six.
Watterson, whose last win in the series came in 2012 when it edged the Stallions 24-21 in three overtimes, leads the all-time series 35-25-1.
This year's matchup marks Brian Kennedy's first as head coach, but the 1992 Watterson graduate, who was on the Eagles' coaching staff from 2004-16, is more than familiar with his team's opportunity.
"This is 'The Game,' " Kennedy said. "For as long as I can remember growing up, and now for me as a coach, this is the best rivalry in central Ohio. I've seen enough of these games that I know you can throw the records out."
Watterson snapped a six-game losing streak with a 31-7 win over St. Charles on Oct. 13 and nearly upset Dublin Jerome before falling 28-27 on Oct. 20. The Celtics blocked an extra point with 4 minutes, 25 seconds to go and held on to keep their Division I, Region 2 playoff hopes alive.
Quarterback Cole Andrews completed 24 of 33 passes for 276 yards, Kyle Naderhoff rushed for three touchdowns and Nate Meyer had nine receptions for 106 yards to lead Watterson's offense. Cameron Headlee had 10.5 tackles to lead the defense.
"We played a really good game," Kennedy said. "It's tough when the game's decided by a blocked extra point, but that one play wasn't the reason we lost."
DeSales entered Week 6 likely needing to win three of its final four games to make the playoffs, but it lost to Hartley 23-21 on Oct. 13 and fell to Cincinnati Winton Woods 42-7 on Oct. 20 after defeating Trenton Edgewood 28-3 on Oct. 6.
The Stallions trailed Winton Woods 21-0 before quarterback Cole Silvestri scored on a 2-yard run late in the second quarter. The Warriors then pulled away in the second half, limiting DeSales to 7 yards passing and 90 total yards.
"We've played a tough schedule," Wiggins said. "We didn't win enough games to get in (to the playoffs). It looks like we'll have one more opportunity to play this year."
Ghidotti reaches state quarterfinal
Claire Ghidotti of the girls tennis team advanced to a quarterfinal of the Division I state tournament Oct. 20 at Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason.
The senior opened state with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Perrysburg's Sydney Onest in singles before losing to eventual state champion Anna Roggenburk of Rocky River Magnificat 6-3, 6-2.
Ghidotti also reached a state quarterfinal as a sophomore.
"My backhand was really good (against Onest) and I just felt confident," Ghidotti said. "I was playing well. I feel like I've been playing better this year than in past years."
Ghidotti, who isn't sure whether she'll play collegiately, was the only senior to compete in the postseason for the Eagles.
Watterson went 8-10 overall and placed second in the CCL at 3-1, behind Columbus School for Girls (4-0) and ahead of DeSales (2-2), Hartley (1-3) and Ready (0-4).
Ghidotti finished fourth in a sectional Oct. 6 and 7 at Reynoldsburg and then placed third in the district tournament Oct. 12 at Hilliard Bradley and Oct. 14 at Upper Arlington to qualify for state.
Also competing at sectional in singles were junior Jenna Mar, who lost in the second round, and junior Paige Parker, who lost in the first round.
In doubles at sectional, sophomores Layne Geswein and Margaret Baur lost in the second round and junior Sam Vogel and sophomore Abbey Geisler lost in the first round.
Freshman Caroline Goodlive also contributed.
Volleyball team to face Lions
The 10th-seeded girls volleyball team plays seventh-seeded Gahanna in a Divi-sion I district semifinal at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 26, at Whitehall.
The winner plays second-seeded Olentangy Liberty or 13th-seeded Delaware in a district final at 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 28, at Whitehall.
The district champion plays DeSales, Westerville Central, Olentangy or Worthington Kilbourne in a regional semifinal at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 2 at Kilbourne.
The Eagles opened the postseason Oct. 19 with a 25-7, 25-7, 25-22 win over 29th-seeded Reynoldsburg in the second round to improve to 15-8.
Field hockey team wins tourney opener
The fifth-seeded field hockey team began the district tournament Oct. 19 with a 2-0 win over 13th-seeded CSG.
The Eagles played at third-seeded Granville in a district semifinal Oct. 24, with the winner facing top-seeded Thomas Worthington or eighth-seeded Olentangy in a district final at 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 28, at Liberty.
The district champion plays Cincinnati Ursuline Academy, Cincinnati St. Ursula, Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame or Kettering Fairmont in a state semifinal Nov. 3 at Upper Arlington.
The Eagles were 9-8 before playing the Blue Aces, who they lost to 2-0 on Aug. 31.
Boys runners move on to regional
The boys cross country team will compete in the Division II regional meet Saturday, Oct. 28, at Pickerington North.
In the 10-team district 2 meet Oct. 21 at Watkins Memorial, the Eagles scored 64 points to place third behind Buckeye Valley (28) and Jonathan Alder (48) as the top three teams and top 12 individuals advanced to regional.
Nick Kuraly was runner-up (16 minutes, 28.15 seconds), followed by Shane Merklin (ninth, 17:00.38), Patrick Monnin (15th, 17:29.4), Matthew Hartel (17th, 17:33.46), Will Garey (21st, 17:58.96), Danny Callaghan (22nd, 17:59.23) and Matthew Lamb (23rd, 18:03.02).
The girls team finished 11th (264) in the 16-team Division I, district 2 meet Oct. 21 at Watkins Memorial behind champion Granville (43) as the top six teams and top 24 individuals qualified for regional.
Emily Latshaw placed 40th (21:09.02) to lead the Eagles, while Brooklyn Brush (42nd, 21:11.66), Danielle Grim (48th, 21:24.33), Emily Vais (66th, 22:11.48) and Bridget Dougherty (70th, 22:20.52) rounded out the scoring.
At regional, the top seven teams and top 28 individuals advance to the state meet Nov. 4 at National Trail Raceway.
Girls soccer team makes district semi
The 15th-seeded girls soccer team played at third-seeded Gahanna in a Division I district semifinal Oct. 24.
The winner plays seventh-seeded Hilliard Darby or 12th-seeded New Albany in a district final Saturday, Oct. 28, at a neutral site to be announced.
The district champion plays Dublin Coffman, Olentangy Orange, Liberty or Bradley in a regional semifinal on a date and at a site to be announced.
Watterson opened the postseason with wins over 37th-seeded Licking Heights (9-0 on Oct. 16) and 22nd-seeded Westerville South (6-0 on Oct. 19).
Paige Woodford scored three goals against South as the Eagles improved to 8-7-3.
Boys soccer team falls to 76ers
The sixth-seeded boys soccer team lost to 10th-seeded Independence on Oct. 21 in the second round of the Division II district tournament Oct. 21 to finish 9-7-1.
The Eagles opened the tournament with a 10-0 win over 22nd-seeded Eastmoor Academy on Oct. 17.