The DeSales and Watterson high school football teams won't enter their matchup Friday in Crew Stadium expecting to look in a mirror in terms of offensive style, but they enter seeking the same end result: A stable attack that wears down their opponent.

The Stallions featurethe triple option, and the Eagles have mixed in play-action successfully with a run-based approach.

The difference thus far is that DeSales, which improved to 6-0 with a 20-10 victory last Friday over St. Charles, has had fewer lapses of consistency than the Eagles.

Watterson slipped to 4-2 overall with a 14-0 loss to Steubenville last Friday. It had two possessions end inside the Big Red's 10-yard line because of turnovers.

"This week will be different because we've played a lot of spread teams," said Stallions senior Jake Smith, who starts at center and defensive tackle and will be playing in his third Watterson-DeSales game. "Watterson is similar to us in that they run the ball well and like to punch you in the mouth. It'll be different with the finesse we need to play, but we'll definitely be up for the challenge."

The Stallions ended a nine-game losing streak to the Eagles last year when they won 13-6 on the way to going 10-0 in the regular season.

DeSales has won 16 consecutive regular-season games. A win Friday would do serious damage to the Eagles' postseason hopes as it did a year ago when Watterson failed to make it to the playoffs for the first time since 1998.

For the Eagles to avoid the same fate, they'll have to stop a triple-option attack that has helped DeSales earn the No. 1 ranking in the Division II state poll.

Running back Josh Kusan has 80 rushes for 639 yards and 12 touchdowns, followed by quarterback Thomas Gentile (81-439, 1 TD) and running back Adam Griffin (34-305). Gentile is 29-for-67 passing for 405 yards with eight touchdowns and two interceptions.

Wide receiver Ike Ariguzo (10 catches for 156 yards, four touchdowns) also has been a weapon in the offense.

Watterson's defense has given up an average of just 8.8 points over its last five games and held Steubenville 20 points under its previous low point total despite allowing 267 yards last Friday.
Linebackers Matt Redfield and Kevin Obyc have been among the team's top players at stopping the run.

The Eagles' secondary has also been a strength. It has been led by Patrick Wilson and Matt Schmitt, although Ben Rossi did not play last week. He suffered a knee injury in practice two days before the Steubenville game and is questionable.

"If you look at (the Stallions') offense, they run the ball pretty well," Watterson coach Dan Bjelac said. "Gentile runs the option well and they've been able to control the line of scrimmage. It might be the most boring adage, but the one who makes the fewest mistakes will have the advantage - the one who makes fewest penalties and turnovers."

Watterson quarterback Pat Nester has completed 35 of 78 passes for 495 yards, and one of his favorite targets has been tight end Colin Boone (9-185, 3 touchdowns).

Obyc has a team-leading 453 yardson 78 rushes. Ryan Kiger, who didn't play in the first three games because of injury, has 28 carries for 144 yards.

"Our offense has gotten better each week," Kiger said. "We haven't gotten to our potential yet. I think our offense is going to click on Friday. We need to work on our some plays in our red-zone offense."

Kusan, who is in his second season as a starter at linebacker, also has been the Stallions' top tackler with 51 and has 3.5 sacks and a forced fumble. Linebacker Cody Melsop has 32 tackles and four tackles for losses and defensive lineman Davon Custis has 26.5 tackles and two tackles for losses.

Chris Rock, a sophomore transferr from Thomas Worthington, has 1.5 sacks and leads a defensive line that also includes Jimmy Dickson (three sacks).

"Watterson has got a great running game, a good line and they play good, solid defense," DeSales coach Ryan Wiggins said. "Their quarterback is pretty good at play-action. This game will come down to turnovers and special teams. The team that makes the fewest mistakes and can eliminate mistakes will be the one to win the football game."