The Watterson High School football team will get a chance to finish what it started when it opens the Division II, Region 7 playoffs Friday at DeSales.

The Watterson High School football team will get a chance to finish what it started when it opens the Division II, Region 7 playoffs Friday at DeSales.

On the way to their second consecutive undefeated regular season, the Stallions had one of their toughest battles when they met the Eagles for the CCL-Silver Division championship Oct. 3.

DeSales beat every team on its schedule by at least 10 points, except for Watterson, and the Eagles built a 10-0 halftime lead before stumbling over the final two quarters in a 21-17 loss.

It will be the fifth time the programs will meet in the playoffs. Watterson won the first four.

"This is what we've been looking for since we lost to them that night," Eagles inside linebacker Matt Redfield said. "This is what we've been gearing up for."

DeSales turned to the mix of power football and a short passing game from the option to rally in the earlier meeting.

The two biggest weapons are running back Josh Kusan (134 carries, 1,046 yards and 18 touchdowns) and quarterback Thomas Gentile (127-741, four touchdowns). Adam Griffin (62-462, three TDs) and Sal Carfagna (39-243 yards, two TDs) have been other contributors.

Gentile is 47-for-104 passing for 716 yards with 11 touchdowns and three interceptions. In the win over Watterson, he hooked up with Ike Ariguzo six times for 77 yards and one touchdown. Ariguzo has 21 catches for 356 yards and six touchdowns. Griffin has 10 receptions for 210 yards.

Watterson's defense, featuring Redfield, Patrick Wilson, Kevin Obyc and Alex Nutter, has continued to be its strength. Although the Eagles gave up 34 points in a 40-34 five-overtime win against St. Charles on Oct. 17, the score was tied at 10 at the end of regulation.

The five teams the Eagles lost to are a combined 45-4. Youngstown Mooney, which beat Watterson 28-0 last Saturday, is 8-2 and a Division IV state power.

Watterson learned before the game that it had made the playoffs.

"It's definitely going to be a great game," Gentile said. "Watterson is a great team and they've got a lot of good players who have made a lot of big plays. We ended up with the last punch in the other game.

"It just comes down to execution for our offense. At the beginning of the season, we came out a little slow and sluggish, but now our line up front has been doing a great job. We've got everybody in sync."

Despite his team giving up three touchdowns in each of its past three games, DeSales coach Ryan Wiggins believes the defense has continued to take strides forward.

Kusan (97.5 tackles, 5.5 sacks) and Cody Melsop (60.5 tackles) have continued to lead the linebacking corps, and Davon Custis (53 tackles, 3.5 sacks) and Chris Rock (44 tackles, 5.5 sacks) are the top linemen.

While DeSales beat Cleveland Benedictine 35-21 last Saturday to clinch the No. 1 seed ahead of Louisville, Watterson is looking to find more offensive consistency after being held to 52 yards rushing and 46 yards passing last Saturday. Quarterback Pat Nester was just 2-for-23 passing for 10 yards.

"Watterson plays great defense, and their losses are to three teams that are undefeated and two that are 8-2," Wiggins said. "And obviously we don't have to make a lot out of the game since it's DeSales-Watterson. Who can execute longer is going to come out on top."

Next game


•When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

•Last meeting: Oct. 3, DeSales 21-17

•DeSales (10-0) 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 La Salle 31-21; def. Cleveland Benedictine 35-21

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

•Of note: The last time the teams met in the playoffs was 2004, with Watterson winning 27-6 in a regional final. The Eagles also beat the Stallions 9-6 in overtime in a 2006 regional semifinal, 20-19 in a 2002 regional final and 14-3 in a 1996 regional semifinal.