The DeSales and Watterson football teams have more in common this season than the fact that they're preparing to meet in one of central Ohio's longest-running rivalries Friday, Oct. 4.
Both the host Stallions and the Eagles enter the CCL opener at 4-1, and both teams have a senior quarterback completing about 55 percent of his passes.
Watterson leads the all-time series 36-26-1, including a 2-1 advantage in the playoffs. However, the Stallions are 11-4 against the Eagles since Ryan Wiggins took over as coach in 2007.
Last season was a rare instance in which both teams fell short of the playoffs while finishing with a 5-5 record.
"I don't know how you don't get up for this game if you're a Watterson or DeSales person," Eagles coach Brian Kennedy said.
Watterson is coming off a 28-7 loss to Dayton Chaminade Julienne on Sept. 27 in which the Eagles were outgained by more than 200 yards and held the ball for under 18 minutes, while DeSales has won its last three games, including a 42-22 victory over Middletown Fenwick on Sept. 27 in which it scored all of its points in the first half.
After rushing for 225 yards in a 35-31 victory over Kettering Alter on Sept. 20, the Stallions got it done through the air against Fenwick, as quarterback Reno Godfrey was 8-for-11 passing with 217 yards and three touchdowns.
Junior running back Quintell Quinn was held to 34 yards on 11 carries but has 480 yards and nine touchdowns on 74 carries on the season. Senior wide receiver Owen Faulkner has 25 receptions for 255 yards and a touchdown and Kole Perrine has eight catches for 248 yards and three scores.
Senior running back Jaylen Ball also has been a key contributor.
Adding a spark to the Stallions' offense sometime soon should be junior wide receiver Nathan Barber, who has been out with an injury but could be back against Watterson or soon thereafter.
"It's really truly about taking what (the defense gives) you," Wiggins said. "Fenwick had a nice plan and was getting nine hats to the football, and when that happens, they're leaving the 1-on-1 situations in the back end and we beat them a couple times. If they're going to be dishonest in defending the running game, you've got to take advantage in the passing game."
Against Chaminade Julienne, Watterson gave up 28 points for the second consecutive game, but part of its struggles were related to finishing with just 17 yards rushing on 13 carries.
Chaminade Julienne also blocked two punts.
"Up until (that game), we'd been playing pretty well," Kennedy said. "We played bad on offense, defense and special teams, and whatever could go wrong went wrong for us. CJ is a really good team. I'm not taking anything away from them.
"We'd better be focused. (DeSales is) really good on offense with two talented running backs, Godfrey is a really good quarterback and he looks really good coming off the injury last year. They're big and physical up front. They've been really good the last three weeks."
Watterson quarterback Jacob Hoying has completed 75 of 135 passes for 952 yards and seven touchdowns with one interception. Junior wide receiver Andrew Bettendorf has 19 catches for 316 yards and two touchdowns, junior tight end Davis Boone has 19 receptions for 250 yards and three scores and junior wide receiver Tyler Young has 17 catches for 238 yards.
Senior running back Thomas Bair has rushed 57 times for 304 yards and four touchdowns but has been battling a nagging injury.
"(Watterson is) having a good year," Wiggins said. "This group of young kids has played a lot of football and I felt like last year they lost a couple games, but this year they're winning them. They're very well-coached on both sides of the ball, they're aggressive defensively and fly to the ball, they tackle well and offensively they're just extremely efficient with how they run their offense. They don't really beat themselves."