Since renewing a rivalry with St. Charles in 2013 that had been dormant for 25 years, the Hartley football team has won all six meetings, most of which were lopsided.
The last time their matchup had any implications beyond just a pair of east-side Catholic programs playing for pride was in 2013 when both teams went on to qualify for the playoffs, but that contest wasn't considered a league game because of the CCL's two-division setup.
That makes the meeting of 4-1 teams on Friday, Oct. 4, at Hartley even bigger.
"Hartley's a good team, and we're just going to approach it like we normally do," Cardinals coach Deke Hocker said. "It's an exciting atmosphere for a CCL game. We're trying to get better as a football team, work on the little things like assignments and ball security. They're going to try and establish the run and get the ball in their athletes' hands."
In Hocker's first season last fall, St. Charles went 4-6 but gave Hartley all it could handle in a 6-3 loss to the Hawks.
The Cardinals have been one of central Ohio's surprise teams this season, beating Dayton Carroll 45-14 on Sept. 27 to bounce back from a 16-0 loss to Middletown Fenwick on Sept. 20 and give them momentum heading into their league opener with the Hawks.
St. Charles is in Division II, Region 8, while Hartley was the No. 1 team in last week's Division III state poll and is in Region 11.
The Hawks lost 24-14 to Clarksville Clinton-Massie on Sept. 27, marking their second loss in as many seasons to the Falcons.
"I'm always concerned with everything," Hawks coach Brad Burchfield said. "Our schedule includes so many well-coached, good football teams. The challenges we get week to week are going to be significant. We want to be able to continue to get better, which is our key."
Both team's proficiency in the running game will be tested.
Hawks senior Jalan January has rushed for nearly 600 yards with nine touchdowns, senior Mason Sawyer has rushed for nearly 300 yards and five scores and junior Marcelis Parker and junior Richard Kenny offer quickness out of the backfield. Kenny had three catches for 70 yards and one score against Clinton-Massie.
Hartley quarterback Miles Fleming threw for 70 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 59 yards but was intercepted three times by the Falcons.
St. Charles senior running back Luke Eversole has rushed for 822 yards, including 240 yards and three scores on 27 carries against Carroll.
He runs behind an offensive line featuring seniors Connor Carretta, Mark Feldmann and Evan Porter that also has been a strength, according to Hocker.
"As a team, we've just collectively improved each week on all the things that win football games and executing," Hocker said.
"For example, we didn't want to turn the ball over against Carroll. We turned it over against Fenwick in Week 4 and that hurt us. We've been able to run the ball, too. It was just a complete game. Our special teams played well and we didn't give up the big play."