There might not be two hotter football teams in central Ohio than Hartley and DeSales.
Adding even more luster to a contest that will determine this year's CCL champion is that they'll meet Thursday, Oct. 31, at Hartley in a televised game, with the Hawks having beaten the Stallions in three of the past five seasons.
According to Hartley coach Brad Burchfield, DeSales has "made drastic changes" to its defense this season.
The Hawks, meanwhile, look a year more mature to Stallions coach Ryan Wiggins.
"First of all, all (of Hartley's starters) are good," Wiggins said. "They're big, they're fast and they bring a ton of pressure. I don't know exactly how they'll pressure us, but they'll challenge your receivers and dare you to throw it down field.
"We're doing some more 3-4 type of stuff defensively and that has to do with playing so many shotgun offenses. It's also about what suits your personnel. We've been able to use more guys on defense this year."
Both teams are 8-1 overall and 2-0 in the CCL. Hartley already has locked up a home game for the first round of the Division III, Region 11 playoffs and is riding a four-game winning streak that includes wins over St. Charles (30-7 on Oct. 4) and Watterson (39-0 on Oct. 18) as well as a 44-6 win over Dayton Belmont on Oct. 25.
Running back Jalan January rushed for 100 yards and three touchdowns and quarterback Miles Fleming had a rushing touchdown and threw a 35-yard touchdown pass to Richard Kenny against Belmont as the Hawks led 30-0 at halftime.
Marcelis Parker also rushed for 100 yards for Hartley, which averages 335 yards rushing and has a 1,000-yard rusher in January.
The return of Angelo Evans to the wide receiver corps earlier this month after he missed time with an injury adds another dimension to the Hawks' offense.
Defensively for DeSales, James Madison-recruit Cole Potts and Frank Sciarroni lead the line.
The Stallions, who have won seven consecutive games, lost linebacker and running back Jaylen Ball to a season-ending injury in a 26-14 win over St. Charles on Oct. 18 but still outgained Steubenville 363-275 in total yards in a 31-18 win over the Big Red on Oct. 25.
Linebacker Mason Washington had an interception on Steubenville's first offensive play.
"We work on (DeSales) all year round, and that's probably the ultimate sign of respect," Burchfield said. "We play three enormous (CCL) games that are huge to our community. What we do offensively is so unique that you never know what you're going to get from us. I'm sure they've been thinking about us a lot, too."
Hartley has won the last two CCL titles after DeSales beat the Hawks in both 2015 and '16.
The Stallions will clinch a Division II, Region 8 playoff berth with a win, although their postseason hopes would remain strong even if they lose.
DeSales has one of the area's top running backs in Quintell Quinn, who had 230 yards and two touchdowns on 30 carries against Steubenville and has rushed for 1,272 yards and 14 touchdowns on 173 carries on the season.
Quarterback Reno Godfrey is 81-for-149 passing for 1,185 yards with 11 touchdowns and four interceptions and Owen Faulkner leads the receiving corps with 34 catches for 394 yards and two touchdowns.
Hartley figures to be close to full strength defensively after the recent return of lineman Daniel Tooson from an injury.
DeSales leads the all-time series 18-11-2.
"Our kids just fought and found a way, made plays and were able to establish a running game (against Steuben-ville), which opened up just enough to give us balance," Wiggins said. "(Hartley has) got a really tough offense to defend because they run a ton of power and jet sweep type of stuff and they're very explosive on offense. They've got a really good team."