The Watterson football team likely will miss the playoffs regardless of the result of its CCL game Friday, Nov. 1, at St. Charles, and the Cardinals already have been eliminated from postseason contention.
Both teams, however, enter their matchup feeling motivated.
Neither one wants to end up finishing in the basement in the CCL, not to mention the emotions that tend to be stirred whenever league foes meet.
"It's been a great year for us," said Cardinals senior two-way lineman Connor Carretta, a Brown University commit on defense. "We just have to finish strong. Playing CCL teams is always special because I grew up playing either with or against the guys on the teams, so the games have developed into fun rivalries."
Eagles coach Brian Kennedy, whose team went 2-8 in his first season in 2017 and improved to 5-5 last season, has seen his players show similar passion preparing for the Cardinals as they do when they get ready to face DeSales.
"St. Charles is a good team," Kennedy said. "We're focused. Our kids want to finish strong and (St. Charles is) better this year. They gave DeSales a game (before losing 26-14 on Oct. 18). It's a totally different level when we play St. Charles."
St. Charles and Watterson both are 0-2 in the CCL, with the Cardinals also having lost to Hartley 30-7 on Oct. 4 and the Eagles falling to DeSales 20-16 on Oct. 4 and Hartley 39-0 on Oct. 18.
Watterson improved to 6-3 overall with a 31-29 win over Dayton Dunbar on Oct. 25 but is 10th in Division III, Region 11, two spots out of a playoff berth.
St. Charles, meanwhile, has lost four consecutive games, slipping to 4-5 overall with a 14-7 loss to Youngstown Chaney on Oct. 26. The Cardinals sit 14th in Division II, Region 8 and are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs.
Watterson had lost three of its previous four games before beating Dunbar. Hurting the Eagles' playoff hopes is the fact that three of their wins have come against teams with two victories or fewer.
Watterson has shown a mix of the run and pass all season, with quarterback Jacob Hoying completing 154 of 283 passes for 1,792 yards with 12 touchdowns and six interceptions and running back Tommy Bair rushing for 540 yards and six touchdowns on 114 carries.
Bair had only eight carries against Hartley and seven against Dunbar while battling a nagging injury, according to Kennedy.
Watterson's defense has allowed 20 or more points in all but one game and will be tasked with stopping a St. Charles offense that features running back Luke Eversole, who had 1,120 yards rushing through eight games.
"I'm lining up at left tackle on offense and defensive tackle, and we've been pretty good up front this year, both defensively and offensively," Carretta said. "We just have to continue to execute."