Because his team closed the regular season on a Thursday night, DeSales football coach Ryan Wiggins took advantage of the opportunity to scout a potential opponent on the final Friday of the regular season.
The team Wiggins checked out was Harrison, a 13-time playoff qualifier that never has played the Stallions.
He was impressed with what he saw of the Wildcats, particularly 6-foot-4, 220-pound senior quarterback Connor Kinnett.
"I know they have a very good quarterback," Wiggins said. "He's a big, strong kid who has a great arm and throws the ball down the field. What I saw was a good-sized front that protects its quarterback really well. I don't believe he had an incompletion the entire Week 10 game. They were stout on defense, I thought, and the last several games they've played really good defense. They've got a big roster."
On Friday, Nov. 15, the seventh-seeded Stallions will look to pull off an upset for the second time in as many weeks when they face third-seeded Harrison in a Division II, Region 8 semifinal at Washington Court House Miami Trace.
On Nov. 8, the Wildcats improved to 10-1 with a 24-18 victory over sixth-seeded Canal Winchester in their playoff opener, while the Stallions bounced back from a 20-13 loss to Hartley on Oct. 31 by opening the playoffs with a 27-13 at second-seeded Cincinnati Turpin.
DeSales led previously unbeaten Turpin 14-13 through three quarters and got touchdown runs of 3 and 42 yards by Quintell Quinn in the fourth quarter to seal the win.
Quinn rushed 38 times for 278 yards and three touchdowns and Jonathan Thompson added 56 yards rushing on five carries while Owen Faulkner had two catches for 28 yards as the Stallions outgained the Spartans 366-180 in total yards.
On the season, Quinn has rushed for 1,711 yards and 19 touchdowns on 239 carries.
"We were very dialed in and focused on executing and everybody doing our job," two-way lineman Frank Sciarrone said. "Also, I felt like we were the most physical team and just took it to them, especially up front and in the run game. After losing to Hartley, we knew we had to get back to work and focus on us because we hurt ourselves a lot this year.
"(Harrison) is another big game and we'll just have to continue what we've been doing by playing hard and smart. Our defense will have to play assignment-sound football. Since they throw well, the defensive line will have to be able to get pressure on the quarterback, linebackers will have to read their keys and defensive backs will have to execute in coverage."
Harrison is in the playoffs for the fourth season in a row but has not reached a regional final since 2006.
Kinnett is 187-for-281 passing for 3,041 yards with 30 touchdowns and just five interceptions and has rushed for 299 yards and eight touchdowns, and junior running back Cam Hering has 99 carries for 632 yards and nine scores.
Senior slot receiver Levi Tidwell has 69 receptions for 1,289 yards and 13 touchdowns, senior wide receiver C.J. Young has 49 catches for 908 yards and eight scores and Hering has 38 receptions for 474 yards and three touchdowns.
Defensively for Harrison, junior linebacker Masyn Dallio and senior linebacker Jake Reardon have four and three sacks, respectively, and senior defensive back Kyler Fank-hauser has three interceptions.
The Stallions lost two fumbles against Turpin but forced four turnovers and limited the Spartans to 180 total yards as Faulkner and Jordan Johnson each had an interception.
"We wore (Turpin) down physically," Wiggins said. "We ran the football really well and were able to force some mistakes and turnovers. We went down 13-7 but fought back. It's playoff football and you've got to battle and rise to the occasion."