Hartley at Watterson: Hawks, Eagles expect another tight CCL matchup
When it played its first-round CCL contest against visiting Watterson on Sept. 4, Hartley produced an eight-play, 60-yard drive that was capped off with a game-winning 5-yard touchdown run by Nyal Johnson late in the fourth quarter.
The Eagles moved to the Hartley 24 on the ensuing drive before coming up short 28-21.
It was the kind of tight finish that illustrates just how competitive the league has been this fall, and both teams are expecting something similar to occur when they meet again Friday, Sept. 25, at Watterson, with the league title still up for grabs between those two squads and DeSales.
While the Stallions are 3-1 overall and 2-1 in the league, Hartley and Watterson are both 2-2 overall, with the Hawks also at 2-1 in the league and the Eagles at 1-2.
“Everything is in front of us,” Hawks coach Brad Burchfield said. “We’ve put ourselves in a position that if we’re good enough to win the CCL, we’re the only CCL team that controls our own destiny. This is why we do it, and it’s exciting.”
Once the OHSAA announced a six-game regular season Aug. 7, the CCL shifted to home-and-home matchups among its four teams, although St. Charles didn’t begin competing until it opened with a 49-10 loss to Hartley on Sept. 18.
“I’ve got to be honest. I think (DeSales, Hartley and Watterson are) all really, really good,” Eagles coach Brian Kennedy said. “We haven’t seen a lot of outside competition, but I firmly believe that one of us will be hoisting that (Division III, Region 11) championship trophy. We’re probably going to have to beat one of them if we’re going to win a regional championship.”
Johnson is a junior who has been a part of a Hartley ground game that is averaging nearly 300 yards per game. Seniors Sumo Kesselly and Marcelis Parker and juniors Richard Kenny and Trey Saunders also have rotated carries for an offense that has a new quarterback this fall in sophomore Erik Underwood.
Parker scored four touchdowns against St. Charles.
Burchfield also was pleased with the recent defensive contributions of Kesselly (LB) and Dylan Newsome (LB).
“We go right back into it (against Hartley), but I feel like we’re doing the right things,” Kennedy said. “Our kids are getting better each week. That first Hartley game is a one-score game and we were winning at halftime. Our kids know we can play with them. It shows our resiliency and what our kids can do.”
Watterson is coming off a 35-34 double-overtime win over DeSales on Sept. 18 in which Cam Nickleson scored on a two-point conversion pass from Jake Hoying for the game-winning points.
Hoying completed 15 of 26 passes for 166 yards and three touchdowns, with tight end Davis Boone having five catches for 59 yards and two scores.
Nickleson finished with 69 yards and one touchdown on 25 carries, and Andrew Bettendorf added three catches for 53 yards and one score.
“Watterson has continued to improve all year, and that’s scary,” Burchfield said. “Hoying has made the most improvement. When we played three weeks ago, we fully intended to pressure him, but they did a great job of picking up the blitzes and Hoying made us pay for pressuring him. I think we had to rethink everything.”
HARTLEY at WATTERSON
•When: 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 25
•Last meeting: Sept. 4, Hartley 28-21
•Hartley (2-2 overall, 2-1 in CCL) to date: Lost to Cincinnati Moeller 34-17; defeated Watterson 28-21; lost to DeSales 24-21; def. St. Charles 49-10
•Watterson (2-2 overall, 1-2 in CCL) to date: Lost to DeSales 28-22 (OT); lost to Hartley 28-21; def. Teays Valley 39-0; def. DeSales 35-34 (2OT)
•Top Hawks: James Crenshaw (OL/DL), Nyal Johnson (RB), Richard Kenny (WR/DB), Sumo Kesselly (RB/LB), Marcelis Parker (RB/LB), Trey Saunders (RB/DB), Tony Thivener (OL/LB), Daniel Tooson (TE/DL) and Erik Underwood (QB)
•Top Eagles: Andrew Bettendorf (WR/DB), Henry Blevins (6-0, 182), Davis Boone (TE/LB), Jake Hoying (QB), Sam Intihar (WR/DB), Cam Nickleson (RB/DB), Dom Orsini (DB), Nick Youell (OL/LB) and Tyler Young (WR/DB)