More than just bragging rights on the line for Watterson-DeSales matchup


Watterson’ s Mark Theado (left) and DeSales’ Adam Griffin will be the featured running backs in Friday’s rivalry matchup

A 46-year rivalry will be renewed Friday for its
annual matchup as Watterson (5-1) travels to DeSales (4-2) for a 7:30 p.m.
kickoff in a game riddled with storylines.

What are those storylines, you ask?

We have everything you need to know about this classic rivalry matchup.

A league title on the line, postseason implications,
revenge…oh yeah…and bragging rights for a year.

What else would you expect from the Columbus St. Francis
DeSales-Columbus Bishop Watterson rivalry?

A 46-year rivalry that will be renewed Friday for its
annual matchup as Watterson (5-1) travels to DeSales (4-2) for a 7:30 p.m.
kickoff in a game riddled with storylines.

“It’s one of the bigger rivalries around and it’s a game
that both teams point to each year,” DeSales head coach Ryan Wiggins said. “It’s
exciting, it’s emotional and there is a lot of fun that surrounds it for both
teams and communities.”

A DeSales win would lock up its third straight Central
Catholic League – Silver Division championship.

“We talk about winning our league even though it’s a
three-team league,” said Wiggins. “When you play two league games and eight
nonleague games, it makes those league games pretty important.

“Our kids talk about winning the league as the number one
goal and we have a chance to do that tomorrow night.”

And with both teams landing in Division III, Region 10
following the realignment last summer, there is a wealth of playoff computer
points riding on this game as well. Watterson currently claims the top spot in the
region and DeSales comes in at No. 4.

“Talk about adding to the rivalry – it’s always a big game
regardless of the records – but this year with all the points on the line it may
be even bigger,” Wiggins said.

DeSales ended Watterson’s season last year with a 20-17 win
over the Eagles in the Region 7 Quarterfinals after winning the regular season
matchup 21-17. The Stallions boast a three-game winning streak over their

Watterson comes into the match up with a two-game winning
streak after stumbling 19-16 in overtime in Week 4 to Cincinnati Winton Woods.

Senior signal-caller Greg Hock is 44-of-101 passing on the
season for 607 yards, seven touchdowns and two interceptions. Senior Matt
Schweitzer has been his favorite target with eight catches for 153 yards and
three touchdowns.

On the ground, senior Mark Theado has 530 yard rushing on
112 carries and three touchdowns. Junior Matt Redfield has added 244 yards on 36
carries and four touchdowns.

“Offensively, they are very big front and they have two
very physical, hard-nosed backs,” said Wiggins of his opponent. “They are a
power running team but when you thrown in a balanced passing attack with it, it
makes for a difficult offense to defend.”

The DeSales defense reads like a Division I college roster
with Michigan State defensive tackle recruit Travis Jackson and Northwestern
safety recruit Chi Chi Ariguzo on the roster. Evan Killea at linebacker and Alex Vance at defensive end add to the stout DeSales defense.

Speaking of defensive ends, DeSales junior Chris Rock is one of the
top prospects in the state in the Class of 2011 with early scholarship offers to
Cincinnati, Duke, Michigan, Pittsburgh and West Virginia.

Senior linebacker Malcolm Burrell leads the team with 53.5
tackles. He had 12 tackles and three sacks last week against CCL for Columbus St. Charles.

“Malcolm is a big, strong, physical linebacker and he’s
really gotten a lot better,” Wiggins said.

The defense has gotten better overall, according to

“We feel like our defense is strong and we hang our hat on
our defense,” he said. “One thing is that we’ve been fairly healthy on defense,
so we’ve been able to keep that continuity of playing the same guys. Having
played the competition that we’ve played, it forces you to have to get better.”

The Watterson defense is just as impressive holding teams
to 11.1 points per game. Redfield leads the defense with 63 tackles at
linebacker. Senior defensive back Marc Elberson has 43 tackles while Schweitzer upfront has 35 as well as Michale Szaraz in the secondary.

“Their defense has put up some very low numbers,” said
Wiggins. “When I think of very strong Watterson teams that have made deep
playoff runs, this is the kind of team that I remember.”

For DeSales the option offense has many – well many –
options to counter the Watterson defense.

Junior Nick Gentile and senior Mitch Herbert have shared
the quarterbacking duties with Gentile tallying 373 yards passing and six
touchdowns and Herbert chipping in 170 yards and a touchdown.

In the backfield, super sophomore Warren Ball has 418 yards
rushing and five touchdowns under his belt but he is questionable this week with
a hamstring injury.

Senior Robert Perrine has rumbled for 255 yards and a
touchdown and senior Adam Griffin, son of two-time Heisman trophy winner Archhie Griffin, has 191 yards and three touchdowns after
battling injury early in the season.

“Our offense is predicated on a lot of guys doing their job
at the same time,” Wiggins said.

DeSales, which was ranked No. 1 in the Division III
preseason Power Poll, started the season 2-2 with hard-fought losses to
Youngstown Cardinal Mooney (6-0) and Cincinnati Anderson (6-0).

Since the Anderson loss in Week 4, DeSales is also on a
two-game winning streak with a 56-23 win over Findlay and a 10-0 win over St. Charles last week.

“The bottom line is we’ve got some goals and all the goals
we’ve set are well within reach. We need to keep improving and take it one
(game) at a time,” Wiggins told Ohio High after the Anderson loss.


*     *     *


Editor’s note: Repeated attempts to reach Watterson
head coach Dan Bjelac for this story were unsuccessful.

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