Edgewood heading north to take shot at No. 1 DeSales

Edgewood defensive lineman Justin Pottorf (58), leads his team onto the field for their home game against Badin, Friday, Sept. 12, 2014. GREG LYNCH / STAFF
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Edgewood defensive lineman Justin Pottorf (58), leads his team onto the field for their home game against Badin, Friday, Sept. 12, 2014. GREG LYNCH / STAFF

Credit: Greg Lynch

Credit: Greg Lynch

Edgewood High School’s football team is bracing for a long road trip and a huge opportunity.

The Cougars are taking a break from Southwest Ohio Conference play and will head to Columbus on Friday night to face DeSales, the No. 1 team in the Associated Press Division III state poll.

“It’s a business trip,” Edgewood coach Scott Clemmons said. “I think the kids like the idea of taking charter buses up there and playing somebody out of the area, a little bit of an unknown. We’re going up there to play some good football.”

It’s homecoming for the Stallions (6-0), who are perennial state contenders. They’ve made 24 postseason appearances and captured state championships in 1985, 1997 and 1998.

The schools have signed a two-year deal. DeSales will come to Kumler Field next season.

“As I recall, I think they reached out to us,” Clemmons said. “Unfortunately with our league having seven teams in it, there’s not a lot of teams open in Week 7. You never want to leave your boys with not enough games to play.”

The Stallions are averaging 39.3 points and 359 yards per game with a run-first, I-formation offense. The Cougars (5-1) are a run-heavy Wing-T team.

DeSales coach Ryan Wiggins described his squad as “a physical, downhill team.”

“The Wing-T is kind of like what we’re doing,” he said. “Running the football downhill is so old these days, it’s actually new. Football just doesn’t seem to be played that way much anymore. A lot of people just want to play in space.”

Senior Alonzo Booth (6-1, 245) is the Stallions’ top rusher with 1,092 yards and 16 touchdowns on 109 carries. Junior Brian Asamoah (6-2, 210) has 375 yards and six TDs on 52 attempts.

DeSales junior quarterback Cole Silvestri (5-11, 185) is 24 of 43 for 399 yards and two touchdowns with three interceptions.

“They have varying formations, but at the end of the day, they’re an under-center, run-heavy football team,” Clemmons said. “They’ll wear on you and be very physical.”

Leaders in the Stallions’ 4-3 defense include senior Ryan Corkrean (6-2, 215) and junior Ty Van Fossen (6-2, 200) at linebacker, senior Derrius Mullins (6-5, 320) up front, and senior senior safety Jared Noble (5-10, 185).

Mullins has committed to Indiana University. Noble has committed to Penn’s Wharton School of Business.

“Our front seven has been able to win the line of scrimmage more often than not,” Wiggins said. “We’ve also made some plays on special teams. Our guys are playing very cohesively. We’re not into individual things at all.”

Edgewood is averaging 41.2 points and 399.2 yards per game (293.7 on the ground). Sophomore Julius Hayden leads the balanced attack with 338 yards on 41 carries.

“I love what Edgewood does,” Wiggins said. “You turn the film on, and it doesn’t take you long to figure out they are really good at what they do. Their kids are aggressive and really hit.

“They’re a Division II playoff team, and to me, that’s a really good challenge for us being a Division III playoff team. I think the game will have very much of a playoff feel to it.”

The word from the Columbus area is that this is one of DeSales’ better teams, and that’s saying something. The Stallions have been a Final Four squad 10 times and state runners-up five times.

Wiggins has been coaching at DeSales for 19 seasons, the last 10 as head coach.

“It’s very hard for me to compare … I think comparing kind of diminishes someone one way or the other,” Wiggins said. “I’ll say this: I love these guys. I think we’ve got some guys in our lineup that are hungry and playing very well. I love the way they’re competing.”

He also said the Stallions’ No. 1 ranking means practically nothing.

“Rankings might mean something in college football where you have a playoff and maybe you need some style points, but in high school, they’re very, very overrated,” Wiggins said. “It’s nice to be thought of that way, but it really doesn’t help us do anything to reach our goals at all.”

Friday’s game

What: Edgewood (5-1) at Columbus DeSales (6-0), 7:30 p.m.

Where: Alumni Stadium, 4212 Karl Road, Columbus

Last meeting: First game in series