If history serves as any indication, there's a good chance fans in Crew Stadium won't be leaving their seats early in the inaugural battle of Olentangy.

Both the Olentangy and Olentangy Liberty high school football teams have a knack this season for deciding the game in the fourth quarter, and when the two programs meet at 9 p.m. Friday there lies the possibility of another fantastic finish.

"You certainly don't leave either one of our games early, and the concessions people ought to like us," Liberty coach Steve Hale said. "We've both had our share of close games, whether we like it or not."

Liberty is 3-2 overall and 1-1 in the OCC-Cardinal Division after last Friday's 14-10 loss at Dublin Jerome. It has won its games by an average of a little more than six points. In the Patriots' losses, which include a 10-7
setback to undefeated Dublin Coffman in the opener Aug. 22, just seven points have kept them from victory.

Olentangy's Monte Davis caught two touchdown passes in the final eight minutes to help the Braves defeat Marysville 24-21 last Friday and keep the among the unbeaten at 5-0 overall and 2-0 in the league.

The Braves' average margin of victory has been a little more than four points with an overtime win (31-24 on Sept. 12) over Dublin Scioto in the league opener.

"We haven't flinched and we've had some close football games," Olentangy coach Ed Terwilliger said. "The kids have really bonded together in critical situations and picked each other up. It took us the whole second half
last week to claw our way back."

The teams look similar on paper. Both feature rushing attacks that have accounted for better than 150 yards per game.

Liberty's leading rusher, Clay Lust, a move-in from Marion Pleasant, has 412 yards and five touchdowns on 63 carries, and Olentangy's Joe Eschenbach has rushed 98 times for 421 yards with a score.

The Braves appear to have an edge in the passing game with quarterback Justin Johnson, who has completed 53 of 94 passes for 835 yards with eight touchdowns and four interceptions.

He's been able to spread the ball around to four receivers who are 6-foot or taller in Ben-Michael Welch (145 yards), Davis (183), C. J. Eicher (112) and Eschenbach (159).

Patriots quarterback Zach Michael, who has replaced last year's Division II District Player of the Year, graduate Ryan Cypret, has thrown the ball 85 times for 502 yards with three touchdowns and six interceptions.

John Merlina has been his go-to receiver (233 yards, 1 touchdown).

Both teams also feature Division I recruits in Olentangy's Zach Kerin (Bowling Green) and Liberty defensive end Michael Hilty (Cincinnati).

"They are certainly a really good team and one that we can't take lightly," Kerin said.

"They could easily be 5-0. Our whole team is going to be pumped up for this one. We came out flat against Marysville and they really jumped on us."

Liberty is out to eliminate mistakes - two turnovers and a blocked punt - that helped lead to its demise last Friday.

"We've been handling it one practice at a time," senior running back Allen Eggleston said. "We know they're 5-0, but we know we're a good team as well and we know we can do things better."