After watching his team rally with two touchdowns in the closing minute of last Friday's regular-season finale, Olentangy Liberty High School football coach Steve Hale knew the celebration could be soured quickly by missing the postseason by the slimmest of margins.

Coaches and players huddled around computers after the 21-17 victory over Westerville South in search of Indiana high school football scores.

Greenville (20.99 computer points) had defeated New Richmond 17-7, but failed to get enough second-level points to overtake the Patriots (21.15) for the eighth and final spot in Division II, Region 6.

"We had won and we knew we were conference champions and excited, but in the back of my mind I knew it was going to be close, but nobody wanted to talk about it," defensive end Michael Hilty, a Cincinnati recruit, said.
"Coach Hale kind of put it all in perspective and calmed us down. I waited up until about 1:30 a.m. until we found out that we were in for sure."

It was enough to give Liberty its fifth consecutive playoff berth and it will play Friday at top-seeded Toledo Central Catholic, one of six northwest Ohio teams to finish the regular season undefeated at 10-0.

"Our kids have had tremendous adversity this year," said Hale, whose team is 7-3 overall. "You look at what happened last Friday with us coming back and sharing the league title, but getting into the playoffs is what we're
most excited about. I told the kids it's time to wipe the slate clean."

Quarterback Zach Michael scored the winning points on a 1-yard run with 16 seconds left after Liberty recovered an onside kick at the South 40.

The win gave Liberty at 5-2 in the OCC-Cardinal Division a share of the league championship with South and Dublin Jerome.

Central Catholic became the first Toledo City League team to finish a regular season at 10-0 in 30 years as it earned its fourth consecutive league title.

Coach Greg Dempsey's Irish, who won the Division II state championship in 2005, hope to avoid their first-round playoff fate of the last two seasons with losses to visiting Piqua.

The Patriots haven't won a first-round game since defeating Toledo Rogers 34-19 in 2005, when they fell to Avon Lake in a regional semifinal.

The Irish are led by two Division I recruits on both sides of the ball in Mike Marrow (6-foot-2, 240 pounds) and Brad Rogers (5-10, 220), who play linebacker when they're not in the backfield on offense.

Marrow, who committed to Alabama, moved from New Albany when his father, Vince, joined the University of Toledo football staff as a tight ends coach.

Rogers, an Iowa recruit, rushed for 124 yards on 17 carries in a 21-14 win over Dublin Scioto on Aug. 29.

"I like the way we defend the run, but I think it's going to come down to whether our 200-pound linebackers can tackle their 200-pounds tailbacks," Hale said. "They're a very big and well-coached. You don't win a state
championship by accident."

Central Catholic rushed for more than 230 yards against Scioto.

"I think the challenge for us is to put together a full game," Hilty said. "Our defense played well against South, but nothing was going our way on offense. I think we'll be fine on defense, we just have to execute."