Olentangy, Liberty set for battle
For Joey Longhino and the other seniors on the Olentangy Liberty High School football team, the sting from last season's losses to Orange and Olentangy provided the perfect motivation during preseason camp.
The school district foes were the first two opponents on the schedule. Liberty lost to Orange 22-8 and Olentangy 13-7 last season.
"Our first goal coming into the season was to come out and beat both Olentangy schools," Longhino said. "We lost to them both last year and we want to come out and show that we are the best of the Olentangy schools. We got that started (in the opener)."
Longhino threw for 298 yards, rushed for 79 more and accounted for four touchdowns while rallying the Patriots to a 43-21 win over Orange on Aug. 24. The Pioneers led 21-6 at halftime but committed four turnovers in the second half.
The Patriots hope to repeat their second-half performance from opening night when they play host Friday, Aug. 31, to Olentangy, which earned a 17-14 victory over Worthington Kilbourne on Aug. 24.
Senior linebacker Griffin Binkley led the way with 14 tackles for a Braves defense that came up with a late stand, as Jared Row ended a Wolves drive with an interception with just over a minute to play.
The Braves realize they'll need another strong defensive effort against Liberty. They held Kilbourne to 39 yards rushing on 30 attempts.
"They're going to come out with scripted plays and we're going to need to shut them down early," Binkley said. "We're going to have to adjust to their no-huddle offense. We've got a lot to work on after last Friday and we expect to have an intense week of practice."
Olentangy's victory last season over Liberty was its first in the series, which dates to 2008 when the teams became opponents in the OCC-Cardinal Division. With OCC realignment before this season began, Liberty now competes in the OCC-Central and Olentangy has moved to the OCC-Capital and plays a league game against Orange on Sept. 21.
Last season, Olentangy defeated Orange 27-21 in its opener, meaning its win over Liberty in week six earned it district bragging rights.
"People don't understand the emotion that goes into these games," Olentangy coach Ed Terwilliger said. "There's never a beginning or an end, it goes on all year. That's the beauty of football. On Friday at school, people aren't going to be talking about physics or history; they're going to be talking about this game."
Quarterback Andrew Horstman led the Braves offense against Kilbourne, completing 10 of 13 passes for 148 yards with a 3-yard touchdown run. Christian Brett had 128 yards receiving.
For Liberty in week one, Austin Mullins rushed for 117 yards on 13 carries with touchdown runs of 20 and 37 yards, and he caught five passes for 74 yards. Longhino threw a 53-yard touchdown pass to Matt Muntean and scored on runs of 1, 9 and 35 yards.
"They're big up front and they give Joey a lot of time to throw the ball," Terwilliger said. "He's quick on his feet and he gets out of trouble. They're going to push you and they're a very explosive offense. I think they return the biggest nucleus of solid players that they've had in a while."