Although the Hartley High School football team will be facing a new opponent for the second consecutive week, some members of its roster have faced some of Liberty Union's players at the youth level.
If the Lions are to take advantage of that slight familiarity against the top-seeded Hawks in a Division V, Region 17 semifinal Saturday, Nov. 16, at Bloom-Carroll, they will need to come close to matching the performance by their defense during their playoff opener.
While Hartley scored 43 first-quarter points and routed Chillicothe Zane Trace 64-7 in its playoff opener Nov. 9, fifth-seeded Liberty Union scored two defensive touchdowns and forced six turnovers while winning 31-0 at fourth-seeded St. Clairsville.
The Hartley-Liberty Union winner will play second-seeded Martins Ferry or third-seeded Wheelersburg for a regional title Nov. 23 at a site to be determined.
"We know (Liberty Union has) a great tailback and a great running game," coach Brad Burchfield said. "We played them in the lower levels the last few years and it should be a good game. They're obviously well-coached and physical, and they won (a regional title) last year."
Hartley takes a 10-1 record into the matchup and Liberty Union is 9-2.
Last season, the Lions were state semifinalists in Division V and the Hawks were state semifinalists in Division IV.
Both teams have gotten it done this season with strong running games and efficient passing games.
Hartley senior quarterback Jared Brandewie has thrown for 1,255 yards and 12 touchdowns and Liberty Union senior Austin Vannatta has passed for more than 1,300 yards and nine scores.
The top player in the Lions' offense has been senior running back Jacob Basso, who rushed for 1,091 yards and had 19 catches for 341 yards with 18 total touchdowns during the regular season.
Hartley had nine players score touchdowns and finished with 434 yards of offense against eighth-seeded Zane Trace, which finished 5-6.
"Jacob Basso is a great running back for them," Burchfield said. "(Liberty Union is) not real big, but they play hard and they do a lot of blitzing on defense."
Strong nucleus to return in volleyball
The girls volleyball team didn't advance to the state tournament for the fifth time since 2007, but it put together a bounce-back season nonetheless.
After failing to extend a seven-year run of district championships a year ago when they fell in a Division II district final, the Hawks went 20-7 overall and lost to Dover 23-25, 28-26, 25-19, 25-16 in a regional final Nov. 2 at Zanesville.
"I apologized to the seniors that we couldn't go farther, but I told the juniors, sophomores and freshmen that this was a good learning experience," first-year Mike Rahe said. "Dover's been (in the regional tournament) four or five years in a row and we weren't here last year."
Hartley loses seven seniors, including regulars Becca Groner (libero), Erin Chatman (right-side hitter) and D'asia Simmons (outside hitter).
Juniors Madeline Brandewie (middle hitter), Shelby Chesko (middle hitter), Abby Dawes (defensive specialist) and Emily Rahe (setter) and freshman Kristen Chatman (right-side hitter) are key players eligible to return.
Hartley went 6-2 in the CCL to place second behind DeSales (8-0) and ahead of Ready and Watterson (3-5) and Columbus School for Girls (0-8).
In the postseason, top-seeded Hartley beat Whitehall (25-6, 25-13, 25-12 on Oct. 19), Centennial (25-8, 25-3, 25-17 on Oct. 24) and Heath (25-22, 25-19, 25-18 on Oct. 26) to win a district title and Jonathan Alder (25-13, 25-12, 25-11 on Oct. 31) in a regional semifinal.
"I feel like the juniors are really good leaders and we've got good incoming people who can step up, too," Brandewie said.
Franz to lead pack of returning runners
Junior Emily Franz will be the top cross country returnee after making her third consecutive appearance in the Division II state meet.
After placing 30th at state as a freshman and 28th a year ago, Franz ran 19 minutes, 32 seconds to finish 29th on Nov. 2 at National Trail Raceway.
Franz won the CCL title in 19:21.5 on Oct. 12 to help the girls team place fourth (91) behind champion CSG (30).
She was third (19:02.09) in the 20-team district meet Oct. 19 at Watkins Memorial as Hartley was 10th (289) behind champion Granville (48).
Franz took 13th (19:26.52) at regional Oct. 26 at Pickerington North as the top 16 individuals advanced to state.
"She's a really steady runner and she's a strong mental runner as well," coach Julie Fix said.
Freshman Katie McCor-mick, who was ninth (21:21.1) in the league meet and 32nd (21:03.42) at district, also is eligible to return. Other key girls this fall included senior Madeline Menzie, sophomores Jilllian Rhodes and Lindsay Rovito and freshmen Alissa Agriesti and Alexis Onega.
The boys were fourth (111) in the CCL behind champion St. Charles (17).
Junior Brandt Groene was 14th (18:55.8) to lead the Hawks in the league meet and 46th (18:33.4) at district as Hartley was 11th (347) of 21 teams behind champion Sparta Highland (52).
Other key boys were seniors Grant Rathburn and Brandon Woods, junior Dominic Evans, sophomore Cameron Morello and freshmen Michael Smith and Gabriel Levert.
"We had a young team and I was very happy with the season," Fix said.