Olentangy Liberty and Olentangy enter their showdown on Friday, Sept. 30, at Olentangy on different ends of the emotional spectrum.

Olentangy Liberty and Olentangy enter their showdown on Friday, Sept. 30, at Olentangy on different ends of the emotional spectrum.

The Braves fell to 2-3 overall and 1-1 in the OCC-Cardinal Division with a 14-13 triple-overtime loss to visiting Marysville on Sept. 23 as running back Joshua Perry was stopped on a two-point conversion try in the third overtime. That same night, the Patriots improved to 2-3 and 1-1 with a 20-16 win over visiting Dublin Jerome, marking their first win over the Celtics in four meetings. A goal-line stand in the fourth quarter helped Liberty rally for the come-from-behind victory.

"In this game, (what happened last week) probably won't matter much either way," said Liberty coach Steve Hale, whose team's 2-3 start is the worst since the school opened in 2003. "The kids are going to be fired up because it's an intra-district game and they're going to play with a lot of emotions."

Olentangy won 10-7 in last year's matchup, but Liberty leads the series 2-1.

"We've got to try to get healthy mentally, physically and emotionally," Braves coach Ed Terwilliger said. "We're just going to have to go back to the drawing board this week and figure out what we can do to win it."

If Olentangy is to be successful, it must find a way to slow Liberty's spread offense, led by quarterback Joey Longhino, who threw touchdown passes of 1 and 3 yards to Bryson Wray and 43 yards to A.J. Motika against Jerome. Longhino has thrown for 1,000 yards and is on track to break the program's single-season passing record of 1,712 yards, set by 2011 graduate Taylor Hudson last year.

Olentangy has struggled against the spread offense this season. Both Delaware, which defeated the Braves 18-14 on Sept. 2, and Big Walnut, which routed the Braves 41-13 on Sept. 9, hurt Olentangy with short passes out of the spread.

"What we're going to do is do the things we feel like we do best," Hale said. "We're going to spread the field and put our kids in space and see if they can make some plays."

"Liberty will come in here and be totally different (from Marysville)," Terwilliger said. "They're going to try to run up and down the field with their spread offense. (Hale) and his staff will do a great job preparing their guys to come in here and we know we'll take their best shot. We seem to take everybody's best shot."

The Patriots' defense, led by linebacker Grant Cartwright, will have to slow the Braves' grinding running game led by Perry and running back Derrick Rodgers. Perry, an Ohio State recruit as a linebacker, has scored six touchdowns and rushed for 384 yards the past three games.

"They were very big last year and they're quite big up front again," Hale said of the Braves. "They run power sets on offense and they do a nice job with those. We're going to be a little undersized, so we're going to have to work very hard at that."