Following back-to-back victories, the Olentangy Liberty High School football team finds itself among the leaders in the OCC-Central Division.
It has won recently with defense.
In a 16-8 win over Upper Arlington on Sept. 27, the Patriots held the Golden Bears to 81 yards rushing on 38 attempts. UA entered the game averaging 223.5 yards rushing.
Liberty, which has allowed 15 points over the past two games, improved to 3-2 overall and 2-0 in the league.
"(Beating UA) was huge for us," said coach Steve Hale, whose team plays at Marysville on Friday, Oct. 4. "When you go to 2-3, that really makes it tough for a team to come back. We've put the non-league schedule behind us and let go of that. Now, we're in our own league and we're holding on to the fact that we're in control of our own destiny."
Liberty opened league play by defeating Central Crossing 49-7 on Sept. 20.
Marysville fell to 4-1 overall and 1-1 in the OCC-Central with a 31-28 loss at Dublin Coffman on Sept. 27.
The Liberty defense expects to be tested by the Monarchs, who've proven they can score with a balanced offensive attack.
It was more of a passing attack against Coffman, as quarterback Matt Mullholland completed 34 of 66 passes for 353 yards with three touchdowns and four interceptions.
Senior wide receiver Jimmy Applegate caught 13 passes for 167 yards, senior receiver Nick Mazza had eight catches for 59 yards and senior receiver Logan Roston caught six passes for 51 yards.
Marysville's offensive line will go up against a Liberty defensive front that features Division I recruits Luke Callahan and Hunter Littlejohn. Callahan has committed to Cincinnati.
"When you go up against a team bigger than yourself, you have to use your speed and athleticism as much as possible," Marysville coach Morgan Cotter said. "We play great teams every week, so we have to be ready to play. (The loss to Coffman) is going to hurt, but we have to get better for this (game). We have to put it behind us and come back and get ready."
The Monarchs' challenge on defense will be stopping a potent Patriots ground game that features Daryian Davies (96 carries for 427 yards) and Nick Durtschi (44 carries for 357 yards). Davies scored on runs of 1 and 2 yards against Upper Arlington.
Liberty senior quarterback Matt Kessler, a first-year starter, continues to progress, according to Hale. Despite two interceptions last week, he completed 15 of 22 passes for 184 yards and is averaging 174.4 yards per game with six touchdowns and six interceptions.
"We turned the ball over to the next best guy on our team," Hale said. "Matt is getting it and he's growing up back there. (His predecessor, Joey Longhino) had two years to do that. Matt has to get that done in just a few weeks."
Longhino, who now plays at Otterbein University, finished his Liberty career with a program-record 4,095 yards passing.