Bearcats (9-2) Red Devils (10-1)
The players and coaching staffs for the Brookhaven and Marion-Franklin high school football teams know what to expect when they meet in a Division III, Region 9 semifinal Friday, Nov. 15, at DeSales.
The teams met Sept. 6, with the Red Devils winning 27-2, and have faced each other seven times over the last five seasons, with Marion-Franklin winning six. Both squads enter this matchup on an eight-game winning streak.
"Honestly, there's not going to be a lot of surprises," said Brookhaven coach Trevor White, whose team lost to the Red Devils 34-28 in the first round of the Division II, Region 7 playoffs in 2011 in its previous postseason appearance. "As far as our team is concerned, we've come a long way. (Marion-Franklin) is throwing the ball a lot better and (Brookhaven quarterback) Macyah (Fleming) has come a long way from the time we started until now.
"Marion-Franklin's a great team that is huge, fast, deep and experienced. Looking back at the first game, we made too many turnovers. We can't shoot ourselves in the foot and we've finally got to be able to match their physicality up front."
Seeded second in the region, Marion-Franklin, which is 10-1 and in the playoffs for the 10th consecutive season, opened the postseason with a 34-14 win over seventh-seeded Dover on Nov. 8 at home.
Quarterback Justin Tyler completed 12 of 17 passes for 212 yards, including an 83-yard touchdown to wide receiver Shannon Royster, and rushed for touchdowns of 4, 10 and 51 yards.
Tyler has thrown for about 1,000 yards and has 13 touchdowns passes.
Wide receivers Landon Yeartie and Omar Alfred and running back Jhulyis Monroe have been other key contributors to an offense that features one of the state's top junior recruits on its line in 6-foot-5, 299-pound Martesse Patterson.
Third-seeded Brookhaven escaped with a 29-27 win over sixth-seeded Chillicothe in its playoff opener Nov. 8 and is 9-2.
The Bearcats' defense, which is led by linemen Ne'Tronne Backus and Stefen Banks, has allowed an average of 12.4 points over the last eight games.
"It's a playoff game, so everything is different," Marion-Franklin coach Brian Haffele said. "There will be different emotions. I know they've made some personnel changes like we have."
Fleming has become the leader of the Bearcats' offense since taking over at quarterback in late-September and has completed 41 of 87 passes for 913 yards with 13 touchdowns and six interceptions. He also has rushed for 328 yards and five scores.
Running back David Peoples is Brookhaven's leading rusher with 926 yards and nine touchdowns.
Marion-Franklin's defense includes Alfred, Monroe and Royster in the secondary, Thomas James and David Welborn at linebacker and Devante Collins, Ricky Jackson and Shemar Moss on the line.
The winner between Brook-haven and Marion-Franklin will face top-seeded Athens or fourth-seeded Dresden Tri-Valley in a regional final Nov. 22 at a site to be determined.