Second-year coach John Smith of the Bexley High School football team had few people to turn to for advice when he started preparations for Friday's Division III, Region 12 quarterfinal at Logan Elm.

The Lions never had made the playoffs until this year's team secured its spot with a 40-27 victory over Heath last Friday, improving to 7-3 overall and finishing 6-1 in the MSL-Ohio Division behind only Region 11 qualifier
Licking Valley (7-0).

Bexley is seeded seventh. Logan Elm, the second seed, beat Canal Winchester 16-13 in overtime last Friday to improve to 10-0 overall and win the MSL-Cardinal at 7-0, a year after it went winless.

The Lions faced four teams that made the postseason, losing to Canal Winchester 28-7 on Aug. 22, Hartley 38-21 on Sept. 5 and Licking Valley 34-0 on Sept. 12 and defeating Granville 20-17 on Sept. 26.

"It's different, but it's not that different," said Smith, whose team opened 1-3. "The last six games of our season have felt like playoff games. We had to win or we were done. We had to play for this opportunity."

"It's the biggest thing ever," said linebacker Robert Schnitz, whose defense forced three turnovers last Friday. "We've been working for this all year and we knew we could do it the whole time."
Bexley faces a tough task against Logan Elm's shotgun-oriented offense. Logan Elm averages more than 213 yards rushing and 90 yards passing. Leading the offense are junior quarterback Johnnie Brown (5-foot-10, 173 pounds) and junior running back Cody Cordle (5-11, 204).

Brown, the MSL-Cardinal Player of the Year, has rushed for more than 1,000 yards and thrown for more than 900. His favorite targets are senior Taylor Steed (6-0, 152), and junior Adam Blake (6-1, 141), both of whom can play in the backfield or out wide.

Anchoring the line are tackles Logan Hauserman (6-7, 294) and Chris Spurlock (5-7, 192), guards Seth Ebert (6-3, 191) and Ben Baker (6-2, 276) and center Kyle Eveland (5-10, 232).

"They have a good size and their offense is very similar to Canal Winchester," Smith said. "The key for us is to stop the run, and over the last six games we've become more successful at that. Our whole defense has gotten
better since played Canal. We're starting two sophomores (Tommy Zervas and Josh Lake) and they've been doing an outstanding job."

Logan Elm will have to find a way to contain Seth White, who rushed for 363 yards and five touchdowns and completed five of 11 passes for 67 yards against Heath.

But when the Lions were trailing Heath 20-13 in the third quarter, they turned to running back Latrail Bowman, who gained 29 of his 45 yards rushing - including a 5-yard touchdown run with 6:54 left in the third quarter -
on the tying drive.

"He has been our scout team running back all week. He has impersonated all the great running backs in our league," White said. "It was his time to step up and we knew he'd do it.

"We've got our place in history. You tell people (we made the playoffs) and they say, wow, I'll bet that hasn't happened in a long time. It's never happened. It's huge for us. We're going to cherish this opportunity."