Olentangy Liberty High School senior quarterback Zach Michael said it was the craziest sporting event he's been a part. Westerville South coach Rocky Pentello has vowed never to watch the game film again.

Olentangy Liberty High School senior quarterback Zach Michael said it was the craziest sporting event he's been a part. Westerville South coach Rocky Pentello has vowed never to watch the game film again.

Most years, the borderline unbelievable finish to last year's Liberty-South game would be enough to make the rematch Friday in Powell one of the most interesting OCC-Cardinal Division games of the season. This year, however, it is just one of several storylines when the two 7-2 teams meet for the division's game of the year.

"It's a huge game for so many reasons," Michael said.

The Patriots enter on a four-game winning streak.

For starters, the teams need a victory to guarantee a spot in this year's Division I playoffs.

Both are in control of their own destiny in Region 3.

After nine games, Liberty was fourth in the region and South was fifth. With Pickerington Central, Lancaster and Groveport all playing teams with three wins or fewer in week 10, the winner Friday is expecting to have enough points to earn a first-round home game.

Though it is possible both teams can reach the playoffs with a loss, neither wants to take the chance.

"We have things in our hands right now," Michael said. "After the game, we want to make sure there aren't any doubts."

South, 6-0 in the OCC-Cardinal, clinched a share of the league title with its win over Olentangy last weekend. However, Liberty, 5-1 in the OCC-Cardinal, can grab a piece of the title with a win Friday. After having to share the league with two other teams last season, South said it has no desire to repeat the generosity.

"Sharing the league title is like kissing your sister," Pentello said. "We experienced sharing it last year and if feels like we're getting a second chance to get it right."

In terms of Xs and Os, both teams believe they will face a major jump in talent on Friday. After six consecutive league wins over teams with a combined record of 18-36, Pentello called Liberty "more like our first three games" against 7-1 Hilliard Davidson, 7-2 Bishop Watterson and 5-4 Clayton Northmont.

For his part, Liberty head coach Steve Hale called South "the best team we've faced since (unbeaten) Dublin Coffman" in week 1. "(South) has some kids that can flat-out play."

South's blitz-heavy defense will try to put the clamps on Michael, who has combined for 1,440 yards of offense and eight touchdowns. Pentello singled out wide receiver Marcus Davis (39 catches, 351 yards) and running back Jo'el Murphy (five touchdowns) as players South will focus on.

Liberty will have to keep running back Jayshan Jackson (1,377 yards, 19 touchdowns) from having a big night, along with being mindful of a passing attack that has thrown for 1,739 yards and 16 touchdowns this season.

"We haven't seen this kind of speed this year," Hale said. "We're going to have to be sound and take great angles."

Then there's the matter of what happened the first time these schools met last year for their first meeting.

With virtually the same scenario, South had clinched a share of the league title and neither had officially qualified for the state playoffs, the Patriots came to Westerville and stunned South in the game's final two minutes.

"I'll never watch that film again," Pentello said. "It depresses me."

South led 17-7 with less than three minutes to play and had the ball inside Liberty's 45-yard line. South then fumbled, gave Liberty a second crack at an onside kick by committing an offsides penalty, and Liberty scored two touchdowns in the final 1 minute, 5 seconds to win 21-17.

With the victory, Liberty both earned a share of the league championship and qualified for the Division II playoffs, where it reached the second round.

"It was certainly one for the books," said Hale.

South, meanwhile, saw its season end without an eleventh game for the third season in a row. Most members of the program have had the game on their minds since camp began in the summer.

"The pain from those last three minutes is still in my heart," South linebacker Jamar Williams said.

Next game


•When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

•Last meeting: 2008, Liberty 21-17

•Westerville South (7-2 overall, 6-0 in OCC-Cardinal) to date: Lost to Hilliard Davidson 21-20; lost to Bishop Watterson 16-10; defeated Clayton Northmont 17-7; def. Westerville Central 28-7; def. Dublin Scioto 34-9; def. Dublin Jerome 34-7; def. Marysville 49-12; def Westerville North 47-6; def. Olentangy 47-0

•Olentangy Liberty (7-2, 5-1 in OCC-Cardinal) to date: Lost to Dublin Coffman 52-0; def. Thomas Worthington 34-13; def. Delaware 31-0; def. Marysville 17-6; lost to Dublin Jerome 23-13; def. Olentangy 29-6; def. Westerville North 15-0; def. Westerville Central 14-6

•Top Wildcats: Miguel Alicea (DB), Ray Ball (OL), Jayshan Jackson (RB), Derek Jones (LB), Jonthon Jennings (QB), Jack Tomlinson (WR) and Jamar Williams (LB).

•Top Patriots: Shay Baker (LB), Tyler Black (DB), Marcus Davis (WR), Jeff Kemper (RB), Zach Michaels (QB), Josh Meyers (WR) and Jo'el Murphy (RB).