The Olentangy Liberty High School football team had its most impressive offensive performance of the season while beating Medina 45-27 in a Division I, Region 2 semifinal Nov. 11 at Arlin Field in Mansfield.

The Olentangy Liberty High School football team had its most impressive offensive performance of the season while beating Medina 45-27 in a Division I, Region 2 semifinal Nov. 11 at Arlin Field in Mansfield.

The Patriots' next opponent is peaking, too.

On Friday, Nov. 18, at Mansfield Madison, top-seeded Liberty will face third-seeded Lorain, which has won 10 games in a row and has beaten six consecutive teams that posted winning records.

It marks the first regional championship game appearance for both programs. The winner advances to a state semifinal Nov. 25 against an opponent to be determined.

"It feels amazing," said senior Johnny Wiseman, who had an interception against fifth-seeded Medina. "We have some little things we need to work on to prepare, but this team can do anything we put our minds to. So far we know that Lorain is an athletic, big team. Also, they are a run-first team and their offensive line moves up field well."

The Patriots are 5-8 all-time in the postseason after winning their first two playoff games in the same season for the first time.

The Titans made their only other playoff appearance in 2014 when they lost in the first round in Division I, Region 1.

Liberty coach Steve Hale does have experience in a regional championship game, having guided Shelby to a Division III regional runner-up finish in 1998, but his team needed to win only one game to get to that level. Another playoff round was added the next year.

Both the Patriots and Titans have had to overcome adversity.

Liberty is 12-0 despite losing one of its defensive leaders, junior linebacker Edward Warinner, to a season-ending injury five weeks ago. Also, the Patriots' top athlete, senior Brendon White, has missed time with an ankle injury.

"To be a sophomore and lead a team to the regional finals for the first time, it feels great," said quarterback Mitchell Okuley, who threw for 164 yards and five touchdowns against Medina. "I just work hard in practice and my teammates are helping me out a lot and leading me."

Lorain opened with back-to-back losses but began to hit its stride when it beat Sandusky -- a Division III playoff qualifier that finished 10-2 -- 24-23 on Oct. 7.

The Titans opened the playoffs Nov. 4 with a 34-14 win over sixth-seeded Olentangy and then beat second-seeded Dublin Jerome 30-14 on Nov. 11 to improve to 10-2.

Senior Carlos Chavis rushed for 1,289 yards and 14 touchdowns during the regular season and had 211 yards rushing against Jerome.

Senior Nazihar Bohannon, a 6-foot-6 wide receiver and linebacker, has offers in both football and men's basketball from numerous Division I programs.

Against Medina, White finished with nine catches for 87 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for 140 yards and one score on 15 carries.

When White is at wide receiver against Lorain, he could be matched up against senior cornerback Daesean Brooks.

Another talented athlete for Lorain is senior running back Zion Cross, who was the Division I state champion in the 100 meters last spring.

"We're excited to have a chance to play for a regional title," Hale said. "(The Titans are) really athletic and they're big. As you move forward, this is what you run into, teams that are really talented.

"We thought we did really well (against Medina), to hold them under 30 points. Mitchell threw for five touchdowns and Brendon and Matthew Webb ran the ball some. Drew Rosi played well at defensive end and Skylar Wahlund has done a tremendous job filling in for Warinner at linebacker."

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek