With the Olentangy Liberty High School football team experiencing a perfect season so far, coach Steve Hale knows he has much to be thankful for this fall.

With the Olentangy Liberty High School football team experiencing a perfect season so far, coach Steve Hale knows he has much to be thankful for this fall.

It's also been enjoyable for Hale that two of his former assistants have begun to find success in other places, and he'll get to see the resurgence of one of those programs Friday, Oct. 21, when the Patriots play host to Orange.

The Pioneers are coached by Zebb Schroeder, who served as an assistant under Hale at Liberty from 2003-10 and has Orange off to its best start since it made the playoffs in 2011 under former coach Brian Cross.

While the Patriots are 8-0 overall and 3-0 in the OCC-Buckeye Division, Orange is 5-3 overall and 2-1 in the league. The Pioneers went 4-6 in 2014 in their first year under Schroeder and were 3-7 a year ago.

Another coach finding success after formerly serving as an assistant under Hale is Erik Will, who has guided Shelby to a 7-1 record. Shelby had gone 2-18 in the two seasons before Will took over in 2013.

"Any time you work with a guy and they're doing good things, it's a great thing," Hale said. "I'm just really proud of what (Schroeder) has done as well as what coach Will is doing at Shelby. It's really rewarding to see that for them."

The Patriots beat Orange 43-14 last season and hold a 5-1 lead in the series.

Schroeder, who spent time as both offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator for Liberty, has the Pioneers in Division II, Region 2 playoff contention while the Patriots were projected to lead the region heading into the game.

Orange had given up an average of 11 points during its five games before losing to Westerville Central 31-14 on Oct. 14.

A Pioneers defense led by middle linebacker Bryce Houston (53.5 tackles, 6 tackles for loss) and defensive end Zach Harrison (10 tackles) will be tasked with holding a balanced Liberty offense in check.

Patriots quarterback Brendon White passed for 51 yards and one touchdown and rushed for two scores in a 31-0 win Oct. 14 over Olentangy. He has thrown for eight touchdowns and rushed for eight scores this season.

Running back Matt Webb has rushed for 749 yards, and four players have reached double digits in receptions including Johnny Wiseman, who has six touchdown catches.

"(Our success) probably starts with our defense," Schroeder said. "We want our players with the best athleticism on the defensive side."

Quarterback J.D. Dayhuff has been at the center of most of Orange's success. He has rushed for 334 yards and nine touchdowns and has completed 82 of 138 passes for 918 yards with 10 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

Sam Almond has 25 catches for 338 yards and four touchdowns, and Harrison also has four touchdown catches. Graham Starn has rushed for 322 yards and two touchdowns, Bobby Eleyet has 281 yards rushing and Jack Applegate has rushed for three scores.

Liberty has shut out its last two opponents. It limited Olentangy to 86 yards of offense and forced two fumbles, including one on the opening kickoff.

On the next play after the first turnover, White hit Jacob Sincek for a 9-yard touchdown just 39 seconds into the game.

Liberty likely will be without junior linebacker Edward Warinner, who according to Hale suffered a knee injury against Olentangy. His status going forward is uncertain.

"Liberty plays a 3-3 stack defense, which is one you just don't see week in, week out," Schroeder said. "They do a good job mixing up man and zone coverage. We've got to be smart and stay ahead of the charge. Westerville Central beat us up pretty good up front."

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