Coach Steve Hale is trying to figure out ways to keep a record season going for the Olentangy Liberty High School football team.

Coach Steve Hale is trying to figure out ways to keep a record season going for the Olentangy Liberty High School football team.

The Patriots are 10-0 for the first time, but they face several challenges entering their playoff opener against Orange in the first postseason meeting between Olentangy school district teams.

Before the teams meet Friday, Nov. 4, at Liberty in the first round of the Division I, Region 2 playoffs, Liberty must determine who to play at quarterback and try to solve the dilemma of facing an opponent only two weeks after the regular-season matchup.

The 6-4 Pioneers nearly pulled off an upset in a 20-13 double-overtime loss to the host Patriots on Oct. 21 in an OCC-Buckeye Division game.

Mitchell Okuley stepped in admirably at quarterback Oct. 28 for Liberty, which clinched an outright league title at 5-0 with a 35-14 win over Westerville North.

The sophomore was 17-for-25 passing for 317 yards with four touchdowns and one interception while playing in place of senior Brendon White, an Ohio State recruit who has been nursing a right ankle injury.

"Brendon's OK; we were just being cautious with him," Hale said. "He could have played, but we decided it wasn't worth the gamble. We already had earned a home (playoff) game and (a share of) the league title, so what more did we have to prove? We just held him out.

"Mitch was relaxed, and he's a good quarterback. He's a really smart kid and had a great night (against North). He's developing into a strong, competitive young man."

Orange coach Zebb Schroeder is having his team prepare for White to be "all over the field." The 6-foot-2, 190-pound senior is 54-for-110 passing for 684 yards with eight touchdowns and seven interceptions, and he has rushed for 597 yards and eight touchdowns on 99 carries.

"I expect (White) to play, and he'll probably be all over the field," said Schroeder, whose team is in the postseason for the first time since 2011. "He'll probably play at quarterback and maybe wide receiver and I wouldn't doubt he would be their punt-return guy. He'll probably be everywhere for them."

Schroeder expects a similar matchup to his team's double-overtime loss -- a hard-hitting game with points at a premium.

"The unsung hero of their team is the defense," said Schroeder, whose team finished 3-2 in the OCC-Buckeye after defeating Westerville South 21-9 on Oct. 28. "You look at the amount of points they have given up to some pretty good teams. They held (Hilliard) Davidson to three points (28-3 on Sept. 16) and Olentangy scoreless (31-0 on Oct. 14), and we only had three offensive points (against them)."

In the first meeting, White left in the second quarter because of his ankle injury and Okuley was recovering from a concussion. Third-string quarterback A.J. Smith stepped in and completed 16 of 27 passes for 196 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He connected with Ben Rinsma on an 89-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter and a 17-yard score to Johnny Wiseman in the second overtime.

The only Orange touchdown came on a 32-yard interception return by J.D. Dayhuff.

"The Pioneers will be really well-prepared and they have some incredibly talented players who will make plays," said Hale, whose team is making its third consecutive playoff appearance. "It will be just another physical, hard-fought game. We have to have the kids ready to go to battle."

Dayhuff, who also is Orange's quarterback, leads the Pioneers in rushing with 419 yards and nine touchdowns on 124 carries. He has completed 99 of 169 passes for 1,130 yards with 11 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

Jack Applegate has 344 yards rushing and five touchdowns on 67 carries, including 170 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries against South. Sam Almond has 30 receptions for 456 yards and five touchdowns.

Matt Webb leads Liberty in rushing with 973 yards and eight touchdowns on 199 carries. Rinsma (23 catches, 402 yards, 3 touchdowns) and Wiseman (20 catches, 356 yards, 7 touchdowns) are the top receivers.

The winner plays fourth-seeded Toledo Whitmer or fifth-seeded Medina in a regional semifinal Nov. 11 at a site to be determined.

shennen@thisweeknews.com

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