Not surprisingly to coach Steve Hale, the Olentangy Liberty football team got better at sustaining drives as the game progressed during its 31-19 victory over Pickerington North on Aug. 30.
Junior running back Aidan Kenley didn't get his first carry until midway through the first quarter when he ran for a 34-yard touchdown, but he became a much bigger part of the offense in the second half on his way to rushing for 192 yards on 15 attempts.
That took the pressure off senior quarterback Corbin Parrish, who last season started one game and saw extensive action in another but mostly contributed on defense and special teams.
He finished 14-for-23 passing for 141 yards and two touchdowns and added a rushing score, providing further confidence to the Patriots as they prepare for their Week 2 matchup Friday, Sept. 6, at home against Huber Heights Wayne.
The only other time Liberty and Wayne have met was in 2017 when the Patriots lost 17-0 in Week 2 but recovered to finish 11-3.
"They're really, really good," Hale said. "They're Wayne for a reason. You're going to make mistakes (in an opener). Game plans are going to be rusty. You're evaluating talent, trying to compete against great players like (North's Jack) Sawyer, who is something special.
"We tried to stay within ourselves and kept it really simple. We made a few mistakes and sometimes we put our guys in position to make plays, and they did. We had a couple receivers make some nice, big plays for us and obviously Aidan Kenley picked up right where he left off."
Wayne opened with a 28-19 loss to Cincinnati Colerain on Aug. 30, representing the first game under new coach Roosevelt Mukes. He took over June 19 for Jay Minton, who resigned five days prior to that after 21 seasons.
In Wayne's opening loss, junior quarterback Cam Fancher was 19-for-37 passing for 214 yards with two touchdowns and added a rushing score. He was a wide receiver last season.
R.J. Mukes, who is the son of the coach, is a freshman wide receiver who had six receptions for 68 yards and one score in his first prep game.
After Liberty held North to 15 yards rushing, it will face a Wayne team that also struggled to run the ball in its opener. Senior running back Devin Nelson rushed for 1,098 yards last season but was held to 25 yards on 10 carries.
Defensively for the Patriots, Tyson Chapman had an interception, Andrew Barrett had eight tackles and Drew Thornton added six tackles and two tackles for loss against North.
"We gave up some really big opportunities in the first half and went back to the basics of the game plan, which was to try to get the ball out of the box away from their big-time players and make little plays here and there," Hale said. "Our defense played outstanding."