Westerville North football coach Bryan Johnson would prefer not to be facing playoff-bound teams coming off losses in consecutive weeks, but that is the situation in which the Warriors find themselves as they wrap up the season Friday, Nov. 1, at Olentangy Liberty.
The Patriots are 8-1 overall and 3-1 in the OCC-Buckeye Division after a 10-7 loss at Olentangy Orange on Oct. 25 in which they outgained the Pioneers 297-208 but committed three turnovers.
That same night, North fell to 1-8 overall and 0-4 in the league with a 44-14 home loss to Olentangy. The Braves, who were projected to be sixth in Division II, Region 7 computer points this week, were themselves coming off a 24-21 loss to the Patriots on Oct. 18.
"It's another upset team we're facing," Johnson said. "Olentangy probably felt like they outplayed Liberty and Liberty knew they had a chance to beat Orange. We tried to keep Olentangy in front of us but that opened up some short passes they were able to do something with. Their quarterback (Trent Maddox) was on point and we didn't do everything we needed to do to stop them."
North fell behind Olentangy 38-0 after three quarters and scored all of its points in the fourth as running back Maximus Plaxico had a 9-yard touchdown run with 8 minutes, 2 seconds left and running back Sylvester Bockarie scored from 5 yards with 1:21 to play.
Liberty, which is 8-0 all-time against North, was ranked fourth in Division I in last week's state poll.
Quarterback Jackson Roberts completed 26 of 37 passes for 263 yards against Orange and threw an interception. Running back Brennan Rowe scored the Patriots' only touchdown on a 1-yard run on their first possession.
Liberty had averaged 25.8 points and given up 12.6 through eight games despite a spate of injuries that hit the team at midseason, shortening or ending the seasons for starting quarterback Corbin Parrish, running back Aidan Kenley and two-way lineman Ben Wrather, among others.
"They've had their injuries but talk about depth; they have over 100 players and it's truly a 'next-man-up' philosophy for them," Johnson said. "Their program does it the right way. They don't make many mistakes and that's why they've been to three (Division I state semifinals) in a row."