When Hank Patterson interviewed for the vacant football coaching position at Grove City Christian in 2017, he asked school officials who was the school’s top rival.
Their quick response: Fairfield Christian.
The teams will meet Friday, Sept. 11, at Millersport with the Eagles looking to continue their recent success.
Grove City Christian leads the series 8-5, having won the three past meetings.
Patterson helps celebrate a win over Fairfield Christian by presenting each player with a gold pants medallion, similar to what Ohio State players receive with a win over Michigan.
“It’s our Michigan,” Patterson said of Fairfield Christian. “This will be our Michigan week, so I know the guys will be very excited about that at practice. When I got there, I wanted to know who the rival was. I told the (former) athletics director (Matt Blandin) that’s who we’ll focus on every year in addition to the other (teams), but we like for our guys to have their chests sticking out (for Fairfield Christian).
“They have three pairs of pants since I’ve been there, so maybe they can put another one around their neck.”
Senior tight end/defensive end Andrew Heins, who is in his first season with the program, is looking forward to his first game against the Knights.
“Fairfield Christian is a very good team,” Heins said. “It’s going to be a hard-fought game and hopefully we can come out with another win. We have to keep playing as a team. We worked hard all summer and it’s very exciting to be able to play.
“If we can continue to keep working as a whole unit instead of as individuals, we should have a very good season.”
The Eagles rebounded from a 42-8 loss to Worthington Christian in the opener Aug. 28 to defeat Fisher Catholic 14-7 on Sept. 4.
Christian Lautenschleger rushed for 169 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries and added four receptions for 28 yards.
Quarterback Jayden Hanks completed seven of 14 passes for 82 yards with an interception and added a 10-yard scoring run.
“Mentally, I think we turned the corner, so hopefully we’ll see what happens the rest of this year,” Patterson said.
Fairfield Christian opened with a 39-8 win over Franklin Furnace Green on Aug. 28 for its first win on the field since defeating Fisher Catholic 34-0 on Oct. 15, 2016.
The Knights, who lost to Berne Union 54-0 on Sept. 4, entered the season 1-28 over the last three years — the lone victory was by forfeit against Fisher Catholic in 2017.
Fairfield Christian returned 13 starters, including sophomores Zi’Year Pardon and Samuel Rauch. Both were special mention all-state in Division VII last season.
“I’ve always thought that they had the personnel to be a good team,” Patterson said. “They have good offensive linemen. They usually run a spread (offense). They have some good people in the right places. We’re going to have to defend the field on them.”