Patriots, Eagles set for regional semifinals


By Ben Stroup - [email protected]



Olentangy Liberty’s Evan Nelson (13) looks to get around a Dublin Jerome defender in last week’s 28-14 win over the top-seeded Celtics. This week, Liberty is slated to take on 11-1 Perrysburg.

Olentangy Liberty’s Evan Nelson (13) looks to get around a Dublin Jerome defender in last week’s 28-14 win over the top-seeded Celtics. This week, Liberty is slated to take on 11-1 Perrysburg.


Ben Stroup | The Gazette

And then there were two.

After a 10-week regular season and a couple rounds of the playoffs, Olentangy Liberty and Big Walnut are the lone two Delaware County teams standing heading into Friday’s regional semifinals.

The eighth-seeded Patriots (7-5) get fourth-seeded Perrysburg (11-1) in their Division I, Region 2 semi. The Yellow Jackets edged Findlay 17-14 in their opener before handling Olentangy Berlin 24-8 last week.

Liberty coach Steve Hale said stopping the run game will be priority No. 1 for a defense that has been trending in the right direction since the postseason began.

“Perrysburg is a very big and talented team,” he said. “They have some D-I scholarship guys … but our defense has been maturing well and getting better each week. Our young players have gained valuable experience.”

It’s experience the Patriots will likely need to slow down the Jackets, who collected 240 yards on the ground last week against Berlin. Connor Walendzak led the charge, finishing with 27 carries for 180 yards and a couple touchdowns.

TJ Takats, Perrysburg’s quarterback, ran for 45 yards and a touchdown of his own.

The Jackets played well on defense last week as well, allowing just 168 yards of total offense and 12 first downs. They also forced a turnover, something Hale said his team needs to avoid.

The Patriots were certainly efficient in last Friday’s 28-14 win over top-seeded Dublin Jerome. Liberty QB Andrew Leonard had one of his best game’s of the season, completing 22 of his 27 passes for 273 yards and three TDs, two of which went to Alex Okuley, who had five grabs for a game-high 123 yards. Evan Nelson also had five grabs to go with 56 yards and a touchdown.

“The offense continues to develop as our offensive line improves,” Hale said. “The line has played really well the last two weeks, and we will need to control the tempo of the game and stay away from turnovers and penalties that kill drives.”

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. tonight at Fostoria Memorial Stadium.

Over in Division II, meanwhile, fifth-seeded Big Walnut (10-2) will square off with top-seeded Massillon Washington (10-1) for the second straight season tonight at 7 p.m. at Arlin Field in Mansfield.

The Tigers blanked the Golden Eagles 38-0 in the same round last fall. To get some payback, BW coach Rob Page said his squad will have to slow down a big-play offense that put up 34 points last week against Canal Winchester.

“Massillon does a great job of running the ball between the tackles and is extremely physical up front,” Page said. “They also have the ability to stretch you horizontally with the screen game and have a big play receiver that can go get the ball down field.”

It wasn’t just last week, either. The Tigers have some pretty impressive wins on their resume. After falling to Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller in the opener, Massillon Washington has won 10 straight, including a 31-29 win over Lakewood St. Edward (D-I) and 33-0 win over Mansfield Senior (D-II) — two teams that are still kicking in the postseason.

“You have to have the ability to be balanced on offense and be opportunistic in the pass game to beat them,” Page said.

His Eagles are coming off a performance in which they did just that. They were both balanced and opportunistic in last week’s 35-21 win over host Watkins Memorial.

Jake Nier completed 14 of his 19 passes for 167 yards and a score while Nate Severs ran for 157 yards and three TDs.

The defense also made some game-changing plays, forcing three turnovers, one of which turned into a scoop-and-score for a touchdown. Nicky Pentello also had an interception in the win over the Warriors.

Olentangy Liberty’s Evan Nelson (13) looks to get around a Dublin Jerome defender in last week’s 28-14 win over the top-seeded Celtics. This week, Liberty is slated to take on 11-1 Perrysburg.
https://www.delgazette.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/40/2022/11/web1_nelson-2.jpgOlentangy Liberty’s Evan Nelson (13) looks to get around a Dublin Jerome defender in last week’s 28-14 win over the top-seeded Celtics. This week, Liberty is slated to take on 11-1 Perrysburg. Ben Stroup | The Gazette

By Ben Stroup

[email protected]