When Patrick Henry and Liberty-Benton clash for a regional championship Saturday, there will be plenty of familiarity and similarity.
The Patriots and Eagles have met four times in the postseason since 2003. Both teams feature explosive offenses backed by stingy defenses.
Liberty-Benton (11-1) takes on Patrick Henry (10-2) in a Division V regional final at 7 p.m. Saturday at Lima Stadium.
Patrick Henry has averaged 39.5 points per game to Liberty-Benton's 29.8. On defense, the Patriots are yielding 16.3 points per contest, while the Eagles are giving up 11.1.
The teams last met in the playoffs in 2008 when L-B won 28-0. But the Patriots got the upper hand in three other postseason meetings in 2003, 2004, and 2007.
PH crushed Columbia Station 56-15 in a regional semi to advance.
Liberty-Benton pulled off an upset of No. 3-ranked Lima Central Catholic to advance. The Eagles prevailed 24-17 in overtime as they knocked out the Thunderbirds for the second straight season.
The PH offense is averaging 285.3 rushing yards per game, and 141.8 passing yards.
Patrick Henry coach Bill Inselmann is 194-60 in 22 seasons.
"I think we're starting to get our confidence back to where it was when we were 6-0," Inselmann said.
Junior running back Tobey Hernandez, who spearheaded the rushing attack with 1,285 yards on 142 carries, has been ruled academically ineligible and has missed the playoffs. He scored a team-high 21 touchdowns.
Senior quarterback Gabe Jones has rushed for 884 yards on 134 carries (6.6 average) and seven scores. He also has completed 80 of 142 passes for 1,673 yards and 14 TDs.
"He's a dual threat and he's difficult to defend," Inselmann said. "We have the running game and passing attack."
Jones' top target has been Zach Nye (27 catches, 582 yards, 5 TDs).
Also contributing to the ground game have been Calvin Palmer (492 rushing yards, 11 scores) and Brandon Cole (332 yards, 5 TDs)
The PH defense is yielding just 80.5 rushing yards, and 104.3 passing yards per game. The defense has forced 17 turnovers with 10 fumbles and seven interceptions.
Brothers Caleb and Jake Carrizales have been an incredible force along the defensive line. Caleb, a sophomore, leads the team with 103 tackles. Jake, a senior, is second with 102. Both are tied for the team lead in tackles for loss (14) sacks (7).
Logan Ziegler has 108 tackles and two sacks.
The Patriots lost 32-28 on Oct. 5 to Northwest Ohio Athletic League champ Bryan, then fell 51-22 the next week to Archbold.
PH edged Northwood (10-1) in the first round of the playoffs, 20-19.
L-B's only loss came in week 3 when the Eagles dropped a 43-36 decision to McComb (ranked No. 2 in Division VI).
Senior quarterback Mitch Linhart has done it all for the Eagles. He leads the team with 952 rushing yards on 122 carries (7.8 average) and has 15 touchdowns. Linhart also has completed 114 of 195 passes for 1,701 yards and 18 scores.
Linhart, who also is L-B's kicker, has scored 156 of his team's 478 points. He has made six field goals. He also is the punter (40-yard average) and kickoff returner (51-yard average per return).
"He has matured a lot," L-B coach Tim Nichols said. "He has the ability to make big plays at big times."
On defense, Linhart leads the Eagles with four interceptions.
Sophomore running back Austin Combs is ranked second in rushing (768 yards and 10 TDs).
Kyle Bowsher (421 rushing yards, 5 TDs) and Tim Petrella (395 yards, 6 TDs) also have chipped in on the ground. Junior Chase Cook has a team-high 48 catches for 940 yards and 14 touchdowns. Bowsher (321 receiving yards) and Combs (238) also have been targeted by Linhart.
Bobby Snook has three interceptions.
Overall, the Eagles are averaging 282.3 yards on the ground and 142.2 yards through the air.
Patrick Henry is making its 15th appearance in the playoffs. The Patriots have a 24-13 all time record and won a state title in 2005. Liberty-Benton is in the postseason for the eighth time. The Eagles are 14-7 and reached the title game in 2008.
"Both teams like to run the ball and both quarterbacks are very similar and can throw the ball effectively," Nichols said. "There's a sense of urgency for both teams."
Contact Mark Monroe at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6354 or on Twitter @MonroeBlade.