West Liberty-Salem ready for big test against Tri-Village

WEST LIBERTY — The West Liberty-Salem High School football program has advanced to the Division VI, Region 24 quarterfinals for the second straight season.

This year, the fourth-seeded Tigers (10-1) will host fifth-seeded Tri-Village (10-1) at 7 p.m. Friday at Tiger Stadium. West Liberty-Salem is seeking its first trip to the regional semifinals since 2019.

“We’re excited,” said Tigers coach Dan McGill. “The kids have worked really hard in the offseason and worked really hard all summer long. They set goals to compete to win a league title and we always have a goal of hosting a playoff game and making a run (in the postseason). So far, we’re making a run towards some of those goals and we’re excited about that.”

The Tigers beat Lucasville Valley 47-7 in a first-round game last week, earning their fourth straight victory.

“I was proud of our guys,” McGill said. “We had a little bit of a sluggish start, but settled down and executed well for the last three quarters. We’re excited to have another chance to play together and keep it going.”

West Liberty-Salem knows Tri-Village presents a different challenge this week. The Patriots have won six straight games since falling to undefeated Ansonia in Week 6.

“They have a lot of explosive athletes and they’re well-coached,” McGill said. “They don’t have a lot of weaknesses, so it’s going to be about who executes better on Friday night.”

The Patriots are led by senior quarterback Braden Keating, who has thrown for 1,863 yards and 23 touchdowns, and senior running back Reed Wehr, who has rushed for 1,378 yards and 21 touchdowns.

The Tigers must play “assignment sound” football to slow down the Patriots explosive offense, McGill said.

“It’s just about limiting the big plays and making them lineup and execute for sustained drives,” he said. “At the end of the day, you can’t give up big plays because you were out of position or because you didn’t rally to the football and tackle. At this point in Week 12, you are who you are defensively and offensively. It’s about figuring out how to maximize your strengths and minimize your weaknesses and try to force them to beat you left-handed. That’s going to be our goal.”

They also hope to walk off their home field with a victory.

“This team has been fun to be around all year,” McGill said. “It’s got a good personality. The guys are a hard-working group. You get to the end of some seasons and you’re exhausted. This isn’t one of those seasons. This is one of those seasons where you really enjoy going to practice everyday and being around the guys. We just want to keep that going.”

Division VII, Region 28

No. 10 Mechanicsburg at No. 2 Ansonia: Unbeaten Ansonia won 11 straight games, including a 52-7 first round victory over Lockland. They’re led by senior running back Keegan Weiss, who has rushed for 2,029 yards and 36 touchdowns.

Mechanicsburg beat St. Bernard-Elmwood Place 40-14 to advance to a Region 28 quarterfinal game for the fifth straight season.

The winner will face either No. 14 St. Henry or No. 11 Fort Loramie.

No. 8 Cedarville at No. 1 Marion Local: Cedarville (8-3) will travel to Maria Stein (11-0) to face the defending D-VI state champions for the second time in four seasons. Cedarville lost to the Flyers 56-0 in a 2020 second-round game. The Flyers also knocked Cedarville out of the playoffs in both 2000 and 2001.

The winner will face either No. 13 New Bremen or No. 5 Minster in a regional semifinal game.

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