Same rivalry, just a new stage

They play football in the same county and in the same league. Their rivalry has become an intense one over the years, and now they are taking it into the postseason.

Mechanicsburg and West Liberty-Salem have combined for 18 playoff appearances, but have never crossed paths in the playoffs. That will change Friday at Wapakoneta’s Harman Field as the Ohio Heritage Conference foes battle for a spot in the Division VI state final four.

It will be the second time the two teams have played this season. They met in Week 7, with the Indians prevailing 32-22 to snap the Tigers’ 30-game regular-season winning streak.

In that game, the Tigers outgained M’burg 294-247 in total yardage. However, WL-Salem committed two turnovers, was sacked three times and had nine penalties for 104 yards.

“In order for us to be more successful this time, we must simply do the fundamental things better,” said WL-Salem head coach Dan McGill. “We need to block, tackle and take care of the football.”

With what is at stake Saturday, the Tigers’ main motivation is not on avenging the loss, but rather on moving deeper into the playoffs.

“At this point in the season every team that is still playing is already highly motivated, so I am not concerned about my guys being ready to go,” said McGill.

The Tigers are still standing after Region 22 wins over Williamsburg and Cincinnati Summit Country Day. The Indians have earned their spot in the regional final with victories over National Trail and Miami East.

Indians relish return to postseason

See today's Examiner for the special PLAYOFF PAGECLICK HERE to subscribe.