By TED RADICK
HAMLER — Respect Marion Local? Absolutely, coach Bill Inselmann and his Patrick Henry Patriots respect what Ohio’s premier small-school football program has accomplished.
Fear Marion Local? Not a chance.
Patrick Henry (10-3) faces Marion Local (11-2) at 7 p.m. Saturday at Lima’s Spartan Stadium in a Division VII state semifinal.
“We have to believe we can win. We’re not going in wanting to win,” said Inselmann, who described the difference between wanting victory and expecting victory.
“When I first showed up at Patrick Henry 27 years ago, I had great kids. They wanted to win in the worst way,” Inselmann said. “But they weren’t used to winning, and they didn’t expect it to happen.
“Over time, as we started winning, it got to the point where we expected to win.
“Right now, that’s where Marion Local is. There’s no doubt about it, the (Midwest Athletic Conference) schools, they walk on the field and they expect to win and they have that image. We’re not going to be intimidated by that. We’re going to expect to win.”
Patrick Henry is playing in its seventh state semifinal. The Patriots are in the playoffs this year for the 18th time in program history and have a 2005 state championship.
Marion Local is making its 18th state semifinal appearance. The Flyers have 10 state titles, six of those coming in this decade.
“We have to play a complete game,” Inselmann said. “Not a perfect game; no one can play a perfect game. I’m not asking anything superhuman. We just have to play a complete game.”
Marion Local’s losses this year were to Division III Columbus Bishop Watterson and to MAC rival Minster.
Flyers quarterback Kyle Muhlenkamp is 98 of 180 (54.4 percent) for 1,624 yards, 15 TDs and 12 interceptions.
Running back Brandon Fleck has 939 yards on 143 carries (6.6 per carry and 12 touchdowns, while Grant Meier (252 rushing yards) and Dylan Heitkamp (586 rushing yards) each had 10 TDs on the ground.
Charles Huelsman is Muhlenkamp’s top target with 44 receptions for 799 yards (18.2 yards per catch) and eight touchdowns.
“They do a great job of balancing you, and when they’re running, they do a great job of hitting all the gaps,” Inselmann said. “They’ll run outside, they’ll run strong-side and open-side, they’re running what seems to be more double tight end right now — that evens up the defense. Schematically, they’re very strong.”
Patrick Henry is also balanced with the run and pass. Quarterback T.J. Rhamy is 89 of 159 (56 percent) for 1,756 yards, 15 TDs and seven interceptions, and has run for 1,300 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Running back Wil Morrow has 1,172 yards on 186 carries (6.3 yards per carry) and 19 TDs.
Kolton Holloway has 47 receptions for 1,139 yards (24.2 yards per catch) and 10 TDs.
“I feel our momentum right now, our confidence, is as high as it’s been in a long time,” Inselmann said. “We’ve had as strong a schedule going to this game as we’ve ever had. I like the idea that Archbold beat Coldwater. We lost to Archbold by a point.
“Wauseon made the second round in the Division IV playoffs and barely lost. Liberty Center got knocked out by Archbold.
“We beat St. Paul, beat Leipsic … we are battle tested. Again, I’m just thinking about us, but this was a really nice schedule we played this year.”