HAMLER — With the regular season now in the rear-view mirror, football players at Patrick Henry are focused on extending the season, and for some extending their careers, with each win in the upcoming Ohio High School Athletics Association state playoffs, starting Saturday against Arlington at Big Red Stadium.

For senior lineman Garrett Schwiebert, the upcoming postseason competition can serve as an opportunity to get ready for the next step; NCAA Division I football.

Next season, Schwiebert will attend The University of Toledo, where he will play on the line for Jason Candle on the football team.

“I’m very excited,” Schwiebert said of his chance to suit up with the Rockets. “I understand that not everybody gets an opportunity like this to play college football for the next four or five years, and I’m thankful I will be able to extend my playing career.”

Schwiebert said he knew early on in the recruitment process Toledo was the place for him.

“From the time that UT first started recruiting me, I just had an overwhelming sense this was home,” Schwiebert said. “The coaches and the players all gave me the same feeling, and it was something I wanted to be a part of.”

That family atmosphere is something Schwiebert said he has enjoyed throughout his time at Patrick Henry as well.

“PH is a family,” Schwiebert said. “It’s very competitive, but when one of us falls we always stop and help them up. It’s like that with everyone here, and it’s something I’m going to remember forever.”

The senior said playing his high school ball in the Northwest Ohio Athletic League, home to four playoff-hosting teams this season, is an asset as he prepares to make the leap to NCAA Division I football.

“One thing that I think will help is that the competition is usually pretty balanced in the NWOAL,” Schwiebert said. “The middle-tier teams are usually close to being as good as the top-tier teams, and that means every week is something tough. The MAC is that way too, because the top isn’t far from the bottom, so everyone is competitive with everyone else.”

That league competition has left the Patriots to come into the playoffs with a 7-3 record for the second-straight year, although unlike last year’s NWOAL champion team, this PH group lost its three contests in the league.

Despite the struggles late, Schwiebert said his team is confident heading into Saturday’s battle.

“We had a pretty bad taste in our mouths for the past couple of weeks coming off some tough games,” Schwiebert said. “But we’re pretty confident now. We’ve gotten some guys back from injuries, and we’re ready to open up the playbook and play the kind of football we’ve expected of ourselves from the start of the year.”

Much of that success hinges on the broad shoulders of the 6-6, 250 pound senior, as classmates Will Morrow and TJ Rhamy rely on Schwiebert’s blocking for success in the rushing attack.

“I definitely get a little extra excited when coach calls a play where I can just follow behind Garrett,” Morrow said. “He’s so valuable to us offensively, because he opens up so much space.”

“Not only does he give me a lot of room to run, he gives me time to get ready to pass or just make something happen,” Rhamy added. “He’s a tank up front.”

Schwiebert is quick to deflect credit back onto his teammates.

“Those guys make my job so much easier,” Schwiebert said of Morrow and Rhamy. “It’s great to have in the back of your head that there’s a good chance we are going to get five or six yards every play just because of how they make plays.”

Schwiebert’s impactful blocking is one of the first areas coach Bill Inselmann points to when talking about his team’s offense.

“We have great backs that get yards for us and carry the load, but nothing happens without the guys up front, and Garrett is a leader for that unit,” Inselmann said. “We don’t have a running game without the holes he helps open up.”

Schwiebert, also a member of the PH boys basketball team, talked about the benefits of playing two sports.

“Basketball helps me with my footwork, especially on the line,” Schwiebert said. “I’m a bigger guy, so it helps me stay agile on my feet. Football helps make me stronger, which lets me finish through contact a little better in basketball.”

Schwiebert will study engineering when he starts at UT next year but says he doesn’t have a specific focus for the degree in mind just yet.

“All I know right know is I want to study some kind of engineering,” Schwiebert said. “I have always liked math, and I’ve really enjoyed my calculus class here at PH, so I’m excited to study something along those lines.”

Garrett is the son of Ron and Teresa Schwiebert.

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