Liberal and Blue Valley will meet in the Class 5A state football championship on Saturday for the third time this decade.
Kickoff for the championship is at 11 a.m. at Kansas University's Memorial Stadium.
Liberal (10-1) has advanced to the title game five consecutive years. The Redskins won in 1992 (34-6 over Blue Valley) and '94 (40-0 over Salina Central).
Their 17-14 loss in the state championship to Blue Valley in '91 has been reiterated throughout the week.
"That game is our motivation," Liberal coach Gary Cornelsen said. "We were disappointed in the way things turned out."
Liberal expected a rematch with top-ranked Salina Central, which lost 14-13 to Blue Valley (9-2) in last week's semifinals.
"We were expecting them," Cornelsen said of the Mustangs. "We felt with the way they played all year and the motivation they had from last year's game that they'd be back, but you never know what will happen in the semifinals."
Though the preseason No. 1 pick, Liberal is somewhat of a surprise finalist. The Redskins have overcome several key injuries. At one time, six players were out with injuries.
Star running back Montoyia Alsup, who gained 1,311 yards on 166 carries as a junior (166 yards and three TDs in last year's final), sustained a severe knee injury in Week 5 against Garden City. The Redskins lost, 15-9, for their lone setback. Alsup had rushed for more than 500 yards before the injury.
"We're a very young team," Cornelsen said. "We start eight underclassmen on offense, six on defense. The kids have kind of pulled together since that Garden City game."
Sophomore Landen Maxwell replaced Alsup and has gained 500 yards while averaging six yards a carry.
Junior starting free safety Eric Rosel missed five games because of mononucleosis before returning last week.
Rosel will probably start at quarterback and split time with sophomore Trace Haskell, who has rushed for 600 yards and passed for 500.
Defensively, middle linebacker Robbie Lanning (6-foot, 205 pounds) has been solid. The three-year starter has 120 tackles, including 22 for losses, two interceptions and three fumble recoveries.
"He has made key plays when we needed them on defense," Cornelsen said. "He's had a banner year. He's amazing how he can make a play."
Liberal advanced with a 14-9 semifinal victory over Valley Central and 37-6 romp of Arkansas City. The Redskins escaped Wichita Campus, 14-7, in Week 9.
Blue Valley returns to the final after consecutive 5-4 seasons. Blue Valley won state in '91 and finished runner-up in '92.