LCC, Crestview look to stretch seasons

Tom Usher 419-993-2089

November 7, 2013

There was no Crestview vs. Lima Central Catholic football matchup this year. That was because LCC was booted out of the Northwest Conference.

But these teams know each other.

LCC compiled a record of 7-0 against Crestview when the two were in the NWC from 2006 to 2012. Last year the T-Birds defeated Crestview 42-21.

Crestview (8-2) will come to Lima to face LCC (8-2) at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Lima Stadium in the opening round of the Division VI, Region 20, playoffs.

“I tell our guys, ‘This is what you signed up for in July,’ ’’ LCC coach Jerry Cooper said.

Crestview third-year head coach Jared Owens is well acquainted with the T-Birds’ overall speed.

“That’s (speed) what separates them from other teams we play,” Owens said.

Crestview started the year 2-1, with a non-league loss to Wayne Trace. Then, the Knights went 6-1 in the Northwest Conference to claim a share of the NWC title.

It marks Crestview’s second trip to the playoffs. The Knights lost in the first round in 2005.

This year’s Knights’ offense revolves around the running of Malcolm Oliver, who has run for 974 yards with 17 TDs. Quarterback Preston Zaleski has run for 667 yards and 16 TDs.

“They scored 63 against Ada, 62 against Allen East and scored over 40 seven times. They have the playmakers and we have to slow them down,” Cooper said.

The Knights like to run the triple option, but can also run the veer. Most of the time they line up in the I-formation.

“We consider ourselves a running team,” Owens said. “We run option. We like to take what the defense gives us. … We take pride in balance and have multiple weapons. We’ve tried to develop our identity as a running team, and we pass off that.”

In the air, Zaleski has thrown for 941 yards with five TDs and six interceptions.

After the T-Birds lost to Delphos Jefferson, they fell to 3-2. But LCC won the last five games to reach the playoffs.

Cooper said part of the key was getting back 6-foot-5, 270-pound offensive tackle Demaree Allen in Week 7. Allen missed a few games with an injury, including the loss to Jefferson. Tackle Brad Stolly went down with a knee injury in the first half of the season and is out for the year.

LCC can run and throw, but it prefers to pound it on the ground with running backs Kalito Lasenby (690 yards) and Mykale Rogers (405 yards)

Quarterback Colin Stolly has thrown for 1,617 yards with 15 TDs and four interceptions. He’s run for 553 yards and 11 TDs.

Cooper said a big key will be how his team runs against Crestview’s huge front six.

“(Jordan) Roop and (Seth) Moser are 225 and 220 at outside linebackers,” Cooper said. “All three down linemen are over 230. The six in the box are stout. … We have to block them.”

With LCC’s big-play explosiveness, Owens said the Knights have to limit the T-Birds’ huge plays.

“Last year, outside of four or five plays, we played well, defensively, against them,” Owens said. “But their touchdowns came on runs of more than 25 yards. Other than that, we did a good job. We’re harping on that this week.”

It marks LCC’s 10th year in the playoffs and the T-Birds have an overall playoff record of 10-9.

For the Knights, there is plenty of excitement in Convoy.

“This is the second time in history, and they’re getting a lot pats on the back and feeling good,” Owens said. “They’ve earned that. But they need to remember the task at hand. They’re happy, but hungry.”