CONVOY – Crestview traveled to a new frontier last season.
For the first time the Knights reached the second round of the playoffs.
Crestview is aiming for more this season.
And why not?
The Knights return nine starters on offense and nine more on defense from a squad that went 9-3 (6-1 Northwest Conference tri-champions).
Crestview knocked off Lima Central Catholic in the opening round of the playoffs, 48-35. But in the second round, the Knights were handled by Ada, 35-0.
“We weren’t satisfied with how we played and it left a bad taste in all our mouths,” Crestview coach Jared Owens said. “It was the way we played, not that we lost to Ada. Hopefully, that we played at less than our best will be a motivating factor. We accomplished a lot of things last year, but we still left things on the table. We’ll try to learn from it and turn the page.”
The offense returns the last year’s backfield in quarterback Preston Zaleski, tailback Malcolm Oliver and fullbacks Jake Lippi and Justin Overmyer.
The 205-pound Oliver ran for 974 yards and 17 TDs in the regular season. He also had 17 receptions for 296 yards and two TDs.
He was first team all-Northwest Conference and second team all-district.
“He’s (Oliver) a very natural, gifted athlete,” Owens said. “He makes it look smooth and easy. He’s a workhorse in the backfield and also step out and play wide receiver.”
Returnees on the offensive line are center Jordan Roop, tackle Seth Moser and lineman Corbin Grubb.
Alex Cunningham returns at wide receiver, while Nate Owens is back at tight end.
With Oliver, Lippi and Overmyer, there’s no doubt the Knights want to pound the football. But Owens also wants Zaleski (second team all-NWC) to look to the air more.
“Our identity is running the football,” Owens said. “But I want to pass more effectively and for a higher percentage. We’ll have to throw more to beat the good teams.”
Lippi and Grubb are back on the defensive line.
The linebacking unit will be strong with veterans Jordan Miller, middle linebacker Overmyer, Roop and Moser. Miller and Roop were both first team all-NWC.
In the secondary are returnees Oliver, Cunningham and Owens.
The successful run at Crestview continues. The roster is comprised of players from a baseball team that has made two state trips, a basketball state championship team and two relay teams that reached the state track meet.
“It started with baseball two years ago and things got rolling,” Owes said. “The football team had its most successful season, making it to the second week of the playoffs. The basketball year was a valuable thing… We have a good number of those guys (from baseball, football and track) and it’s a matter of having success and knowing how to win.”